Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not for the little ones (and that’s just fine)

by ThemeParkMom

I found myself previewing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter a couple of days back, and I can honestly say that it’s everything Universal Orlando has promised. And more.

My job involves visiting a lot of theme parks and seeing a lot of cool stuff, but I have never felt so immersed in a fictional environment. I was walking the streets of Hogsmeade Village. I was a student at Hogwarts.

Visitors can drink butterbeer and pumpkin juice (both yummy!), pick up a chocolate cauldron at Honeydukes, buy a wand at Ollivanders.

You can witness the squabbling portraits at Hogwart’s Castle, get growled at by the Monster Book of Monsters, and be admonished by one Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

There is no doubt that fans of the Harry Potter books and movies are going to enjoy the heck out of a visit to the Wizarding World.

And that’s an important note that this mom needs to make: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is aimed at the target audience for the Harry Potter series, tweens and older.

It’s completely logical, of course. In fact, it’s best, because the creators of the Wizarding World could never be true to the environment they were creating if the land wasn’t aimed at the typical Harry Potter audience.

But because many people think of a theme park as a family outing, I think it needs to be said: There are no kiddie rides in the Wizarding World.

The new ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, has a 48-inch height requirement and a long list warning away anyone with a health issue more serious than a zit or a stuffy nose. The ride was not open during the preview, but obviously, it involves some intense thrills.

The other two rides are both roller coasters, though one (Flight of the Hippogriff) is relatively tame as coasters go.

And there’s some intense stuff going on in the shops and streets: Video “feeds” from Azkaban, a mounted Hog’s Head that startlingly comes to life. Like I said, it’s awesome. But it will totally scare a 3 year old.

My rule of thumb would be this: If you would let your kids watch the Harry Potter movies, then they are old enough to enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If not, they aren’t going to get much out of it. Logical, right?

I’m not trying to discourage you from going to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, just pointing out the realities of the new Wizarding World for those who may not realize it. There’s still plenty for the little ones to do in the nearby Seuss Landing while the older kids go off to see the wizard.

And moms, be sure to switch off the babysitting duties and get some Harry Potter time for yourself. It’s awesome. Really. Just not for a toddler.

Leigh Caldwell (aka ThemeParkMom) lives in the Orlando area and is the mom of a school-age Theme Park Kid. Perhaps because of her proximity to one very famous mouse, she's made theme parks one of her travel-writing specialties. She’s also a regular contributor to AOL travel site Gadling.com.
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{ 13 comments }

1 CajunMama May 19, 2010 at

This is a fantastic and honest recap of your visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I can’t wait to bring my teen and tween who have both been anticipating the opening. I think I may be more excited than the kids about a visit to Universal Orlando this summer! Thanks for the 411 on WWOHP.

2 Kaye May 20, 2010 at

WWOHP her I come! I plan on going with Shannon and the kids. It sounds exciting. Informative and good article Theme Park Mom.

3 Barabra @ Hole In The Donut Travels May 25, 2010 at

I found it so interesting that there are NO kiddie rides in this theme park. Seems like hey are really going after a more adult target here.

4 HappyHourMom June 21, 2010 at

Wow! Great review, very informative… I’m thinking of planning a trip just before Christmas.

5 Cath Lawson June 25, 2010 at

Wow- What a cool job you have. We’re hoping to visit in the next year or so. DD is a Harry Potter addict and she’s already watched the preview on the internet. My two are teenagers now, so they love the bigger attractions and the Disney parks are less appealing to them than when they were younger.

6 Tibby July 24, 2010 at

i’ll be about 5 months pregnant when we go to The Wizarding World. I know that the roller coasters are out of the question but how about The Forbidden Journey? Any sudden stops or jerky movements on the ride?

Thanks!

7 CajunMama July 28, 2010 at

We wouldn’t recommend the Forbidden Journey for you with your situation. There are restrictions, it has an over-the-head harness, and it has jerky movements.

8 Kimberly August 6, 2010 at

I am planning on bringing my 6 year old son. What are the height requirements?

9 cammie September 1, 2010 at

Hi, I’ll be about 5.5 months pregnant at the Wizarding World of HP. Is the Flight of the Hippogriff pretty tame and Ok to ride? Thanks!

10 papagena1 March 8, 2011 at

Hi there, I’ll be 12 weeks pregnant when we go to the Wizarding World. It appears that I won’t be able to go on any roller coasters. Is there still a lot of fun stuff for me to do? I’m such a Harry Potter fan and I’ve been dying to go forever! Is it going to be lame without any rides?

11 CajunMama March 9, 2011 at

Height requirements – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 48″, Dragon Challenge 54″, Flight of the Hippogriff 36″

Flight of the Hippogriff does have a lap bar and again, I stress for expecting mothers – don’t take a risk for a theme park ride. This is a tame coaster, but does still jerk when starting and stopping.

For those who aren’t into thrill rides, there is still so much to explore inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The shops, treats, and overall feel of stepping into Hogsmeade is worth it.

12 papagena1 March 10, 2011 at

Are there any performances or shows or parades of the sort you would find at Busch Gardens or Disney World?

13 Mika September 21, 2012 at

One of the roller coasters was height size enough for my 2 & 4 year olds to ride & they loved it! My 2 year old son also loved seeing the train & they were impressed with the area in general even though they could only ride the one ride (and we had to ride it several times of course) :)

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