Harry Potter, the young wizard featured in J.K. Rowling’s books, has entertained readers and inspired Universal Studios’ “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” theme park in Orlando, Fla. The park opened in June 2010, and in my opinion, it is awesome. It helped me enjoy the books better; it showed a glimpse of how wizards might live.
Upon entering the park, my parents and I saw the Hogwarts Express, the train that takes you to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We couldn’t ride the train, but we chatted with the conductor; I liked his English accent.
We headed for Hogwarts castle, which houses the “Forbidden Journey,” my favorite. The long wait was entertaining because you have to go through the castle/school to get to the ride. There are talking pictures of the school’s four founders, arguing for/against Muggles (non-wizards) being allowed in. There are hourglasses showing house points; Gryffindors were ahead — excellent! Professor Dumbledore welcomed everybody; I could even see the pensieve in his office! We passed the Fat Lady, who cheered, “Go Gryffindors!” Harry, Hermione and Ron invited us to a Quidditch match.
The ride is a moving cart controlled by a mechanical arm. Hermione sprinkled us with floo powder, and we were taken away on an adventure. It is the most immersive ride I have ever been on! There is a mix of a giant screen and real mechanical things, like Aragog, dementors and the Whomping Willow. The movements were an important addition and made me feel like I was really flying: a total five-star rating in my eyes!
The coaster “Flight of the Hippogriff” was fast, fun but mild. Going up the hill, we passed Buckbeak the hippogriff and Hagrid’s hut. You can hear Hagrid teaching how to ride a hippogriff. The “Dueling Dragons” is a pair of intertwining coasters, too intense for me.
Ollivander’s wand shop is popular. A person is picked to see which wand “chooses” them. After the show, customers are led into the rest of the store, where wands and other wizard accessories are sold. At the Owl Post, I mailed postcards to friends and family.
All the workers are dressed like wizards, which made the experience believable. At Hogsmeade, we bought chocolate frogs and cauldron cakes from Honeydukes; the display of puking pastilles at Zonko’s joke shop was funny. There were stores that were closed, but if you looked through the windows, you can still see a nice display inside.
There are two restaurants, the Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head; not only can you get regular foods, but you can also buy pumpkin juice and butterbeer. The pumpkin juice is like liquid pumpkin pie — tasty. The butterbeer tastes like butterscotch. The Hog’s Head is a bar where they sell drinks.
Overall, this experience was truly amazing, and I’m still waiting for my acceptance letter to attend Hogwarts for my 11th birthday.
Zoe Alexa Diaz-Parker is a fifth-grader at The Academy of The Holy Names