John Mayer's Real Estate Blog: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Other Attractions at Islands of Adventure Theme Park in Orlando

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Other Attractions at Islands of Adventure Theme Park in Orlando

My Review (4 photos below)Click Here to See All of the Photos.

Get to this park early or buy a 2 day pass if you want to see and do everything it has to offer. We went 3 days before Christmas and the place was packed!! In fact, I have never been to a theme park where it was a struggle just to make headway through the crowd in an orderly, civilized manner. I like this park but will never go back on a holiday or peak times ever again - lesson learned! When we arrived, there was a 90 min. wait for Spiderman and The Hulk, so we went to Harry Potter. It was filled to capacity so we were directed to Toon Lagoon, halfway around the park to get a pass for between 3:30 and 4:30. When we finally got in, you could not move in the sea of people trying to "enjoy" themselves. I was surprised that we got to ride the Dragon Challenge Coaster so quickly and believe me, it is not for the faint hearted. It is by far, the best, fastest and scariest roller coaster I have ever been on and you have to have courage to ride it twice (or be a kid :-) The Flight of the Hippogriff is a pretty tame roller coaster in comparison and we waited 30 min. for nothing special. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey had a 90 min. wait time and the crowd was unbelievable, so we had to pass. The kids were getting hungry and we hadn't seen Spiderman yet, so we had some unspectacular and expensive food at the Fire Eater Grill. The wait for Spiderman at this point was only 30 min., and it was worth it. Disney class 3D effects and thrills in the dark put smiles on everyone's faces. It was getting cold at this point, so we headed back to the rented locker for our stuff ($8.00) and the long walk to our car. The kids had fun but you could tell they were disappointed by not going on all of the rides and seeing the shows.

PROS: Dragon Challenge Coaster and Spiderman. Hogwarts was very well done with lots of photo ops and on a less crowded day would be a wonderful experience. The park in general seems to be fairly well laid out and on less busy days might actually be enjoyable. The kids liked the water rides.

CONS: It was a long, expensive day and I left feeling cheated. There were so many people, it took you forever to get anywhere and the long wait times made it even worse. If we ever go there again, it will be in non peak times. Not being able to see Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was a major disappointment. We didn't even get to see the many shows that were going on at various times simply because it was so hard to get through the crowd or even see the show time boards. Rude people determined to get through the crowd were everywhere, although most folks were just patient and accepted the situation. So much for the Holiday Spirit.

Hogsmeade Butter Beer. They say it's like butterscotch cream soda - YUCK! I had a real beer for $6.50.

Harry Potter Butter Beer

The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. There was something for kids and adults in this park.

The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride

Hogwarts Castle was an over crowded nightmare. It took forever to get anywhere!

Harry Potter Hogswarts Castle

Jurassic Park River Ride. Everybody gets wet! The smiling kids (in the ponchos) went on it twice.

Jurassic Park River Ride

Click Here to See All of the Photos

NOTE: I left my Nikon D90 at home this time and shot these pics with my trusty (and lighter) Canon Powershot A630 8mp point and shoot.

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These photos are copyright (c), all rights reserved and may not be used or reproduced without permission from John Mayer. Permission can granted with a link back to my website and / or blog, providing the site is appropriate for everyone. Photographs are a great way to share the world. Thank you for viewing.

 
Comment balloon 19 commentsJohn Mayer • December 27 2010 11:50PM

Comments

Dang, there are sooo many people there!  Was it a special occasion, or was it just packed?

Posted by Chris Alston, Silicon Valley, California (Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty, Silicon Valley, California)) over 9 years ago

Hi John - The week(s) of Christmas and New Years are always the busiest in Orlando for the theme parks.  Peak prices and the largest crowds.

The period starting just after American Thanksgiving weekend until approximately mid December is the least crowded time period for theme parks.  My comments relate more specifically towards Disney World but I'm sure they are just as applicable to Universal Studios.

Posted by FN LN over 9 years ago

Chris - This is a very popular park and timing just made it worse.

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) over 9 years ago

Marc - You are correct, of course but unless I wanted to be a grinch, that was the chosen day to go. Never again!

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) over 9 years ago

John, great write up and photos. When traveling in Florida over the holidays another idea for me for a place to visit. Thanks.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

Gary - I'm sure it's a great park in the off peak times. I would say, give it a try.

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) over 9 years ago

Hi John, Happy New Year. Your photo are simply wonderful! Love them. Your new Nikon is certainly paying dividends. Do you shoot raw or jpeg?

Posted by William Johnson, Retired Real Estate Professional (Retired) over 9 years ago

Hi William - I shot these pics with my trusty Canon A630 8mp Powershot. I didn't want to deal with the extra weight of the D90 in an over crowded theme park, not to mention the possible damage. I shoot both raw and jpeg with the Nikon. Happy New Year to you too! 

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) over 9 years ago

John - I have grandkids of a generation who both read and saw all of the Harry Potter episodes.  They would love anything that has some devotion to the J.R. Rawling stories.  I am hopeful the theme park will find a more efficient way to run the park so attractions are more readily accessible during peak days.  There is no worse feeling than taking a family somewhere and feeling like the cost did not present value.   However, your pictures capture the imaginative work that went into the park.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) over 9 years ago

Hi Myrl - Some Canadian snowbird friends of mine went to Disney World around the same time and they reported similar over crowding. They felt as if their hard earned money was wasted on a greedy corporation. I don't know what the solution is but I think limiting ticket sales for any given day might be a good start.

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) over 9 years ago

Great photos John.  Such a shame you had a poor experience.  I think it will probably be like this for the first few years. 

Posted by Debbie Walsh, Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036 (Shahar Management) over 9 years ago

Debra - Living here, I know better than to go to theme parks in peak times but I didn't have a choice. Maybe I'll wait a few years and go back :-)

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) over 9 years ago

I should add that my wife's boss went to Disneyword Dec. 31st and just made it through the gates before the park was declared "at capacity" and no more people were let in. I guess folks are not willing to scrimp on the Holiday Season after a tough year. In a few weeks from now the parks should go back to normal and I'll post another "analysis" :-)

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) over 9 years ago

Wow that is surprising.  I wonder how often that happens?  I bet not too often over the past year.

 

Posted by Debbie Walsh, Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036 (Shahar Management) over 9 years ago

John, I used to to Six Flags, but even that got to be too crowded for me.  Glad I don't have a youngster that I would feel compelled to take.  Anyway, a little disappointed...I didn't see a single Bikini...and I don't want to hear it's too cold for that :))

Posted by Nick T Pappas, Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource (Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL) over 9 years ago

Debra - The parks were not that overly busy over the last year but the Holidays were crazy!

Nick - I rode my bike to the Pier on Sunday and didn't see one good bikini photo op. The weather was great too.

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) over 9 years ago

John, well I for one am looking forward to warmer weather if you catch my drift!

Posted by Nick T Pappas, Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource (Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL) over 9 years ago

Wow, that is one unbelievable crowd John! Had thought of hitting Disney before Christmas, you may have just changed our minds! Pics came out great even with your point and shoot! Have a fantastic 2011 John!

Posted by Al & Peggy Cunningham, Brokers, Our Family Wants To Help Your Family! (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 9 years ago

Nick - I'll try not to disappoint you :-)

Al and Peggy - I never really thought the crowds would be that huge so I agreed to go. Peak times are out for me from now on. Have a fantastic Canadian New Year!

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) over 9 years ago

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