Wizarding World of Harry Potter secrets

Hey Thrill Seekers,

So Gavin and I let you in on some secrets we know about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the other week on OAT Live and I’m going to tell you all my favourites including some new ones we didn’t have time for…

  • Universal hired a large amount of its staff from Britain to ensure the experience is as authentic as possible. Each staff member also has to sit an exam to test their knowledge of the books and films to make sure interactions with guests are as seamless as possible.
  • Harry and Hermione’s voices in Escape From Gringotts aren’t actually their real voices
  • We all know that the Leaky Cauldron serves as a gateway between the magical and muggle world and Universal have added a hint of this to the sign of the Leaky Cauldron. Lets just say be careful of drips if you’re standing underneath the sign..
  • The perfume advertisement that can be found in Kings Cross Station at Universal Studios is not exactly the same as the one in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The advert in the film says ‘Tonight make a little magic with your man’ however the one used in Kings Cross says ‘make a little magic’ so it is a little less suggestive.
  • In Zonkos Joke Shop you can hear whispering coming from the Extendable Ears which can be found hanging over the registers. If you wish to purchase one, you can however there is a sign warning you of eavesdropping.
  • Also in Zonkos you can buy your very own Pygmy Puff – if you do decide to buy one the attendant will ring the bell and announce your Pygmy Puffs name to the whole shop!
  • Look out for the Pots and Pans cleaning themselves in the window to the left of the Three Broomsticks.
  • If you need to make a pit stop at the single restroom in Hogsmede you won’t be alone… Moaning Myrtle can be heard complaining in the men and the women’s loo’s!
  • It’s not just the Dragon that comes to life every 15 minutes.. every 15 mins a owl will pop out the top of the Owlery just like a cuckoo clock.
  • When in line for The Forbidden Journey if you stop by the potions classroom door and listen very carefully you will be able to hear Neville Longbottom being told off for not performing a spell correctly.
  • Keep an eye out for Kreacher in the window of 12 Grimmauld place if you decide to knock…

So there you have it.. some secrets to impress your mates with the next time you visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Some are tried and tested and some aren’t so let us know if you know of any more!!

Smiles Included,

Abby

Top Secrets at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We’re coming to the end of my secret stories on the parks but before we go, we’ll take a look at Busch Gardens. Just like at SeaWorld, Busch Gardens cater for everyone! It’s probably the best park for thrill seekers and animal lovers! Although it’s about an hours drive from the other parks, it’s so worth it!

The thrill seekers have so many coasters at Busch Gardens including Falcon’s Fury, Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra, Montu, Kumba, Scorpion an the new Cobra’s Curse! Could you want anymore coasters in one park?! You’ve also got Congo River Rapids and Stanley Falls to cool you down with a bit of a splash too.

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For all you animal lovers, Busch Gardens give you the chance to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful animals in some once in a lifetime opportunities. Walkabout Way is just like being in Australia with all of the kookaburras, kangaroos and wallabies. Not only that but you can also hand feed the kangaroos and wallabies! Be sure to check out the feeding times in the morning when you enter the parks.

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Serengeti Safari is a well known attraction at Busch Gardens but a lot of people still don’t know that there is an amazing feature on this safari where you can hand feed giraffes! That’s right..they will come over to you on your safari truck and eat right out of your hands!

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Over at Jungala you can see some the most breathtaking endangered animals such as Bengal tigers and orangutans. You can even soar through the trees on Jungle Flyer. If you enter Jungala from the bridge and look closely at the water rocks you’ll see the word ‘Jungala’! 😉

Just to show you even more of the care that they take over their animals, their Animal Care Centre is right inside the action in the park. You can go into the centre at any time of day (inside park opening hours of course) and if you’re there at the right time, you might even be able to watch the treatment. This could be anything from an x-ray to surgery!

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Busch Gardens really is an incredible park that you will never forget!

Sadly, we have come to the end of our secrets but be sure to let us know of anything else that you find on your holidays!

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Top Secrets at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Onto the last of the Disney parks now at Disney’s Animal Kingdom which happens to be the largest Disney theme park in the whole world at 500 acres! This is definitely going to be a walking boots kinda day…

Before you enter into the park, you might notice some of the cast sweeping up? Why not take a moment out of your day to go a bit closer, I mean would they really have rubbish to sweep away first thing in the morning…? 😉

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You might remember from my other post about Universal Studios that there was another entrance near to Blue Man Group with a lesser queue, well there’s a similar entrance at Animal Kingdom, just behind the Rainforest Cafe gift shop! This will give you that little bit of extra time to have in the park before the crowds.

The first thing to catch your eye in Animal Kingdom is pretty much guaranteed to be the Tree of Life in Discovery Island. It is absolutely mind blowing that there are over 300 animals carved into the tree and over 103,000 leaves that have been individually placed in the making of this tree. What’s that you say? ‘It’s not a real tree?!’ No, it’s not, it’s actually an oil rig believe it or not! The Tree of Life is also the home to It’s Tough To Be A Bug!’

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Let’s go anti clockwise round Animal Kingdom and visit DinoLand U.S.A. DINOSAUR is one of my favourite rides at Animal Kingdom, but there is one thing I have only just recently found out. When you are in the loading area for the ride, overhead are some pipes, red, yellow and white with formulas written on them. I can’t be sure what these formulas are officially but rumour has it they are Ketchup, Mustard and Mayonnaise from when the ride was previously sponsored by McDonalds!

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Next door in Asia is probably the part of the park where the thrill seekers are more likely to head to being the home of Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids. You may notice on some of the trees there are scarves draped around which are to commemorate lost ones.

Expedition Everest is the world’s most expensive roller coaster at over $100 million which isn’t very surprising when you realise that it’s made with 1800 tonnes of steel! The coaster is huge and I for one can say that it is definitely worth all the money that Disney have spent on it.

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Kali River Rapids is another amazing attraction where you are guaranteed to get soaked! It’s the perfect way to cool down on a boiling hot day! Not everyone is a fan of rapids or just water rides in general but with Kali River Rapids, you can still join in the fun without getting on! There is a bridge where you can walk over the rapid route and find a button. This button will squirt water out of the elephant onto riders as they go round! It’s a great laugh for everyone (not so much the people getting soaked)

For our final part of Disney, we’ll take a quick look into Africa, home to the Kilimanjaro Safaris. Just the safari land is 3 acres larger than the whole of Magic Kingdom! That’s ludicrous! The best time, I think, to do the safari is first thing in the morning as you’re more likely to see more animals. Throughout the day as the animals start to become harder to find, you might notice that the lions are nearly always sat upon Pride Rock’. This is because there are piped, chilled air holes in the rocks to encourage the lions to hang around here thus making it easier for guests to take their photos of them!

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So that’s it, we’ve actually come to the end of Disney, but what a journey we have had! Be sure to look out for these little secrets and let us know if you find anymore!

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Top Secrets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We’re half way through our Disney secrets and we’re heading over to Hollywood Studios to see what we can find out. Disney are working on a lot of new attractions at Hollywood Studios so let’s just take a quick look at what is still there at the moment and what we know about it.

Making our way down Hollywood Boulevard, if you look up at the windows you will see some initials stencilled in but can you work out who’s initials they are?

The Great Movie Ride vehicles have specific number plates ‘021-429’. This resembles the Valentines Day Massacre which happened February 14th 1929.

Over by Echo Lake there’s lots to look out for on Star Tours including the silhouette of Jar Jar Binks wearing his own set of Mickey ears!

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Muppets Courtyard is quite a small part of the park but still nonetheless a great part of it too! When you enter the Muppets 3D after the turnstiles you’ll see a door mat. Why not lift it up and see what’s underneath…? Don’t forget to look at all the graffiti on the walls!

Pixar Place has a very distinctive entrance wall but what you might not realise is this is an exact replica of the entrance to Pixar in California. All of the brickwork has been replicated perfectly.

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Sunset Boulevard is my personal favourite part of Hollywood Studios as it is home to Rock n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which are my 2 favourite attractions in the park. On Rock n’ Roller Coaster you might notice that each limousine has it’s own number plate. There are also safety signs around that form into a guitar which is allegedly a tribute to Elvis.

The Twilight Tower of Terror previews old fashioned scenes from the twilight saga on the screens. If you look closely at the little girl, you will see she appears several times holding a Mickey mouse doll.

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It is truly amazing how much detail Disney put into everything they do. Something that can seem like a minor detail about nothing to us, could mean something major to the imagineers at Disney.

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Top Secrets at Disney’s Epcot

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Hopefully you’re still enjoying finding out about some of the parks secrets?! I’m sure you are, or you wouldn’t be here would you…

We’re going to whizz around Epcot clockwise so you can get a feel for the park/world. Future World pavements come alive at night time in between Spaceship Earth and Innoventions. If you look down you will see the floor lit up. Speaking of Spaceship Earth, if you hit all of the switches and dials at once, something cool might happen!

Our first country pit stop is Mexico where you will be able to find added little steps on the side of the pyramids. These were added at a later date to ensure safety for children that liked to climb up.

Over at Norway the roof of the pavilion is covered in grass, real grass! They have gardeners that regularly maintain it instead of having goats up there like they really do in Norway! 😉

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Most of the time you’ll be absolutely boiling walking around the parks in the day with all that exercise, not to forget, the burning sun! If you purchase a fan from the China pavilion, they will personalise it for you and even write your name in Chinese!

At the back of the Germany pavilion is a cuckoo clock, you’ll need to be there at the top of the hour to witness it, and if you’re lucky enough to time it right you’ll see a wooden child pop out of the clock and twirl throughout the cuckoo.

Located in the middle of the Italy pavilion is the Fontana de Nettuno which is the fountain that contains the image of Neptune meaning God of the Sea.

You might notice that the America pavilion looks like it’s 3 storeys high when in actual fact it is 5 storeys high! The architects have done such an amazing job on deceiving the human eye.

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The Japan pavilion has a statue that was donated to Magic Kingdom by the Japanese government but it was later moved over to Epcot when the park opened.

Morocco might look ordinary to you but you might notice if you look close enough that you can spot the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They have painted this to match the rest of the buildings in this area of the Morocco pavilion so that it blends in as Disney like to have the concept of not seeing each of the parks from another. You may also notice that during Illuminations: Reflections of Earth that Morocco is the only pavilion not to be lit up. This is to show respect as it would go against their beliefs.

Only one part of Epcot can be seen and not touched by the public. This part happens to be in the France pavilion and be the Eiffel Tower. Disney call it the ‘carrot’ of the park because it is made to look bigger than it actually is. At only 1/10 of the size of the original, this tower is mounted on top of a building.

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Everyone loves to visit other peoples versions of their ‘home’ which is why I love seeing the United Kingdom pavilion. Here you can actually look up your own family ancestry and have it printed. This is available for everyone visiting the park, not just the Brits!

Canada seems to have a lot of little hidden elements in it’s pavilion. There are 3 totem poles there, but only ONE of these is actually real! There is also a rock that opens up for the Illuminations show which is where the globe comes out from. You’ll notice a beautiful waterfall that was actually built here to mask the noisy generator located just behind it and the Hotel du Canada looks 5 storeys high but in actual fact, is only 3! (a bit similar to the America pavilion)

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I have also heard that some of the trash cans and water fountains might talk to you…

What else do you know about Epcot?

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Top Secrets at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Day three and we’re being nosey at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Did you know, when you’re standing outside Cinderella’s Castle, the cast members are all walking around right beneath your feet? That’s right, Magic Kingdom is actually on the top level of 3 storeys. You won’t see many cast members strolling around the park because they are strolling around beneath you!

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Interesting fact number two, to ensure that the Magic Kingdom park is kept clean and tidy, you will find you are never anymore than 30 steps away from a bin! (Or a trash can as they would call it)

Anyway, onto some cool facts around the Magic Kingdom lands. As you enter the park into Town Square you will Tony’s Town Square Restaurant themed on Lady and the Tramp. If you look down outside, you will see paw prints from them – cute!

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Goofy can be seen on a bench just by Tony’s and if you sit close enough, you might be able to have a little conversation with him!

Continuing down Main Street with Cinderella’s Castle in sight, you might notice there’s a barber shop and yes, it’s a real working barber shop! Imagine being able to tell someone you had your hair cut at Magic Kingdom! Or it could be your son’s first ever hair cut?

Also down Main Street there are are some old-timely, decorative telephones that you can pick up and listen to. Who knows what you might find out from one of these?!

Over in Tomorrowland there are some metallic palm trees, usually seen to be spread open just like a normal palm tree. Stay there until the night time, and you will see them fold up! (Night night)

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Next door in Fantasyland you might see a statue resembling The Sword in the Stone. Many people take pictures trying to pull the sword out and then walk away, but little do they know that every so often someone will actually pull the sword from the stone!

Behind Cinderella’s Castle is a statue of Cinderella. If you bow down to take a drink from the water fountain, you will see that the crown on the backdrop sits perfectly on Cinderella’s head.

Liberty Square, home to The Haunted Mansion has lots of secrets floating around. On the top of the mansion you will notice that it is topped with all different chess pieces and if you look up at night time, you might see some spooks in the windows!

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Most of you will have heard of Hidden Mickey’s (if not check out this previous blog), but Frontierland has a Hidden Tinkerbell! As you exit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, you will see it on the rock on your left hand-side.

Before we go, we can’t forget Adventureland! As you exit the Pirates of the Caribbean ride you will walk across a moving floor. If you look down you will see footprints and circles, the circle represents the pirates stump!

Do you have any secrets about Magic Kingdom that you are eager to share with us?

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Top Secrets at Universal Studios

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Most of the parks have their own little secrets which lots of people may know about. If you don’t know about them, I’ll fill you in, but remember…it’s a secret!!

Let’s start off with Universal Studios:

To enter into either of the Universal parks you have to go through CityWalk anyway, once you’re in, head over to Blue Man Group and you will see a little single entrance with barely any queue with staff members there to scan your ticket to head straight into Universal Studios.

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Despicable Me Minion Mayhem has real banana trees grown outside..why? Because minions love bananas of course!

Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It allows you to choose your own song from the list each time you ride, but did you know you can play a secret song?! Simply hold down the logo for 10 seconds and enter in any 3 digit code for your secret song to begin!

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Over at the Revenge of the Mummy, there is a hidden statue of King Kong just inside, paying tribute to the original attraction. So he never actually left, he was just hiding!

Let’s shoot down some of the parade path over to Men In Black: Alien Attack. If you get there on a busy day and end up queuing, try jiggling some of the handles on the laboratories…

If it’s a quiet day, ask a team member for a tour of the ground floor of the immigration room. They may or may not be kind enough to do this with you! 😉

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It’s time for the bit you’ve all been looking forward to, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Here at Universal Studios you’re in Diagon Alley representing London. If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot Kreacher the house elf peeping out over Diagon Alley.

Traditional red telephone boxes through Diagon Alley have their own little magic trick. You can go in and dial 62442 (MAGIC) and be transferred through to the Ministry of Magic!

If you look closely you might also notice there’s a few references to Jaws throughout Diagon Alley such as the the record shop has a record in the window titled ‘Here’s to swimming with bow legged women’. There’s also telescopes made of jaws and a set of jaws inside the window of the apothecary shop.

If you’re looking to experience Harry Potter and the Escape to Gringott’s then you will get to see all of the goblins hard at work. If you get the chance, talk to Griphook the head goblin and ask him questions. Maybe even ask him about the dragon! 😉

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Now that you’ve escaped the safest place on Earth, why not take a trip on the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade?!

There’s lots to look out as you walk through the queue area but don’t miss platform 9 3/4 because you can actually walk through the wall!!

So there’s some of the secrets that I know of! Do you have any that haven’t been mentioned?

Smiles Included…

Louise

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