by First Mate Keira
Today Captain Yarr, Cook Cutlery, and myself went to Islands of Adventure thinking it would be a normal everyday experience. We’ve been breaking in our newly bought season passes and exploring the park while waiting for June 18 to come for the launch of Harry Potter World. Imagine our surprise when we entered the main gates and a man who worked there loudly called out – “Go see Harry Potter while it’s open!”
They were doing a soft preview and of course we didn’t bring a camera so we have no pictures from inside Harry Potter World, but we do have a scanned copy of our trip to the Three Broomsticks and our shared Butterbeer. We got only one because we weren’t sure we’d like it (which was silly because of course we LOVED it). It comes two ways: frozen like a slushie or cold with whip cream foam on top. We had heard from a group of Potter fans that the whip cream version was their favorite (unanimously) and so that’s what we got. Drinking Butterbeer and getting foam mustaches would make a great photo!
During the soft preview they kept traffic in the stores under control by having people queue and only letting in a handful at a time. I’m not sure how they’ll handle the opening launch because there really aren’t places to queue around the stores. Because we were unprepared for the soft preview, we hadn’t any cash in which to splurge on wizarding goods so we decided to skip the stores and head for the rides. The lines were fairly short because of all the queuing around the shops so we got to ride several times.
If you don’t want to be spoiled on what the rides were like, skip the rest of this post.
The Dragon Challenge – This ride is made over from an old ride called Dueling Dragons. The new queue area is way cooler than the old because it’s been revamped to look like Harry Potter during the Triwizard Tournament. As you walk up to the main entrance there are signs and banners for each of the champions urging you to root for them. Inside the main queue area you immediately come across a round room designed to look like the inside of the tent of the first task. There’s even the Goblet of Fire with blue fire/light wafting. It’s placed high so people can’t mess with it, but the area is prime for good photos. The next queue zone has the Triwizard Cup held aloft and is another spot for photos. Past that in the next area is a cupboard containing the three golden eggs the champions rescued from their dragons. Soon after you’re asked to make a choice: Chinese Fireball or Hungarian Horntail? Why not both? That’s what we did. Both dragons run simultaneously and you are suppose to be flying on them – watch out for the near crashes! As a group, the three of us rated it an average of 8.5 out of 10. We rode it twice more.
Flight of the Hippogriff – My sister, Cook Cutlery, said it was a remastered ride that before had been about unicorns. I don’t remember it, but I’ll take her word for it. It’s a kiddiecoaster and more of a family ride than a ride for older people. I thought it was worth going on because before you climb the lift you get to see Buckbeak resting in his nest. Hagrid tells you to bow to him and if you’re like everyone in our group you will be doing it because it’s fun. Hagrid tells you well done and now we can fly him and then the coaster takes off. The cars are wicker baskets with the front basket having a sort of Hippogriff head on it. The ride is pretty short and on average it got 4 out of 10, but that’s because my sister’s thought they were too cool for it.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – It’s time to go to Hogwarts now and ride the brand new ride. I can only describe it as being similar to Spiderman with the combination of real action and simulation, but upped to the next next level. We rode it twice and both times went through the single rider lane because otherwise the wait promised to be very long. From what the website says, it looks like there was another entrance to the ride that we missed because we didn’t tour Hogwarts, we just got into the ride queue. The first time we rushed through the queue and only peripherally saw the portraits and setting of the grand staircase area and didn’t stay there long enough to see anything. The second time we heard a bit of what the portraits were saying and saw the Sorting Hat. He talks and gives the safety speech before you and your party are escorted to your broomstick. From talking with others later in the day, waiting in line was just as neat because of how it was themed, so it’s really up to you how you want to go through the lines. The ride itself was AMAZING. It’s definitely my personal favorite ride at Islands of Adventure now. We gave it a perfect 10 as a group for meeting and exceeding all of our expectations. What happens is this:
Hermione casts a spell that allows Muggles to ride a wizard broomstick. Harry and Ron are going to escort us to the Quidditch match between Slytherin and Gryffindor and along the way we run into Hagrid, who has lost the Hungarian Horntail of all things, which of course we find! Yikes! A swerve and a miss brings us to the Forbidden Forest and all those nasty Acromantulas – watch out they spit! Hermoine guides us out and we have a near miss with the Whomping Willow before managing to get to the Quidditch pitch where Harry wonders where we’ve been. In the race for the snitch suddenly Dementors appear and we’re following Harry to safety in and around the sides of the stadium, sort of like movie two with the rogue bludger. A dive and we’re in the Chamber of Secrets, but the Dementors have followed us and are trying to suck our souls. Luckily Harry knows his Patronus! The fight knocks out the walls and with the Chamber collapsing we have to hurry to find a safe way out. A quick flight across the Great Lake and we’re back at Hogwarts where Harry, Hermione, Ron, and other Hogwarts students cheer us on before we run into Dumbledore who gives a speech and welcomes us to come back anytime. Another swoop and we’re unbuckling from out broomsticks and getting off the ride… only to get back on of course!
We officially can’t wait for the real launch because this time we’ll bring our cameras and take pictures all over the place! By the Hogwarts Express, by Honeydukes, in Ollivander’s, of Hogwarts, of Hogsmeade, and everything in between. See you there!
Photo Credits: Universal Studios
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