Expecto Patronum

This past weekend, I left my teens behind on a road trip to Islands of Adventure. I’m not a roller coaster fan, to say the least, but I am a Harry Potter aficionado.

Back in elementary and middle school, I’d get the newest chapter of the septology at midnight and devour the contents the next day. When the movies started coming out, I would wait in the lengthy lines the day each was premiered. It was a childish obsession like no other (except maybe Hello Kitty).

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando is a dream come true for all us hopeful wizards and witches. Too bad there was no such spell to make the immense crowd disappear!

Despite the 70 minute line for the main attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the 90 minute wait to enter Ollivander’s wand shop and basically at least a 30 minute wait for anything in that section of Islands of Adventure, “Harry Potter World” was incredible.

The creators of Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts castle paid attention to every little detail. The tops of the shops were lined with fake snow and while in line for the Forbidden Journey ride, you walk through the castle, including the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, the Mirror of Erised, Dumbledore’s office, corridors of talking paintings, and the greenhouse where Professor Sprout teaches Herbology.

SPOILER ALERT: the ride is one of the craziest, best rides I’ve ever been on. It’s a sort of simulator ride unlike any other because it combines both real sets and wrap-around projections. It’s an exciting and sometimes scary ride that makes us muggles feel as if we’re riding this alongside our favorite characters and get to go through the same obstacles they do, such as dementors and Quidditch.

After the ride, I went to Honeydukes and Zonko’s to get some treats and games, like chocolate frogs that have holographic cards inside and an inflatable tongue.

The only thing I would have changed, other than the amount of people, is the quality of the wands. For $30, I would hope they would be made of wood, but to my dismay they were cleverly crafted of plastic. Luckily, I was drinking a delicious frozen Butterbeer to cheer me up.

Other fun parts were the two gift shops, the Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head, and two other rides. The place was done really well and whenever I look at my hourglass keychain, I’ll remember my enchanted 20th birthday.

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