I do believe this post is past overdue...
Well, last Friday I had the privilege of going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a.k.a. the best place on earth. We did have to wait a couple hours before being able to actually get into the Harry Potter world part. After being thoroughly annoyed by the man who was blocking the entrance into Hogsmead and not letting anyone in unless their little ticket with the time they are allowed to come into the park said 12:40 or earlier (it was 12:50, and our ticket was for one o'clock), we were finally let in, along with a huge crowd of other people waiting ever so patiently.
The first thing you see when you walk in is the Hogwarts Express, complete with smoke and sound effects. Behind that is Platform 9 3/4, and then you are on the streets of Hogsmead. To your left are Honeydukes, Zonkos and the Three Broomsticks (and more...) and to your right are Dervish and Banges and Ollivanders. There are a lot more little shops set up between them, each with a 'closed' sign, or a 'out to lunch' sign. You can't actually go into these shops, but its fun to peer into the windows and look at the very detailed setup inside.
If you keep walking you pass a little corner where the House banners are displayed (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff). Occasionally, you might be able to see a few students from Durmstrang or Beauxbaton lined up so you can take your picture with them, and sometimes the Frog Choir treats you with a song, complete with their talking toads. Keep going and you pass a butterbeer stand, and then in the distance the unmistakable tower of Hogwarts castle appears.
Walk through the gates of Hogwarts and students in their House robes great the 'muggles'. Inside of Hogwarts is probably the best ride/rollercoaster I have ever been on. Make sure you stow all loose items in the lockers on the room to your right before continuing, because you will lose them on the ride. Keep walking through the dimly lit corridors and you pass the Potions classroom and the Mirror of the Erised. You emerge outside to Professor Sprout's Herbology classroom, where a whole bunch of very strange, exotic plants can be found, including Mandrakes and Devil's Snare. After re-entering Hogwarts, the House Points are displayed to your right, with Gryffindor in the lead (of course...). The entrance to Proffesor Dumbledore's office lies ahead.
Pass Dumbledore's office entrance and you find yourself in Dumbledore's office- complete with a realistic hologram of the famed professor that talks to the muggle visitors. Walk through his office and you emerge into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Harry, Ron and Hermione greet you there, explaining how they are about to save you from a 'dreadfully boring' class taught by Proffesor Binns and fly you down to the Quidditch match. Walk out into the hallway and you pass the entrance to the Gryffindor common room, Fat Lady and all. Keep going and the picture of Helga Hufflepuff, Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin greet you, talking amounst themselves about the famous 'boy who lived'. Ahead is the Sorting Hat, and beyond that is the ride itself.
You ge on, stap yourself in with a brace that comes over your shoudlers, and move towards a dark hole. After a quick 'good luck!' from a Hogwarts student, Hermione appears before you as a hologram like before. She explains how she is going to use Floo powder to get you to the Observatory, and from there Ron and Harry will fly you down to the Quidditch field. You then disappear into a cloud of green fog, and begin to fly.
You float into a staged setup of the Observatory, and hear Ron's voice praising Hermione's brilliance. You bob up and down, and the ride turn you so a huge Imax-sized screen takes up all possible space. (I tried to find the end of it, but when you're strapped in by your shoulders into a little enclosed space that only allows you to look ahead, its kind of hard.) They are both on brooms, and Harry yells for you to follow. You then begin on a really, really scary flight around the castle. And I don't mean, like freaky-creepy Paranormal Activity scary, I mean like this-has-got-to-be-real scary. I was literally pulling up my legs whenever they looked like they were going to hit something.
The cool thing about this ride is you feel like you are actually flying. Like, you're definitely moving. After following Ron and Harry for a little ways, the whole time screaming like a maniac, you come to a screeching halt in front of a bridge-type thing. Hagrid is standing there with a huge chain in his hands, and he wants to know if anyone's seen a dragon. You duck under the bridge and zoom after Harry and Ron, but not soon after you are being chased by the Hungarian Horntail from Goblet of Fire. The ride changes to a staged setup again, and you are inside that long covered bridge. The dragon is totally destroying the bridge to get to you, and you turn around to face its huge head, which promtly spits fire (super hot red fog) at your face.
Then you're in the Forbidden Forest (another setup), with the giant spiders. I can't remember much from this part, mainly because my eyes were closed and I was screaming like I was about to be murdered the whole time. What I do remember is they spit at you. Some of it got in my mouth. It was gross.
You then get to meet the Whomping Willow. I swore it was inches away from hitting my legs. And what could make this ride any better but... dementors! Super creepy, black cloaked...things that suck out your soul. Of course, my cousin and I yell 'expecto patronum!' at the same time, but it doesn't work because, unluckily for us, we do not have wands. But fortunately, Harry comes to save the day with his awesome Patronus charm and we follow him back to the Quidditch field where you meet none other than..... Draco Malfoy!
This was probably my favorite part of the ride because you actually feel like you're flying with the Gryffindor team. You know in the Chamber of Secrets movie, when Harry is being pursued by Dobby's Bludger? and him and Draco fly along the edge of the field, in and out of those beams? Yeah, that's what they did this time. If I could have hugged my knees to my chest, I would have.
You then fly straight up, hover for a while with Harry before plummeting down towards the water. You skim across it and back up to the castle where the Quidditch team greats you inside- they won the match by the way. In the next room, Dumbledore, Hermione and a few other Hogwarts students are giving you a huge round of applause, probably for surviving the ride. Dumbledore sends you back to the 'muggle world', and you flip up on your back, almost upside down and spin. A lot.
After you get off the ride, you are so overwhelmed by the sensory overloads, adrenaline rush and just amazement at how cool the ride actually was that it's kind of hard to walk straight. It doesn't help that you have to get off on a moving conveyor belt.
At the exit of the ride is Filch's Emporium, which is pretty much like the souvenir shop of Harry Potter world. I got a Ravenclaw house pin from there, and you can also get tee-shirts, hats, scarves, backpacks, mugs, etc.
The two other rollercoasters, the Flight of the Hippogriff and the Dragon Challenge are across from the exit.
After the ride, we went to the Three Broomsticks to eat. It was absolutely amazing- and I had butterbeer!! Which, by the way, tastes like a combination of cream soda, root beer and butterscotch with a really yummy sweet frothy stuff on top.
My cousin and I then went to Honeydukes while our parents finished eating their roasted chicken and pork ribs. They have everything from Chocolate Frogs to Berty Botts Every Flavor Beans to Sugar Quills. next door is Zonkos, where I sadly didn't buy anything.
We then waited in a two hour line for the 'Ollivanders Wand Experience'. My sister Hannah was chosen as the lucky child who actually experiences the experience... if that makes sense. Mr Ollivander presented her with several wands, instructing her to either water the flowers by saying 'aguamenti' or drawing the ladder towards her with the words 'accio ladder'. The wand that 'chose' her was a wand of reed, dragon heartstring and 11.5 inches in length. Lets just say I was very, very jealous. The wand box even had authentic Ollivanders dust on it! I was satisfied with Sirius Black's wand replica, though.
At Dervish and Banges I got my Ravenclaw scarf- my new favorite fashion accessory. I also picked out an assortment of my Christmas presents (yes, I shop for myself now...) which included the Golden Snitch, a Time Turner keychain and a model of the Hungarian Horntail.
So, that's pretty much the basic summary of what we did, well, actually it was more of a very detailed explanation.... That day was the best day of my life, and I cannot wait to go there again sometime soon.