Monday, February 14, 2011
A frugal review of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Last weekend, after a year of waiting patiently, I finally went to the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Although the $80 ticket to Islands of Adventure was steep, for a die hard Potter fan like me it was worth the money. That being said, there are still some ways to save on your adventure to Hogsmeade.
I think the first thing that struck me was just how well done everything was. Hogsmeade village was meticulously recreated. Half of the fun was simply walking through the village. It really was like the books had come alive. I felt like I had fallen through the pensieve.
The rides were all great. It rained and was Super Bowl Sunday so crowds were not a problem for us. The hallmark ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, lived up to expectations. It made me a little nauseous with all of the video involved but it was still fun. This is the ride located in Hogwarts Castle. Half of the fun is waiting in line to see all of the sights such as Dumbledore's office and the Griffendor common room.
The flight of the Hippogriff is a kid friendly coaster. For those of you familiar with Islands of Adventure it is the old "Flight of the Unicorn." Hagrid's Hut is there along with Buckbeak the Hippogriff.
After those rides we hit some of the shops. Merchandise is pricey. The best deal in the park for a souvenir is to mail a postcard from the owlry. The postcards cost about $1. The really exciting part is that you mail the cards from Hogsmeade and it is postmarked "Hogsmeade." Make sure to bring your own stamps though. They sell a sheet of Hogwarts stamps for $14 so they are seriously marked up.
Other merchandise is comparable with other theme park fare. The way I see it, if you are a die-hard fan and there is something you really want it's worth it. Otherwise, I would pass. Adult t-shirts ran between $25-30. Honestly, the experience of being in Zonkos and Honeydukes is awesome even if you don't purchase a $10 chocolate frog.
Lunch at the Three Broomsticks was, again, a great experience. My only complaint is that service was VERY slow. The most economical dish was the fish and chips and it was very good. It cost under $8. I heard the shepherd's pie was not so good, but the ribs and chicken were alright. The Butterbeer was delicious! I would splurge for the frozen one since it waters the sugar down a bit. The portion is generous so if you have smaller children I would ask for an extra cup and share it. Also, the adult fish and chips could be split between 2 children for cheaper than buying 2 children's meals.
After lunch we rode the Dragon Challenge roller coasters. The theme is the Triwizard Tournament so there was plenty of cool things to view in line. Some of the minutiae included the Triwizard Cup, the golden dragon eggs, the tent that the champions waited in etc. If you rode the old dueling dragons ride it is the same, the line experience was just updated.
We didn't do Olivander's wand experience. With a price tag of about $40 it wasn't worth it for me.
The one souvenir that I really liked but wasn't willing to pay for was a scarf in the house colors. They were between $25 and $35. The most basic could be knitted for under $7 or so. Definitely over priced.
Ultimately, I had a great day. It is totally worth the entrance fee but I would go easy on the merchandise. It's worth it to send your friends (or yourself) postcards from Hogsmeade if you bring your own stamps. I would definitely eat at the Three Broomsticks. Set a limit on souvenirs so you don't go overboard.