|Beauxbatons & Durmstrang students|
with Hogwarts host and girls
|The Hog's Head|
My husband and I conditioned ourselves for months prior to facing the crowds, interminable lines, and torrid Florida heat. And we only took our two oldest grands – Lita, 13 and Erica, 12 – who’ve read all the books and seen all the movies. But despite all our stellar intentions, the girls had to be very patient with our limitations. Just the walk from Universal’s parking garage to the attractions surpassed our neighborhood’s jogging trail at least twice over! Our hastily developed game plan: A. from park opening to noon, B. back to motel for recovery, C. back to park around 5:00 PM until closing. It kinda worked!
So much has been written about this experience that I only feel compelled to add that yes, butterbeer is delicious (imbibed at the Three Broomsticks) and so is pumpkin juice (at the very atmospheric Hog’s Head that evening). The Forbidden Journey, however, is every bit as horrifying as it is thrilling. Husband survived the ordeal with eyes squeezed tightly shut; the rest of us by screaming our heads off.
The line leading to the ride is well worth it, though. It’s basically a tour of Hogwarts Castle, entering through the herbology lab. It’s all there: the Mirror of Erised, the sorting hat (the girls are both Ravenclaw), the classrooms, Dumbledore’s office, etc. Along the streets one can see mandrake plants screeching away, Hagrid’s textbook snarling and snapping in a cage at Flourish & Blotts, and a moving Wanted sign for Sirius Black posted in the square. All of it is extremely well done.But do be warned: Moaning Myrtle is in the girls’ restroom.
Thus far Harry Potter’s world is only a small segment of the Islands of Adventure side of Universal’s park. I hear there are plans to expand it by adding Diagon Alley. I would definitely return for that. In October or February.
|The Lodge at Jurassic Park|
Next door to Hogwarts is Jurassic Park – also wonderfully rendered. We whiled away several hours there, then browsed around Seuss Landing, Comics Land (as in newspaper funnies) and then came to an electrified halt in Marvel’s Super Hero city. Egad. Captain America, Spiderman, Storm, Rogue, and others I couldn’t name came roaring down the street on motorcycles. They stopped for photo ops before blasting off again. The girls were thrilled.
After two day’s at Universal, we moved on to Epcot and Disney’s Magic Kingdom. But that’s another story.