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Old November 22nd, 2014, 11:40 pm
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Grymmditch  Male.gif Grymmditch is offline
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Join Date: 14th February 2007
Location: Atop the Wizard's tower
Age: 56
Posts: 887
Re: Harry Potter Theme Park v.2

Well. I've been off this forum now for, I dunno, at least 3 years I think (I haven't checked)and I haven't had much to say or add; but one thing I've badly wanted to do for years is is visit the WWoHP.
Finally, 2 weeks ago, that wish came true. I went down with my wife and our 13 yr old son.
So here's my review and experiences, with a few tips for anyone who hasn't gone yet.

We did Hogsmeade first, but by way of King's Cross station near the Diagon Alley entrance. We decided to do that because Hogsmeade was the original park.
The ride on the Hogwarts Express is a joy, very immersive, and quite entertaining. It turned out to be my son's favorite part. The cabins look extremely authentic to the movies, just perfect in every detail. I won't say more as to not give too much away, but make sure to pay attention to the door as well as the window when riding.

At Hogsmeade, when you stand at the entry gate, the view is literally stunning. I stood there with my mouth open..I think I muttered an expletive to the effect of a divine or hallowed bit of poo. There is no photograph that can do that view justice. Hogwarts just looked magnificent looming over the town. From there, it looks so real, and the detail is impeccable.
I'm not huge on heavy duty roller coasters, so Dragon Challenge went unridden, but the Flight ot Hippogriff ride was fun if short-lived. The Forbidden Journey ride was totally awesome, I did that like seven times. The single rider line makes the whole thing even more enjoyable - more on this later. (My son is not exactly the brave type so he wouldn't go on any rides, so the wife and I went on separately while the other stayed with him. *sigh*.)
You can also do a "tour only", where you aren't rushed through the displays (portrait hallway, Dumbledore's office, DatDA classroom, Gryffindor Common Room) and get to see more of the castle than you normally would. It's surprisingly very very dark in there though, and the path too linear to seem like you're really in the castle.. I guess I was a little disappointed in that, but reality has it's limits.

We did the Ollivanders thing, and toured the shops, which was a lot of fun, not in any small part to the wonderful employees who work there. They were all phenomenal. I truly hope Universal treats them well, because they deserve it. They were all very kind, very helpful, and very generous. The guy at Honeydukes gave my son a Ravenclaw card (from a chocolate frog) just to make sure he'd get one, because he likes Ravenclaw. The wand master at Ollivanders didn't pick him for the show, but later came out to the shop and helped him pick a wand out. In case you're wondering, my son is not special needs or anything, the people are just that kind.

Oh, the butterbeer. Wow, you guys are not exaggerating. That stuff is all kinds of awesome.
We ate breakfast at the 3 Broomsticks (well, actually, the Hogs Head side), and I admit to chickening out. I was going to go with the traditional Brit breakfast, but some of looked.. unappealing.. so American it was. Hey, at least I still had "bangers" I guess. AKA sausage.

All in all, awesomeness abounded, but it did strike me that it was all rather small. Essentially just one medium-long length avenue.

Then on the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley. All in all we took the HE about 7 times.
I'll split this into two posts, with Diagon Alley for the next.

Okay, part two.

Diagon Alley. Wow. Okay, so while the looming Gringotts dragon (who periodically belches fire!) doesn't quite match the spectacle of Hogwarts, the rest of the place, it's immersive detail, feel, and countless entertaining bits, more than do so.
If you're a big Harry Potter fan and come here not for the rides, but to feel like you've magically, actually entered the wizarding world, this is the place you really want to be.
Many of the shop fronts are just facades, but each and every one is loaded with detail and authenticity. Most of the shops from the books/movies are here.
There is also a faithful recreation of Knockturn alley, and an interesting twist of the layout in what UO calls "Horizant Alley".
All in all, Diagon Alley is much larger than Hogsmeade, and we spent more time there.
The new addition is in every way worth going back for.
There is so much to see there, and some very interesting shops like Wiseacres or Scribbulus, although I would say Weasley's Wizard Wheezes didn't sell much of anything I found interesting. And I really thought they'd sell muggle magic tricks there (juggling balls aren't magic).
Ollivanders at Diagon alley is a more faithful reproduction of the movie set (especially the front) but I found that there are actually two rooms in the back where they run their show, which cuts down on waiting time significantly.
My one regret is not getting a chance to do the Gringotts Ride.. the single rider line was closed.

Regarding the single rider line I keep mentioning; if you're by yourself and not in a party, you can take the single rider line, which they use to fill in the gaps of odd numbered parties for the rides. The wait was essentially zero at Hogwarts. Highly recommended if you hate long lines and don't mind going solo for a little bit.

Lastly, though the parks were closing early due to the season, we managed to see them at night, both were absolutely beautiful.
I can't wait to go back some day. I had to force myself out of Diagon Alley when the last day was done.

Okay, part two.

Diagon Alley. Wow. Okay, so while the looming Gringotts dragon (who periodically belches fire!) doesn't quite match the spectacle of Hogwarts, the rest of the place, it's immersive detail, feel, and countless entertaining bits, more than do so.
If you're a big Harry Potter fan and come here not for the rides, but to feel like you've magically, actually entered the wizarding world, this is the place you really want to be.
Many of the shop fronts are just facades, but each and every one is loaded with detail and authenticity. Most of the shops from the books/movies are here.
There is also a faithful recreation of Knockturn alley, and an interesting twist of the layout in what UO calls "Horizant Alley".
All in all, Diagon Alley is much larger than Hogsmeade, and we spent more time there.
The new addition is in every way worth going back for.
There is so much to see there, and some very interesting shops like Wiseacres or Scribbulus, although I would say Weasley's Wizard Wheezes didn't sell much of anything I found interesting. And I really thought they'd sell muggle magic tricks there (juggling balls aren't magic).
Ollivanders at Diagon alley is a more faithful reproduction of the movie set (especially the front) but I found that there are actually two rooms in the back where they run their show, which cuts down on waiting time significantly.
My one regret is not getting a chance to do the Gringotts Ride.. the single rider line was closed. That looks awesome.

Regarding the single rider line I keep mentioning; if you're by yourself and not in a party, you can take the single rider line, which they use to fill in the gaps of odd numbered parties for the rides. The wait was essentially zero at Hogwarts. Highly recommended if you hate long lines and don't mind going solo for a little bit.

Lastly, though the parks were closing early due to the season, we managed to see them at night, both were absolutely beautiful.
I can't wait to go back some day. I had to force myself out of Diagon Alley when the last day was done.


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Last edited by Grymmditch; November 22nd, 2014 at 11:54 pm.
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