The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort was not only magical for the ABLE to Travel Muggles and United Spinal Association board member Michele Leahy but accessible as well. You enter the gates and to your right you see the train engine that left Platform 9 ¾ a short time earlier. As you proceed through the streets of Hogsmead you realize that the cobblestone streets have been fashioned so they are smooth and easily traversed by guests who are walking or using a wheelchair or scooter.
The three main attractions Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey can be ridden by all who are able to transfer onto the ride’s seat. Each attraction features a ride queue that is an attraction in itself. For non-riders, you can simply step out of line after touring the castle on the Forbidden Journey attraction or walking through the champions’ tent before boarding one of two dragons on the Dragon Challenge. Before boarding the Flight of the Hippogriff, visitors pass Hagrid’s house and learn how to greet a Hippogriff.
Of course the jewel is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. As you wind your way through the castle and up the staircases (which also provides adjacent elevator access) you witness the portraits come to life and speak about Muggles being allowed into the castle. This is so much like the books and movies you feel as if you really are a part of Harry’s world. In fact, the travel agent you have all come to know and love, Mary Peterson, was moved to tears at the sight of the talking portraits. Prior to boarding the ride, all potential riders are able to see the seat and test it out. For individuals who require additional time to board, a car is sent to a private area where boarding can be done without delaying the ride for others. A ride attendant directs one car that seats 4 guests to leave the track and come to the private boarding area. Michele expressed her thoughts by stating, “This is a great invention as I could take my time to board without delaying others”. Once she boarded, the car rejoined the others on the track for a seamless transition. As this attraction provides presentations by Hogwarts’ professors, students, and headmaster it provides assistive listening devises and a sign language interpreter once daily Monday through Thursday.
The Flight of the Hippogriff has a car with a side door to allow for easier transition from a wheelchair or scooter to the ride seat. Once the person boards, a ride attendant moves their wheelchair to the other side of the platform so that upon exiting the ride the person exits on the same side as all the riders.
As you exit Hogsmead stop at the accessible shops including Hooneydukes, the Three Broomsticks and Ollivander’s. A guest is asked at Ollivander’s to see if they are the “chosen one” by testing out wands (I have it on good sources – the Daily Prophet perhaps that Michele was the “chosen one”).
Your trip will not be complete unless you stop at the Hog’s Head Pub to have a refreshing Butter Beer topped with cream foam that is too delicious to begin to describe.