Florida theme park offers a peek into Hogwarts 

I guess it’s safe to say that there is another castle in Orlando.

When I arrived at Universal Studios Orlando last month to check out construction of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I was immediately — and joyfully — surprised by the silhouette of the castle. It can only be described as a near-perfect replica of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the literary boarding school created by author J.K. Rowling.

Set to open in May

Although the new section of the theme park is still under construction, Universal plans to open the Wizarding World in May and has begun accepting reservations for visitors arriving on or after May 28.

If you’re there before the official opening, you can still take a peek. Walk through the Jurassic Park themed-area of the Islands of Adventure to check out the Wizarding World’s new exteriors. Perched atop a great hill, Hogwarts seems gigantic. Behind scaffolding, you can also check out Hogsmeade, the fictional village where Harry Potter and sidekicks Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger relax on school breaks. Take note of the giant arch, which will serve as the Wizarding World’s main entrance and where visitors will be greeted with the Hogwarts Express, a full-size locomotive that pays homage to the magical train that transports Harry between London and Hogwarts.

Across the entrance to Hogsmeade, there will be Zonko’s — an outpost of George and Fred Weasley’s joke shop. The retail shop will house an exclusive collection of tricks and jokes — including extendable ears, boxing telescopes and sneakoscopes.

Rides for wizards of all ages

For thrill-seekers, the Dragon Challenge is a twin, high-speed roller coaster that will incorporate many elements from the Triwizard Tournament.

For family-friendly fare, the Flight of the Hippogriff is a coaster that simulates Harry’s Hippogriff-training flight over the grounds of Hogwarts castle.

If you go

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Where: Universal Studios Orlando’s Islands of Adventure
What: A theme park inspired by J.K. Rowling’s stories and characters — and faithful to the visual landscapes of the Warner Bros.’ films.
Park information: www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/
J.K. Rowling official Web site: www.jkrowling.com


One-day pass to Universal Studios Orlando’s Islands of Adventure
$109 for adults, $99 for kids ages 3 to 9

Although this may not seem like a bargain, the one-day ticket entitles you access to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, home to the upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Arrive early and visit both parks, which include Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, Curious George Goes To Town and The Cat in the Hat. During the summer, the park is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit www.universalorlando.com.


A Harry Potter vacation at Universal Orlando

Starting at $645 per adult, or $1,548 for a family of four

Universal Studios Orlando is currently taking reservations starting May 28 for vacation packages that include hotel accommodations and admission to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The four-night package includes accommodations at one of Universal’s three on-site AAA Four Diamond hotels. For more information, visit www.universalorlando.com.

Life by numbers

Houses (dormitories) at Hogwarts

Harry Potter books in the series

The Secret train platform at King’s Cross station

About The Author

Doug Graham

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