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
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.