Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Forbidden Journey

Just got back with my son and husband from a week long stay in Orlando, Florida. Home of the ultimate in manic vacations! It is amazing the variety and choice of attractions and theme parks designed to thrill our senses and scare the life out of us, all in the name of good, clean fun of course. You can choose your very own personal threshold level of thrills and adventure, it seems almost limitless, and some days are indeed endless as well.

No matter our personal choices or limitations, there is one ride that we were all looking forward to with GREAT anticipation: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It is housed in Hogwarts Castle at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure theme park.

Entering Hogsmeade for the FIRST time!
To get to the ride and assure yourself a a quick entry onto it, take our advice and get there at least a half hour before the park opens. Once your tickets are purchased and the gates open, walk as fast as you can, straight ahead until you come to the Dr. Zeus/Cat in the Hat section, bear right there and follow the path on till you see the Hogwarts Express and the entry archway into Hogsmeade, a thrill in and of itself, especially if you, like us, are true Harry Potter fans.  It was simply magical walking down the street and viewing the buildings that were so meticulously planned and designed. The theme music fills the air and you literally feel as though you stepped through a magic portal into a Harry Potter book.  (Assuming one could do so of course.)

The street, when you arrive early as we did, is not so jammed packed and you are able to peruse the various shop windows that have been delightfully arranged. Try to find Hermione's ball gown, a screaming mandrake, and the "oh so full of himself" moving picture of  Gilderoy Lockhart. One of our favorite characters. Oh and make sure you visit the restrooms, a ghostly presence is "moaning" about!

Once through the town you arrive at the entrance to Hogwarts and the thrill ride adventure. There are plenty of lockers there to stow your stuff, since you cannot bring anything along on this ride. As soon as your valuables are safely stored, you walk on into the queue area to start your journey. This has to be one of the best ride queues ever imagined since the entire wait process takes you through several rooms in the castle. Once again if you are a true fan, you will love seeing the entrance to Dumbledore's office, "moving" paintings, the Dark Arts class room and best of all, the Sorting Hat that greets you with a cautionary message just before you hurry to get locked down into your seats to begin the Forbidden Journey.

Now I do not wish to alarm anyone, but do heed those rather large and lengthy warning signs that let you know this in indeed a MOTION ride and while not a roller coaster, you are moving rapidly, and tossed backward and forward at a VERY fast pace. The ride is in perpetual motion so the line moves FAST! In fact, the ride attendants move forward on a track that is moving backward constantly just to get you seated on it. WOW! You are quite firmly locked in the four seater ride "car" and are barely able to move much more then your legs and arms. There is a recorded track that plays near your head with the voices of all our Hogwarts friends guiding us through the adventure and letting us know how we are doing on our broom ride. No spoilers here other then to say you move VERY fast, the ride is intense and it is unlike anything you have ever experienced in thrill attractions! Once was enough for me but I am VERY glad I did it! The perpetual motion and "in your face 3-D graphics" had me shutting my eyes in a few places so as not to be dizzy. It is an incredible experience and one that should not be missed, although I do feel sympathy for all the older and younger folks who literally were a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing afterward! It does take your breath away, truly.

Oh, and ladies, be wary of the thigh/crotch shot on the automated picture that gets snapped of you and your seatmates, it's a "real charmer!! HAHA! Nothing you can do about it so just laugh when you see it.

The biggest thrill for me though, was when my 7 year old son, who is not afraid of any ride, and goes on anything, looked at me and told me he was so proud I went on it! Indeed, so was I!!! It was truly AMAZING and worth every moment just to let him know Mom still has it in her to face her fears.......just no roller coasters!!!

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