Posts Tagged ‘theme park’

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Photos: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

November 13, 2010

I took at least 200 pictures just in the Harry Potter area of Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Here’s a peek at some of my favorites.

Our first view of Hogsmeade, and it's perfect.

The hot weather kept me from buying up all the chocolate cakes and goodies in Honeydukes on my first day, but on my last night, I loaded up.

 

Hogwarts is that-a-way!

You have to have a meal in the Three Broomsticks. Also stop into the Hog's Head next door for a Butterbeer, or a real beer, and head out back to their patio. There's a great view of the castle from there.

You'll feel like you're headed to a massive pep rally thanks to all the Tri-Wizard Champion signs leading up to the Dragon Challenge rollercoaster.

The only way this car would have been cooler is if it had some Weasleys in it. Preferably the twins. I freaking love the twins.

Don't leave without saying hello to some of the visiting students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. They put on shows throughout the day.

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Magical Times at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

November 11, 2010

Welcome to Hogwarts!

This morning I watched the live stream of the London premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One”. The cast all looked awesome and it put me back in the Harry Pottery mood I felt when I was in Orlando.

I had an incredible time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the rest of Universal Orlando, and picked up some good travel tips for you, so here you go!

When to Go
Not in the summer. I knew ahead of time I didn’t want to fight huge crowds and I’m really glad my friend and I waited until October to visit Hogsmeade. Er… Orlando.

The weather was still gorgeous and sunny but wait times for rides tended to be 15-30 minutes instead of 2-4 hours. In the early morning and late evening (when the little kids are still asleep or have pooped out for the day) we walked on to most rides, so we got a lot more enjoyment for our money with much less hassle.

So, as with most really popular destinations, the off season is the best season.

What Ticket to Buy
This is a trickier one because there are so many ticket variations available. The longer you stay the less you pay per day. For example, right now a 1-day ticket, which you can use for both Universal parks, is $112 for an adult. A 3-day ticket is just $144.99, so less than $49 a day.

Green eggs and ham, anyone?

Not all tickets allow you to go between parks whenever you want to though. The package I got came with a Base ticket, which meant that each day we had to decide which park we wanted to visit. We couldn’t do half a day in one park and half a day in the other. That worked out fine, but it would have been nice to have the ability to spend a few hours with Harry Potter each day, then maybe hop over to the other park and to do the Mummy or Simpsons ride.

Once you decide whether you want to be able to go between parks whenever you want (called Park to Park Access), then you can decide if you also want to upgrade to an Express Plus Pass. This is the pass that lets you skip the lines and go right to the front. Or at least close to it. The Express Pass is good on almost every ride except Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, because if you skipped that line you’d also skip the whole walk through Hogwarts castle, which is part of the fun.

Since we didn’t hit any big lines I didn’t mind that we didn’t pay the extra $25 or so a day for Express perks. However, skipping the line means you don’t have to spend several minutes winding through all the aisles and walkways where the big lines normally go to get to the ride, which means less walking. On my last day, with my swollen, blistered feet, that didn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure
So what’s the difference between these two parks anyway? Do you even need to see both?

Yeah, you do. Universal Studios is based on the park in L.A., where actual movies are made. The different areas of the park are made up like different movie lots – old New York, “Jaws”-era New England, the San Francisco wharf, Hollywood.

Buy your Flaming Moes here.

The rides are mostly movie-based, like “Twister”, which lets you feel what it’s like to be on a movie set with special effects going on all around you. “Revenge of the Mummy” is similar to Disneyland’s “Indiana Jones” ride, taking you through old tombs and pyramids, and the boat ride lets you see the great white shark of “JAWS” up close and personal.

It was “The Simpsons Ride” that I enjoyed most though, probably because I had no idea what to expect. I thought it was just a simple roller coaster, but it was way, way cooler that that. “State-of-the-art digital projectors cover an 80 ft. diameter dome surface with an image four times the standard High Definition found in most home theaters, and twice what you’d experience in a normal digital theater.” And it really makes you feel like you’re travelling through Springfield, along with all of your favorite characters.

Islands of Adventure is a mix of comic book heros, favorite kids characters, Jurassic Park dinosaurs and Harry Potter. Smaller kids can probably do more here, but there’s plenty for grownups, too, and my friend and I weren’t the only adults having a great time without kids.

What to Bring Into the Park

  • Comfy shoes. We spent 14-18 hours walking around, standing in lines and generally abusing our feet. Even with my best walking shoes, it made for some unhappy feet.
  • Bandaids. At least if you get a blister you can wrap it up and keep it from getting worse.
  • Snacks. I brought little packs of trail mix, some hard candies and a granola bar. It helped me spend a little less on food and waste less time waiting in food lines.
  • Cash. Most places take cards, but if you want to stop at a little stand for a bottle of water, or mug of Butterbeer, you should have your cash ready.
  • Fingerprints. Right, so you can’t pack these, but you’ll have a hell of a time doing anything without them. For the bigger rides, you aren’t allowed to bring any bags or loose items with you, so they have lockers you rent for free while you’re in line. It’s a great idea, except that to rent and open your locker, you have to use a touchpad and give a fingerprint. I apparently don’t have any. Every time I tried I wound up getting an attendant to open the locker for me. Very annoying, although I have lots of new ideas for a life of crime.

Look at all this information, and I haven’t even told you about Harry Potter land yet. I’ll just have to keep you waiting until next time 🙂

 

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New Video of Harry Potter Theme Park

June 23, 2010

My trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando is still four months away (I’m going for Halloween), but I. Can’t. Wait.

Check out some videos of the official opening.

Lumos Maxima!

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Halloween at Hogwarts! It’s the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando

April 28, 2010

I’m such a geek, you guys. I’ve been looking forward to this new Harry Potter theme park in Orlando for more than a year now – at least since I started reading all the online chatter about it.

With opening day near I couldn’t wait to plan my trip. I’ve never been to Orlando before because there are always too many other, more exciting places to go, but no way can I pass up a chance to tour Hogsmeade, shop at Honeydukes and hopefully spot a few Weasleys.

Normally I’m very wary of package deals, especially when going somewhere as touristy as Orlando. Sometimes you’ll think you’re getting a good deal until you do a little research and find that booking everything separately on your own is much cheaper. The packages being offered by Universal Orlando (where Harry Potter lives – he’s not at DisneyWorld) are pretty good though.

If you want to stay at one of the three hotels and resorts on the Universal property, you’re going to pay a lot. But if you’re willing to stay at a nearby hotel, maybe a mile or two away – with free shuttle service – you can get four nights hotel and a three day pass for the Universal parks for less than US$350 a person. That’s based on two people going. If you can get a group of four, then it works out to about US$280 a person.

Grab a great student airfare and you can totally swing this trip with the earnings from your summer job.

In case you need even more incentive, if you book a package with Universal for travel between now and December 31, 2010, you’ll also get:

* Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
* Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks™
* A commemorative ticket

My friend and I decided we didn’t want to fight the summer crowds, and we were willing to wait until the fall when schools get back in so that there wouldn’t be so many little kids getting in our way.

As long as we were waiting that long, we brilliantly realized that there would be no better time to travel to Harry Potter land than Halloween, and we chose that morning for our free breakfast at the Three Broomsticks. Hopefully they’ll be serving up some special holiday treats.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it… five months from now. (At least I have something to look forward to, right?)

Accio October!
Lisa the Muggle

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Harry Potter Theme Park Delayed

September 26, 2008

Last year Universal Studios announced that they would be opening the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park within the existing Universal Resort in 2009. Now the date has been pushed to 2010, so if you’ve already planned your trip, you might want to push your dates back as well. Here’s the original story:

Harry Potter theme parkMaybe you’re already planning to be one of the first in line when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens its doors at the Universal Orlando Resort in 2009. But if you’re really serious about your theme parks, consider delaying your trip by a few months and doing an around the world trip to take in a few more.

Universal has just announced another new park, this one a bigger and fancier version of the Hollywood-themed Universal Studios, to open in 2010. Location? South Korea, about 20 miles south of Seoul. From there it will be just a hop and a skip to Tokyo Disneyland, and then you may as well head south to Australia’s Gold Coast to do the full theme park tour. They have Sea World, Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World, Movie World, and Dreamworld.

Still haven’t had enough? Take another long flight to reach Ratanga Junction in Capetown, South Africa. Then swing up north again for a stop in Paris and (no, not Disneyland Paris), Parc Asterix, based on the popular French cartoon character.

Alright, so that might be a lot for one trip, especially if you don’t have $10K or so to drop all at once, but for a tired backpacker, or a traveler who’s feeling a little museum-ed out, a day of rollercoasters, costumes, and parades can be a nice treat. Always check for student discounts as well, so that you’ll have a little extra to spend on postcards.

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Try a Rockin New Theme Park This Summer

June 4, 2008

Hard Rock ParkThe Hard Rock Cafe expanded into the hotel business a few years ago, and now it’s entered the theme park game. Hard Rock Park just opened about a month ago, so it still has that new park smell, and it’s located near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, so you can combine it with a beach vacation.

It looks like the Hard Rock could be a good alternative to the Disney parks, especially if princess dresses and mouse-shaped everything give you hives. The park is broken up into different genres – country, American rock, the British Invasion, the 70s – and the rock and roll theme carries over into ride names, food, merchandise, and of course, the entertainment. (I think the Slippery When Wet ride looks like the most fun.)

A Ticket to Ride will cost you $50 for a day, or you can pick up an annual pass for $150. The park is also hiring, so if you want to spend your summer getting some sun and listening to the squeals and screams of little rockers, have a look at their Kickass Jobs section.

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Plan Ahead for Theme Park Adventures

November 28, 2007

Harry Potter theme parkMaybe you’re already planning to be one of the first in line when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens its doors at the Universal Orlando Resort in 2009. But if you’re really serious about your theme parks, consider delaying your trip by a few months and doing an around the world trip to take in a few more.

Universal has just announced another new park, this one a bigger and fancier version of the Hollywood-themed Universal Studios, to open in 2010. Location? South Korea, about 20 miles south of Seoul. From there it will be just a hop and a skip to Tokyo Disneyland, and then you may as well head south to Australia’s Gold Coast to do the full theme park tour. They have Sea World, Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World, Movie World, and Dreamworld.

Still haven’t had enough? Take another long flight to reach Ratanga Junction in Capetown, South Africa. Then swing up north again for a stop in Paris and (no, not Disneyland Paris), Parc Asterix, based on the popular French cartoon character.

Alright, so that might be a lot for one trip, especially if you don’t have $10K or so to drop all at once, but for a tired backpacker, or a traveler who’s feeling a little museum-ed out, a day of rollercoasters, costumes, and parades can be a nice treat. Always check for student discounts as well, so that you’ll have a little extra to spend on postcards.