WARNING: VERY LONG READ...I apologize ahead of time. If anything is grammatically incorrect or spelling is wrong, please forgive me. Not getting a lot of sleep and a day baking outside will do that to you.
So here it goes! My WWoHP review!
I got up at 4 in the morning, even though all I had to do was do my hair, brush my teeth, and repeatedly check my backpack for the needed supplies. I was excited, and even more worried about not getting in. We left the house at about 5:45, and arrived with no trouble at 6:40. As I walked with my brother to the park, I felt like I was going to cry…I saw all the banners and signs for it, and it just made it so real and tangible for once! Since we had our annuals we were able to easily get in and we rushed to the section. Well, there were already a good 6,000 people in front of us. We started just after Jurassic Park, fairly close to the entrance of Pteradon Flyers. It wasn’t a terrible wait, since we were shaded by the trees. I had a good time people watching and seeing what everyone was wearing. Lots of cool Potter t-shirts and costumes. It was a pretty uneventful wait, but my brother went to get a Coke at the front of the park, and when he came back 30 minutes later, he told me the line had already reached the screen by the Hulk. Yikes.
So, finally, after about three and a half hours, we finally moved. It was a gradual movement forward, but eventually we reached that dinosaur pizzeria. Then we heard firecrackers, and everyone got excited. I think that was when the GO ceremony was happening. When James and Oliver pretended to light the firework and then some actually went off. After a long wait (about another hour) that now took place in the sun and humidity, we had just about gotten to the temporary bridge. The security guards were around everywhere, and told us to get into a line two across. We got past them and onto the bridge, but when I stopped and looked back, I saw they had JUST cut off the line…I literally got into the first group by two people. I couldn’t believe it.
By then it had been a solid five-hour wait. It was nearing 11:30 already. Needless to say, everyone was antsy and a bit cranky. I didn’t blame them with all the people trying to cut us. At this point, there had been another line started around the other side of LC and Seuss Land (from my understanding). Uni was trying to bring these people past us and then into the line behind us, which according to someone was now a six-hour wait and still backed up past JP. There are always people who get crazy. One man flipped out on the security guards because he had waited two hours. One woman used her kids to get ahead of all of us in line. And she was complaining about waiting one hour. Spare me…seriously. It was getting tiring.
On the bright side, we were insanely close. Finally, they let my group of people in. I was grinning from ear to ear. Sheer bliss. After all the waiting, stalking Orlando’s best websites, and posting (275…I never expected to do that many) on OU, I was finally in.
I didn’t cry. Which was extremely surprising. But I was just so overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do first. But as soon as I saw the Hogwarts Express and the conductor, I knew I needed a picture with him.
I LOVE this guy. Everyone was right; the bigger conductor is amazing. He is very interactive and he knows his stuff. I had on my Hogwarts crest shirt today with the school’s slogan underneath. He said, “May I see your shirt?” And I stood back for him to look. He then said, “Very nice! And do you know what that means under there?” It was in Latin, but I knew. So I answered, “Never tickle a sleeping dragon.” And he nodded, “Aye. That’s good advice to follow everyday!” He was perfect. So in character.
Next were Zonko’s and Honeydukes, which at that point in the day was easy to get into. I snatched up my Pygmy Puff ASAP and purchased him. I loved the little announcement that they do! Mine was even taped by some of the media there…I just don’t know who! So if anyone has seen a video of the Pygmy Puff naming with one named Perry, please tell me! That was all I got in Zonko’s, though I had a good time listening under the Extendable Ears. I don’t think anyone else knew about it but me and maybe a few others. So I shared the detail with my brother, and he liked it a lot. We decided to come back to Honeydukes later, because what we wanted would melt. But I just loved it. It looked so authentic and just like the movie…It’s everything I ever dreamed and more.
I think after that we tried out Dragon Challenge. I’d already been on it when it was Dueling Dragons, but my brother hadn’t. We got on in nearly three minutes, most of which was spent examining the queue—which I found pretty bare and uneventful. Throughout the course of the day, we rode three times, once twice in a row without having to go through the normal queue. The line never exceeded 5 minutes when I was in there.
We then headed over to FotH, which neither of us had been on. I thought the team members were wonderful, and they seemed to be having a good time interacting with the guests. The wait time was only three minutes for us, but I took some pictures of Hagrid’s Hut and the surrounding area. I liked the little coaster! I thought it was a really fun ride for little kids, but I still enjoyed it as a mild thrill.
Next we went into Filch’s Emporium, where I scouted out that Quidditch shirt I was dying to get my hands on. I bought a medium, but ended up needing a small. Oh well. I think it’ll shrink a bit. It was super packed in there, which was no surprise. I liked this shop a lot though. I found myself attracted to a lot of the items. The Marauder’s Map was only increased by $5 to about $70 total, FYI. I also got the Snape keychain, because I love Snape…and I wanted a cool keychain
Then my brother and I decided to go on Forbidden Journey. I was excited…though mostly for the queue. I get really sick on these kinds of rides, and had already taken Dramamine prior to riding DC. The queue didn’t feel long at all, except maybe the greenhouse. The wait said 60 minutes, but it was even shorter…the highest I saw it all day was 75 minutes. My favorite part was the portrait room. I love the banter between the founders, especially when Salazar says ‘I will not dignify that with an answer.’ This was the point in line when my brother said he was feeling really queasy, so we decided to just finish the line and exit. We’re coming back either next week, or the week after then, so we knew we could always do it then. No way was I riding that alone, haha.
With that decided on, we headed over to try and see if Butterbeer was more realistic. Earlier, the line for the Butterbeer cart was very, very long. I’d say nearly 200 people. Hogs Head and Three Broomsticks were the same way. We thought that with the rain (which had begun when we got in line) that most people would go inside. While some did flock to the FJ, all those in line stayed put. I told my brother to save our spot, and I went to the bathroom. Of course, this wasn’t a normal bathroom trip, because Moaning Myrtle was there. I loved the little details like this…and I loved how even the stall doors were themed. Anyways, after discussing our options, we went to line up for TB, and lucky for us, a waitress came out with a tray of Butterbeer steins. I bought one, and let my brother taste. He hated it, so he didn’t buy one…but I liked it. I have to say, it wasn’t what I imagined. I like it, but not as much as I thought I would. I’ll need to try the frozen next time. But really, nothing beats walking around Hogsmeade with a Butterbeer mug in hand and hearing the Harry Potter soundtracks play in the background. It really was an all-encompassing experience.
We then got in line for Ollivander’s, which ended up being an hour and thirty-minute wait. A really sweet little girl got picked, and I nearly cried just watching her light up with excitement. You kind of feel like you’re living that experience vicariously through the one chosen, because you feel the wind too and see the look of joy on their face. I loved it.
But I really didn’t like Dervish and Banges and the Owl Post. Really cramped. I know it’s supposed to be that way, but it felt like the smallest of them all. The only thing I got from here was my Quibbler. I enjoyed seeing the Monster Book of Monsters, but I just felt really uncomfortable in the shop.
At the end of the day, we went back to Honeydukes and I got a chocolate frog and a pumpkin juice. I literally waited in a 45-minute line to pay…but it was worth it. I’m going to display my purchases in my room, so I felt these were must-haves. The chocolate frog is absolutely enormous, and well worth it, if only for the packaging. I was holding out for a Rowena Ravenclaw card, but I got Slytherin (my second choice). I love how the packaging on most of the sweets is exactly how it is described in the books and personified in the movies. The chocolate frog looks really authentic—much better than the rip-off ones they sold when the movies come out. Same goes for the Bertie Botts. What surprised me most is how much I like pumpkin juice. I usually hate pumpkin! It’s very sweet and overpowering, so I can only take a sip at a time. But I think I like it more than Butterbeer! I love the cute bottle it comes in as well.
Overall, a fantastic but tiring day. My feet were killing me, but it was well worth it for the perpetual chills I got just from being inside this world. Some things I was most impressed with were the attention to detail, authenticity, and the enthusiasm of the team members. They were all in character and very nice even when they were overwhelmed. Those dear people in Zonko’s and Honeydukes must have been dying from all the screaming and yelling they had to do every time a Pygmy Puff was sold, but they did it with convincing heart.
My favorite moments of the day: the train conductor; listening to the whispers under the Extendable Ears; having it snow on me in the line for FJ; enjoying the back-and-forth conversation of the four founders in the Portrait Room; looking in all the windows. My favorite is the one with Gilderoy Lockhart. For some reason it fascinated me. I thought it was just too cool how they had those books he wrote and the moving picture frame.
This was an exhaustive review, but a day like this deserves it, I feel. What Universal has accomplished is amazing…and I haven’t even experienced Forbidden Journey yet. I’m stunned at the detail and effort they put into making this attraction. Yes, it was cramped and their lack of crowd control was irksome at times…but on an opening day, it is to be expected. It’s hard to swallow the first time you’re there. At least that was my experience. It was like being punched in the gut: Bam! It’s there, in your face. Had I not followed this forum or researched what merchandise I wanted to buy, I would have been completely overwhelmed.
If you have the chance: Go. Hands-down. Just go.
On a side note: I don’t like the touch-screen locker system with the fingerprints. I saw that it often did not work…I had to show my I.D. once because ours wouldn’t open.