Harry Potter, Wizarding Worlds and riding rollercoasters

January 30, 2011

Ever since we got stuck on the top of a (fairly small one) after it broke down and we had to be helped down the side to safety, I’ve been afraid of rollercoasters, terrified we’ll be plunged into the unknown.

But he of course, like all teenagers, loves rides, and thinks I’m a big wuss. So on our holiday to Universal Orlando Resort  I was determined to prove him wrong.

As huge fans of JK Rowling’s books and of course the films, we couldn’t wait to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

For any kids (small or big) who’ve wanted to know what it must really be like to go step inside onto one of the movie sets, this gives you a pretty good idea.

From the moment you walk through the gates you’re in snow-capped Hogsmeade, complete with Ollivanders  (where your wand will choose you) and the Hogwarts Express.

Our first rollercoaster experience was the Flight of the Hippogriff. I clung on for dear life as it climbed higher and higher and then raced around the track. But it was over very quickly. And it was fun. I actually enjoyed it.

Then we realised. That wasn’t the main event. Noooo. That’s to be found inside Hogwarts itself.

Hogwarts is probably as authentic as you could wish for, complete with talking portraits (SO clever, including our own Dawn French), various props and artefacts. It’s incredibly well done.

As the warning signs for our next ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey became more ominous (do not ride if you experience motion sickness, you’re nervous, you’re from the UK and your name is Liz, etc) I began to feel nauseous.

It would have been fairly easy to back out, and for a brief moment I was tempted. But I knew, looking at my son’s expectant face, that he would never forgive me.

But actually, I loved it. You really do feel like you’re flying through the air, following Harry Potter through various peaks and troughs and a game of Quidditch. At one point you go upside down but apart from that it’s totally manageable, even for a wuss like me. We didn’t stop laughing the whole time.

I got off feeling absolutely fine. ‘Proud of you Mum,’ said my son, and my heart swelled. But as soon as I started to walk, I needed to be sick. In the Moaning Myrtle loo. ‘Wimp,’ my son added, a bit unsympathetically, I thought.

Thrill-seekers will also delight in the Dragon Challenge, a sort of dual rollercoaster (incredibly high), and the quite frankly terrifying Incredible Hulk Coaster. Our other favourite rides though included the Simpsons.

We also loved Shrek 4-D and Disaster!, which gives you a taste of what it’s like to star in an action movie. You have to do a lot of screaming for that one.

After all that excitement we needed a rest. Fortunately our hotel, the gorgeous Italian-themed Portofino Bay, was just a short river ride away. Yes, another ride, but this time much more gentle.

Once my stomach had settled and we’d had a refreshing swim at one of the hotel’s three pools we went to see the fantastic Blue Man Group, followed by dinner at the Hard Rock hotel. Where we did nothing more adventurous than try the incredible desserts. ‘Awesome,’ declared my son, which was good enough for me.

*We travelled to Florida with Virgin Holidays

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  • Rachel January 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    You’ve just made me want to visit Universal and Harry Potter World even more.

    We’re hoping to get back to Florida this year and my 6 & 5yr old love Harry Potter and I’m sure they’ll love visiting Hogwarts!

    It sounds like an experience of a lifetime and one you’ll never forget!!