FROULA: Potter theme park exceeds expectations for even casual fan

Jessica Froula

Harry Potter fanatics have been mourning for months since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 left theatres. Even with the creation of the website Pottermore , fans have still been feeling as if, with the expectation of new movies gone, the series’ popularity will die out. Universal’s Island of Adventures has the solution to this fear. Any Harry Potter supporter who has ever wanted to live a day in his world now has this golden opportunity, one which I was lucky enough to witness firsthand. Yes, Universal Studios has created, in honor of Harry Potter and his wizarding friends, several roller coasters, a shockingly realistic, picturesque cross between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, and a fantastically detailed Hogwarts castle “tour” ending in an unforgettable 4-D adventure. But before I got to Orlando and witnessed this wonderful masterpiece, I assumed that it would be another cheesy ruse to appease the Harry Potter fans still smarting over the conclusion of the series. Don’t get me wrong—I love Harry Potter, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call my affection the obsession that has gripped so many other dedicated fans. My notion that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was just going to be a tacky marketing trick, however, was shot down the moment I saw the steaming Hogwarts Express. Immediately, I was drawn right into the atmosphere as I saw Extendable Ears in the windows of Zonko’s Joke Shop, Chocolate Frogs inside Honeydukes, and Butterbeers being sold in kiosks on the street. Every detail worked together, making it seem as though I was literally standing inside the movies themselves and as though the books had come alive inside this little village. Because of the worldwide appeal of the park, waiting in a few lines was inevitable. But the 20-minute waits I had were incomparable to those who showed up the day of the grand opening, an ordeal which a worker casually informed me lasted 10 hours, just to get inside. As for the rides, I won’t go into too much detail in the interest of maintaining the element of surprise. What I will say, though, is that they are definitely thrilling and well worth a trip to the theme park. After spending two days at Islands of Adventure, I decided that I have never before seen, at any theme park, a recreated design that is so lifelike. Even though the movies have ended, little doubt remains that the Harry Potter phenomenon will live on.