Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida, USA
This was our fourth trip to the Universal Orlando resort staying at the Royal Pacific. In addition to the Express passes this time around we were also given an AM preview of "Potterland" which included The Forbidden Journey.
First of all let me just say say that I am not going to review every little detail because i don't want to be the one who spoils it for you. If you want "spoilarz" you I am sure you can find them somewhere else.
Our first morning we went straight for the Forbidden Journey. They had the free locker service running but unfortunately the ride was down when we got in line. We stuck it out for an hour and advanced through the queue as people left. Just as we were starting to think about getting out of line the pre-recorded message came on saying the ride was returning to normal operation. Everyone in line cheered and shortly after we entered the castle where the experience really begins.
Once inside the castle the story starts to unfold. I am sure everyone has heard about the moving paintings and they really are neat but I wasn't expecting the rest. They cleverly use a combination of projections and sets to tell the story and it all made me smile. Waiting in line has never been so cool!
Once you get to the end of the queue a ride operator counts your party and directs you to the final queue where you get on the ride. The only part of the structure you ever see is the moving platform and the vehicle itself which includes a nice little pocket in the back of he seat to place your cell phone and glasses in.
The ride itself is great. No other park has anything like it. In fact with the Forbidden Journey, Spiderman and The Mummy, Universal Orlando has what I consider the three best modern dark rides around. A combination of Spiderman and maybe Soarin, the ride is exciting and just plain fun.
We got to ride twice in two days and on the second day we got stuck at the very end. It was a brief shutdown and the ride continued to run the rest of the morning.
What about the rest? It's damn cool as well. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter achieves what all of Islands of adventure has since it opened. They created a real place. Somewhere you just want to sit and enjoy every little detail.
Adding to the static decorations are the actors roaming, interacting and entertaining the guests. They make it that much more special. For instance you can take your photo and talk with the train engineer and rather than just pose and smile he acts shocked that you would want his picture. From what I understand (the line was about 100 people deep) if you buy a wand there is a wizard you presents you with the wand. There were choirs and dance competitions and I am sure there will be more once they open.
I can only imagine how awesome it will all be during Christmas.
My wife and I aren't Harry Potter geeks and we both found The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to be a special place. No other theme park has anything as immersive in my opinion.
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