• Julie

Tips and adventures from Harry Potter

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

The Books (and movies): The Harry Potter Series (the Prequel, Books 1-7, and Book 8)

by J.K. Rowling

Content Notes: Fantasy. (The later books include some language and darker themes that aren't G-rated).

The Plot: Orphan Harry learns he is a wizard on 11th birthday when Hagrid escorts him to magic-teaching Hogwarts School. As a baby, his mother's love protected him and vanquished villain Voldemort, leaving child famous as "The Boy who Lived." With friends Hermione and Ron, he has to win over the returned "One Who Must Not Be Named." Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come. (Description found in Good Reads)

A Controversial Book Becomes a Classic Series

When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone first arrived in the local bookstore, there was talk about it being too extreme and too violent for children. Parents were cautioned not to allow their children to read it (which probably made it even more attractive to children). So, my husband volunteered to read it before we introduced it to our daughters. He loved the book, as did our girls. It was fun to hear them discussing it and using 'harrypotterisms.'

“Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,

Teach us something please,

Whether we be old and bald,

Or young with scabby knees,

Our heads could do with filling

With some interesting stuff,

For now they're bare and full of air,

Dead flies and bits of fluff,

So teach us something worth knowing,

Bring us back what we've forgot,

Just do your best, we'll do the rest,

And learn until our brains all rot...”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

When the movie came out, I watched it with them and found the plot to be interesting and the characters endearing. I felt that the movie was enjoyable and it told a complete story, but my family kept speaking of things that were in the book but not caught on film (however, I will note that the movie series is well-crafted and a great complement to the books). So I explored the book series and discovered more layers within the world of Harry Potter. As we continued to enjoy the entire series of books and movies, a Harry Potter-style experience was added to our travel adventure list.

“You might belong in Gryffindor,

Where dwell the brave at heart,

Their daring, nerve, and chivalry,

Set Gryffindors apart;

You might belong in Hufflepuff,

Where they are just and loyal,

Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,

And unafraid of toil;

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,

If you've a ready mind,

Where those of wit and learning,

Will always find their kind;

Or perhaps in Slytherin,

You'll make your real friends,

These cunning folks use any means To achieve their ends.”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

A Flight Into Harry's World---At Universal Studios Florida!

Universal Studios Florida added a new set of attractions to their theme parks with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort and we were excited to explore it. We had invested in a vacation rental home in the Orlando, Florida area (Paradise on Ice) and Universal was the first theme park we explored there. Universal Studios excels in set design and creating interactive 3D adventures, so the castles, shops, alleys, and varied attractions made us feel like we were actually exploring the fantasy world with Harry and his friends (and sometimes with his enemies).

“Sure you can manage that broom, Potter?" said a cold, drawling voice. Draco Malfoy had arrived for a closer look, Crabbe and Goyle right behind him. "Yeah, reckon so," said Harry casually. "Got plenty of special features, hasn't it?" said Malfoy, eyes glittering maliciously. "Shame it doesn't come with a parachute - in case you get too near a Dementor." Crabbe and Goyle sniggered. "Pity you can't attach an extra arm to yours, Malfoy," said Harry. "Then it could catch the Snitch for you.”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Tips to Help Us Experience this Plot

Universal Studios Florida/Universal Orlando Resort in Florida (and at other Universal Parks, such as Universal Studios LA in Southern California)

“Shooting stars all over Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place? And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters...” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Adventures: We experienced The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions in two neighboring parks at Universal Orlando Resort (Hogsmeade at Universal's Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida). Both areas are connected by The Hogwarts Express Railroad, which is a fun adventure as well as welcome transportation. We passed through Platform 9 ¾ (disappearing behind the brick wall) to board the Hogwarts Express from London's King’s Cross Station (located inside Universal Studios Florida theme park) which traveled to Hogsmeade Station in Universal's Islands of Adventure (we later took the train in the other direction---two different adventures).

The authenticity of the station and the train are part of the adventure (rather than just a line for a ride).

The train ride from Platform 9 ¾ is one of our favorite Wizarding World adventures.

In the book and movie, Harry and his friends often take flight. We experienced this sensation on two rides, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Dragon Challenge. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey allowed us to explore Hogwarts corridors and classrooms, then soar above castle grounds as we followed Harry in a Quidditch Match and engaged in a thrilling chase with magical creatures. The Dragon Challenge (my favorite ride) was a smooth but intense high speed roller coaster (I prefer the blue side). However, my favorite ride may not have appealed well to others (or it was too much liability for Universal) so they removed it. We're anticipating a new coaster this year. We're asked to lock up anything that might fall during some of the ride (they have magnetometers to ensure that we leave our bags, cell phones, and keys in the lockers).

And then there are the interactive wands! This offers the chance to practice sorcery by purchasing a wand that allows us to use motions and spells to create magical moments. The staff at Ollivanders helps wannabe wizards select a special wand. It's good to note that there are decorative wands and interactive wands. We recommend purchasing a decorative wand for young children, because they cost less and most children (and their parents) seem really frustrated by the degree of difficulty to make them work. It's better for children to b