I wrote about my plane ride home from Orlando but I never wrote about my time there. My dad, sister and niece go every year and they have invited me along these past couple years. We have stayed at various places in Walt Disney World including the Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This year at the Animal Kingdom, the main draw was that free roaming animals from the Animal Kingdom could be seen right behind the lodge and from the “savannah” facing rooms. You’d wake up, walk down the hall, and look out the window to see a giraffe casually standing in the shade from the rising sun.
The biggest difference when it comes to staying with my family for a week is the amount of sleep I’m expected to get. I’m not the best sleeper and yet my family goest to bed at 10:30pm and wakes up at 9:30am. Who sleeps that much? My dad is also a snorer and when sick, I also tend to snore. Therefore, our room was a cacophony of sound by Wednesday night.
Besides my niece being afraid of every ride this year due to my “babysitting” antics last year, the trip was standard Walt Disney World fare.
On Thursday night, I said goodbye to my family and met up with Emily and Janine, who had flown down to meet me.
Friday morning, we woke up early and went immediately to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is an “island” in Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. I’d been the previous two years but it was extremely crowded. This year, the park was wonderfully quiet. We walked onto every ride, of which, there are only three in the WWHP.
First, the Dragon Challenge is a hanging roller coaster annexed into the WWHP from the existing park. The ride used to be called the Dueling Dragons and you can tell in someways, it wasn’t designed specifically for the WWHP. The actual castle you walk through takes you through the story of The Goblet of Fire but the ride requires you to “ride the dragons” and pick between the Chinese Fireball or the Hungarian Horntail. Both roller coasters are different tracks, one has more loops and the other has more spins.
Considering the only time in the books where any character “rides” a dragon is in the Deathly Hallows, you can see the tie-in was a bit of a stretch. But, the coasters happen to be some of my favorite in the world. If you like roller coasters, you’ll love the Dragon Challenge.
The second roller coaster is a kiddie coaster called The Flight of the Hippogriff. In line, Hagrid tells you how to approach the hippogriff so that it will let you ride. This was the only ride in the WWHP for kids Gabby’s age, which is inevitably, I ended up taking her on the Jurassic Park ride. However, this didn’t stop Emily, Janine and I from riding it three times because there were no lines.
The main attraction, however, is “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.” The muggles (that’s you) get a tour through Hogwarts castle. a hologram Dumbledore addresses you and then hologram Harry, Ron and Hermione decide to save you from Professor Binns’ boring lecture and take you out to the quidditch match. Hermione enchant the “benches” you’re sitting on and off you go. You then encounter a fire-breathing dragon Hagrid has lost, the chamber of secrets, Aragog’s family, and a handful of Dementors. The modern day roller coaster scares me more than any other ride I’ve ever been on. I mean, who wants a Dementor to suck your soul? Not me.
After the rides, you can grab some food at the Three Broomsticks or a drink at the Hogs Head Inn. Emily and Janine never got tired of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Whereas my family would have dragged me away, I was allowed to spend three days in the fake Hogsmeade and just soak it all in.
Even though it wasn’t crowded and we could just pleasantly walk onto rides, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter isn’t about the rides. It’s about the world. A world of magic and love. As the movie score repeats over and over, you feel the magic rush into your veins. The whole thing challenges you not to believe.
It’s a feeling that is difficult to describe, but it’s definitely well worth the trip. And I will gladly go back with anyone who asks me.