As incredible as our time in Disney World was, the true highlight of our trip was our visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the Universal Studios property. Our expectations for the park were so high, and there was a pretty sizeable chance of disappointment with reality. Happily, Hogwarts and Hogsmeade were just as fantastically amazing and magical as we had hoped--and more!
There were a lot of people there, but we still found ourselves waiting in very reasonable lines. The highlight of the Wizarding World is absolutely The Forbidden Journey in Hogwarts. The other rides are a childrens rollercoaster, Flight of the Hippogriff, and a fantastic rollercoaster for the thrillseekers, Dueling Dragons.
I wish I could find the words to fully explain and do justice to The Forbidden Journey. It is, without a doubt, the most amazing ride I have ever ridden. You sit in a seat that is a bit similar to the people movers in the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World--so you are fully enclosed with a bar across your lap. You sit four across, but there are small partitions between each seat, so you can't really see the person next to you. The idea of the ride is that you are flying around with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and you experience all of the highlights of each book along with them--basilisks, spiders, dementors, a Quidditch game, dragons and more. There is a combination of IMAX screens and actual set pieces that you "fly" through going backwards, forwards, side-to-side, and the best explanation I can give you is to tell you that yes, you truly do feel as though you are IN the movie. It's incredible. And I can't believe we only rode it once. So much dumb.
The one thing I'd like to see improved is the food options. We ate at The Three Broomsticks, which is right next door and connected to the Hogshead, and the food was decent, but it's really your only option and the meals are certainly on the level of tv dinners. The frozen butterbeer on the other hand was delicious! It's a sort of butterscotch-sasparillaish flavor and I think they put condensed milk on the top to give it a sweet creaminess. Oh, it was so good. Pumpkin juice tasted a lot like mulled cider, so if you're into that you'd probably like it--I wasn't a big fan.
All in all, Wizarding World was everything I wanted it to be and more. We talked to a local while we were there who said that there were plans to expand the area further, and I would love to see what else they could come up with. We didn't get to spend much time in the shops, and the line just for Ollivanders wand shop looked to be over an hour long. Of course, I had to buy a wand, but I got mine at the Owl Post where there were fewer crowds. You can choose from the wands of all the major characters, and I decided on Hermione's after much deliberation between hers, Harry's and Dumbledore's (you can see it in the picture on top with the conductor). I would love to see another restaurant added--I'm thinking a sit down restaurant themed after the Hogwarts dining hall--and we all agreed that a ride through the Gringott's bank would be a no brainer for the expansion.
We spent time at Universal as well, but honestly, we weren't that thrilled with the offerings and wished we had just spent more time at Wizarding World. So that's it, my long winded recap of our time at Disney has reached its end! It was such a great trip with my family, and I'm already counting down until we make our triumphant return in 2013!