Theme Park of the Day: Legoland California

New Harry Potter ride stays open all morning, plus other Wizarding World updates

May 31, 2010, 10:03 AM · Theme Park Insider reader Jason checks in again this morning from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure, where he reports that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey stayed open for the entire two-hour period when the new land was open to Universal Orlando hotel guests.

In fact, by the end of the two hours, the ride was a walk-on*:

[*Update: Check the comments for confirmation that the Wizarding World won't be "soft opened" to the non-hotel-guest public until Forbidden Journey can hit its mark more consistently. But a public "soft open" had been scheduled.]

Below are a few more scenes from around the Wizarding World, which Jason described in detail in the comments of a previous post:

Hippogriff-- never rode it in it's original incantation but the theming is well done including the Buckbeak animatronic and Hagrid's hut (including the sound of growling Fang)

Dragon Challenge -- wish they had done at least a minor update to the ride vehicles and finally made the effort to conceal backstage equipment. The new queue is much better lit and is very well done (though the original was excellent also). Best parts of the queue are the TriWizard Cup, the floating candles from the films, and some great views of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts on the way in.

Food -- Three Broomsticks had the exquisite detail found in the entire area but as they were only serving breakfast for the preview we skipped it. I can't wait to come back when the fish and chips are being served. The menus are done in the same style as the newspapers from "Prisoner"... very clever. The Butterbeer is not something I expected to like as I'm not into sweets, but was very pleasantly surprised. Cream soda-y with a carbonation that helps cut the sweetness ($8.50 in a souvenir glass)

Wand Shop-- very fun little performance, the theming is superb and kids will love this (there were lots of operations people about timing the display and counting guest numbers). You exit into the gift shop where you can purchase a ~$30 wand (I had to ask as there aren't any prices on boxes). What happened to the MagiQuest-like features? Was that just fan speculation? I was really looking forward to that as it would have been brilliant.

The "frog choir" sings "Double Trouble" from "Prisoner of Azkaban."

Hargrid's Hut from the Flight of the Hippogriff queue.

You can see the Weasley's wrecked Ford Anglia from "Chamber of Secrets."

The Owl Post in Hogsmeade

Replies (9)

May 31, 2010 at 11:49 AM · Thanks for the ongoing updates. I am happy and jealous at the same time. I guess I am "Hapilous." ;)
May 31, 2010 at 11:50 AM · Jason, keep up the great report and photos.
May 31, 2010 at 1:53 PM · Thanks for the report. Did you ride the Forbidden Journey?
May 31, 2010 at 8:00 PM · Spoke to a very nice TM at the Hogs Head Pub while sipping Hogs Head Brew (yeah, 10am is a little early for a beer, but I had to try it!) who said that she's been scheduled to work a full day every day for a public soft open after hotel guests leave, but each day it's been canceled. According to her, they will only start soft openings after HPatFJ meets certain targets.

Take that with a grain of salt if you wish but what really struck me is that she described working in Hogsmeade as her dream job and it's clear that all the WWoHP team members can't wait to open to the general public. Pretty cool.   

May 31, 2010 at 10:31 PM · I always get freaked out by a wait time sign with three digits. It's an admission that wait time of more than an hour and 39 minutes is normal enough that they've just gone ahead and designed the wait time sign for that. Definitely not a ride that you want to walk up to for the first time more than 15 minutes after the park opens.
June 1, 2010 at 5:24 AM · Frozen Butterbeer > Regular.

I'll peck out a review of Forbidden Journey on my long flight from Orlando to Burbank, CA this morning.

June 1, 2010 at 11:42 AM · Excited to hear your review Jason! I think it's interesting to look at why Universal chose to not use 3-D on this given the growing trend. Overall I tend to doubt it affects the experience at all but I'm interested to hear other opinions. Especially the lucky few who have ridden!
June 1, 2010 at 2:41 PM · @Ali -- all the screens are domes that completely cover your peripheral vision, so while it's not 3D, you don't miss it much. Also, for me at least, because there's so much physical scenery, I enjoy getting to see it without the dark glasses.
June 1, 2010 at 4:35 PM · @Jason: Gotcha. Wow that sounds really cool. I'm a big fan of including real figures along the way. Are there a lot on the ride? And does it feel short at all?

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