If you’ve done any reading/research on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (aka Harry Potter World), you’ve probably noticed that people say that the lines are worth waiting in. What line could possibly worth waiting hours in? I’m about to show you.
There are three rides in WWoHP, and the geniuses who designed the WWoHP (actually, all of Universal’s Islands of Adventure) were smart enough to make the ride lines actually interesting. It made the long waits not only bearable, but actually quite fun (though you should keep in mind that I’ve mentioned before that I don’t mind lines). I’ll try not to give everything away, though, so you’ll still have something to look forward to when you experience the lines for yourself.
As a side note, I should mention that in order to ride the two larger rides (Dragon Challenge and Forbidden Journey), you can’t have any bags with you. That means that anything you’re carrying must go into a locker before you get into line for the ride. That also means that if you have a pretty DSLR or other large camera, you can’t bring it into line with you. It has to go into a locker or stay behind with someone else in your party. We knew this ahead of time, though, so whenever the Nikon went into the locker, the pocket sized Canon point & shoot came out! (Note: Even a small camera can’t be carried in a bag through the line, so make sure you have a pocket to put it in. Men’s cargo shorts are actually good for something in this case!) Since they’re from my p&s, a lot of these pictures aren’t the best quality (p&s + low light = not so happy), and I hate the look of the flash; but I’m really glad we were able to capture some of the fun features of these lines.
Let’s start with the Dragon Challenge ride. The line area for the Dragon Challenge is much longer than the actual wait time for the ride. At least that was the case while we were there. This means that when the sign says the wait is 10 minutes, expect to be walking for 5 of those minutes. This also means that if you’re going to stop and take pictures, people will try to cut in front of you. Boooo on line cutters!
Anyway, the Dragon Challenge line is intended to gear you up for participating in the Triwizard Tournament. The path is lined with House/School banners and signs cheering different champions on. If you remember from the book/movie, the dragon challenge was held out on the castle grounds, so the line is designed to make you feel as if you’re walking away from Hogwarts. This means you’ll have one the of the best possible views of the castle since the line also winds a little uphill. The coaster to the right is the Flight of the Hippogriff, which we’ll get to next.
Walk a little further and you’ll come across this sight, which had me squealing while the people behind me questioned, “Why is there a car here?? Someone crashed into a tree?” Okay, so the set up isn’t exactly perfect, but I was still excited to see it there. Confession: I had no idea what a Ford Anglia looked like until the HP movies came out. If that’s not what a real Ford Anglia looks like, then I still don’t know.
Did you know that you were selected as a Triwizard Champion? No? Well, once you walked through the gates of the Dragon Challenge, you became one. Get ready.
Triwizard Cup. You know, to set the mood.
See these? This is what you need to nab from under the dragon. It also seems that people have tried to nab them through the glass.
This way to the Dragon Challenge!
At the end of the long winding journey, you’ll get to this fork, where you’ll choose which dragon to ride. Though they’re two parts of the same ride, the two dragons are actually completely different. I had read from reviews that the Chinese Fireball was the more thrilling of the two coasters. We rode both, and I think I agree. I’m not a huge roller coaster person–I hate drops, but I love speed, twists and loops. Both of these coasters were right up my alley. We rode in the front row of the Hungarian Horntail, and I still don’t think it was quite as thrilling as the Fireball was from the middle rows. I felt like the Fireball was a little more feisty, if that makes any sense. I actually thought about going back to ride the Fireball from the front row, but we had other things in the park we wanted to see.
Once you get past this point, you enter the area where you line up for specific rows on the ride. I loved this area and even tried to take a video to capture it, but I’m going to leave that for you to discover. I will say that the first time we rode, this part of the line was so loud and full of people that Aldwin didn’t even notice the “effect” until I pointed it out.
Next up is Flight of the Hippogriff, which you saw a tiny glimpse of earlier. This is the only “family” ride in WWoHP, meaning it’s a tamer roller coaster than the other two. As such, the line area is shorter and less interesting but still fun. Also, this is the only ride where you don’t have to put your stuff in a locker. You can stick your stuff at your feet.
If you want to see a Hippogiff, you have to attend Care of Magical Creatures, which means we’re headed over to Hagrid’s house!
This isn’t technically part of the line (you can sort of see him from the line), but the coaster itself takes you around Hagrid’s place and right up to Buckbeak’s/Witherwings’ nest. Say “hi”!
Okay, like I said, there isn’t much to see, but it was a surprisingly fun ride, considering it was put there to give little ones something to ride.
The final ride is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. For this, we head inside Hogwarts Castle! The great thing about the castle is that you don’t actually have to ride the ride to see inside. If you have little ones with you or want to take your large camera along, just walk inside the castle and tell the workers that you want to go on a walking tour. They’ll direct you to a separate path (usually with no line) that winds through most of the same rooms that the ride lines does. We went through the ride line twice and still took the walking tour once so that we could take our time to look at everything and appreciate the awesomeness.
Here are a few glimpses inside. I really don’t want to spoil everything, though because it really is fun to experience it for yourself.
As you walk through the castle, keep an eye out for little HP details like this door to the kitchens. The hubs asked if Dobby was inside. I was so proud.
Portraits! Some of them talk. Can you tell which ones do?
If you look into this mirror, you just might be able to see what your heart most desires.
Check out the Pensieve as you enter someone’s office. Someone. I’m not saying who. If you’re really unsure, you’ll definitely be able to tell once you get there.
Random stuff inside a classroom. Which one? I’ll let you try to guess. Hint: You can’t really tell based on what’s inside it.
I wonder where this might lead…
She does talk, but at this point, the line was moving way too fast for me to stop and listen. During our walking tour, we happened to come to this spot when she wasn’t talking, so we didn’t get to listen then either.
So this isn’t really part of the line, but when the ride is over, you get dumped out in a passageway that leads to the lockers and Filch’s Emporium. If you’re on the hunt for some HP swag, definitely take the time to look around here since the merchandise carried in this store is different than what’s carried in the other shops.
That’s all I’m going to show you from inside the rides. Like I said earlier, I wanted to give you a glimpse inside without taking away the whole thrill of experiencing it yourself. Hopefully I didn’t give too much away!
Next up, a bit of food plus my tips for navigating through WWoHP.