Day 6, Part 1: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I was kind of nervous about this day. I can make a Disney park touring plan in my sleep, but I knew next to nothing about Universal Orlando, and I was worried we were gonna make all the rookie mistakes I see people make at WDW. I did do a bunch of research though, using what little’s out there—mainly the Universal/Islands of Adventure board on the DIS and one comprehensive independent guidebook, Universal Orlando 2011 by Seth Kubersky with Kelly Monaghan. (There were things about the writing style that bugged me, but overall it’s a great introduction to both parks and an easy read.)

I also got a lot of helpful info from Nathensey pals Justin & Lu, who’d just been to Wizarding World and brought back a lot of helpful insider info, including a tip about the line at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey that I’ll share when we get there.

I’m going to put everything I learned into this installment as a kind of mini-travel guide for Disney fans who just want to do Wizarding World “right” without a lot of research into the whole of Universal Orlando.

Hotels

I actually considered dropping a night from our reservation at the Beach Club to stay at one of the Universal hotels to get the Universal Express Plus passes (kind of like a FastPass you can use over and over) and an hour of early entry for WWoHP. What eventually dissuaded me (aside from being certain that none of the three resorts could be as fabulous as the Beach Club) was that we were going on a Wednesday in early October and crowds would not be so bad that having UEP would make a big difference. Plus, it doesn’t even work on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. As it turned out, this was the way to go—the only rides we had to wait more than a few minutes for were Forbidden Journey and the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman (about 20 minutes for the latter). Jurassic Park River Adventure said it had a 45-minute wait, but it was more like 10! Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls had a super-long line in the midday heat, but we discovered a single-rider shortcut at the start of the line and ended up getting to ride together anyway.

Tickets

The next thing I agonized over was what kind of tickets to buy—specifically, whether we should try to see both parks in one day. We did Universal Studios in California once and were so thoroughly unimpressed that we were done in less than half a day. I figured that even if they were better, the Orlando parks were still smaller and less interesting than the Disney parks, so we might be able to just hit all the highlights of both in one day—especially if we had the Universal Express Plus pass. However, Patrick eventually talked me out of it, pointing out that it would be nice not to have to rush through Islands of Adventure to get to Universal Studios even if we did finish WWoHP in just a few hours.

After that, the problem was that Universal had just jacked its prices way up and changed its ticketing structure to more closely match Disney’s—in other words, incredibly unfriendly to single-day visitors. We bit the bullet and bought 1-day, 1-park passes to Islands of Adventure at the gate (because buying 1-day tickets actually costs $2.50 in fees if you do it online—the online discounts only kick in when you buy multiday passes).

Since then I have wondered if it would have been smarter to buy the cheapest annual pass, since our Disney Premier Passes would be bringing us back to Orlando at least once more within the year. But its $230 price tag would only be cheaper than 2 individual visits if we were buying 1-day park hoppers both times—two 1-day, 1-park tickets and the price of parking on both visits was still $36 cheaper than an annual pass we weren’t positive we’d use again. Still, if you are planning to visit at least twice in a year and park hop, you might want to check it out. And if you can get the cheaper Florida resident annual pass, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.

Plan of Attack

Since WWoHP was our main interest, we decided to get to Islands of Adventure about an hour before it opened to be at the front of the line, run to WWoHP and do everything once, then take a break for a sit-down lunch at Mythos and see the rest of IOA afterward. In the evening, we planned to go back to WWoHP because we’d heard the crowds die down about an hour before closing. Then we’d finish the night with dinner at one of the Universal hotels. This all went just as well as we’d hoped, so I highly recommend it!

So, without further ado, here’s the story…

Our day started verrrrrrrry early. For some reason, there was no hot water in our room, which got me super-annoyed. If we were morning showerers, I would have been livid. Housekeeping was less than impressed by the gravity of the situation when I called them, which annoyed me even more. I mean, c’mon, this is the Beach Club, not some $50/night motel. No hot water? Really? We survived, though, and staggered out the door to our rental car.

If you like bunnies, you're going to want to hang out in the Beach Club parking lot at 7am!


We got to see the sunrise along the way


The drive to Universal was easy. The Universal Orlando guidebook devoted three paragraphs to which exit to take from Hwy 4, but all three of them will get you there. I think we took the first one we saw. I don’t know if it was the early hour or just that the Universal parks are less popular than Disney’s, but it was weird to be practically the only people arriving at UO.

Obligatory bad gate shot!


We paid the extra $4 (now it’s $5) to park in the Preferred Section—totally unnecessary at that hour cuz there were, like, 3 other cars in the lot.

Nobody forget where we parked!


Speed ramps—now there's a page Disney could take from Universal's book!


Still on the speed ramp...


What we saw from the speed ramp


Well how speedy could these things be if we're still on 'em?!


At last!


The last thing I'd ever want to do on vacation


A waterway separates parking, Universal CityWalk, and the hotels from the theme parks. It’s quite picturesque.

Closer…


Closer…


Closer…


Too close!


 

The ticket booths weren’t open yet, so we paid at Guest Services instead. I actually had to ask them if the ticket included in-and-out privileges—what a rube!

Nice to see an attempt at Disney-style theming

Hotel guests were already accessing the park through the turnstiles on the left while we waited at the ones on the right. Even though there were about 30 people already at the gate when we got there an hour early, we still ended up at the front of a line—they didn’t seem to understand that all turnstiles would be open eventually and were crowded around just two of them.

Unlike at Extra Magic Hours at a Disney park, there seemed to be hardly anyone going into the park early, so we didn’t have that panicked feeling you get as people pour past you while the moments drag toward park opening.

When we finally did get in, there wasn’t much time for picture-taking as I charged toward Wizarding World of Harry Potter with my best Disney speed-walk. Just for this one:

Tip #1: It will kill you, but if you get to WWoHP when it opens, do NOT run to join the crowds streaming into Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Instead, get in line for Ollivanders. I have never in my life run from rope-drop directly to a gift shop, but in this case it was worth it. The little “wand chooses you” show they do for about 20 people at a time in Ollivanders is cute, but it is SO not worth waiting an hour in line for. See it first with only a 5- or 10-minute wait and then run to Forbidden Journey. At least that one has a partially shaded queue with interesting things to look at!

Don't go here first…


…go here first!


The show is cute and the special effects are fun, but, again, I would have been pretty cranky if we’d waited an hour for what it turned out to be.

 

 

After the show, they herd you into what I think was the Owl Post shop, or maybe Dervish & Banges. We dashed straight out to get in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and then every time we went back it was so mobbed by people coming out of the wand shop that we never really got a good look at it. Now I wish we’d taken the extra time to see it.

Tip #2: When you get to Forbidden Journey, you will see a huge line all the way back down the path to the castle, and you will freak out. The best tip we learned prior to going was THIS LINE IS NOT FOR THE RIDE. It is for the lockers where you have to stash anything bigger than a point-and-shoot camera! Bypass this line by going up the path to the exit for the ride’s gift shop, passing through the shop, and accessing the nearly empty back section of lockers that the people lining up at the other entrance don’t seem to see.

All the lockers required by the rides at Universal are a real drag. I guess they enable the designers to make rides that do crazy stuff you never see at Disney, but it’s such a hassle to have to try to figure out what you’re willing to take with you that you might possibly lose on the ride, and then go dump and retrieve your stuff. We weren’t sure if Patrick’s camera would be OK, and I ditched my iPhone for fear of it falling out of my pocket, but it later turned out both were fine on Forbidden Journey.

I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books and hadn’t seen any of the movies but the first one, many years ago, so forgive me if I don’t have captions for most of the stuff we saw in line for the ride.

This is the boringest part of the queue. I wish the whole thing were inside.


I would say we waited maybe 40 minutes in line. The crazy part was, as soon as we got inside the castle, we discovered HUGE gaps in the line as people stood around, mouths agape at all the details. Once we were inside, the line moved quite quickly.

The living portraits were cool, but I wished I'd known more about the lore to really appreciate them.


 

 

This is the Sorting Hat. Apparently it is a big deal. It tells you safety instructions for the ride.

 

"Permanecer sentados, por favor"


It was impossible to take pictures on the ride itself, so I’ll try to tell you my impressions of it: “Whoa. Whoaaaaaaaaaaaa! Whoa! Whoa! Huh… Whoawhoawhoawhoa—ACK! Water in my eye! Oof! Ugh! Whoa! Whoooa! Wait—what? Whoaaaa! Whooaaaa! What’s that floating cheesecloth on a stick supposed to be? Whoa! Whooooooa! Oof! Blaaaarrrrrgh! Whoa! WHOA! Ahhhhh….”

I got in trouble with Jensey for not warning her how scary the ride is, but I honestly didn’t realize it was scary…  Maybe if I’d been more familiar with the lore or afraid of bugs or something, but the giant spiders just annoyed me cuz they shot me in the eye with water, and the Dementors looked like high-rent versions of those Kleenex ghosts you make with cotton balls on popsicle sticks. Which is not to say I didn’t like the ride—I did! It was intense and thrilling and fun. I just didn’t get immersed in the story enough to be scared by it.

Universal certainly moves you around the ride in ways Disney doesn’t—not just with the KUKA robotic arm on Forbidden Journey, but with their other thrill coasters too. There’s definitely more of a feeling of jeopardy when you ride (although that could be due to seeing the slackjawed kids they get to run the rides…)

The exit deposits you in Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, which you’ll get a better look at in the pictures we took later in the day.

I eventually got one of these as a souvenir—they're really well made, with heads that turn and real chirpy owl noises at the touch of a button!


Hagrid's Hut


Flight of the Hippogriff is a lame re-theme of an existing kiddie coaster—don’t wait in line long for this one! The best part was the real-live Hippogriff chained up nearby.

I’m sorry we don’t have any pictures of the ride, though. I’m noticing a bunch of shots that I thought/wished we’d taken to show you guys but somehow overlooked. I think it’s easier to remember to shoot pix when you’re not dashing around experiencing everything for the first time.

Our next stop was Dragon Challenge, which meant another pre-ride detour through a locker room. At least this one was cleverly themed to the train station where you catch the Hogwart’s Express.

 

Harry Potter fans, get ready for more inside stuff that flew over my head! Like this…

…And this…

…And this…

This reference LITERALLY flew over my head: the floating candles of Hogwarts’ great hall.

These are candles… really!


Again, this time with RoboVision!


Dragon Challenge turned out to be an even lamer re-theme of an existing coaster, cuz in this one they stripped out all the things that had made it interesting (namely, skeletons!). Instead it’s just a big dark passage you walk through until you get to a crowded, chaotic room where nobody is telling you where to go—you just walk right up to any ride car and hope you’re in the right place.

I was shocked at how poorly managed this line was. The idea is that you pick one of two kinds of dragons to ride (it’s a double coaster with two intertwined tracks), but with no employees managing the line, people either stood there not sure where to go or formed huge unruly crowds at one loading area but not the other. We learned through a game of telephone going on among the other guests that one side of the ride was having problems, so we all herded over to the other, but there were no announcements or even hollering employees broadcasting this. The first time I encountered a real-live Universal employee was after I’d seated myself and someone on the other side of the ride track checked my shoulder restraint.

The ride itself might be good—I couldn’t tell because it was over so fast. Its claim to fame is the part where cars on the two tracks come so close to each other that the riders’ feet almost touch, but it happened so soon and so quickly that I missed it. This bummed me out cuz I sure as heck wasn’t waiting in line again to ride that thing. Here’s what it looks like:

Having ridden everything once, we finally felt free to wander around Hogsmeade window-shopping (we decided to wait til the end of the day to buy anything so we wouldn’t have to lug it around).

There’s a row of shops that you can’t go inside. I know the budget had to be held down somewhere, and it’s neat how detailed the window displays are, but I couldn’t help being disappointed that they were just façades.

Tip #3: If you want to try Butterbeer, don’t wait in the long, long line at the cart in the middle of the street. Get it from the Hog’s Head pub inside Three Broomsticks, where the line is either shorter or nonexistent. Also, if you skip the souvenir mug, you’ll save $7.75!

If you wait long enough, you'll see this guy come to life


Frozen Butterbeer


This stuff was better than I expected—I thought it would have that sickly sweetness of a butterscotch candy stick, but it wasn’t that bad. I think the non-frozen kind might, though. The foam on top had kind of a chemically aftertaste, but otherwise it was pretty dang good.

 

Honeydukes was AMAZING! It was hard not to buy all our candy right then. I didn’t get to try most of it til I got home, but I’ll stick my reviews in here…

Every-Flavour Beans: Definitely weird-tasting


Basically just what the package says—a giant frog made out of chocolate. It was the low-quality, waxy kind of chocolate


This stuff looked SO good and tasted so SO bad! It had a gummy, lardy texture and an icky, chemically taste


And this is just plain creepy!


 

We got suckered into one of those “Buy 17 and the 18th is free!” fudge deals… They had more interesting-sounding flavors than Disney, but it turned out to be the same kind of dry, artificially flavored stuff….

I had to work hard to talk myself out of these witches’ cauldrons—they were so cute and sounded so good (chocolate cake with a mousse center, as I recall), but I could already almost taste how bland they would be…

Zonko’s toy shop was sooooo appealing! We loved the colors and all the retro packaging.

Did I mention it was super-crowded in all the shops?


These little Tribble-like things were another almost-impulse buy for me. So cute! So pink!

It was getting to be lunchtime, and WWoHP was really filling up.

Don't buy your Butterbeer here…


…buy it here!


 

We headed out of WWoHP and back to the Lost Continent for our lunch reservation at Mythos. By all accounts, this place is the Blue Bayou or Le Cellier of Islands of Adventure, and they even have a banner over the door proclaiming their status as “#1 Theme Park Restaurant in the World Six Years in a Row,” courtesy of ThemeParkInsider.com. What they neglect to mention is that Mythos hasn’t won that distinction since 2008. (In fact, Universal’s web site erroneously states that Mythos was the #1 restaurant in 2009 when in fact Chefs de France took the prize that year…which pretty much destroys ThemeParkInsider’s credibility with me right there…)

Maybe it was the self-aggrandizing sign over the door… Or maybe it was the supposedly haute-cuisine menu littered with lowbrow items like wraps, pad thai, and “sushi” made with tempura… Or maybe it was the fact that they made us wait 15 minutes past our reservation time when the cavernous restaurant was more than half empty… But something about this place just set my teeth on edge before I’d even made it past the lobby.

While we waited, we observed another gentleman rocking the villainous moustache Patrick was trying to grow for his Harrison Hightower Halloween costume—and apparently with no sense of irony! So we asked if we could get a picture.

Seeing the dining room raised my hopes again—the theming was fabulous!

Well, the proof is in the pudding, as they say—or, in this case, in the “Cedar Planked Bay of Fundy Salmon,” which was gorgeously plated (while we’re “planking” we might as well start “plating”) but woefully overcooked and fishy. The mashed potatoes were waaaay oversalted, but the worst part was the side of “smokey cheddar macaroni and cheese” we’d lifted from a pork dish on the menu: dry noodles covered in a thin veneer of plasticky orange cheese with crusty corners sharp enough to slice just about anything but our salmon.

Cedar Planked Bay of Fundy Salmon with mashed potatoes, citrus butter and asparagus


This stuff made Stouffer's look like haute cuisine


For dessert we tried a pair of “dessert shots” — bland, identical-tasting custards in tiny glasses. I think one was supposed to be cookies ‘n’ cream and the other maybe flan? Or creme caramel?

The thing is, if Mythos didn’t try to pass itself off as fine dining, we would have ordered burgers and been perfectly satisfied at getting a decent meal à la the Plaza Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. But when you’re trumpeting your cuisine like it’s the second coming of Thomas Keller, you’d better not be delivering an Applebee’s-quality product. I also suspect that the reason guests rate Mythos so high is that the rest of the food at Universal is so abysmal.

So, for the purposes of this mini-travel guide, I guess I’d say… go to Mythos for a nice air-conditioned break in your day, but do not expect food on par with Le Cellier’s or Blue Bayou’s or SS Columbia Dining Room’s (since we’re considering all the theme park restaurants in the world…). Get a burger or a wrap or one of the ubiquitous Floridian flat breads. Gawk at the magnificent interior decor. Snicker at the unpolished Universal-style service. Keep those expectations low, and you’re sure to have a great time!

Up Next: Everything else at Islands of Adventure, then back to Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

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32 Responses
  • Tracey blackburn
    March 17, 2013

    Soooo….leaving tomorrow for Florida, will be at IOA Tues, trying to see if I understand the posted tip. Soooo, I have 4 people out if five that want to ride the ride, one just do the castle, the way I read it is, we ALL go to the castle only line, wander thru then the 4 riders break off and merge into the single rider line. Thus, saving me time in the line to get inside the castle. Correct?

    • Carrie
      March 17, 2013

      Hmmmm…. I have never heard of this tip. The single rider line skips almost all of the queue, so if you want to see the castle, you need to be in the regular line. My tip is that you enter the locker area from the gift shop rather than the main entrance, since people don’t seem to know there are two ways in, or dump your stuff at the lockers in the Hogwart’s train station, near Dragon Challenge. Because the line that you see spilling out of the castle is only for the lockers, not for the ride.

  • Laura
    July 11, 2012

    Being a Harry Potter fan I want to go there but every time I see pictures the crowds look awful. I really just want to have Butterbeer I guess LOL

    • Carrie
      July 11, 2012

      If you get there first thing in the morning during the off-season, it’s not bad.

  • Kat Brodt
    December 11, 2011

    LOL…we all compare to WDW but I’ll give WWoHP one little whoop – go to the main Ladies Room right outside Three Broomsticks. If you know the books/movies, you get a little shock when you hear Moaning Myrtle’s giggle. I was actually glad I was sitting on the “throne” when it happened.

    • lurkyloo
      December 12, 2011

      That’s so funny! Yeah, I was back at WWoHP the other night, and now that I’ve seen the movies it’s even more fascinating!

  • Nikki
    July 11, 2011

    We went for the opening last summer. The Cauldron Cakes are amazing!!
    The dementors are scarier if you know what they do and I think because most people read the books they have that in their head when they see them.
    I think you have to have at lease seen the movies to get the full effect of the the area as a whole.
    I do have to disagree with you I think Disney would have completely messed this experience up. Forbidden Journey is such a new experience Disney would have made it into a video-game.

    • lurkyloo
      July 11, 2011

      They do seem to be all about the video screens lately in their new rides! I’m looking forward to riding Forbidden Journey again now that I’ve seen the movies. It would be something to finally be scared by a ride I’ve already ridden. 🙂

  • Norma
    July 3, 2011

    So from one Disney nut to another, after going to WWoHP… do you think Disney could have done it better?? I know there’s completely different companies, but just knowing how Disney does their parks and theme areas do you think they could have outdone Universal with this one?

    • lurkyloo
      July 5, 2011

      Oooh! That’s a good question! As a Disney nut, I want to say yes, but when I look at the lackluster stuff WDI’s been turning out lately, I’m not so sure. I think if they had Oriental Land Co.’s money like they did for Tokyo DisneySea, yes! Also, if Disney had had to re-theme existing rides, you’d expect them to do better than what Universal did with Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff. Then again, look what they did with the re-theme of Goofy’s Sky School… What do you think?

      • Norma
        July 5, 2011

        Yes and no. I agree with the re-theming existing rides they’d do better than throw some hand panted bedsheets up with “go Diggory” on them and call it new a la Dragon Challenge, and they’d definitely have a better handle on directing people to proper lines. I think if it was in Disneys hands, those facades would have been actual stores that you could walk through and there would be more character type interaction (photos with hippogriffs anyone?). Personally I think Universal only did half a job there. It’s AMAZING don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the books and they did a brilliant job on it but I think considering how popular the place was going to end up being they could have doubled the size and spread it out more. Have the main area be Diagon Alley, and then guests can take the Hogwarts Express train out to Hogsmeade/Hogworts similar to Rafikis Planet Watch at Animal Kingdom. Would have made the crowds much more manageable and easier to enjoy your day there as a guest. Really though, from what I understand J.K. Rowling is pretty involved in everything to do with her books and she wouldn’t let anyone screw it up too bad. The worst part was having to endure Islands of Adventure in order to see Wizarding World…….You did “The Cat in The Hat”, you feel my pain.

        • lurkyloo
          July 5, 2011

          I like your idea of the train actually taking guests someplace! Let’s hope that the rumored expansion of WWoHP will one day materialize….

  • Jensey
    June 27, 2011

    Yeah… We shoulda told you just to do burgers and rice crispie sushi at Mythos- Doh! The only other thing I was going to add is that we tell friends *not* to buy Butterbeer in Hog’s Head, but to buy it at the cart with a line… I don’t know what it is, or if it was just the day we went, but something was off with the Butterbeer in Hog’s Head! We had one of each and there was a huge taste difference between the two- We tossed the one and kept the Butterbeer from the cart. When I told my Universal Team Member friend, she said that’s why the line at the cart is so long. Hmm..

    • lurkyloo
      June 27, 2011

      Oooh! Oooh! OK, if we go to the DISBoards’ party at WWoHP in December, I am going to do a taste test of the Butterbeer from both places (it will be FREE!) because now I’m dead curious about this!

  • shoshanna
    June 18, 2011

    seriously we need an update…I’m having a drought of laughter!

  • Kaylin
    June 13, 2011

    I loved WWoHP when I went there! It was very well themed!

    When are you going to make another post about the rest of IOA?

    • Kaylin
      June 13, 2011

      ps I prefer frozen butterbeer

    • lurkyloo
      June 13, 2011

      Hopefully soon, but I’ve been sidetracked by the need to post all these reviews of the new stuff at Disneyland on the blog while it’s still fresh! I think I need to do a post on the Soundsational Parade first, and then I can get back to this report!

  • Kira
    May 17, 2011

    Watch up through the fourth movie (the park references The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban, andThe Goblet of Fire) before you take a trip back. *Everything* will become much more interesting and *much* cooler, especially the queue for Dragon challenge!! I’m sure you’ve already considered watching the rest, but coming from a harry potter fan I promise it’ll make a world of difference.

    • lurkyloo
      May 17, 2011

      Like a doof, I watched them all AFTER we went. But I think I will take your advice before we go back so that everything is fresh in my mind. 🙂

  • Kelli
    May 13, 2011

    We found that The Forbidden Journey had a shorter line in the beginning of the morning. And The big butterbeer cart outside has a much shorter line at the end of the day. we waited until then to get ours… the frozen one is the best!

    We were some of those people stopping everywhere in the queue of Forbidden Journey to take pictures, but we always let people go ahead of us while we made our stops.

    I’m glad you enjoyed WWOHP! I can’t wait to get back again in April 2012.

    • lurkyloo
      May 15, 2011

      That’s what we do too—sometimes Patrick likes to just go through a ride queue to take pix and we dont even care if we get on it! How cool that you already have a trip back to WWoHP planned!

  • Becca
    May 11, 2011

    I used to love dueling dragons and that section of the park. The walk through castle before the ride was always interesting. I see they used the 4th book/movie to theme it as dragons are apart of the movie so there is sort of a transition. Oh and so you are in the know-the giant cup is The Goblet of Fire and that car flys and crashes Harry and Ron to school at one point. The WWoHP looks fantastic and they did a great job but I wish they would have built new rides instead of take old ones and slap a new theme on them. Everyone love a good new ride!!

    • lurkyloo
      May 11, 2011

      I agree! I s’pose it was a great way to save money to put into Forbidden Journey, but hopefully at some point there will be more original rides.

  • Maggie
    May 11, 2011

    Here’s a tip for the WWoHP Hogwart’s castle ride. It often has a very very long wait, like 90 minutes. The last time my friends and I were there, we stumbled into a solution. There is, apparently, a separate, unadvertised line which is JUST a castle tour. Except for the Greenhouse in the back, which you’ll miss, this castle tour takes past everything you’d see in the castle if you waited in the regular line. (You’ll just be in a different roped off lane than the regular line.) There was no wait at all for this, we could just wander right in. The castle also has a single-rider line. Since the ride itself has seats that completely obscure your friends from you, it doesn’t really matter if you’re on the same car. You’re not going to be able to interact with them anyway. The single-rider line didn’t have a line either, so we all walked right in together.

    This worked out so well, I’m not sure I’d do it any other way.

    I would also add that if you have little kids that can’t go on the ride, or if you don’t want to, the castle walking tour is a great way to see it, because the inside is gorgeous and you don’t want to miss it.

    The employee direction is lacking, so just go up to the entrance and say you want to do the castle walking tour.

    The lines for both the other rides have great decoration too, especially if you are familiar with this world. DO bring your point-and-shoot camera or camera phone. I had no problem keeping mine in my pocket on all of the rides.

    If you are a fan, be sure to stop and look at all the little details, like the Blast-ended Skrewt crates near Hagrid’s, or the tiny “sickles only” sign near the coin slot on the fortune telling machine in Honeydukes. Also, there’s a Gringott’s sign on the ATM and you can hear Moaning Myrtle in the bathrooms. 🙂

    • lurkyloo
      May 11, 2011

      Great to know about the castle tour. And I think Patrick and I will definitely be making use of the single rider line next time, although when we went back at the end of the night we were able to walk on it 3 times in a row!

  • Pinkgirl
    May 6, 2011

    The Islands/Studios staff just dont seem to have the same pazazz as Disney CMs. They are just too laid back. In 2008 when queueing for Men in Black the fire alarms started going off – REALLY LOUD – there were no staff to be seen to usher us out or to ensure that everyone was even out of the place!

    • lurkyloo
      May 6, 2011

      Interesting… It’s almost like they’re trying so hard to be different than Disney that they actively provide bad service! 🙂

  • Chilly
    May 4, 2011

    The every flavour beans were very popular at my work.

    Glad I didn’t wait in line for Mythos on our last trip then.

    • lurkyloo
      May 4, 2011

      I can see how an adventurous eater would have fun picking through those beans. I was too worried I’d get a booger one! 😀

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