Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Talking about the new showcase at Universal Studios in Orlando. (Actually, the HP thing is in the Islands of Adventure side).

Went there last week on vacation. Price wasn't too bad - a 3-day pass for two adults came to just under $300; cheaper than Disney. Parking from last year had gone up from $12 to $14 on Monday, then was $15 on Wednesday.

Just looking at the entire thing was more than impressive - The mountain-top where Hogwarts is was amazing! And Hogsmeade, the village, was also outstanding.


Although there are lines of shops, only four or five are really open, and you have to stand in line with 30 or 40 other people waiting to enter from one end (they are all connected) to walk through them, to shop, and then to exit the last one. A LONG wait. In fact no wait was shorter than an hour, except for the line to buy the famous Butterbeer. But there were still 20 -25 people in line, all the time. And I wasn't about to stand in the hot sun waiting to pay an outrageous price for what is essentially butterscotch soda.

However, the MOST outrageous cost was the price for a Harry Potter wand (basically, a handle, a 12 inch or so length of wand that looked like a stick, and something on the end (maybe it lights up). How much were they asking for this?


Needless to say I didn't buy one.

The line to ride that wasn't a high-speed roller coaster led you back and forth and up and down just like the lines at Disney World. And after a half hour or more you actually got inside what was supposed to be Hogwarts. I kept hearing how wonderful it was, and how it was one of the highlights, but all I saw were a few talking pictures and cheap-looking video of Harry, Hermoine and Ron talking about stuff, but the quality was so bad I couldn't understand what they were saying.

On the ride itself we were following Harry on his broomstick, zooming up and down and careening all about. That was pretty cool. Then we went down into some cave and were twisted and jerked and dropped and it made my stomach churn a bit. The seats were moving up and down and etc, but we weren't actually zooming.

Maybe if I was a teenager I would have been more impressed with everything. I realize it cost millions to construct the exhibit, but it would have been better if we were actually able to explore more of Hogwarts on our own - the dining hall, the dorm rooms, etc. (seeing the moving staircases would have been cool).

Should you go? Certainly, if you are a Harry Potter fan. And if you don't mind long waits, crowds, and over-priced food and souveniers.

Would I go again? Maybe, in a year or two, when the new has worn off and the crowds are more manageable. And maybe if the prices have come down.