‘Wand’erful Wands

Hey Thrill Seekers,

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is rumoured to be one of the best parts of the Universal experience, if you’re into Harry Potter getting yourself a wand is also a HUGE deal and there is soooo much choice.

Both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are home to Ollivanders wand shop. The main store is situated in Diagon Alley and the extra ‘branch’ if you like is over in Hogsmeade. Ollivanders is the “maker of fine wands since 382 BC” the shop is filled with wand boxes that are stacked to the ceiling! You will also have the chance to take part in the magical interactive experience of how a wand chooses it’s user. You’ll have the choice to purchase your own unique wand or choose a replica one, used by everyone’s favourite Harry Potter Characters.

You can choose from either an interactive wand or one that isn’t interactive. There are many places to purchase your wands; Ollivanders, Wands by Gregorovitch, Orlando Gift Shops or even in CityWalk.

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Here’s a fun fact about how J.K. Rowling chose the wood for some of the main character wands: She has written that her choice for Harry’s wand was based on it properties however she later came across a description of the ‘Celtic calendar’ and how they assign different trees to different parts of the year. It Turned out that she had actually assigned the ‘correct’ wood for Harry’s wand and his day of birth. She then decided to do the same for Ron and Hermione’s wands so that they had a little hidden connection between the 3 that only J.K. Rowling knew about. Universal have actually incorporated this into their wand shops, the assistants in Ollivanders will take in to consideration your date of birth to get the most suitable wood when helping you choose your wand!

If you’re wondering what I mean by ‘interactive’ wands then wonder no more. Located all over the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, spell locations are marked by medallions which are set into the pavement. These medallions indicate where all you wizards and witches with interactive wands should stand to cast a spell.

Each marker will explain all the necessary information such as the direction spell-casters need to be facing, the words that need to be spoken for the spell and of course – the pattern in which you need to swish your wand to cast the spell.  – Most spell locations will have their very own expert spell caster who will always be on hand to help with any tricky spells.

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Every single wand comes equipped with a two sided map – one side for Diagon Alley and the other side for Hogsmeade for you to use to find the spell locations. My top tip for you is to look out for the HIDDEN spell locations! Some locations are not marked on the handy map so keep your eyes peeled and if you spot anything that remotely looks as though your wand can work its magic on then don’t be afraid to cast a spell!

You can either purchase your wands online beforehand or if you’re looking for the full experience and aren’t as impatient as I am you can grab a wand from one of Ollivanders shops inside the parks.

There are 39 replica wands for you to choose from such as Harry Potters, Professor Dumbledores, Death Eater wands and even Lord Voldermort. So are you a good or a bad wizard?? Replica wands are $39.95. There are also 27 interactive wands that you can pick from; there are wands for each of the different woods in the celtic calendar as well as all your favourite characters such as Harry, Hermione and Ron. Interactive wands are $47.95.

Soo not a lot of choice is there?! 😉 After thinking long and hard about it and annoying everyone else in the office discussing the pro’s and con’s for each wand I have come to the conclusion that I would definitely go for an interactive wand and it would have to be the Ron Weasley one!! Which wand would you go for any why?!

Don’t forget to purchase your Universal tickets before you travel to ensure to get to experience the greatness of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!

Spells Included..

Jess
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2014’s Most Genius Orlando Theme Park Introductions

Hey Thrill Seekers,

To make yourself stand out in the world of theme parks you’ve got to try and not only get onboard with the next big IP but also think outside the block. In 2014 we were spoilt with the amount of new and innovative attractions that the major theme parks dropped on us. Here are just a few of my favourites.

Hogwarts Express

Whoever it was that sat in the Universal boardroom and said “ummm how about we link the two Wizarding Worlds with a train” is an absolute genius.  Not only is it totally unique but it fits in to the whole look and feel of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

If I had a pound every time we were asked if our tickets include the use of the Hogwarts Express I’d be a very rich man. Actually I could probably buy my own Hogwarts Express! (Just so you know our tickets do include use of the Hogwarts Express)

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the train is just to move people around the park but no, its also a theme park ride in itself. Depending upon which way you travel you’ll experience an adventure that pops you right in the middle of your own JK Rowling story.

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Falcons Fury

I’ve been in conversations about this ride at Busch Gardens Tampa where the phrase “its a bit of a one trick pony” has been bandied around… To a certain point this is probably true, but what a trick it is!

Drop rides have been around for a long time, so to make them standout you have to come up with something pretty special. Yeah you can build it taller than anything else in the skyline, and Busch Gardens has done this but you need something else to make it stand out.

How about we drop you at a 90 degree angle so you’re facing the floor!? Yep that will do it!

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Interactive Wands

Yep its back to Universal and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. When it was first revealed that Universal would be building Diagon Alley one of the things we took a stab in the dark predicting was interactive wands. Sometimes you chuck something out there and it comes true.

Through out Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade you’ll notice little symbols on the floor, these symbols tell the visitor that they can use their interactive wand here. The young Wizard follows the instructions on the symbol to cast the spell. More information can be found in our post – Yes interactive Wands at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are cool

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Disney’s My Magic+

When you spend a few billion dollars implementing something totally unique within the theme park world you pretty much deserve to be on this list.

Disney’s My Magic+, My Disney Experience or Disney’s FastPass Plus whichever you prefer allows customer to pre-reserve fastpass slots on their favourite rides and attraction even before they step in to the park. Not only this but in a genius piece of adding value customers can also attach their credit/debit card details to their account which is connected to their ticket so they can purchase additional bits within the parks.

The system has been mostly received as a positive and although its cost Disney a huge chunk of its profits this long term investment is sound. It also puts pressure on the other parks to come up with an alternative to the antiquated express pass system.

You can find out more about Disney’s My Magic Plus here.

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I wonder what 2015 will bring. Hopefully some more exciting and innovative creations…we can only wait.

Smiles Included…

Jamie

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Yes Interactive Wands At The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Are Cool!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

What is this?

10730221_902175283127589_5586109338008875308_nOne of our customer described it as “Lots of fun” another as “amazing” but what is it?

When Universal Orlando decided to expand the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade they knew they’d have to make it bigger and better. For those of you who’ve been to the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios you know they definitely delivered! Not only is the staging superb but they added a fire breathing dragon and a fully working Hogwarts Express!

However for me its the little things that make it such a success and that brings me back to my original questions, what is the symbol above?

What is the symbol?

Well this symbol denotes that you can use the new interactive wands here! Yep thats right Universal, the clever so and so’s, have created certain areas within both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade that will react when certain “spells” are cast.

Where?

When you purchase your interactive wand at Ollivanders (either shop) you’ll be given a map which details all the interactive spots in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, make sure you use the map as there are tons of spots that you’ll miss if you just follow the crowd.

How?

Follow the map, when you reach the interactive point (symbol above & below) take a good look at it. The symbol will tell you exactly how to cast your spell.

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This particular spell is to make a feather float. You’ll notice that the symbol has words written around the edge, these are the “magic words” that you’ll need to perform, as per the books the magic words used to make things float is “Wingardium Leviosa” however you don’t just need words you’ll also need to know what to do with your wand. You’ll notice in the middle of the symbol is a strange mark, this mark is actually your instructions for what to do with your wand, a “u” movement and then a swish downwards for this spell and a flick.

While I was in Orlando our guide actually helped one of the guests to use their wand, here are his tips to casting spells.

  • Try not to stand in front of the symbol. either behind it or on it will see the best results.
  • Try smallish movements, no big over the top movements… its not what Wizards do!
  • Be patient, it will come, no one said being a Wizard was easy!
  • If you’re having issues talk to a cast member, they’ll be more than happy to help you.

1491583_900386143306503_6798817227309893272_nUniversal’s interactive wands cost approx. $47 each which might seem pretty costly however the joy and look of amazement that you see on childrens faces is totally worth the cost.

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Universal Confirm Interactive Wands For Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Last year we wrote a post about how we hoped Universal would add interactive wands to Diagon Alley. Well today Universal have confirmed via a video featuring the Weasley’s that their new style wands will offer you the chance to cast spells.

The wands can be purchased at either Ollivanders shops (Hogmeade or Diagon Alley) and allow the wizard to interact with storefronts in both Wizarding Worlds.

When you purchase your wand you’ll also be supplied with a map, on this map you’ll find markers that will lead you to every location that offers interaction. You’ll also see bronze medallions embedded into the streets that mark the various shop windows where you can cast spells.

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Here are some of the location we know about;

  • With a simple swish and flick, you can levitate a feather quill at Scribbulus…
  • Use a Silencing Charm to quiet the maddening song of the Fwooper bird at Magical Menagerie…
  • And light all the lamps and chandeliers in Flimflam’s Lanterns window…

Watch this video below to see the Weasley’s test out the new interactive wands.

A great addition to the Wizarding World. Universal are really pulling all the stops out for what looks to be Orlando’s best 2 park option.

Smiles included..

Jamie

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Other Things We’d Like To See Added To The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Not sure if you’re aware or not, as its been kept really quiet… 😉 but Universal will be launching the second phase of their massively popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter later this years, the new land featuring Diagon Alley and London will find a home at Universal Studios meaning that Islands of Adventure will have Hogsmeade and Universal Studios will have Diagon Alley… both connected by a working and rideable Hogwarts Express!!!

The phrase “a sure thing” has never been truer when it comes to how popular the new expansion will be, the hunger for all things Potter hasn’t subsided and with Universal’s OCD like attention to detail we’re pretty confident that 2014 will be dominated by Diagon Alley. Recently Universal held a webcast to reveal a few details , you can read about what they told us here.

Today we’ve been thinking about what we would like see added to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter after Diagon Alley opens. Here’s what we came up with…

Wizarding Lessons

Universal already offer some great shows including the Horror Make-Up Show at Universal Studios, wouldn’t it be cool if they did something similar for Potter. Imagine being able to enter a Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson where us Muggles are taught by one of Hogwarts teachers…

Not just this lesson but what about watching a lesson where we see two Wizards dualling or Professor Snape teaching us potions? This type of entertainment would be great, the books offer tons of ideas for how these lessons could be scripted and the cost to Universal would be minimal. Win Win.

wizarding lessons

Wand Interaction

We’ve mentioned this before on another post, but we’d love to see the Wands you can purchase from Ollivanders actually do something within the Wizarding Worlds. We’re not technical in any but we’re pretty sure you could make the wands RFID enabled very similar to the Disney Magic Bands and Tickets, so that they could link certain items around the Wizarding World to make them interactive, for example a suit of armour could collapse,dance or levitate.

Perhaps you could even pay for things in the park by linking your wand to your debit card, a flick and swish and that Butterbeer is yours?…

Imagine the delight on childrens faces when their wand actually does something! 🙂 #amazeballs

Shrieking Shack 

In the Potter books the Shrieking Shack is a notoriously haunted house found just outside of Hogsmeade. We think it would be pretty interesting to incorporate a house that would be similar to the houses offered at Universal Halloween Horror Nights, maybe not as scary as those but a walk through scare house.

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Whomping Willow

Between The Whomping Willow and those tree’s that walk in the Lord of the Rings, I think I’ve easily covered the most violent trees ever written about. The Whomping Willow is pretty iconic in the Wizarding World. The image of the tree trying to smash anything that comes within range lends itself pretty easily to an attraction based on it.

In my mind it could be a mixture of Samurai and Rush at Thorpe Park, giving the rider a mixture of shaking and spinning caused by Samurai and the long sweeping belly turning movements of Rush…

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So there you go four ideas that Universal can use if they want to, I’ll accept my usual cut of 50% 😉

What would you like to see added at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Smiles included…

Jamie

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