Well, I got back from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on Sunday. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday there. It was really neat. Although it was super hot and crowded. I mean the heat and the crowds trying to get into Harry Potter were ridiculous! Luckily we did a special package deal where we could get in at 8 am. Which is an hour before anybody that just decided to come to the park. Which thank goodness we did that because the line just to get into the Harry Potter area was 2-3 hours by 10 am Friday morning. YIKES.
Us with the Hogwarts Express!
My sister bought a Maruader's map!
The Bertie Botts that were so hard to find.
"Please Respect the Spell Limits"
A Gringott's ATM! This amused me to no end.
Close up of the Pumpkin Juice!
But we got there early the first two days and were out of the area by 10 or so each day. We had done most of what we wanted to do since the area really isn’t all that large. There are 3 main shops (quite tiny ones) Dervish and Banges, Zonko’s/Honeydukes (these are two are basically the same shop) and Filch’s Emporium. There is quite a bit of stuff that you can buy that’s specific to the Wizarding World. Although, with a million people in each of the tiny shops, it’s hard to see it all. I had to take a few different trips through some of the shops to make sure I’d seen everything. (The shops at the front of Islands of Adventures also sells some HP merch).
But unfortunately they were sold of a few different things, especially Gryffindor things, and the most popular wands (like Harry, Hermione and Sirius). Also my friend wanted to get a Pygmy Puff and an employee told her they were sold out (this was the week after opening mind you…) and they weren’t expected to get more until August. Which is slightly ridiculous if you ask me. They should have known that things would be super popular and made sure they had enough.
For instance, when we went to Honeydukes the first day, there were no Bertie Botts in the boxes. You could buy them by the pound in the little candy dispenser things, but not in the actual HP packaging (Which is what I was interested in). But surprisingly when we went back on Saturday they had a few boxes, although not many. So it seems like they might be holding onto things and only putting them out at the beginning of the day and whoever gets them gets them, then they’re gone.
The first day we were there we had actually ridden Forbidden Journey twice before 8 am. So, it seems that sometimes guests can get in before the official opening and already in line/on the ride. I don’t know if this has been the case for anyone else. But Saturday we had to wait in a long line just to get in, but we learned that Forbidden Journey was broken, so I would imagine that’s why. They had it fixed by about 8:45 but then there was already a really long line. It should also be noted that you have to put your bags in a locker for this ride and you aren’t allowed to bring anything on. The employees are generally good about telling people in line this, but be forewarned because it does take a few minutes to step out of line and put your things in a locker.
Dragon Challenge and Hippogriff’s Flight both had pretty short waits both days we were there (around 5-10 mins). Hippogriff’s flight is a “children’s coaster” but any diehard HP fan should ride it because you get to see Hagrid’s Hut and Buckbeak. :D
We got in line for Ollivander’s immediately after riding Forbidden Journey on Friday morning and waited about 45 minutes for the 7 minute “show”. Basically you go in to Ollivanders shop in groups of about 30 and one person gets chosen to try out the wands. It’s a very cool experience and worth the wait the first time, but I don’t know that I’ll do it again. It’s a long wait for only 7 minutes. After the show you exit into Dervish and Banges and the first room has all of the wands that the park offers, including character wands (like Cho Chang, Dumbledore, Harry, etc) and regular wands that you can choose or an employee will ask for your birthday and tell you which wand should be yours.
There is also a good bit of other merchandise in Dervish and Banges including Hogwarts Robes, postcards, stamps, journals, t-shirts, etc, etc. There is too much stuff to list. But a good bit is in Dervish and Banges. Also, the door that you exit the store out of is where you can get your postcards stamped with a Hogsmeade stamp and put them in the mail. (The stamps you can purchase are all HP related and really neat, but they’re expensive. 14 dollars for ten 44 cent stamps).
Across the street from Dervish and Banges is a food cart that sells drinks and fresh fruit. They sell Pumpkin Juice there. (It’s quite good! And not as pumpkiny as I feared it would taste. Probably because its something like 87% apple juice. It smells overwhelmingly like pumpkin but tastes more like apple juice. I balked at the smell because I don’t love pumpkin but it’s not a bad taste.) They also have assorted fruit juices and water.
One major complaint I have about this part of the park is there is nowhere to buy any soft drinks inside the Harry Potter part (and you can’t leave the area once you’ve gotten in or you will have to wait in the line again.) This was annoying because, if you don’t want to drink juice you’re basically stuck with water (which, by the way, is smaller than anywhere else in the park but costs the same price. It is some sort of eco friendly water in a tiny bottle but costs the same as the much larger Zephyrhills throughout the rest of the park).
The Butterbeer cart is in front of The Three Broomsticks and the line can get quite long for that, but its worth it. You can buy your butterbeer in a souvenir mug which costs 9 dollars I believe, with 3 dollar refills or buy it in a plastic cup for 3 dollars. Another complaint I have is that they don’t sell the butterbeer in bottles, so there is no way to bring some home. My friend wanted to bring some back to her friend and we had to transfer it from mug to a Universal refillable drink mug to a water bottle. It was not an easy process. It seems like they could make a lot of extra money simply by selling butterbeer in bottles also.
After that we waited in line to get into Honeydukes/Zonko’s (there are lines for most of the shops all day, except Filch’s Emporium which is where the Forbidden Journey empties out into.) The wait wasn’t to bad, about 7-10 minutes I would say. The theming in the shops is amazing and Honeydukes is really neat looking with candy up in the ceiling and all kinds of cool stuff. There’s candy specific to the Harry Potter books and some that’s just everyday candy. They have glass cases near the checkouts where they sell fudge and other stuff, but also HP specific treats like Cauldron Cakes, Rock Cakes and Pumpkin Tarts. My friend got a Rock Cake and said it was yummy.
Zonko’s has a variety of joke related toys and also some t-shirts. The shops are designed to be skinny and cramped, but the shelves extend up into the ceiling, so be sure to look up or you’ll miss some of the neat decorations. Also a word to the wise, there are three check-outs where you pay for purchases at Honeydukes/Zonko’s. The one that is kind of on the Honeydukes side always backs up and has a huge line. But you can walk 5 feet and pay for your purchases (including candy and drinks) on the Zonko’s “side” too. You can even get candy and treats out of the glass case and pay for them on the Zonko’s “side”. For some reason no one really seemed to be doing this, preferring to wait in the 20 person line on the Honeydukes side. (This is hard to explain because the 3 registers are all kind of connected to each other and not really in separate parts of the stores at all… haha)
We missed Flich’s Emporium the first day because when you come off of FJ you can exit into the gift shop or turn into the locker area, and my things were in a locker. Be sure not to miss it like I did because this shop has quite a bit of merchandise. They carry lots of clothing here and also things like mugs, death eater masks, Maruader’s maps, bags, scarves, etc, etc. There are also lanyards to be bought at many of the stores and they sell pins (all relating to HP) that you can put on your lanyard. There are lots of neat keychains too.
All in all, the Wizarding World is a great experience. I feel that they could have improved a lot of things. Especially size, because the sheer number of people that want into this area is way more than there is room for. So my advice if you want to go is get there early! They appeared to be letting pretty much anyone in at 7:30 and if you weren’t doing the package deal you could get in the regular line at that time. You are still way ahead of a lot of people that wouldn’t think about getting there until 9 when the park actually opens. You should just know that if you don’t do the package you’re going to have to wait in line.
It does seem to be a bit better in the evenings, because we went back to HP on Friday night at about 9 pm (when the park closed at 10) and we had no problem walking right into the area. I’m not sure how long the line for FJ was at that time, you might not have had time to ride it. But it was easier to get into the shops then and the wait for Dragon Challenge was still short. So going back in the late afternoon or evening might be better if you don’t want to wait in line.
I’m pretty sure we’re going back in February which I’m really excited about because it will be cooler! It was so dang hot this time, it was pretty horrible. And I’m hopeful that it won’t be quite as busy then either. Fingers crossed.
Chocolate frogs. (They cost 10 bucks, but the actual frog is quite large)
Cauldron Cakes. These looked super yummy and when I saw someone eating them it looked like they were filled with something. :D