Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It's In The Details - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Too Big to Hide - Not quite all of Diagon Alley is hidden from the rest of Universal Studios Florida. Sit down for a bite to eat in Springfield, and you’ll be able to see the tail of the dragon that sits atop Gringotts Wizarding Bank.

Touchy Goblin - Try asking the animatronic goblin in the Gringotts Money Exchange if he is a house elf, and see what kind of response you get.

Call the Ministry - The traditional red phone booth outside Kings Cross isn’t just for show. If you dial 62442 (MAGIC) using the phone, you’ll be connected to the Ministry of Magic.

The Quint Trio - This is a tribute to the Jaws attraction that sat on the same land for over 22 years before making room for the Wizarding World.  Displayed in the window is a record titled “Here’s to Swimmin’ with Bow Legged Women”, by the Quint Trio. This is a reference to a toast made by shark hunter Quint in Steven Spielberg’s movie.

Familiar Ad - In Kings Cross Station, you’ll see a perfume advertisement that looks very similar to the one Harry and Professor Dumbledore stand by in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

All Aboard - You might recognize one passenger who is waiting on the Kings Cross platform – Hedwig, Harry Potter’s owl.

Mail Your Letters - The Owl Post, located adjacent to the Owlery, is a fully functioning post office where visitors can mail postcards and letters with a "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" stamp, postmarked from Hogsmeade.

The Monster Book of Monsters - Dervish & Banges carries a rather animated copy of the Monster Book of Monsters in a cage.

Horcruxes -  Look closely at the moving portraits of the four founders of Hogwarts (Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff). Each is holding an object that Lord Voldemort stole from them to create his evil Horcruxes.

Club Pennants - Take a look at the windows above the Quality Quidditch Supplies store. These feature pennants from the teams seen in the movies, including Puddlemere United, the Chudley Cannons, the Montrose Magpies and the Holyhead Harpies.

Familiar Tune - While attempting to track down the shark in Jaws, the three heroes sing “Show Me the Way to Go Home”. This song is among those performed by the shrunken heads that are on display in Knockturn Alley.

Shark Jaw Bones - You can find another Jaws reference in the storefront of Mr. Mulpepper’s Apothecary. A set of shark jawbones is hidden away behind a variety of herbs and potions.

Invisible Bird - If you listen closely to the Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin and Burkes, you’ll hear a bird chirping away inside.

Mythical Being - The mythical Crumple-Horned Snorkack beloved of Luna Lovegood can be spotted on the second level of the Magical Menagerie store.

Speaking in Tongues - In the window of the Magical Menagerie store is a snake, which will speak to you in Parseltongue and English.

Bill's Telescope - In Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, sitting on Bill Weasley’s desk is the microscope that Bill uses in the pre-show portion of the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

While visiting Florida last month we took a day to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  The park features two unique sections Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.  

Diagon Alley is described as a cobblestoned wizarding alley and shopping area located in London, England behind a pub called the Leaky Cauldron.  Inside the alley is an assortment of restaurants, shops, and other sights. All items on the Hogwarts supply list can be bought at Diagon Alley. The alley is completely hidden from the Muggle world which is right outside of its boundaries. It is very large in area and essentially the centre of wizarding London.

Hogsmeade Village, or simply called Hogsmeade, is described as the only all-wizarding village in Britain. It was founded by Hengist of Woodcroft. Since before 1714 (when the 1714 Edict was passed), Hogwarts third years and above have been permitted weekend trips into the village. Mainly, students frequent the High Street in the village which contains the named specialty shops and pubs such as Zonko's Joke Shop and Honeydukes. Otherwise, they wander on to observe the infamous Shrieking Shack.

Hogsmeade is a picturesque little village of cottages and shops, with enchanted candles hanging in the trees during the holidays. It is also near the location of the train station used by the Hogwarts Express.

Just like Hogsmeade, I learned from Kelly Reed, that Diagon Alley is filled with little tributes (Easter Eggs) to the books and movies that inspire the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As you move through the alley, unless you know what you are looking for, you can easily miss these hidden gems.

Although we were blessed to be at Universal Studios with Anthony’s sister Pam and her husband Dean we did end up splitting up for some of the day so Anthony could help indulge in my inner wizard fix during our visit.  We knew that Pam and Dean had other interests in the park and we did not want to hold them up while I was searching for hidden secrets.  This post features some of the hidden treasures we discovered.  I did much better with these Hidden Easter Eggs than I did with the Hidden Mickeys.  We did discover that some of the hidden secrets were no longer in place or were not functioning as expected.  An example would be the sign at the Leaky Cauldron.  It was rumored that it actually did leak but alas there was no moisture on the day we visited.  Maybe they fixed the leak.  Also some items we found I was not able to capture in pictures like the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes perpetual fireworks display in the ceiling.  It was too high and too bright in the shop to get a decent image.  And you can't take a picture of Moaning Myrtle moaning in the Loo. 

It is absolutely amazing to see all the details the engineers, architects and designers built into bringing the Wizarding World to life.  I think my only disappointment was the volume of Muggles in this area of the park.  It is said that the opening of the Wizarding World increased Universal attendance by 50%.  Naturally being wizards ourselves the term Muggle does not apply to us.  I have learned to own the fantasy and ignore the Muggles.    

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