Hanging Out at Hogwarts

Sunya Bhutta
Sunya Bhutta

While on vacation in Florida this past summer, I went to the happiest, most magical place on Earth. No, I am not talking about Disney World:  I’m talking about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yes, the Harry Potter theme park is now open at Universal Studios and it’s awesome.

While entering through Hogsmeade Village, I instantly got chills. It was incredible how perfectly reproduced all the little shops were. There was the Hogwarts Express, bright red and blowing smoke on platform nine and three quarters. Zonko’s joke shop  was where pygmy puffs and puking pastilles could be purchased. I personally picked out some U-NO-POO candy coated chocolates. Then there’s Honeydukes for your sweet tooth, where the walls are covered with a wide assortment of treats like cauldron cakes, chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans, Ton-Tongue Toffee and so much more.

I had my first Butterbeer, the frothy butterscotch flavored beverage Harry, Ron and Hermione are always drinking. It was delicious and refreshing, just like I had imagined it to be while reading the books. I also ate fish and chips at The Three Broomsticks.

Aside from all the cool sites, the rides were epic. I went on the Dragon Challenge about five times. It’s a topsy-turvy rollercoaster where two dragons face off in a fire and ice match. This ride was inspired by the “Goblet of Fire” book and movie. While waiting on line you go through the tent in which the champions were waiting to fight off the dragons. You also go through a cave where the Tri-wizard Cup and Goblet of Fire are on display. There’s even a replica of the golden egg which was a clue for the champions in the second task during the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

The next ride was the Flight of the Hippogriff, located next to Hagrid’s hut. It’s not very thrilling but you still get a nice view of Hogwarts castle and Hogsmeade. The line was short and mostly consisted of young children with their parents so it was quick and worth a try.

Hogwarts Castle was by far the best ride I have ever been on in my entire life. While waiting on line you are taken through the castle corridors. There are statues of Godric Gryffindor and Salazaar Slytherin. At one point you get to go outside where there is a green house filled with mandrakes and other bizarre plants. You’re taken through the hallways where the walls are completely covered with moving portraits who talk to you. Then you meet a holographic Dumbledore in his office, exactly as it appears in the movie with a pensieve and trinkets covering his desk. Right before the ride starts you’re taken into the Defense Against the Dark Arts class where holographic Harry, Ron and Hermione greet you.

The ride begins in the Great Hall with floating candles dangling on the ceiling. You’re then taken through various live action sequences from the movies. A gigantic spider, dementors, fire-breathing dragons all through 4-D motion simulation. I’m not gonna lie, I cried at one point when I was soaring above Hogwarts riding behind Harry on a broomstick. I couldn’t help myself – my childhood dream had finally come true. For a Harry Potter fan, going to the theme park is a must. But for those of you who haven’t read the books or watched the movies, I guarantee you will still find it to be a magical experience.