We finally made it to "Universal's Islands of Adventure" and "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter". I had wanted to go last fall when it first opened, but now I'm glad we waited. The lines were not bad at all, anywhere in the park. The longest line we saw was 35 minutes, but most were between 5 and 15 minutes.
I'll post pictures of the rest of the park tomorrow, but right now, I'd just like to focus on the Harry Potter section, since that was what lured us to Universal for the first time ( not even DH, who grew up in Orlando, had been inside the Universal parks before). We were all very impressed with how they recreated Hogwarts and the village of Hogsmeade.
Approaching the gate, the visitor gets a glimpse of the Hogwarts Express and a train station just beyond, which look pretty impressive, but a few steps closer and there is this jaw-dropping moment when the whole village comes into view for the first time.
The shops described in the books are there. Honeydukes candy shop is where we did most of our souvenir shopping.
Visiting foreign wizarding schools were there to entertain the guests.
There are, of course, rides. There are two roller coasters. One is a big scary one that goes upside down, which we decided to skip. A stroll past Hagrid's house, takes you to another roller coaster, where you can remain upright for the entire ride.
The best ride, though, is inside the very impressive Hogwarts Castle. Even the line to get on the ride is fun, because it's like a tour of the school, complete with hologram images of some of the characters.
The ride itself, was like the most intense broomstick flying video game you can imagine, only you are in the video game on a chair that moves along with the very fast paced action. It was the most awesome amusement park ride I have ever been on!
If you are thirsty or hungry, there is a pub for the adults and The Three Broomsticks has family friendly dining.
The food was very good (with the exception of my salad, but that's just because I find iceberg lettuce to be tasteless).
Butterbeer is excellent, but appears to be enchanted. No matter how much we drank, it maintained the same level of creamy, vanilla flavored froth on top.
Speaking of enchanted, while dining at The Three Broom sticks, watch the walls. The shadows of witches and owls fly past every once in a while.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not perfect. The shops were very cramped and crowded. There were free lockers just inside the doors of Hogwards, for storing loose items that patrons didn't want to drop during the ride, which is a wonderful idea, but the locker area was dark and over crowded.
I still think that Universal did a fabulous job recreating the world of Harry Potter and I hope they add to it in the future, after all, they don't have Diagon Alley or The Ministry of Magic.
To quote a teenage girl talking to her friend as they emerged from the women's rest room,"even the bathrooms are cool!"