While the other areas of Islands of Adventure looked tempting upon arrival, we made a beeline for the back of the right-hand side. This is where the area called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter lies, just over a bridge. The entrance arch to the area has a sign that said "Please respect the spell limits". When you walk in, the village of Hogsmeade greets you with a riot of snow-capped rooflines, and the soundtrack to the movie plays from hidden speakers.
The space may be ridiculously crowded with visitors, but you forget about the crowd when you see the Hogwarts Express train puffing smoke as it comes through Platform 9 3/4 immediately to your right.
Visitors dressed in their house robes, like this Gryffindor boy, add to the illusion of being in Harry's world. (Adult robes are $99 at the park or pay $12 shipping and get the same robes-and other merchandise- at Universal's online store here. Select Filtch's Emporium.)
The quaint village shops have windows with interesting and often, animated, items. More often than not, the storefronts are false; there is no store and the windows are just for the entertainment of passers-by and to supply the correct ambiance. For example, below is Wiseacres wizarding supplies store, with a hanging iron telescope for a shop sign. The window is filled with astronomical devices, and you can see a room filled with other assorted wizard paraphenalia. Above this, there is a music store with music paper flying madly around as though in a whirlwind, and the cacophonus toots and blasts of beginners playing instruments can be heard. Instrument cases are left on the stairs that could be seen through the door. You cannot enter either of these places, but they are entertaining none the less.
Several books had tiny moving video scenes embedded in the covers. Gilderoy Lockhart waves and preens on this book cover.
|I bought one of these Hedwig owls. They are puppets with a stick inside so you can swivel their heads.|
Ollivander's wand shop has a short show, wherein the wizard selects a participant (usually a youngster) and then decides which wand is a good fit for that person. Flicking the wrong wand causes lightening and other displays of commotion. When the correct wand is chosen, something else happens (I don't want to say too much). There is always a line to see that small show, as only a handful of people can fit in the room.
...and up and up! And it is like this all around the room and partway into the next room as well.
Ollivanders connects to the Owlry post office, which sells stationary, post cards, stamps, wax seals, and pens. You can send outbound mail there, with a Hogsmead postmark. The other stores in Hogsmead you can actually enter are Zonko's joke shop, Honeydukes candy store, Dervish and Banges for clothing and all kinds of souvenirs. In this area there is also the Three Broomsticks restaurant and Hog's Head Pub, as well as the entrance to Dragon Challenge roller coaster (and Hagrids hut and other things we missed because we didn't know there was more than a roller coaster there. Next time, I am going to join the queue so I can see everything and then bail out before getting on the coaster.) The ATM says Gringott's Bank, and the restrooms are alive with the sound of Moaning Myrtle.
|Honeydukes candy store window, from the inside. Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean is featured in this display.|
|Butterbeer barrel cart and Honeyduke's candy store|
|Butterbeer from the tap or frozen like a slushee, your choice!|
I got a frozen one, without the more expensive plastic souvenir mug. It does have a frothy top and a delicious vanilla-y flavor.
|The frog chorus entertains with "singing" puppet frogs|
|Set decoration in Dervish and Banges' inaccessable 2nd story includes Spectra Specs and an Advanced Potion Making text book, as well as a broom that "flys" slowly up and down a bit.|
|There are many items not for sale, but just for ambiance in the stores.|
|You can get your outbound mail stamped in the left corner with a Hogsmead postmark|
|The Owl Post is stuffed with parcels to be mailed (all are set decorations)|
|The Owlry is an open-sided bench-filled pavilion with many animated owls roosting on the high beams.|
|The owls very subtly swivel their heads and flap their wings and blink|
|The Monster Book of Monsters was sleeping and snoringin a big cage with a warning sign.|
There were some things that caught the eye of this Halloween-lover:
|skeleton in Zonko's Joke Shop|
|Mini Halloween candy buckets (on the drum) at Zonko's joke shop|
|This cart looks like an old funeral coach to me. (The Hipppogriff rollercoaster is behind it.)|
|The pumpkin lids on the rather vile-tasting Pumpkin Juice. At first it tasted good, especially when you are parched in the heat, but then it turned flavor on my tongue. I poured mine down a drain and kept the bottle.|
And finally, the signs of Harry Potter, or really, the signs of Hogsmeade, each one so unique:
|golden snitch at Spintwitches sporting goods (fake storefront)|
|Another shot of the Golden Snitch with quidditch balls. Spintwitches has quidditch supplies in the window.|
Hanging witch and wizard signs for the ladies and men's restrooms. Above hangs a mortar and pestle for the 2nd story Potions shop (fake store)
|Potages Cauldrons (fake storefront) gets 2 hanging signs. A room with more cauldrons and an oven with a self-stirring cauldron are viewed through the window.|
|Zonko's joke shop's hanging sign is a man with a big mouth|
|Ollivander's wand shop's elegant hanging sign|
|Dervish and Banges for clothing and souveniers|
|Tomes and Scrolls (fake storefront). The animation in the window is a quill pen scribbling unassisted in a book.|
Excuse me, I need to go finish my Butterbeer now!