Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Soft Opening Update

The soft opening at Islands of Adventure new attraction “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is underway and we’re starting to get some very mixed reports. Most guests are absolutely “wowed” by the additional 20 acre section of the theme park but there are reports of some glitches that are annoying those folks who have purchased certain vacation package holders or are staying as hotel guests at Universal property.

The good includes the technological marvel called “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” which notches theme park rides up another  level, 600 new products for legions of Potter fans to enjoy including tasty butterbeer and chocolate frogs not to mention some extremely enthusiastic Team Members (staff members). The bad included a stampede at opening time one morning this week and Forbidden Journey, housed in Hogwarts Castle, opening late due to technical problems only for it then to break down completely for several hours at a time…fortunately, things have improved and the ride seems to be working more times than not as I write.

The most amazing part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the level of detail found throughout Hogsmeade Village, in its shops, and its surrounding areas. Ollivander’s Wand Shop is the highlight of all of the shop-based experiences according to many. Although it is not required to enter through the shop to buy a wand, as you can simply enter through the Owlry or Dervish & Banges, be warned,  if you skip doing so, you’ll be missing a fabulous magical show. Note: It is true that only 20-25 people are let in at once and only 1 out of that group is chosen to try out a magic wand as part of the show.

Other interesting sights including Zonko’s Joke Shop, Honeydukes, Hog’s Head Pub, Owlry, Dervish & Banges (including the Monster Book of Monsters) and Filch’s Emporium. I’ll not say much about about them, as I really don’t want to spoil your enjoyment when you visit, but within the shop area, you will encounter owls that subtly come to life, moving props hanging from the ceiling, directed sound effects as you pass through tight areas, and so much more.

Another very entertaining side of the Harry Potter section of Islands of Adventure are the performances that take place every so often in the streets between Hogsmeade Village and Hogwarts Castle. One of these is part of the Triwizard Tournament in which the girls from Beauxbatons dance with ribbons and guys from Durmstrang show off their staff-wielding skills. There’s also another street performance that occasionally takes place when the Hogwarts frog choir sings an assortment of Potter-related songs a capella.

Also look out for the former Dueling Dragons roller coaster which has now been remade into Dragon Challenge for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The ride brings guests into the Triwizard Tournament and the queue begins in the champions’ tent, continuing past the Triwizard cup.

Finally, be warned, when you enter the bathrooms of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you’ll hear a familiar voice. Moaning Myrtle haunts the restrooms, wailing her familiar whines… just what you need when you need to hear at this point in time!

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