Themed attractions at Islands of Adventure – how do they live up to the source material?

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A large majority of the attractions at Islands of Adventure, one of the two theme parks at Universal Orlando, is based on popular movies or television shows that you may have seen. Some of these attractions, however, don’t quite match up to their origins. In an article I wrote prior to this, I explained the differences and similarities between the movies and the rides at Universal Studios Florida. Now as you get ready to visit Islands of Adventure in hope of experiencing your favorite movie, let’s make sure you know what to expect.

 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter ALMOST matches exactly up to the books. As you walk enter Hogsmeade through the main entrance from the Lost Continent, you first see the Hogwarts Express. It does look a little out of place, but then again they aren’t going to build Hogsmeade Station just for one train.

Hogwarts Express at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Hogwarts Express at Universal's Islands of Adventure.

At first sight, you are completely mesmerized by the village of Hogsmeade. There’s everything you imagined from snow on the buildings to smoke coming from the chimneys. The details are down to the last pebble. However, Ollivander’s, located in Diagon Alley in the books and movies, is placed in Hogsmeade. Inside Hogsmeade, all of the details are down, so if you can get past the fact that they completely changed the location of the store that started it all (they did in fact have J.K. Rowling’s permission), you will really enjoy it. Inside Honeydukes and Zonko’s, you will find a ton of novelty candy and toys that you have seen from the movies and books. These are two of the most immersive stores in Universal Orlando, where you feel like you are a wizard doing your casual candy and toy shopping. The Three Broomsticks is not exactly how I imagined it, since they have screen menus and the technology that a wizard does not have, but over by the sitting area you really feel like you are in the movies. Just a few footsteps away is the Hog’s Head, which is the pub that all the students at Hogwarts hang out at in Hogsmeade. This, besides the cash register which was really not avoidable, is exactly how it is in the movies (but it’s a little smaller). The best thing about this place is the butterbeer that does in fact just taste like butterbeer, approved by J.K. Rowling herself!

Hog's Head at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Hog's Head at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Ollivander’s which is THE most immersive store on the property, makes one lucky person have the same exact experience as Harry Potter. However, in the actual wizarding world, you are unable to walk into a store a store and purchase any wand. “The wand chooses the wizard.” Both the Flight of the Hippogriff and the Dragon Challenge are general rollercoasters, but they are themed off of Harry Potter, and there’s a ton of Harry Potter references in the queues.

Hogwarts Castle at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Hogwarts Castle at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

As you approach the castle, it’s just as you imagined. However, there is no moat around the castle — but again, it’s a theme park. They did their best by surrounding a part of the castle with forest so it gives it the same affect. The Forbidden Journey itself is completely immersive and “correct.” It gives you a tour of the castle with many details from the movies, but I wish it took you to more classrooms. As you hop on the ride, you immediately feel like you’ve been transported into the movies. My only complaint is the transitions were not accurate.

Visit our Insider’s guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to learn more.

 

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

This ride is based on both the comic and the movie. All of the details match up with the plot, characters, and basic theme. The only complaint I have is the dubstep music in the beginning of the ride. I would’ve never imagined that music in the comics or movies.

Visit our Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man page to learn more.

Entrance to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
Entrance to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.

 

The Cat in the Hat

The ride is right on to the original Cat in the Hat movie. They added a few unimportant scenes that don’t mess with the story. All of the lines and props are exactly the book. There are no complaints for this ride.

Visit our Cat in the Hat page to learn more.

Entrance to The Cat in the Hat.
Entrance to The Cat in the Hat.

 

Jurassic Park River Adventure

Everyone is a fan of the first Jurassic Park movie. I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish Jurassic Park was real and open to the public. Here is your chance to experience the dinosaurs. The plot makes sense because not everything goes right, and if it was real and open that could happen. The only thing I have to complain about is, it doesn’t take take you around the island more. It just gives you a short tour of a few dinosaurs. I guess the other attractions in this part of the park give you more of the Jurassic Park island, but being that this is the main attraction, it’d be nice to see more.

Entrance to Jurassic Park River Adventure.
Entrance to Jurassic Park River Adventure.

 

[sws_author_bio user=”emilyca_” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Emily” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]

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About Taylor Strickland

Taylor Strickland is the owner of Orlando Informer, the internationally awarded independent resource for guests visiting Orlando. In this position, he leads the website's overall direction and day-to-day operations, working with a team of writers, editors, developers, and producers.