I am a big, BIG fan of Harry Potter, have been for several years. It’s not just the magic I love; the characters, the story, the writing…I love it all. My mom read the books to my siblings and I when we were younger, I’ve heard them all on audio, and I’ve seen all the movies thousands of times. It is a fantastic series, and I was sad to see it end.
J. K. Rowling, however, decided it wasn’t over. The continuation of the series is coming out on May 3rd, and I’ve already pre-ordered the book. I know it was actually an on-stage show as well, but I’m not really one for plays. They just aren’t my cup of tea. The book, however, I will definitely read.
Now, most of you reading this probably know about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter exhibit at Universal Studios in Florida. It has been around for at least a year I believe. When I first heard of it, I was so excited, because it LITERALLY was Harry Potter come to life. However, I do not live in Florida, so I thought I would never get to go.
But then I heard they were building one in Universal Studios Hollywood.
Closer to home, yet way out of my price range. Tickets are not cheap, as with any amusement park. (My dad says the “amusement” is the park owner laughing all the way to the bank). Miraculously, though, I collected enough money to buy the tickets for my family and I, and we were able to go yesterday!
When we first arrived at the entrance to the Harry Potter exhibit, I was dazzled by the buildings. The theme song from the movies was pouring out of the surrounding speakers, park employees greeted us wearing the wizard robes, and the scent of butterbeer was in the air. I’ll say entering the exhibit was magical.
The first thing we decided to do was to go on the Hogwarts 3-D ride. After waiting less than 5 minutes in line, we were told to leave our belongings in a locker, as nothing was allowed on the ride. This process was quite difficult, to be honest. At least a hundred people were crowded inside the locker room, chaotically trying to shove their belongings into the lockers. The room was fairly small, too, so having very little space to thrust stuff into a tiny locker was horrible. I don’t handle tight spaces very well, and absolutely hate crowded rooms, so I was rushing and nearly lost my Monster drink to the floor.
Once our things were safely secured in the lockers, we began the walk-through of Hogwarts castle. The castle itself is architecturally beautiful, and most of the rooms we saw were almost perfect replicas of the ones in the movies. Holograms of Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, and Hermione talk to you in some of them, which is a really nice feature. Although, some people were attempting to take pictures of the holograms with their flashes on. Common sense is lost on some people.
The castle also had LCD screens with frames around them to make it look like some of the pictures were moving, which was really cool. I wish I had more to say about the castle itself, but I was being hurried along by this pushy guy behind me (which was infuriating), so I’ll just get to the ride itself.
As I said before, the ride is a 3-D ride. If you get motion sick really easily, take some anti-nausea medicine before going on, because it is nausea-inducing. Aside from that, the ride is amazing! I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who plans to go on it, but trust me, you will love it!
After the ride, we wandered around Hogsmeade for a while. Because of the park’s size, they only have a few stores, and they’re all small. By small, I mean small. The biggest store in the whole exhibit is inside Hogwarts, called Filch’s Emporium, and even that one was smaller than I was comfortable with. I think maybe 25 people would be able to walk in Filch’s with comfortable space between them.
So the size of the whole place is a downside for me. Another downside is that everything is way more expensive than it should be. We bought 6 different candy items from Huneydukes, and it was almost $50! Yes, the candy was good, but I don’t think the students at Hogwarts would pay anything close to that price for candy. Clothing was even more expensive. If I was going to pay $100 for a t-shirt, it better be made out of the best material on the planet, and never need to be washed, because that is outrageous.
A bonus to the whole experience was that the food at the Three Broomsticks was delicious. I’ve heard from a few people that it is just because the exhibit is new, and eventually, the quality of the food will reduce to what the rest of amusement park food is. So if you go, eat there. Again, it’s pricey, but it is definitely yummy and filling. We also had butterbeer from Hog’s Head, which was tasty! Even though it didn’t have alcohol in it, unlike in the books. Man, it would’ve been funny to see drunk toddlers wandering around!
We spent 4 hours in the exhibit and managed to see and experience everything. It was definitely a memorable experience, and I’m so glad I was able to go, but I might not do it again because of how expensive it was. By all means, if you are a Potterhead, and you really want to go, I implore you to do so! You will definitely have a good time and great memories! You just might be poor by the time you leave!