Con­jur­ing up spirit of the boy wizard

As peo­ple flock to the the­atres to see the lat­est in­stal­ment of the Harry Pot­ter fran­chise, the Amer­i­can dol­lar has af­forded Aus­tralians the lux­ury of in­ex­pen­sive ac­com­mo­da­tion pack­ages tak­ing in the re­cently opened Wizard­ing World of Harry Pot­ter in Orla

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - MUSIC MELBOURNE -

CLAD in the long, thick robes of Gryffindor, Huf­flepuff, Raven­claw and Slytherin and ac­com­pa­nied by op­er­atic toads, the young witches and war­locks of the Hog­warts choir belt out sev­eral tunes un­der the very warm glare of the Florida mid­day sun.

The songs aren’t par­tic­u­larly catchy and their ac­cents aren’t par­tic­u­larly English, but they cap­ture the spirit of the Harry Pot­ter world that has just opened on the east coast of the US.

The Hog­warts Ex­press fea­tures at the en­trance of Or­lando’s Is­lands of Ad­ven­ture theme park and the cock­ney con­duc­tor poses for pho­tos.

It’s a lot to take in as you en­ter the Wizard­ing World of Harry Pot­ter – al­though if you want a sneak pre­view, visit the web­site for a vir­tual tour.

The pop­u­lar shops of Hogsmeade and Di­agon Al­ley jump out at you, in­clud­ing The Three Broom­sticks and and Filch’s Em­po­rium.

There’s a con­stant long line-up out­side Ol­li­van­der’s Wand Shop, which frankly isn’t worth the wait as it’s barely a 10-minute skit with one vol­un­teer who, af­ter sev­eral at­tempts, fi­nally has a wand ‘‘ choose’’ him.

No, the real joy is the ride en­ti­tled Harry Pot­ter and the For­bid­den Jour­ney and this one is def­i­nitely worth wait­ing for, as is the wait it­self. There is plenty to keep you amused at Hog­warts, start­ing with the var­i­ous stat­ues, in­clud­ing Fawkes the Phoenix and Salazar Slytherin.

But it gets much, much bet­ter. In the li­brary Harry, Hermione and Ron ap­pear from un­der the in­vis­i­bil­ity cloak in the De­fence Against the Dark Arts class­room to warn you of the pend­ing per­ils up ahead.

The lat­ter isn’t for the faint-hearted or weak-stom­ached. It jolts you around, leav­ing your ears sore from bang­ing them against the har­ness.

UN­DER ITS SPELL: Hog­warts school at the new Harry Pot­ter theme park in Florida; and try­ing out a wand at the park.

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