Guest Post: “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” plus Giveaway!

This is a Holiday treat for you, Mamarazzi Knows Best readers! Kim Wright Wiley is the author of the #1 selling guidebook: “Fodor’s Walt Disney World with Kids,” and is guest posting on my site for you!  
Kim, a mother of two, wrote the first edition of Walt Disney World with Kids in 1989 and has logged more than 50 visits to the park, a statistic that stuns even her. She is the Disney expert for and a contributing editor at Disney Magazine and — and since she’s not under the thumb of the park, she’s not afraid to tell it like it is!
Kim graciously agreed to review the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Walt Disney World to coincide with the premier of latest installment in the Harry Potter movie series, “Deathly Hollows – Part 1” opening this week-end.
Wait. There's more. THREE lucky winners will be getting a copy of Fodor's Walt Disney Guide FREE by entering the contest at the end of this post.
So read on and good luck!

Islands of Adventure, a theme park that’s part of Universal Orlando, has created a huge splash with the June 2010 opening of a new section called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

There are three rides within the Harry Potter section:  The first is The Flight of the Hippogriff, a short but zippy kiddie coaster that circles around Hagrid’s Hut.  The second is The Dragon Challenge, a “dueling coaster” suspension-style ride that reaches speeds of 60 mph and offers plenty of thrills when the two dragons come within inches of each other several times during their fight.

But the undeniable star of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the centerpiece ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  The castle exterior is a marvel and the queue area inside is a fascinating part of the journey.  You’ll meet the four founders of Hogwarts, in the forms of framed portraits who come to life and talk to each other.  Dumbledore is waiting for you in his office and you ultimately end up in a classroom where Harry, Ron, and Hermione – played by the actors from the film series, naturally – persuade you that going off with them to a Quidditch match would be far more fun than staying behind for a boring history lecture.  One wave of Ron’s wand, and your lecture bench becomes capable of flight.

The ride itself is a bench-like seat for four people, with harness restraints.  You’re going to need them.  The ride is intense in both a physical sense, with lots of pitching and jerking action, and a psychological sense as dozens of villains from the books try to divert your flight.  The spider section is especially scary and… let’s just say the Whomping Willow ain’t kidding around.  The Quidditch match, once you finally make it there, has spectacular special effects and the real feel of flight.  The height requirement is 48 inches but the experience may be too much for kids under 8.  (There’s an exit for families who want to go through the attraction seeing the characters but who don’t want to take on the actual ride.) 

Be sure to save time for looking around all of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Hogsmeade Village, which has a post office, places for wand, jellybean, and robe shopping, and a cool restaurant called Three Broomsticks.  The non-alcoholic Butterbeer is a huge hit, drawing long lines to the outdoor stands that serve it and if it’s a little too diabetically-inducing sweet for your taste, the cider-based Pumpkin Juice is also a good choice.  Photo opts abound and street entertainment in the form of the Frog Choir is a hoot.

Tips for touring?  Come early!  The entire Harry Potter section of the park is mobbed all day long and wait times for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey can run as long as two hours.  As of this writing, the ride isn’t available for Express Pass but this may change in time.  Be sure to ask when you purchase your ticket because paying the additional $26-60 may be worth it, since Express Plus ticketholders are directed toward shorter lines for all participating attractions.  But until that’s available, your only option is to devote the time to waiting in line.  So remember that crowds are at their lightest first thing in the morning. 

Also remember that even the shops and restaurants are crowded, so don’t imagine you can easily browse the area.  The best attitude is to face the fact you’ll be moving slowly and use the time to savor all the wonderful details of this magical and painstakingly recreated world. 

After reading this post, are you contemplating planning a trip to Walt Disney World to see this spellbinding attraction for yourself? Enter this simple contest and YOU could win Kim's book to help you do it!

There are two contests you can enter:

1. ONE winner will be instantly selected on Monday, November 22, at 10 AM during a 30 minute Twitter chat about all things Disney. Hope you'll join me then! Follow/use the Hashtag #DisneyGuide.

2. Or, you can leave me a comment telling me why you are a Harry Potter fan; do you enjoy reading the books with your kids, or watching the movies and learning the spells? TWO winners will be selected from the comments left here.

For additional entries here, you can do the following and leave a separate comment for each action:

-Follow me on Twitter

-“Like” my Facebook page

Please include your e-mail in your comment so the publisher can get in touch with you!

This contest closes November 26th, at 9pm (yes, Black Friday), and TWO winners will be announced on Saturday, November 27th on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and here.

Good luck!

Please read contest rules here.


  1. Anonymous says:

    I love Harry Potter and can't wait until my daughter is old enough for us to read the stories together. My dream family vacation is going to Disney World for 5 days andThe Wizarding World of Harry Potter for a couple of days:

  2. Anonymous says:

    The book progresses from the movie to the merchandise and now theme park. I'm sure J.K. Rowling never expected this success in her novels.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh my gosh, I want to go back to Orlando now. I love the Harry Potter movies

  4. Anonymous says:

    I follow you on Twitter

  5. Anonymous says:

    I like you on Facebook

  6. Anonymous says:

    The book progresses from the movie to the merchandise and now theme park. I'm sure J.K. Rowling never expected this success in her novels.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to Red Lotus Mama and Chelsea! You are the winners of Fodor's Walt Disney World Guide with Kids 2011.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I was at islands of Adventure on opening weekend, during all of the horror-stories wait time reports. They were true for the most part. I waited 3 hours for the Forbidden Journey ride, and I'm not even a fan of the Harry Potter saga. Guess what?
    It was worth every minute of it!!

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