Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Harry Potter World

So I'm late with this, mostly because I'm in a writing frenzy getting the rough draft of book 3 finished by the end of the month, so I have time enough to revise before it's due Oct 1. (If you're reading this Heather or Marlene, no, worries, I'll have it done.) It doesn't help that I had to be back at school early for textbook training, which is a blog in and of itself and I'm trying not to think about it except when I absolutely have to.

But I thought I'd report about Harry Potter World. First, I am glad I went. I would have hated missing it. That said, I give it a B/B-. It looks great. Just like the movies. But as you can see from the pic, it's crowded, which is odd because we didn't have trouble getting on the rides at all. We'd heard horror stories about the lines, but they proved untrue. So...

The Dragon Challenge was a challenge for a woman who hasn't been on a big roller coaster in years because her youngest is frightened of anything with loops. But I did it, although I have to confess my eyes were closed for parts of it. It's disconcerting to see the sun shining in your eyes at weird angles. We didn't even ride the Hippogriff after the Dragon challenge. It looked cute, but it's a small simple roller coaster. We stood in line for Olivander's to buy wands. The little show is cute but disappointing in that they only chose one person to measure and go through the wand choosing process. I understand (think back to the crowds) but it was disappointing nonetheless. Especially since I share a birthday with Harry Potter (and JK Rowling for that matter).

So the big ride was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This is the one where you walk through Hogwarts. Some of the paintings move and speak just as you'd expect, and in Dumbledore's office, he speaks to you via a hologram projection, and it looks 3-D (-ish; close enough). You move to the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom where the coolest part of the ride happened. Harry, Ron, and Hermione appear from under the invisibility cloak to talk to you, but Ron says something and gets excited and his wand goes off, and Hermione says, "Oh, Ron, you made it snow again." At this point the everyone in line let out an "Oooh" in awe, because SNOWFLAKES FALL FROM THE CEILING! Really. Snow. A couple landed on me and melted. And it was totally awesome hearing a room of people gasp in awe.

The ride itself is a combo of virtual reality and storybook ride (picture Haunted Mansion at Disney only the chairs --school benches that seat four--except the chairs swing, lay back, and whirl.) The 3-D film virtual reality part is really cool because it's 3-D without glasses and you slip almost seamlessly between the animatronics parts and the film parts. You go through a chimney to get "outside" and fly around the castle, then you see Hagrid looking for a dragon, then the dragon chases you, then you make it to the quidditch field, then the dementors appear, you end up in the forbidden forest with the giant spiders who spit "poison" at you, then you're in the chamber of secrets with the basilisk skeleton, and then you fly back to the Great Hall and it's over. It's not too bad.

But here are the negatives: the dementors look hokey, even though the blowing of cold air on you is a great effect. The spiders look fake too, but they're better than the dementors. The rest of the ride is good, but let's talk about the line. I've already mentioned we didn't have to stand in line long, but we wouldn't have minded because they entertain you along the way. In fact the second time we went on it, we decided we'd let people get ahead of us so we could take in the details. Dumbledore's Office and the DADA classroom were cool, as were the hallways with the talking portraits, but part of the line takes you through the greenhouse, where they had some mandrakes planted, but they were just figurines. They really should have been moving or squirming and they should have also had some of the other plants(they have some plants in hanging baskets, but not plants from the novel). The house hourglasses were the most disappointing. They look like those candy bins from candy stores (you know the ones--the huge tubes where you serve yourself out of the bottom) and they were filled with tiny bead size "gems." I really pictured them bigger, the gems I mean. And It would have been cool to see gems being added or taken away and the total points registering somewhere. That couldn't be too hard to do. And frankly I think walking through Hogwarts would have been a bigger thrill than an actual ride. To see the potions classroom and the common rooms. I guess I just think they could have done more.

Hogsmeade was so crowded with people, I was wondering if they miscalculated the flow of the area. And it was small. I mean I know they couldn't build an actual village, but it was surprisingly small. And while some of the window displays move (the Book store carries copies of Gilderoy Lockhart's books with Kenneth Branaugh primping on the covers) but there could have been so much more. Owls on the rooftops, more "magical" movement in the windows (The music store has some). I don't know. I just would have liked more. One semi-neat touch was Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom (at least the girls' room--I didn't go in the boys' convenience), but the acoustics were so bad that you can't understand her (the reason for the semi-neat).

So I'm glad I went; I had a fun time, and I won't even complain here about the humidity, heat and the thunderstorm that all but shut down Universal (everything except three rides).

Books I'm reading now:
Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
Confessions of a Little Black Gown by Elizabeth Boyle
Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment Gabi—except for the Dragon Challenge roller coaster. That was super fun. You and Sherri are just wimps! :0) (Says the one who found a way to grin from ear to ear while screaming my head off.) Oh, and the wands I brought back were a really big hit! And let’s not forget the butterbeer. It was... interesting, eh?