Dumbledore's office. Images courtesy Universal Orlando

Theme park based on Harry Potter book series set to open June 18

By Eman Albash

Hogwarts. Ollivander’s. The Three Broomsticks. Sound familiar? Fans of the Harry Potter series will now be able to experience the world of wizards and magic in the new theme park, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” Universal Orlando Studios has scheduled the widely anticipated amusement park to open June 18 in Orlando. The 20-acre park will feature many attractions and rides, the ideas of which come straight from the Harry Potter films and novels.

Junior Kailey Simmons is an avid Harry Potter fan and wants to visit the theme park sometime in the future.

“I would love to see a recreation of the [Hogwarts] castle and Diagon Alley,” Simmons said. “It would be so cool to put yourself inside the story like that.”

Senior Olivia Von Lembcke is also a Harry Potter fan and heads the UAHS Harry Potter club. Like Simmons, Von Lembcke said she is looking forward to visiting the new theme park.

“This summer a group of my friends are taking a road trip down to Orlando to go to the theme park on opening day,” Von Lembcke said. “I plan to stay there about five months,” she joked.

According to the Universal Orlando Studios official website, one of the most prominent sections of the amusement park will be the remake of The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Visitors will be able to tour the castle and see the recreated rooms, including Dumbledore’s office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and the Room of Requirement.

Of course no amusement park is complete without rides. Perhaps one of the most thrilling roller coasters will be the Dragon Challenge. The ride features two coasters, and the website said passengers will be able to choose whether to ride aboard the Hungarian Horntail or Chinese Fireball dragon.

Another ride the park offers will be the calmer Flight of the Hippogriff. Ideal for children and entire families, this ride focuses on a fictional creature called a Hippogriff, which has the head of an eagle and the body of a horse. According to the website, park guests will have the chance to learn about the mannerisms of the creature and then take a ride aboard the Hippogriff, which will take passengers past Hagrid’s hut.

Although Simmons is excited to see the world of Harry Potter recreated, she said some aspects of the park interest her more than others.

“I don’t really expect much from the rides,” Simmons said. “I’m more interested in the scenery of all the buildings.”

After the excitement of touring Hogwarts and riding the roller coasters, visitors will have the chance to rest, eat and shop in Hogsmeade. In the Harry Potter novels, Hogsmeade is a village inhabited entirely by wizards. The village in the theme park includes many of the same shops and restaurants Harry Potter fans have become familiar with in the books and films. The website said that park guests will be able to dine in the Three Broomsticks, which will offer pumpkin juice and non-alcoholic butterbeer.

At first, Von Lembcke said she thought the creators of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” would try to build the park too quickly and ignore the details, but she said her opinion has changed.

“It makes me really happy to know that [the creators] are actually trying to make this as much [like] the wizard world as possible,” Von Lembcke said. “I will for sure be trying butterbeer and pumpkin juice—otherwise I would not be true to my fellow wizards.”

The website also says Hogsmeade will offer many shopping opportunities. At the wand shop, Ollivander’s, customers will be able to choose from an array of different wands to buy as souvenirs. The Owl Post is a post office that will contain Harry Potter postcards for park visitors to send to their friends and family directly from the park.

Von Lembcke said she is excited to have the chance to be immersed in the world of Harry Potter.

“I have always wanted to be in the films,” Von Lembcke said. “Now I feel like I can because with an imagination you can pretend that you are going to school [at Hogwarts] and that the park is your home.”

For Harry Potter fans, the chance to actually visit and experience the wizarding world may seem like a dream come true, but “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is no dream, and the long wait for the park to open will soon be over.