The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Staying at a Universal Studios hotel definitely has its advantages. Not only is it connected by a water taxi to the Universal attraction, but it also includes unlimited Front of the Line passes to most Universal Rides and 1 hour earlier admission.
When we arrived an hour early to the park, we simply showed our room keys and were directed to the popular Harry Potter attraction ahead of the crowds. While others were starting to line up already for the most popular ride (which is one of two Universal Rides that are not part of the Front of the Line program) we were able to go right in to tour Hogwart’s castle before arriving at an incredible ride that twisted and turned through the castle following Harry Potter and his friends on broomsticks.
Following the ride, the bumps, jerks and drops had me feeling a little queezy but it was definitely worth the experience. For those planning on visiting this attraction during busy times, it is best to get in the much shorter single line-up. It may cut a 90 minute wait down to 10 minutes.
There are two other rides in the Hogwart village. Universal’s Duelling Dragons have been re-branded as the Dragon Challenge while the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster is suitable for younger children and includes a great climb that overlooks the castle and entire Hogsmeade village before the initial drop.
Inside the village don’t be deterred by the lineups for Collander’s Wand Shop. Even if you are not planning on buying an overpriced stick (wand) for $35 – $200, it is a great performance as one youth from the audience is selected to let a wand select them as their wizard. The bad spells, lightening and other surprises only add to the wizard selection process.
The best photo stop is on the bridge which connects Jurassic Park to Hogsmeade. The pine trees below the castle are the perfect backdrop for a snapshot of Hogwart’s Castle. For those needing a family friendly cold drink, stop for a cup of Butter-beer (Root-beer with a butterscotch twist).