“Hogsmeade looked like a Christmas card; the little thatched cottages and shops were all covered in a layer of crisp snow; there were holly wreaths on the doors and strings of enchanted candles hanging in the trees.”
There are not many moments in my life when I am so excited that I squeal, jump up and down, and run around like a 5 year old girl who is meeting Santa Claus on Christmas Day. But this was one of those days. Mark and I got a chance to tour the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, on our vacation this year. As we entered Hogsmeade, we immediately took note of the sign above the entryway: “Please respect the spell limits.” The first thing we noticed were big wooden carts selling Butterbeer in the streets, and the Hogwarts Express, complete with the conductor.
What incredible attention to detail! From the signs, to the shop windows, to the sound effects, this was a very immersive experience. They truly recreated Hogsmeade as you could imagine it in the books and movies. We passed a window with a crying mandrake in it. I wanted to cuddle the poor guy! There was also a “Wanted” poster, with moving Sirius Black on it, acting crazy as usual. We attended an incredible “Wand ceremony,” where someone at random in a crowd of 30 is selected to test out a wand in Olivander’s shop… and they get to keep it! Some pretty interesting things were happening in that store…
By far, the best store there has to be Honeydukes. You are surrounded by Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs, and Jelly Slugs! Mmmm! The colors and sweets in the store are a treat for your tongue as well as your eyes. And all of the shop clerks were dressed in appropriate Hogsmeade garb, despite the 90 degree temperatures. I felt kind of bad for them, they must have been extremely hot.
1) Dragon Skeleton from The Forbidden Journey. 2) Butterbeer is just as good as they say. 3) Many of the props around the park come to life. For example, these Gilderoy Lockhart books in the window have an actual moving Gilderoy on the cover! 4) Adorn yourself with a pair of Spectrespecs, as seen on Luna Lovegood!
By far the coolest ride is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It’s a mix of a twisty turny roller coaster, and a 3D movie experience. The ride takes place inside the Hogwarts castle, and the queue is styled like the Hogwarts greenhouse. The line for the ride isn’t boring at all, as you pass through the dark halls, several looming statues of famous witches and wizards, Dumbledore’s office, and talking paintings. It’s incredible!
1) Three Broomsticks Inn was quite a hopping place, with ceiling to floor decor. 2) I thought these were Pensieves. They are just water fountains. 3) Make sure to meet the students from Beauxbatons Academy Of Magic and Durmstrang Institute. 4) Potages Cauldron shop had a big stack of cauldrons next to the door, and a very fancy sign. And of course I would want a self-stirring cauldron.
I can’t wait for the expansion of this world and the addition of Diagon Alley. I could think of a lot of things I would have liked to see in addition to what was there, but I know the park, small as it is, has taken loads of time and money thus far. I hope in the future, they bring out more dressed characters, including the more well known characters like Harry, Luna and Dumbledore. I also hope they include more magical experiences that aren’t necessarily thrill rides, but subtle magical encounters that are interactive. I know I would love a chance to throw on a cloak, break out my wand, and make some magic of my own.
My tips for myself the next time I go: The Butterbeer is SUPER sweet. Drink it when you’re really thirsty. Wear a hat or bring an umbrella for shade while waiting in lines. Eat at the Three Broomsticks.
Until next time readers, mischief managed.