Harry Potter World: Hogwarts Castle

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I’ve just returned from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, and will be doing a series of posts on my experiences in Harry Potter World. I’m a big fan… and the park had a lot to live up to… I’ll try not to give too much away for those of you who haven’t journeyed to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But hopefully my posts will either bring back memories of your own trip or entice you to travel there yourself!
This post will highlight: 
Hogwarts Castle and the Forbidden Journey ride

If you head down to Harry Potter World, you have to hit the castle first. Anyone who’s been there will agree with me. You avoid the long lines, you go on Forbidden Journey before eating, and you start the day with awesomeness.

There are two things I can say that Universal Studios did well: the attention to detail in the construction of the buildings and creating rides that are a thrill.

Hogwarts Castle is definitely the standout feature of the park. You can see it from anywhere in Universal Studios (it’s that huge), but you don’t fully appreciate the astounding detail until you get up close. From each angle you notice something different. The beauty of it is breathtaking. Below are some pictures from various angles to illustrate my point.

As you wait in line for the best HP ride in the park, Forbidden Journey, you get to walk through Hogwarts castle where you see various statues, moving portraits, and you kinda get to see some rooms in the castle. I say kinda because everything is at a distance and the employees in the park rushed you through the line. I’d recommend just slowing down and letting people pass you if you want to look because chances are you’re only going to do this ride once. The portrait hall was my favorite! I recommend standing there for a bit and listening to the Hogwarts founders chat it up! Here’s some pics of statues, portraits, the Sorting Hat, and the Pensieve:

Entrance to Dumbledore’s Office
Hogwarts Founder statue

Dumbledore’s Pensieve

Portrait Hall (with moving, talking portraits!)

The Sorting Hat

And finally, I’m not going to spoil the ride, but it is INTENSE.  If you get motion sickness, I really don’t recommend going on it.  And definitely wait to get butterbeer until after the ride!  It’s probably the most technologically advanced ride I’ve ever been on.  But Universal Studio’s approach to making a Harry Potter ride was to take every scary, thrilling bit from the movies and throw it into one ride.  I wouldn’t say it’s very “little kid friendly.”  But maybe little guys are tougher than I was back in the day…  Here’s the warning sign for the ride.  The 90 minute wait time was the shortest we saw all day…

At the end of each post this week, I’m going to write about one thing I think they SHOULD have had at Wizarding World of Harry Potter but sadly they don’t…  (While my brother and I waited in lines all day, we brainstormed rides and attractions we wished the park had, and came up with quite a “dream park”)

One thing I wish they had at Harry Potter World:
A mine cart ride through the underground vaults at Gringotts.  The ride could begin with a line that winds though the inside of a big marble bank interior “to speak with one of the goblins and request to access your vault.”  Then you hop in a mine cart and zoom through tunnels and caverns past vaults filled with Galleons and Sickles and Knuts.  Maybe a waterfall that flips you upside down…  And of course a dragon!  Seriously, this scene/location from the books begs to be made into a ride.

Check tomorrow’s post for another ride/attraction I wish they had at Harry Potter World…

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6 comments on “Harry Potter World: Hogwarts Castle

  1. Instead of letting others pass you in line you can just do a walk through (and it even takes you through some parts you don't get to see while in line!). Just ask the attendants and they can direct you. I think you basically turn left instead of going right.This was my FAVOURITE part of WWoHP. I even loved the line! I was stuck in the Herbology section for quite a while and you could hear the music really well. Everyone in line was super excited and smiling and every time the crescendo part of the main theme came on I felt like crying because it was just SO WONDERFUL. My one regret is not buying the picture of me on this ride the first time I went on. My face was priceless: I looked like a kid whose dreams had come true…I guess because they had.

  2. Ahhhh! Those pictures are awesome! The one of the portrait hall looks like it was a still from one of the movies! Thanks for the tip about going to the castle first – I never would have thought of that but it makes sense!I know that when the contract for the Wizarding World was made, it was written in that they had to have some kind of attraction from each one of the books, and therefore the park would grow as they added more attractions. I've heard rumors that Gringotts is going to be added!!! And a ride in one of the carts would be perfect!Can't wait to see the rest of your posts! 😉

  3. Aylee says:

    Gah, I'm drooling here at all the detail! And I'm sure it's even better in person! I've heard that the Gringotts ride is actually rumoured to be in the works as part of the expansion that they have planned for adding Diagon Alley (which will be awesome!!)

  4. LHughes says:

    As we were leaving the park, we actually said we missed hearing the Harry Potter music playing! It really did add to the experience and make it feel magical :)I didn't realize you could do a walkthrough too, but I'm pretty sure I'll go again because it was just so darn amazing, and I'll definitely remember next time!

  5. LHughes says:

    The portrait hall was one of my favorite parts! The portraits talk too (I won't tell you who is talking because I want it to be a surprise), but their conversations were hilarious!I would love for them to add more attractions!!! Even though it was fun and magical… I still felt like it didn't do the books justice. I wanted so much more from the experience!

  6. LHughes says:

    I would love if the Gringotts ride became a reality!!! I can't wait to hear more details about this expansion! The park definitely isn't big enough!

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