This week’s SATURDAY SIX Presents: Plastic in the Parks at the WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER! For fans of the Harry Potter books and films, the first week of September is an important one as the school year at Hogwarts begins on September 1. This year, LEGO celebrated this important date with the release of an incredible Diagon Alley set that contained over 5,500 pieces! This got us thinking. We love our Plastic in the Parks series that features LEGO, and we love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal parks… so we sent our head Potterphile Megan Stump along with SAT 6 shutterbug Michael Carelli to get some photos…
# 6 – Weasley Twins at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes
“‘George,’ said Fred, ‘I think we’ve outgrown full-time education.’” – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
When Universal opened the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter back in 2010, a case could be made that for the first time in theme park history gift shops had become an “attraction”. What was once a necessary evil and something most guests just wanted to pass by as quickly as possible, the stores in Hogsmeade Village were so popular at times they needed to have queues set up outside. For Diagon Alley, the stores became even better. Our favorite is Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, a shop filled with products straight out of the Potter movies (like the Skiving Snackbox, Decoy Detonator, and Love Potion), but also loaded with sight gags and details that every guest will appreciate. (Don’t forget to look up!)
Our LEGOs wanted to see some of the other Wizarding World stores as well.
# 5 – Moaning Myrtle at the Public Conveniences
“Here I am, minding my own business, and someone thinks it’s funny to throw a book at me.” – Moaning Myrtle, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
We here at the SATURDAY SIX love our theme park bathrooms and the Wizarding World has one of the all time great details in any theme park restroom. Moaning Myrtle, the school girl who died at Hogwarts in 1943 and continued to haunt the lavatories as a ghost, can also be found at Hogsmeade Village. That’s right, head into the “Public Conveniences,” and you can hear Myrtle herself talking to guests inside.
# 4 – Fleur and Gabrielle Delacour at the Tri-Wizard Spirit Rally
“You saved ‘er. Even though she was not your ‘ostage.” – Fleur Delacour – referring to Harry rescuing her sister Gabrielle, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
While it may not receive the attention or praise that the rides get, the Tri-Wizard Spirit Rally in Hogsmeade Village is a Must Do for Potter fans and is a relatively quick, enjoyable watch. Along with the Frog Choir, the Spirit Ralley was Universal Creative’s attempt at bringing shows from the Potter Universe into the parks, something they would then take a gigantic leap with for Diagon Alley. The students of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and the Durmstrang Institute walked so that Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees could run.
# 3 – Voldemort and Bellatrix at Gringott’s Bank
“I know YOU’VE seen Harry Potter! He was in YOUR vault Bellatrix…” – Voldemort, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
The queue for Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts is filled with great moments, starting off with a jaw dropper when guests enter the Great Hall of Gringotts Bank. With stunning chandeliers and incredibly detailed goblin animatronics, we can guarantee you’ve never seen anything like this before. For me personally, my favorite part of the ride is that it takes guests “into the movies” like never before. For many film-based attractions, such as Back to the Future: The Ride, E.T., or Jaws, we get to see the characters from our favorite movies, but generally the rides are completely separate from the films they were based on. With some slight adjustments for creative reasons, for all intents and purposes those riding Escape From Gringotts are in an actual scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, just from a different perspective. The movie showed us what was happening from Harry Potter’s POV, while the ride shows us what else was going on. The cherry on top of the sundae was that we also got to finally have Voldemort, one of Hollywood’s all-time best villains, finally make his appearance in the theme parks.
# 2 – Hagrid and Buckbeak at Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
“First thing you wanna know about hippogriffs, is that they’re very proud creatures, very easily offended.” – Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
In years past, one big difference between Universal and Disney was how well themed WDW was within each land while Uni was more a “collection of stuff.” In the past few years alone Universal has made major strides in making their parks more cohesive, whether it be Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in the New York section at Universal Studios Florida, the addition of Fast Food Blvd and Duff Gardens in Springfield USA, or – most recently – Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure in Hogsmeade Village. As good as a ride as it was, Dragon Challenge stood out like a sore thumb in Hogsmeade Village. Hagrid’s fixes that in a major way and possibly makes Hogsmeade pound for pound the best overall land in any Florida theme park–and that includes WDW.
Now, for the attraction itself: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a high-speed roller coaster ride through the Forbidden Forest. Guests will experience a twisty, turvey coaster experience that replicates the motions of a flying motorbike. The ride elements and sensations are unlike any coaster in Orlando. While no one can deny the opening of the ride had its hiccups, it seems the only good thing to come out of the Great 2020 Shutdown was that Universal was able to spend some much-needed TLC on the attraction and it is currently running better than ever.
# 1 – Harry Potter and a Hungarian Horntail at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
“Hagrid! The Dragon!!!” – Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
What do you get when you add cutting-edge media, life-like animatronics, a breakthrough ride system, pinpoint accurate robotics, and the boy who lived? You get one of the best rides on the planet. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey changed the way we look at rides and how we experience them. Everything within this attraction is nothing short of amazing. The grand facade, the elaborate queue, and – heck – even the Sorting Hat safety spiel perfectly demonstrate the level of detail and technology you’ll find on this amazing adventure. Forbidden Journey is the complete experience and a must-ride attraction for anyone visiting central Florida.
Honorable Mention – Photo-Ops in the Wizarding World
“Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board, and we can take you anywhere you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be your conductor this eve —” Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
“STEALING THE CAR, I WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN SURPRISED IF THEY’D EXPELLED YOU, YOU WAIT TILL I GET A HOLD OF YOU, I DON’T SUPPOSE YOU STOPPED TO THINK WHAT YOUR FATHER AND I WENT THROUGH WHEN WE SAW IT WAS GONE!” – Molly Weasley’s Howler to Ron, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
“As our Mandrakes are only seedlings, their cries won’t kill you yet. But they could knock you out for several hours.” – Professor Sprout, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX PRESENTS: Plastic at the Parks in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles covering the latest from the Disney Outlet Stores. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.
“No post on Sundays!” – Uncle Vernon Dudley.