We arrived in Hogsmeade village via the Hogwarts Express, such a great way to arrive in Hogsmeade village. The first sights on arrival are the snow capped village houses and the Hogwarts castle spires.
The gray block buildings stand on cobblestones. Windows of stores — some functional, some faux.
Rising from the far end of Hogsmeade village, past a gateway guarded by gargoyles, is a stone castle representing the home of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Hogsmeade village is home to a selection of Harry Potter themed shops and refreshments. As well as Diagon Alley it has a Ollivander’s Wand Shop, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods selling Hogwarts clothing including jackets, t-shirts, sweatshirts, shoulder bags, caps and scarves; plus house crest banners, stationery and other gifts. There are movie prop replicas, magical creature toys plus a variety of assorted toys. Honeydukes, where you can find all kinds of joke articles. Honeydukes is a sweet shop selling sweets generally unavailable in the US, the shelves are lined with all manner of colourful sweets, including Acid Pops, exploding bonbons, Cauldron Cakes, treacle fudge and other chocolates. Dervish & Banges is a shop that stocks all your Quidditch needs such as Quaffles, Golden Snitches and brooms,Hogwarts school uniforms and clothing including robes, scarves, ties, t-shirts and sweatshirts.
The only restaurant in Hogsmeade village is the Three Broomsticks Tavern, serving traditional British breakfasts or fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, Cornish pasty, or chicken platter. Next door at the Hog’s Head Pub you can get a selection of real beers, including US beers, Newcastle brown, Guinness, Stella Artois, Hogs Head (specialty beer for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) brewed by the Florida Beer Company set in a dark, dank rustic atmospheric setting. The family can enjoy Harry Potter favourites including Butterbeer, pumpkin juice as well as wine, spirits and mixed drinks.
The main attraction is the The Forbidden Journey. This ride is the signature attraction in the Wizarding World located inside Hogwarts Castle. It is a flight simulator type of ride where the suspended coaster-type seats dangle off the end of a robotic arm. it provides six axes – six degrees of freedom, with synchronized motion that can be programmed to replicate all the sensations of flying, including broad swoops, steep dives, sharp turns, sudden stops, and fast acceleration. You will be whisked through Harry’s world flying you around the castle and through the grounds of Hogwarts. Expect to participate in a game of Quidditch and an encounter with some giant spiders while being chased by Dementors. The feeling of acceleration playing Quidditch left me with motion sickness but hey I’m a lousy traveller on ships so nothing unusual.
Walking up to the ride through Hogwarts Castle is also a treat. A slow walk through the queue takes roughly 15-60 minutes, longer if you care to stop and watch each of the scenes several times. The Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom three separate bits of dialogue between Harry, Ron, and Hermione, as well as three different spells that get cast in the room, each with its own unique special effects. We only saw one as the queue was moving quickly. You’ll see the Greenhouse, Dumbledore’s Office, and even encounter the Sorting Hat! And finally you arrive in the “Room of Requirement,” which acts as the loading area for Forbidden Journey.
At the conclusion of the ride, you exit into Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods gift shop so an ideal opportunity to browse.
We finished Islands of Adventure by taking the Hogwarts Express back to Universal Studios. The four minute return journey provides a different experience through the windows than the journey from Universal. It’s great fun for all the family and quite “Potter” magical to see the smiles on the faces of the young children during and exiting the ride.
You then disembark onto Platform 9¾ of King’s Cross and proceed down some stairs into a 2010-era King’s Cross Station, before arriving at the London waterfront area, adjacent to Diagon Alley.
We did the ride back early evening (7pm) with the sun just about to set; it was the end of a most enjoyable days experience.