Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Photo by Orlando Sentinel

June 20, 2010

Living in Orlando has some perks. The "City Beautiful" is located between two coasts and is just a short drive to beaches.  I like the peaceful parks, grandfather oak trees, farmer's markets, diversity of the population, and the fact that the climate is perfect for gardening year round.  But ask any kid why they like Orlando, and they'll tell you it's the theme parks that make it a great place to live. Because Boboy works at Animal Kingdom, we go to the Disney parks frequently using our free passes.  Our children and grandchildren like the rides, and we like the gardens, shows, and people watching.

This week at the Universal Orlando Resort, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened to record crowds.  We have tickets to Universal, but were waiting until the crowds thin and the temperatures cool before spending a day there.

Photo by Orlando Sentinel

The park took 5 years to build and features Hogwarts Castle, and Hogsmeade village filled with shops and restaurants where visitors can drink butter beer or  taste some popping candy or ear waxed flavored jelly beans.  The park features dementors, flying broomsticks, the sorting hat, magic wands, dragons and lots of special effects.  You can buy a wand from Ollivander's Wand Shop, mail a letter from the Owl Post, or shop at Zonko's Joke Store.  There are two roller coasters: Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge.  As if that is not enough, moaning Myrtle haunts the bathroom.

British actor, Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter in the films, greeted the guests on opening night saying that the park was the next "part of the Potter legacy." From the BBC:
"What Universal Orlando has done with Harry Potter is really, really fantastic," said Radcliffe, who plays the schoolboy wizard, at the opening ceremony.

"We're all kind of very grateful that the next part of the Harry Potter legacy has been so well done and so well made."

Radcliffe was joined at the opening by fellow Potter actors Rupert Grint (who plays Ron Weasley), Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Warwick Davis (Filius Flitwick), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley).

Photo by Orlando Sentinel

The Friday opening of the 20 acre park was attended by thousands of die-hard Harry Potter fans, reportedly mostly muggles, who braved the temperatures that reached 98 degrees with a "feels like" temperature of 105.  Hot weather didn't stop thousands from arriving  hours before the park opened to be first in line or from wearing Hogswart robes.  The opening was covered by news media from around the world, and all reports made the park sound spectacular.

Maybe we shouldn't wait for the cooler weather!


AmandaRose said...

Hey! I was there and the heat was well worth the experience! Check out my photos:http://amandarosetew.blogspot.com/

Wendy said...

Thanks Amanda -great photos!