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A Complete Survival Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Where: Universal Studios [map], Orlando, FL, United States
June 22, 2010 at 11:44 AM | by | Comment (1)

Thinking of heading to the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter park at Universal Studios Orlando? You better be ready to sweat, wait in long lines, and yet enjoy it all along. But still, it's a good idea to do your homework for something like this, which will see record visitors for the next few months at least and which will try your spending power to the max.

We've been to the park many times now over a period of several days, from quiet evenings to raucous mornings with 2-hour Forbidden Journey waits, and we've come away with a slew of priceless tips for getting everything you want out of the park with the least amount of stress.

Jaunted's Quick and Dirty Survival Guide for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

· Give the Wizarding World two half-days; go once early in the morning when it opens to enjoy the rides before the long lines hit, and go again around dusk, as everything seems far more magical lit up for night (not to mention that the temperature is cooler).
· The first place people rush to is Hogwarts Castle, for the Forbidden Journey experience. Instead, go to the Dragon Challenge roller coaster in the morning when there aren't any lines and you can ride both the Chinese Fireball and Hungarian Horntail right away.

· Go to the Wizarding World and ride the rides before you've shopped and when you're carrying the least. This is because two of the rides—the Forbidden Journey and Dragon Challenge—require you to deposit everything but what's in your pockets into small lockers. The Lockers will fit a messenger bag or backpack, or a purse and a couple wand boxes. They are also easy to use with fingerprint recognition, and they're free during the time you ride. If however you want to store stuff in them all day, you'll be paying up to $20 for the pleasure.
· If you keep your wallet and phone in your pockets, but bring along a small point-and-shoot camera for the Forbidden Journey ride, you will have to put it (or indeed anything small that doesn't fit well into your pockets) into a small pop-out compartment in the back of your seat. Don't forget to empty it when the ride is over!

· Don't be discouraged by the line to experience Ollivander's Wand Shop. Groups for each Ollivander's "performance" are around 15 people, so the line moves quickly. No rush to go to this, in other words.
· To avoid the long lines at the Butterbeer cart, know that you can order it with your meal at the Three Broomsticks.
· Buying chocolate frogs at Honeyduke's is a bit of a Catch-22. If you buy them early in the day, they could melt in the heat and you'll have to stow them in the lockers when you go on rides. But, if you wait until the end of the day, they could be sold out.
· Have a pet name ready if you buy a Pygmy Puff toy at Zonko's Joke Shop, as they'll announce to the whole store that one has been adopted.
· Leave room in your luggage for souvenirs. A wand box can easily be as tall as your carry-on, and pumpkin juice bottles and Butterbeer mugs take up more space than magnets and keychains.

· If you buy postcards from The Owl Post, ask to have them stamped (for free) with the Hogsmeade postmark. They'll do it right at the cash register. When you have addressed yours, written your messages and added stamps (either bring your own into the park or pay $14.95 for 10 44-cent stamps), walk in to the Dervish & Banges door next to The Owl Post to find the mailbox for sending them.
· Totally check in to the various locations in the park on Foursquare! Almost every shop and ride has its own location, and we dare you to become mayor of Hogwarts Castle.
· Last but not least, flip through our photo galleries and reports from inside the opening days of the park here:

The Roller Coasters!
The Food!
The Forbidden Journey!
The Shops and Souvenirs!
and more!

[All photos: Jaunted]

Disclosure: We're at The Wizarding World as a guest of Universal Studios, but all views expressed here are completely our own.

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Don't bother with the chocolate frogs at all

Save yourself some bad karma and don't worry about buying a chocolate frog, since WB and USF aren't using fair trade chocolate in their HP products and are therefore trying to use Harry's name to promote child slavery: http://thehpalliance.org/action/campaigns/nihn/

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