Wizarding World of Harry Potter Review

A review of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
My family and I recently visited Central Florida for the 10th time. We own a villa on Westhaven. This time my husband, eldest daughter Lindsey, her boyfriend James and myself were joined for a few days by our American friends from Pennsylvania Rick, Kelly and their 14 year old son Alex. Alex and I had a play date of long standing – to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure. We were all looking forward to going as both Lindsey and I have read all the books and everyone has seen the films – Rick and Alex had had a Harry Potter film marathon in preparation for the visit to get Rick up to speed and we’d looked at info on the web. Plus we’d see the castle under construction on our last visit 18 months previously.
People said we should get there early and not go on a weekend as locals with Annual Passes tend to go then and it makes Islands of Adventure extra busy. So we decided to go on a Monday while American children were still in school. We were a little dismayed to learn that the park was opening at 8.00am as we have a 30 minute drive from the villa and you need to allow time to walk through City Walk to the park. So we decided that we had to be on the road by 6.45am. It wasn’t too bad as we were still waking early having not fully adjusted to American time and it was nice and cool.
We arrived at the rope at 7.40am and were quite surprised that people were going in – we found out that Universal hotel guests can enter the park at 7.00am. However, the crowd was not very big and we were walked around the park by staff at about 7.50 to the entrance to the HP section. We were told not to run but we have to confess to speed walking along with everyone else!!
We joined the queue for The Forbidden Journey. All bags etc need to be placed in a locker prior to joining the queue. Be advised to do this ride first as it gets really really busy – also if you buy a wand ($30) this will not fit in the locker and you can’t take it on the ride. The queue winds around the greenhouse and then into the castle. There was no queue once we were inside which meant that we walked through quite fast which was a pity as there was was so much to see – the attention to detail is brilliant. I wanted to stop and look at the portraits and there’s a hologram presentation with HarryRon and Hermione which is really good plus Dumbledore who tells you what’s happening too.  The ride itself is a very clever simulator. You sit on a bench type seat with overhead restraints which divide you from the 3 others on your bench so you can’t see each other. It’s not a typical simulator pod thing like The Simpsons or Star Tours or even Spiderman. The bench is attached to an arm so it can swing and tilt as you fly after Harry and the others on your adventure. If you really don’t like queueing, you could do the ride by joining the single rider line as you don’t see your friends when riding anyway and the single rider line moves very fast. You meet many characters from the film on the journey including Malfoy, Hagrid, the dragon, the dementors and the spiders!! We all really enjoyed it and thought it was very clever. I am prone to motion  sickness and it did make me feel a little dizzy but definitely worth it!
We then queued for Olivanders Wand Shop – this was another 45 minute wait. We sent Nigel, Rick and Kelly off to get butter beer from the carts – this took about 30 minutes and we fund out from the people behind us in the queue that it’s a lot quicker to get it in The Hogs Head Pub. Butter beer comes in 2 varieties – soda and slush. The soda is very very sweet and clear with a head on it. The slush is more creamy with a head on it. It’s kind of butterscotchy. We all preferred the slush and really enjoyed it. If you buy a souvenir cup then you can use this later for any soda for 79c – you can also take it to Universal (as we did the next day) with the same deal which we thought was good value.
There is a 5 minute presentation in Olivanders which is fun. Lindsey was picked to be the young wizard shopping for a wand – much to her surprise as she’s 23!! Won’t tell you any more as it will spoil it. You then go into the shop which is fun as they have an owl post section. There’s a marauder map and a very vicious book that bites! From here we went across the street to the sweet shop. The chocolate frogs are enormous and very good. There are the different flavoured beans and lots of other goodies. The queue to pay at the till was enormous but we found another till at the back to the shop (end furthest away from the castle) with no queue.  The joke shop is also fun with the sneakascope and the extending ear!!  We then left the shops and headed over to the Howarts Express for a photo with the very friendly guard. It was about 10.15am at this point and we caught the clock tower chiming the quarter hour which is fun to see.
Then it was off to do Dragon Challenge. This was formerly Duelling Dragons which has a new name and has had a slight makeover. Short queue. It does a couple of 360o turns, corkscrews etc and 2 coasters race each other – good fun. It’s worth having a look at the Ford Anglia and Hagrid’s cottage at the end of the ride.
Can’t report on the Hypogriff coaster as it’s more for weenies which we are not. Again it’s a remake of a coaster that was there already with a new  hypogriffe front put on it.
As we were leaving through Jurassic Park – the only way into the HP section – we were told that if we wished to return we would need a card with a time slot on it.  The queue to go into the section was huge, the queue for The Forbidden Journey was over 2 hours and over an hour for Olivanders. Would I queue 2 hours for Forbidden Journey –  guess I would have because that was the purpose of us going to I of A but would I have been pleased – no, would it have been worth it – personally I don’t think any ride is worth a 2 hour wait.
So to sum up here are my tips:

1. Arrive at park before opening time (currently opening at 8.00am) Allow time to park car and walk through City Walk to park.
2. Ride the Forbidden Journey first – don’t forget you have to put all bags etc into a locker.
3. Queue for Ollivanders Wand Shop next. Send someone to get Butter beer -it’s quicker to get it from the Hogshead Pub than from the carts.If you buy a souvenir cup you can have this refilled as many times as you wish with regular sodas both in I of A and in Universal on any day you are there.
4. In sweet shop don’t pay at front till (nearest castle entrance) in a huge queue – there are 2 more tills at the rear of the shop.
5. Have photo in front of Hogwarts Express with friendly guard.
6. Watch clock tower on quarters past and to the hour!!
7. Go to Dragons and Hyppogrif (Latter is for children and young at heart)
8. Look at queue for Forbidden Journey which will probably be around 2 hours and breathe a sigh of relief that you are not in it.
9. Leave HP section of park, resist any urge to return later unless in the evening!!!

Disney’s 14 Days For The Price of 7 2012 Ends Soon

Disney’s year old promotion “14 days for the price of 7” for 2012 runs out on the 30th November 2011.

This great offer that has seen Disney remain the dominant Theme Park in the U.S. has proved to be a fan favourite and we urge all readers looking to visit Disney in 2012 to book now to avoid disappointment.

What’s Included?

Disney’s Ultimate Ticket, perfect for a 2-week holiday.

14 days of unlimited admission with the freedom to visit more than one theme park or attraction on the same day.

For ALL of the following:

  • Magic Kingdom Park
  • Epcot
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park*
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park*
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course
  • Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex**
  • DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park

Disney’s Ultimate Ticket expires 14 days from first day of use.
Gives you the freedom to visit more than one Theme Park or attraction on the same day.

2012 tickets may not be used at all after January 13, 2013.

Parking is not included.

How to book

To take advantage of this great offer and to secure with just a 25% deposit visit www.orlandoattractiontickets.co.uk

Wizarding World of Harry Potter To Go Worldwide?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been nothing short of a phenomenal success for Universal Orlando, not only has it helped close the gap on Disney but has helped revitalised the Theme Park industry with reports of Disney speaking to James Cameron regardin a possible Avatar tie up.

So it comes as no surprise that Universal are considering taking Potter global, and copying the Harry Potter Theme Park in their other parks.

Ron Meyer, Head of NBC’s Universal movie and theme park unit admitted other parks would indeed get the Harry Potter treatment but would not be drawn in to specifics.

For me the obvious choices are Universal Hollywood and Universal Japan.

You can purchase tickets for the Wizarding World of Harry Potterin Orlando by visiting www.orlandoattractiontickets.co.uk, tickets offering entry include Universal 2-Park Bonus Tickets, Universal 3-Park Bonus Ticket, Flex Ticket and Flex Ticket Plus.

LEGOLAND Florida’s Christmas Bricktacular

To celebrate LEGOLAND® Florida‘s First ChristmasLEGOAND presents Christmas Bricktacular Making the Holidays Come Alive
Winter Haven, FL (Nov. 16, 2011) —
LEGOLAND Florida is getting into the holiday spirit with the first annual Christmas Bricktacular.  Festive decorations and sounds of the season will fill The Beginning and Fun Town through the holidays, Dec. 8-31, followed by Kids’ New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31.  With more than 50 rides, shows and attractions all dedicated to families with children age 2 to 12 and one of the widest selections of LEGO® products available, LEGOLAND Florida is the best place to celebrate the season and pick up the Christmas gifts that are on every child’s wish list – LEGO!
The Beginning is home to a truly spectacular, Bricktacular sight – a more than 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree made with a combination of 270,000 forest green LEGO and DUPLO® bricks.  The park’s first-ever tree lighting ceremony takes place on Dec. 5 with a special master of ceremonies.  Through Dec. 31, a special family will be chosen to help light the Bricktacular tree each night.
Santa Claus even makes special daily appearances in the historical botanical gardens making a picture perfect spot to capture family memories sure to be treasured for years to come.
Kids’ New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31 let’s kids rock out and watch the sky explode with LEGO fireworks at just the right time for them, midnight KST (Kid Standard Time) – otherwise known as 7 p.m. EST.
Holiday events are included in park admission. Tickets for LEGOLAND Florida are available at www.orlandoattractiontickets.co.uk.
LEGOLAND® Florida is a 150-acre interactive theme park dedicated to families with children between the ages of 2 and 12.  With more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, LEGOLAND is geared towards family fun!
There are currently four other LEGOLAND Parks in the world – LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad, LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark, LEGOLAND Deutschland near Günzburg, Germany and LEGOLAND Windsor outside of London. The LEGOLAND theme parks are a part of Merlin Entertainments Group, the second largest attractions operator in the world.

Top 10 New Attractions For 2012

Below are the 10 most anticipated new USA theme park rides set to open in 2012.

In no particular order –

  • Universal Studios Florida will replace Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast motion simulator ride with a digital upgrade themed to “Despicable Me,” for which a movie sequel is already in the works.
  • The Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom drop tower at Six Flags Magic Mountain will be attached to both sides of the park’s 415-foot-tall Superman: Escape from Krypton coaster tower. The new thrill ride will rank as the world¿s tallest (400 feet) and fastest (85 mph) drop tower.
  • Hersheypark will add a first-of-its-kind $25-million steel roller coaster in 2012 that will be the tallest, fastest and longest at the Pennsylvania theme park. The 200-foot-tall Skyrush coaster will feature a near-vertical 85-degree first drop followed by four high-speed banking turns and five airtime hills at speeds reaching 75 mph.
  • SeaWorld San Diego will add the $10 million-plus Manta roller coaster in 2012 that marks the U.S. debut of a highly anticipated prototype ride. SeaWorld San Diego’s 30-foot-tall Manta will feature dual launch zones, a 54-foot drop into a subterranean trench and a dramatic wing dip into a shallow lake over a 2,800-foot-long track. Launched from a tunnel filled with manta ray projections, the inversion-less family coaster will reach a top speed of 43 mph and pull 4 Gs during the two-minute trip.
  • The Superman: Ultimate Flight launch coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will rocket riders at 60 miles per hour through a towering 150-foot-high inversion and a pair of vertical twists.
  • The Verbolten multi-launch roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg will take riders on a high-speed drive along the German autobahn before detouring through the forbidden Black Forest. The themed family coaster will feature two launch zones and an indoor section of the ride with special effects and a free-fall platform.
  • Six Flags Great America (X-Flight) and Dollywood (Wild Eagle) will both add similar wing coasters by Bolliger & Mabillard in 2012. With riders sitting on either side of a 3,000-foot-long track in a winged formation, both coasters will feature multiple inversions and high-speed drops.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood will add a Transformers dark ride featuring 3-D high-definition footage with special effects and robotics.
  • The Magic Kingdom will transform Fantasyland into a magical fairy tale forest with character meet-and-greet areas, a themed restaurant and several new attractions, including the Little Mermaid dark ride.
  • Cars Land, the 12-acre themed land under construction at Disney California Adventure, will feature three new rides set amid a faithful re-creation of the isolated red rock desert town populated by Lightning McQueen and other animated vehicles in the Pixar movie “Cars.”

Disney Announces New thrill Ride You Can Drive!

The newest thrill ride from Disney is not exactly what you’d expect. Disney have announced the Richard Petty Experience with exotic cars! The experience currently available offers stock car drives at the Disney speedway but will now offer an increadible opportunity to drive Ferraris and Lamborghinis too!

The new option is coming this January, in part, because the stock car business, including Nascar has contracted in the tough economy, said Mike Bartelli, chief marketing officer of the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

The Exotic Driving Experience is expecting to start out with two Ferraris, two Lamborghinis, a Porsche 911 and an Audi R8. Other brands and models could be added in the future.

We’ll keep you posted on when this will be pre-bookable via our partner Orlando Attraction Tickets! In the meantime you can book something a little less exotic to get some practice in. usrentacar.co.uk are offering cheap rates for your Christmas car hire in the USA. Fully inclusive rates start from just £16* per day. Take a look at some of their car hire USA offers currently available.

SeaWorld Orlando Announces Major Attractions 2012/2013


  • · TurtleTrek: Nose-to-nose animal encounters and state-of-the-art entertainment opening at SeaWorld Orlando Spring 2012
  • · Freshwater Oasis: All new tropical rainforest attraction at Discovery Cove, featuring playful otters and curious marmoset monkeys, opening Spring 2012
  • · Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin: The coldest theme park attraction in the world to take to the ice at SeaWorld Orlando 2013

Guests to SeaWorld and Discovery Cove in Orlando will soon be able to embark on a journey of a lifetime through the eyes of some of the world’s most charismatic animals, from the deepest corners of the sea, to the lush tropical rainforests of the Amazon and onto the coldest continent on earth.

TurtleTrek… Hatching at SeaWorld Orlando

Using new technology, TurtleTrek gets guests closer than ever before to the lives of one of the worlds’ best loved and most vulnerable reptiles – the sea turtle.

This visual conservation experience allows guests to learn more about the plight of the sea turtle and the incredible life journey they take from hatching on a beach and making the mad dash to open waters, to the dangers and hazards they face as they mature and return to the very same beach to lay their own eggs, their tales of life underwater have in the past been impossible to show – until now.

Coming to life in front of the guests is a first-of-its-kind 3-D and 360-degree dome theatre that is completely immersive. Guests will experience a 360º view of the film, from above and all around, where they will be given a turtle’s eye view of the ocean’s wonders.

Back in the real world, visitors can get up-close to the sea turtle at two extensive habitats next to the dome, one saltwater area which will also house more than 1,500 fish and over a dozen sea turtles, and the other a freshwater habitat where guests can discover hundreds of freshwater fish and gentle manatees.

Many of the manatees and sea turtles were rescued by the park’s animal team. Since SeaWorld Orlando’s rescue programs began, the team has cared for and returned to the wild nearly 240 manatees and more than 1,200 sea turtles.

Freshwater Oasis… Otterly Fresh New Area at Discovery Cove, Orlando

Opening at Discovery Cove in spring 2012 is Freshwater Oasis, an all-new attraction featuring swimming and wading adventures and face-to-face encounters with playful otters and curious marmosets.

Designed with a rainforest canopy above and sparkling clear springs below, Freshwater Oasis is a natural fit within Discovery Cove’s tropical vibe.

All of the family can experience this tropical setting, with most of the water at waist height and various levels of exploration where they can wade, swim and float in the water-filled trails and discover marmosets and Asian otters.

For a spot of après-animal exploration guests can soak up the Orlando sunshine in the warm waters in the In-Water Relaxation Station, a secluded pool including comfy in-water chairs.

Freshwater Oasis is included with admission to Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive tropical getaway where guests can swim with dolphins, hand-feed tropical birds in a free-flight aviary, snorkel among thousands of colourful fish and rays and relax on pristine white sandy beaches.

Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin… Subzero at SeaWorld Orlando for 2013

Never has there been a theme park so cold – until now. Spring 2013 sees the launch of SeaWorld Orlando’s most incredible attraction, Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin.

Explore the frozen wildernesses of the Antarctica through the eyes of the world’s most loved bird – the penguin.

Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin will take guests on a journey like no other to the coldest and most barren place on earth with a state-of-the-artinteractive ride combined with an animal attraction.

More details to follow…. for now it’s on ice.

Quidditch – just what are the rules anyway?

Ever wondered exactly what the rules of Quidditch are from the Harry Potter films? Well, wonder no more because below is a quick run down of the how to play;


The official rules of Quidditch are partially described in Quidditch Through the Ages. They are said to have been laid down in 1750 by the Department of Magical Games and Sports. Some of the more common rules are as follows:

  • Players must not stray over the boundary lines of the pitch, although they may fly as high as desired. The Quaffle must be surrendered to the opposition if any player leaves the boundary. Quidditch matches in the Harry Potter films, however, show players often deliberately flying over the boundary lines and even around the spectator towers.
  • time out may be called at any time by a team Captain. It may be extended to two hours if a game has already lasted for more than twelve hours. Failure to return to the pitch afterward disqualifies the offending team.
  • The referee can impose penalties if a foul occurs. A single Chaser from the fouled team takes a penalty shot by flying from the central circle towards the scoring area. The opposing team’s Keeper may attempt to block this shot, but no other player may interfere, much like a penalty shot in ice hockey.
  • Contact is allowed, but a player may not grasp another’s broomstick or any part of his or her body. (Draco Malfoy breaks this rule in Prisoner of Azkaban by grabbing Harry’s broomtail to stop him from seizing the Snitch.)
  • No substitution of a player is allowed, even if one is too badly hurt to continue (rare exceptions may be made when the game continues for a great length of time, and players become too fatigued to continue).
  • Players may take their wands onto the pitch, but they must not be used on or against any players, any player’s broomstick, the referee, any of the four balls, or the spectators. (The right to carry wands at all times was granted during the height of wizard and witch persecution by Muggles, according to Quidditch Through the Ages).


Rowling writes that there are 700 Quidditch fouls listed in the Department of Magical Games and Sports records, but most of these fouls are not open to the public, owing to the Department’s supposed fear the wizards/witches who read the list of fouls “might get ideas”. It is claimed that all 700 occurred during the very first Quidditch World Cup. Apparently, most are now impossible to commit as there is a ban on using wands against an opponent (imposed in 1538). The most common of those fouls which are described are enumerated below:

  • Blagging: No player may seize any part of an opponent’s broom to slow or hinder the player. (Draco Malfoy commits this foul in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, thus preventing Harry from seizing the Snitch.)
  • Blatching: No player may fly with the intent to collide. (Substitute Slytherin seeker Harper breaks this rule when he collides into Harry after insulting the latter’s friend, and Gryffindor Keeper, Ronald Weasley. This occurs in the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.)
  • Blurting: No player may lock broom handles with the intent to steer an opponent off course.
  • Bumphing: Beaters must not hit Bludgers towards spectators (although Harry jokingly orders one of his Beaters to send one at Zacharias Smith in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), or the Keeper, unless the Quaffle is within the scoring area. (In the first film, however, Marcus Flint, a Chaser, commits this foul with a Beater’s bat, and Madam Hooch penalises him for it.)
  • Cobbing: Players must not make excessive use of their elbows against opponents. (Marcus Flint, the Slytherin Chaser, commits this foul against the Gryffindor Chaser, Angelina Johnson, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).
  • Flacking: Keepers must not defend the posts from behind by punching Quaffles out of the hoops – goals must be defended from the front.
  • Haversacking: Chasers must not still be in contact with the Quaffle as it passes through a hoop (the Quaffle must be thrown through).
  • Quaffle-pocking: Chasers must not tamper with the Quaffle in any way.
  • Snitchnip: No player other than the Seeker may touch or catch the Golden Snitch.
  • Stooging: No more than one Chaser is allowed in the scoring area at any one time. (However, game play in Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup and the fan-made Q3D permit this behaviour.)

Well now you know the rules there’s no excuse not to have a game or two…just be careful on those broomsticks 😉


More Quidditch info

SeaWorld San Diego To Launch Manta In 2012

SeaWorld San Diego plans to unveil a $10 million manta-themed ride and animal exhibit for 2012, according to construction documents.

The marine park had been keeping the project under wraps until Web snoops discovered an online bid invitation for a “Sea World Manta Exhibit & Ride Attraction 2012” posted to the McGraw-Hill Construction website. The bid request seeks a general contractor for a “recreational” construction project built from “structural steel” in San Diego. McGraw-Hill’s “recreational” category includes casinos, theaters, athletic facilities and — wait for it — roller coasters.

SeaWorld San Diego officials declined to comment except to say that they plan to make an announcement in early February about a new attraction for 2012.

The news comes a few days after the Screamscape theme park news website published blueprints and drawings showing a track layout and “Manta-style sting ray” train design for a roller coaster reportedly coming to SeaWorld San Diego in 2012. The plans bear a striking resemblance to a Mack launched megacoaster called BlueFire at Europa Park in Germany, according to Screamscape.

SeaWorld’s sister park in Orlando, Fla., opened a similarly themed Manta flying coaster in 2009 that features a wing dip splashdown across a shallow lake. (View a Manta photo gallery by the Orlando Sentinel).

The SeaWorld San Diego ride will likely be located in a relatively unused back corner of the marine park near the Skyride and Flamingo Cove, according to Screamscape.

For 2011, SeaWorld San Diego will install a sea turtle exhibit, add the Riptide Rescue spinning boat ride and update the Shamu killer whale show.

Article from http://www.latimes.com