Sneak Peak of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando Resort

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter officially opens at Universal Orlando Resort on Friday, surely the biggest amusement park attraction debut in years.

There have been sneak peeks including a recent soft-opening preview and an NBC special about the making of the attraction.

It's clear in images released by Universal that the mini-park at Islands of Adventure strives to carefully portray Hogsmeade, the fictional city in the J.K. Rowlings books and movies.

The Associated Press got a look and reports there's a Zonko's joke shop offering Sneakoscopes and extendable ears and an Owl Post where guests can stamp mail with a genuine Hogsmeade postmark. The Hogwarts school, meanwhile, AP calls "a perfect reproduction of the imposing, many-spired castle where Harry and his magician friends are students."

Park construction was overseen by a production manager from the Potter movies.

The park has three rides, the key one being "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey." AP says it "combines the sensation of flight with tactile experiences like smoke and drops of water as it takes guests through a hodgepodge of encounters in Potter's chaotic life, from the Quidditch field to the mouths of giant spiders and dragons."

The two other rides, "Flight of the Hippogriff" and "Dragon Challenge," are both older roller coasters that have been redone in Potter theme.

A big hit with early park-goers has been butterbeer, which at Universal tastes somewhat like cream soda, AP says.

Admission to Wizarding World is included with Islands of Adventure entrance fees. AP says there is not much to do at the mini-park beyond the rides, soaking in the scenery and shopping, but says the latter is heavily promoted and includes broomsticks for $250 to $300 and magic wands for $28.95.
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