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Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Worth the Wait?

More than five years in the making, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is now a reality.  Since the 2010 Memorial Day weekend the Universal Studios Orlando theme park has had a "soft" opening for select visitors which has enabled the park employees and Universal executives to test out one of the most anticipated theme parks of all time.  Similar to the Disney brand, the Harry Potter brand has a huge fan base.  But this fan base is more cult-like (although arguably children dressing up as the Little Mermaid and Cinderella could be construed as cult-like!) and tends to have a slightly older demographic. 

By luck or by "dumb luck (and you'll get what I mean in a moment), I planned our summer vacation nearly nine months ago.  That's what having a timeshare will do for you.  It forces you, mostly for the better, to plan your family vacation because you  have to book your timeshare destination a year in advance.  We exchanged our Maui Marriott timeshare for a trip to Orlando. 

All three of my daughters are extreme Harry Potter fans and kept up with the best of the Potter blogs including the Leaky Cauldron, Mugglenet, and the Official JK Rowling site to stay current on the theme park grand opening.  For three years,my girls have been anxiously awaiting the Potter World grand opening and begging me to plan a vacation there.   So like any parent who has three children with that heart-melting plea, I had to be the hero and "book 'em". 

As I mentioned, I planned this vacation nine months ago, without knowing the exact grand opening date.  So I pulled a date out of the air only with the vague information that it would open sometime in the Spring 2010.  As "dumb" luck would have it, our arrival would bring us to the park for the very day it would officially open, June 18, 2010.

OK, so by dumb luck, which I mean as parents we would do anything for our children that might be deemed "dumb" by our friends and only to be heroes in our children's eyes.  That means waiting in enormous lines in 90 degree heat coupled with the Florida swamp-like humidity.  What was that famous line the Wicked Witch of the East said?  Oh yeah -"I'm melting" - and melt we all did.

But my girls were thrilled the instant they set foot into that park.  It was everything they read about and imagined all these years.  My oldest daughter has been reading Harry Potter books since she was nine years old.  The characters in the books have become part of their imagination for more than half their life. 

Was it Worth the "Wait"?

You might ask if it was worth the wait.  Well, by wait I mean the long hours we waited in line.  We probably waited an average of three to four hours just to get into the park each day we attended.  Then it was another hour to several hours to get into each store or ride.   Yes - an hour or more just to get into a store.  But, in a nutshell, the answer would be "yes" after seeing and hearing the thrill all of my girls had with the rides and souvenirs.   I guess that answer is reflective of how much your child loves the Harry Potter series.  And it's a hearty "yes" for my girls.

For more details on the park itself and handy tips and tricks for families to prepare for a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, see information at Go To Gals, our review site.  Check it out for that review.

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