The other people in the on ride photo look like this wasn’t their idea. 🙂
AWESOME review! You definitely took the time to write this, I like it!
Awesome picture by the way 😉
This review makes me want to go the WWOHP even more.
I really enjoyed reading that review Ricky. Thanks a lot for writing it.
I haven’t been on the Forbidden Journey myself yet, but I find it extremely fascinating. I’ve been dreaming about robot arms on dark-ride tracks ever since the rumours began. From what I’ve seen Universal have a done a fantastic job, and should be fully recognised for pushing the envelope and innovating beyond Spider-Man (which Disney still haven’t caught up to yet).
However, I listened to your on-ride audio recording and to me it seems like the ride is missing one HUGE ingredient. It’s missing a full score. There’s about 10 seconds of John Williams’ music at the beginning of the ride and another 35 seconds at the end. But there’s this huge 3 minute chunk in the middle of the ride that has absolutely no music. It’s just sound effects and voices, and to me sounds very bare and muddled.
Music is what really makes a ride excellent. Music enhances the emotions of a ride, and helps define the different stages of the storyline. The Indiana Jones Adventure, Soarin’ and Star Tours are all great examples of music being the magic ingredient that takes an attraction to the next level.
Thanks so much for this fantastic review! I’m going to the Wizarding World in August–I was already excited enough to start with, but your review has got me just about beside myself with anticipation! LOL!
Sorry, I got my numbers wrong. There’s about 34 seconds of music at the beginning of the ride, followed by 3 minutes of NO music at all, then 44 seconds at the end. I just find it strange. All of the Harry Potter movies have such GREAT scores, that mentally pick you up and fly you off to a magical place. Amazing scores. So why do a ride that features very little music, and instead is basically a cacophony of rumbles, growls and yawns?
Excellent point. If there is music throughout those middle scenes, I don’t remember hearing it (and obviously my microphones didn’t pick it up either). But during the Dementor portions, the near-silence is deafening. It enhances the experience quite well, as the Dementors’ shrieks are that much more startling. I suppose it’s possible that the audio system is still being tweaked and that we may hear more music after technical rehearsals conclude. I’ll surely keep riding it keeping an ear out for anything new.
Hi Ricky. I think your microphones are fine. They didn’t pick up any music during the middle section of the Forbidden Journey, because there clearly isn’t any. Hopefully (like you said) the audio system is still being tweaked, but I would imagine that the content itself is finalised.
Silence is great, when used sparingly. The most obvious example I can think of is in Mission: SPACE when you go into hypersleep. There’s a couple of seconds of silence, which creates great impact when the sirens come in afterwards with Gary Sinise saying “rise and shine”. But having 3 minutes of just sound effects and dialogue, to me, seems too grounded in reality and not enough in fantasy.
A lot of dark-rides struggle with their climax. Often the way to create a truly satisfying climax is to have a big thrill at the end, such as a drop. The Indiana Jones Adventure and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man are good examples of this. You would’ve thought with the wide range of motions possible with the RoboCoaster system, they could’ve programmed in one particuarly thrilling move (a drop or even an inversion), to give the ride a clear climax.
The biggest thrills definitely take place before the end. While the ending of the ride is happy, it lacks that final big bang that leaves you smiling. I can picture in my head exactly what that moment would be, when Harry lets out the Patronus spell. It could really have been a HUGE moment but instead it’s a very minor, understated point.
Thank you so much for taking your time on this VERY descriptive review. 🙂 I do have a question. I’m not a huge thrill ride person, but I am dying to explore the queue. How do you exit the ride once you reach the boarding area if you do not want to ride it but want the full queue experience?
You will absolutely have a chance to leave before the ride. Prior to reaching the Sorting Hat, there is a full-size 4-seat ride vehicle to test those who appear to be too large to ride. Just past that on the left side is an exit door that allows those guests, along with anyone who doesn’t wish to ride, to simply exit. And, sure enough, you exit right into the gift shop. 🙂 You can wait for the rest of your party there, as it’s the same exit that they will leave through after riding.
First of all, thank you so much for your extensive coverage of all things Wizarding World of Harry Potter! It’s been amazing these few last days to travel through your fine descriptions and videos of the sites, sights and attractions! And of course congratulations, because it’s definitely an excellent job! My husband and I are seniors planning to go in October and just like Jay we don’t want to ride the Forbidden Journey (or any other ride for that matter) but would love to calmly explore the queue. Could you tell me if the queue is the same for riders and non-riders alike? The reason I’m asking this is because I’ll probably want to take my time as you guys did, and the people behind me are not going to be very pleased with it. Thank you once more!
You’re welcome! I’m sure you’re going to love everything about it when you finally get here. There is not a separate queue for non-riders. I’ve heard that there is a totally separate moving portrait hall for guests who will ultimately utilize Universal’s Express access, but that part is not open yet. So if you want to casually stroll through the queue (which you certainly can), you’ll have to often tell those behind you to pass you. There is enough room between the railings for people to pass – but not a ton.
Thanks, Ricky! We are thinking of staying on-site for two days mainly because of the early admission perk. We think it will be a big head start to have one whole hour of relatively peaceful strolling (are we a bit deluded?)Could you tell me if this perk is a 7-days-a-week thing and that we will be able to enter The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour prior to the opening regardless of the day we choose to book? Once more, thank you for your help! We really appreciate it!
I believe that early entry is available every day for Universal’s on-site hotels. However, there are no guarantees as to which attractions will be open during those early entry periods. I’d imagine they’ll have the Wizarding World open during that time for many months to come, but it’s entirely possible that they go a different direction. If it is open, however, it will definitely give you a big head start on the rest of the off-site day guests.
I got my e tavel documents from Universal and it says Jume 19th – Dec 31st early park admission will be for everything in Wizarding World and Cat in the Hat.
Thanks for the detaild description. I´m sure to check it out on my next visit.
For the lack of logical trasitions, that was what bothered me on Soarin. The movie went from scene to scene. If they would fly you trough a cloud that would be nice but now it´s so obvious that is totaly screws up the experiance! I hope Disney fixes this soon.
The difference between Forbidden Journey’s lack of understandable transitions and Soarin’s sudden cuts between locations is that in Soarin’, you’re not meant to believe that you’re hang gliding over California. The attraction is there to give you the sensations of what it would be like to do so, blowing air at you, sending scents to your nose, and completely wrapping the visuals around you so no matter where you look. But in the end, it’s a just an impressive tour of California by way of a theme park ride.
Forbidden Journey (and the rest of the Wizarding World) is designed to do just the opposite. This area and attraction is not meant as a simulator; it’s actually putting you IN Harry Potter’s world. So while the sudden Soarin’ transitions are excusable for it being an gigantic “see the sights” attraction, I think Forbidden Journey deserves to make a little more sense when hopping from scene to scene. Each one unto itself in incredibly fun, but when put side-by-side, several just don’t make any sense. Or at least, I wasn’t able to catch the connection between them.
One of the parts that bothered me was that while walking the queue you may start listening in ad Dumbledore is ending. He slightly turns and says more guests but it’s still weird. I prefer the way Disney does it in that all head in the room, hear the scene from start to finish and then exit. I would like this for the DADA classroom and Dumbledore’s office. It didn’t bother me to walk into the middle of the portraits conversations though. It seemed like we were eavesdropping there while Dumbledore and the trio were speaking right to us.
It’s both good and bad. Since you don’t stop, watch a scene, move forward, stop, watch another scene, etc., it keeps the line moving at all times. The loading area never stops moving, so neither does the line. However, it’s definitely common to walk into Dumbledore’s office or into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom right in the middle of a scene, missing half of what is said. You only wind around one twist in Dumbledore’s office, so it’s likely that you won’t see his entire show. But when the classroom is full, there are enough switchbacks that it is timed pretty well to see one full show and then you move on. There are three separate classroom bits, so you could stay and watch them all if you want.
I understand. It just seemed to me that the ride and Hogsmeade had such great attention to detail and that part seemed to fall short. I like the way they introduce the details in Disney’s Rockin roller Coaster better.
Spoiler Alert: I mean if Moaning Mrytle is present in the restrooms, it seems like they could do those spots better too. I guess it’s just personal opinion and preferences.
Hey tnx 4 writing such a great review. Do you know when the on ride photograph is taken? I want to make sure that I’m ready for it:) tnx!
Very good question. I don’t believe it’s during the dragon scene, despite what the photo shows. I’m pretty sure it’s during the spider scene, as many flashes and strobes go on throughout.
what was your experience with wait times for single rider vs. regular line would you say? Goin in the beginning of July. Should be nuts and a mad house. From your experience, do you think I should get to the park an hour or 2 hours early to fight the crowds? Sorry for all the questions, loved the in depth review. Keep up the good work!
I have not seen the single rider line open yet. When I rode, the wait was quite minimal. Obviously that is going to change rapidly. The potential for a VERY long line is there so I would recommend going straight to this ride in the morning. When you first enter the queue, it is nice and air conditioned. If that part was full, I guesstimate that you could spend around 20 minutes in there. The next part is in the greenhouse and is all outdoors, some covered, some with fans, but all of it will be toasty over the summer. A completely full greenhouse would likely take 30-60 minutes to get through, depending on how many switchbacks they’re using. When you re-enter the castle, it’s another 20-30 minutes from that point, but you are highly entertained throughout that portion so you won’t think of it as a line. It’s really part of the overall attraction.
I went this past saturday, sunday, and monday. On saturday and sunday I waited in line and each time took about 50 minutes. It had been raining though and was late in the day so many people had left already. Monday the line was a 3 hour wait at the ride itself (as well as a huge line just to get into that section of the park, so definently get there early!) I went into the single riders lane a few times and it took only 5-20 minutes usally. The only downside is you enter straight into the common room and to the lines by the sorting hat. I would only ride this way once you have seen your fill of the rest of the castle.
Amazing review! I guess my only question is- Does the ride feels similar to a roller coaster the whole time? I dislike roller coasters greatly and fear being flipped or dropped from heights. We’re going on opening day and I’d very much like to have a general idea before I decide whether the wait in line is worth it.
It’s definitely not a roller coaster. You don’t get flipped at all and there is only one moment that feels like a “drop” – but it’s quick and much less intense than a roller coaster. You are physically moved around quite a bit, but none of the movements are particularly fierce. The ride system is very smooth and gentle, even when moving you quickly. It’s quite impressive.
Thank you for the great in-depth description! I am going in October, and being a HUGE Potter fan didn’t want to miss out despite my intense fear of coasters. You truly helped to calm my nerves and now I can be excited about the “journey” 🙂
This review is amazing! I cannot wait to see it, I am visiting IOA in October and am so excited. Your review is so informative and is exactly what I wanted to read! I was just wondering if you could elaborate a bit more on how the seats work. I am heavier and wanted to know if I even have a chance of riding the ride. Any information or advice would be greatly appreciated!
The over-the-shoulder harness on each seat must come down to a certain level for you to be allowed to ride. Apparently it must make three “clicks” in order to be safely secured. You can sit in the test seats outside the ride and pull the harness down. Universal employees are there to help you figure out if you’ll be able to ride or not.
I am super afraid of spiders…will closing my eyes be enough, or will they touch me (aside from the venom)
also, the dementor bit sounds super scary too, because they get so close. again, will closing my eyes work? lol
Closing your eyes will definitely work. While the sounds are scary, they’re not nearly as scary as the visuals. If you can handle listening to the ride recording embedded above, then you can certainly make it through the ride without looking. 😉 But you really should at least peek. It’s a lot of fun!
Hey Ricky. Thanks for the review. I know you’ve addressed the height/weight question a few times but i’m real curious about that..I’m 6’4″ and weigh about 250 so in your opinion as you’ve ridden the ride a few times, do you think my size will fit? Thanks again
You’ll be close. Your height is within the limit but it will depend on how well your weight is disbursed throughout your body. If you have a big stomach, you likely won’t be able to ride. But if you’re just an overall big guy without any one part larger than another, then you will likely fit. It’s all about girth, as the harness has to come down to a certain level for you to be safe.
Thanks again Ricky. My fears have been abated. I’ll def be able to ride!
Hi Ricky. I have a few more questions, if you don’t mind.
Do the Enchanted Benches travel at a constant speed along the floor throughout the ride, or do they speed up and slow down at certain points?
Do the Enchanted Benches ever face in the direction of travel, or are they always facing away from the track so that you can’t see the other Enchanted Benches?
Given that the ride vehicle is similar to a Floorless Coaster car, are you very conscious of the floor (and the track) during the ride? How do Universal prevent you from seeing it?
With the heavy use of video projections of real actors, do you think the attraction will age well? In 10 years time will the video quality look dated, and will the actors seem strangely old and irrelevant? It’s hard to think of any other major attractions that use THIS much video of real actors. Can you think of any? Maybe Ellen’s Energy Adventure?
Do you think the three dome projection scenes add to the ride, or would the ride be better without them, and focusing more on real three-dimensionsal sets?
Just bumping my owns questions, hoping they’ll get answered 🙂
It is my impression that the Kuka robot arms that hold the “benches” do travel at a relatively constant speed throughout the ride. It seems that all sense of fast movement is created by the arm swinging left, right, up, and down.
The vehicles do occasionally face in the direction of travel, but only briefly. You avoid seeing other vehicles in these situations either by being tilted on your back and facing a bit upward or if there’s a turn ahead. Each vehicle is spaced quite a large distance apart. I only caught one or two quick glimpses of other ones when I was looking for them.
I never once noticed the floor. I never even thought to look straight down. I imagine it’s just blackness down there.
I don’t think the video portions will age gracefully. They’re already blurry and a bit warped looking. But the actors themselves will remain relevant for many years to come, in the same way that the Harry Potter movies will be enjoyable for quite a while without looking old.
You couldn’t achieve the type of flying that is seen during the video projection sequences using real sets. With that said, I always prefer the real thing to simulations.
Thanks for the great review Ricky! I have a question about the floating candles (both in the Room of Requirement, and the Dragon Challenge queue). Do they look completely real and look like they’re really floating? People always mention that they are there, but never seem impressed by them. Can you tell how they did it? Does the illusion seem believable? I think it would be amazing to see them!
They’re quite ignorable. They’re high up enough to where you can’t really see them all that well. They look great all together because there are so many of them.
Thank you so much for the review! I was concerned about being able to ride since I am in a wheelchair, but have only seen height restrictions and am “: there and transferring is no problem. However I have a rather embarrassing phobia of complete darkness. I can deal with total darkness for short periods of time and there is no problem if there is some source of light somewhere. I can handle scary as long as there is some light. What’s the longest amount of time you would say you were in total darkness during the ride? Thanks again for the review!
The longest span of total darkness is a few seconds here and there. In those scenes, spiders, Dementors, or other nasty creatures inevitably pop out around every turn. 🙂
Wow! Just, wow! This review makes me want to go to the WWOHP even more but I live in England (UK) and can’t afford to go. Me and my mates are planning on going but we need to save a lot of money.
You did a super job on the Spoiler Filled review of the Forbidden Journey article. Just loved it!! Thanks soooo much. About 30 days and we will be there. Hoooray!! You only made us more excited about going.
I noticed that the fellow on the bench with you in the picture had his hat on. Is there ny risk of losing your ball cap on the ride?
Thanks for all the time you put in to bring these experiences “to life” for us.
Besst wishes from Maine!!
If your hat is on tight, it’s highly unlikely it will fall off. The ride is thrilling, but it’s not a thrill ride. It moves you around quickly but smoothly and never with extreme force.
Nice Review. Just a bit disappointed Voldemort didn’t show up. I’d like a bit more dark magic than just some dementors.
Well written, I went on Tuesday, did the ride twice. OK it is a great ride, probably the best one I have ever been on. The HP section of the park is effectivley 2 new rides and 1 rebadged one. 1 new restaurant and some shops. It is all well designed. But if you have been to universal before, don’t be fooled in thinking it’s a seperate theme park. Having spent £340 on the 2 week tickets for a family of 4 to universal I don’t feel cheated having never been before, someone who has been before might want to think twice about splashing the cash as it will mean an expensive ride.
Forgot to add that I don’t agree with the blurriness comment in the review. I did not notice it as you are physically moving constantly. The image looked like it was from a HD projector as there was alot of detail in the CGI. I could not fault it at all, like 99% of people I am not a theme park buff. ( nb I had a virgin holiday package so got the early entry)
Actually, it’s two re themed rides and one new ride. However, being a Harry Potter fan and a theme park goer, I can’t wait. I think most people know that it’s a separate section, and if you’ve done your homework, you’ll know exactly what is in it. The section itself is so immersive that it doesn’t feel like your in a theme park. You very well could be in the United Kingdom at Hogwarts. I’ve been here many times, and I won’t think twice about spending the cash. 1, being a Harry Potter fan adds to me wanting to go. 2. The section is an attraction in itself, because of how immersive it is. I have been to many theme parks, but I’ve never actually felt like I was really in a different world. This, according to most, makes you feel just that. I hope this will attract people for years to come, and that people will not be disappointed as long as they do their homework.
Ok than! Did I miss something important for where is the ride? The journey to the ride was great and I most say, thanks for the video but where again in the ride?
The ride is located within Hogwarts Castle in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is a section of the Islands of Adventure theme park at Universal Orlando in Florida. The Universal Orlando Resort is located around 20-30 minutes from Walt Disney World.
Alright, I have a few comments… One, maybe that shack you went into is supposed to be Hagrids Hut? That would explain you going into the forbidden forest and then the spiders… Also, the story seems to be to me that muggles were invited to a tour of Hogwarts, however, Harry, Ron, and Hermione come to save us from the boring lecture on the history that Professor Binns is about to give us. And instead of the boring, and possibly educational tour of Hogwarts, we instead get thrust into an adventure with Harry and his friends.
Yes, that’s definitely the basic plot. I use the word “basic” on purpose. That really just sets the stage for the adventure that ensues. There’s no real beginning, middle, and end to be found. You’re a muggle. You’re at Hogwarts. You’re thrust into a series of life-threatening situations. That’s pretty much it! 🙂
Yes, and Harry is too… The end kind of gives you a sense of the fact that this is Harry’s home… I’m sorry that you expected more, the ride should be amazing once I finally get to go on it… I love theme parks, and I love the Harry Potter series, so this will be amazing…
Man, I can’t edit my post, alright, the situation is kind of like Harry’s in the books. Harry doesn’t do much and there isn’t much that he does to get thrust into his situations… It just, happens, sometimes… I agree, a better story line would have made the ride even better, however, I think the ride will be amazing, because you have entered Harry’s world….
Very true. You definitely enter Harry’s world and stumble through scenes in the same way that he did/does.
Actually, the “wooden building” in the “Scene 4” description is the covered wooden bridge on Hogwarts grounds. You fly around the outside of it during the previous projection, and it can clearly be seen while you hide in the Stone Circle.
The bench attempts to escape from the dragon (the bench is a character of its own) and crashes into the bridge’s interior. Once the dragon reaches you, it knocks you (and the benches) into the Forbidden Forest — which is relatively close to the bench.
That’s what it is! That definitely makes sense… Although it could have a bit more lighting and outside projections of Hogwarts to seem more realistic. But oh well, that’s great, now we know what that is. That’s cool…
Aha! Thank you very much for posting this. That makes perfect sense. I think it would have been clearer if you could easily see the area around you behind the dragon and beyond the bridge while you’re in it. It seems a bit more walled-in than that open-air bridge should be. But the relative placement of it certainly works. Even so, the transition from that bridge directly into the Acromantula pit is still abrupt. There really ought to be some kind of linking moment there.
Oops. I meant to say that the Forbidden Forest is relatively close to the covered bridge. Sorry about that. But yes, the look of it in the films is fairly claustrophobic, but the architecture throughout the practical set perfectly matches the interior of the bridge as seen in the films… just crumbling due to the attack, of course. =)
One part of your review stated that “I understand the designers’ desire to simulate what it would really be like to fly alongside Potter and the gang, but instead of flying with experts, I was left feeling like I was a first-time flyer that couldn’t keep under control.” While I realize that you want to feel like an expert on a broom, remember, your on the enchanted bench that “can be a bit dodgey”. Harry and Ron aren’t in control of your bench, therefore, the feeling of no control should be a bit expected. I have no idea where Hermione came from… But maybe we’ll find out tonight, when the “Making of the Wizarding World” special on NBC airs…
All I meant by that was that you bounce all over the place, sometimes excessively. All of the motion simulator sections kind of feel like they’re in fast-forward.
How big is the drop? I’m not good with big drops. And are the motion simulated parts kind of like Star Tours? I got sick from that…But I was fine on Soarin’ because it’s not a lot of movement.
The “drop” is not huge and it’s very short. It’s not even a real roller coaster-style drop, but rather a quick movement downward. The motion simulator parts are a lot smoother than Star Tours, but faster than Soarin.
Also, one more thing. When you’re on the ride can you hear other people laughing and screaming? I don’t want to feel alone. I know it sounds weird that I would WANT to hear the people behind me, but I think it would make me feel safer. Reading your review, I’m already scared. But really excited! But its so tough for me because I love Harry Potter so much, but I don’t like big rides. Ugh.
You are somewhat isolated from everyone else, as there are only 3 other people in the vehicle with you and dividers separate your heads from each other. You can’t see each other but you can hear screams/laughter if they’re loud enough.
Ricky – Do the floating candles look real? Can you please tell us more about that effect? Thanks!
I didn’t get a good look at them… too busy wanting to hop onto the ride! 🙂
Not sure if anyone has said this but, as ricky said that the scenes move rather abruptly like going from outside the castle to a wooden house. Im not full of knowledge about the potter series but is it possible it can be they linked the scenes together with the use of flu powder? Because thats how the ride began right?
Floo powder is the travel through fireplace, and as there isn’t a fire place outside and everywhere at Hogwarts, no, they couldn’t link them. However, the outside to the bridge scene would make sense. You’re trying to evade the dragon, and you crashed into the old wooden covered bridge…
The travel through fireplace at the begining of the ride is to get you up to the observatory… The travel through it at the end is to get you back to where you started…
Definitely not. Some scenes just flow together even if they don’t totally make sense next to each other. And yet, it still works.
Thank you for your review! Did the ride say anything about pregnant women not being allowed to ride?
There is a warning sign outside that says pregnant woman should not ride. I’m sorry to say most rides aren’t for pregnant room due to the nature of the rides…
Pregnant women are never encouraged to ride any attraction that bounces you around, like this one.
We are considering going to Universal this summer for this exact reason. How intense in the ride itself, one of my children, the 8 yr old is terrified of fast moving or very high rides. Do you think this would be too much for her?
There is a child swap room, so one of you can sit with the youngster whilst the others do the ride, let them decide if it is too fast, then you can ride it with or without the 8 yr old without queuing. It is fast paced when you are infront of the screens, I rode it again yesterday and it turned my stomach although the other 3 with me were OK, 9 yr old daughter loved it.
We queued for 80 minutes yesterday, so expect long lines, express pass was not valid on the ride. Also queued for 45 minutes to get into the wand shop, about 20 at a time. 1 gets chosen , luckily my 9 year old daughter. The chosen one has the wand ‘pick you’, well worth doing even if it is a long queue. No spoliers from me!!!
Does anyone know how fast the ride actual goes? Like MPH? Has that information been released yet?
Are you absolutely sure the Forbidden Journey can be handled by someone who hates roller coasters to death? I really really hate those things (oddly enough because I constantly do gymnastics and inversions on the ground) and I really don’t want a repeat of the Disney world kiddie coaster at age 7. Trust me, it WAS NOT pretty. So do you think this is okay for me? I don’t want to have to nearly have a heart attack, mainly because of the special effects. I would try to close my eyes if the motion would for sure be fine. Haven’t had the chance to listen to the audio yet, but I will soon. But from just what I read, I’m scared to death. What about the hippogriff ride?
Thanks so much for this report! We’re going to be there in just a week, and I don’t want to miss anything I might be able to do, but I don’t want to end up in tears coming off a ride I (or really, my parents) thought I could handle. Thanks!
After my 2nd go on the ride a woman was in tears as she came off the ride, she was either scared or a mentalist super fan
It sounds like you have a pretty tough time on coasters, so I may not recommend you ride Forbidden Journey. Try Flight of the Hippogriff first. It’s a short kiddie coaster that isn’t very fast. If you can handle that, you may be able to handle Forbidden Journey. But if you can’t, I wouldn’t go on FJ. Good luck.
Thank you sooooooooo much for your insite all your info about WWoHP 🙂 I am going in 21 days and am super excited 🙂 I of course have some questions…
1)When first arriving at WWoHP would you recomend going to Olivanders or the Forbidden Journey ride first to avoid the lines?
2)You said they have somewhere to put small items if they are not in a locker, will my cell phone be secure? Or how is the optional storage on the actual seats secured?
Thanks so much again, i love your site!
You’re welcome! 🙂
1. Ollivander’s. The Forbidden Journey line will be long, but at least a large portion of it is indoors and VERY entertaining. The line for Ollivander’s is completely outdoors and could get quite miserable after a while. Plus, there really is no better or more appropriate way to start your trip into the Wizarding World than the way that Harry himself started it – with a visit to Ollivander’s. Right?
2. The storage in the seat back is large enough to fit small items, maybe even a small purse. The compartment is literally right behind your back. You open it before you sit down, put whatever you want inside, and then close it and sit back against it. It has a latch to stay shut, but your own body weight will keep it closed as well. But whatever you put in there will likely bounce around a bit during the ride, so I wouldn’t use it for anything fragile. I don’t think there is a cushion inside.
Okay thank you very much 🙂 One more question, how long did it take you to get through all of WWoHP? I only have 2 days at Both universal parks and would like to spend a good amount of time at WWoHP but also my family will want to see the other part of the parks as well…sadly haha
Two days should be enough time to see the majority of the Wizarding World and see the park’s other major attractions. I’ve spent a total of around 7 or 8 hours there and I feel like I’ve seen almost everything. There is a ton of detail to browse, but you can definitely at least get a good look at everything.
Are any of the drops similar to Disney’s Tower of Terror or is this one of the rides where you can re-orient your sense of balance by closing your eyes briefly such as with the Indiana Jones ride or the Star Tours ride? Thanks for the great review!
There is absolutely nothing like the Tower of Terror on this ride. If you close your eyes during Forbidden Journey, you’ll realize that you’re really not moving all that much. You get turned left, right, up, and down, but the speed you’re actually traveling through the physical space is rather slow.
Ricky, thank you for the detailed review. I’d like to go to the Wizarding World, but am not a roller coaster fan, so I might have skipped “Forbidden Journey” (assuming too many steep stomach-churning drops) if I hadn’t read your review. I think I’ll brave it — the ride sounds well worth it. My kids will love it.
Just one suggestion: can you revise your review to spell “flue” correctly? A fireplace flue is spelled F-L-U-E, just like the color blue or Elmer’s glue. It’s disconcerting to see “floo” used numerous times in your review.
A true (not troo) fan of Harry Potter,
Stephanie – I’m sure you’ll enjoy Forbidden Journey. Glad I could help.
As for “flue” versus “floo,” perhaps you should direct your comment to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, as “floo” is her spelling of choice for the “floo network” and “floo powder.”
Thanks a lot for a great review, Ricky! We are traveling to Orlando in Nov with two kids (11 and 6). My 11-years old and me are both Harry Potter fans. I don’t think we will go to other parts of Universal, except of Wizarding World. Do you think one day will be enough only for Wizarding World?
Yes, if you’re only interested in the Wizarding World section of Islands of Adventure, one day should be plenty. I being there when the park closes, as nighttime is definitely the best time in that area. It’s a nice treat to linger and be able to be one of the last guests out.
Thank you so much for writing this article! I am an older Harry Potter fan who doesn’t like fast rides, so I was curious about this one. I do have one question for you, is it roller coaster like or would a scaredy-cat like me be able to ride this? I have done other virtual rides at Universal, and I am fine. Just a little curious that’s all. Again wonderful review!!
lol never mind! I did not get through all the comments before I wrote this!
I really can’t handle going upside down on a rollercoaster. I can’t ride the Hulk or Dueling Dragons. I LOVE Spiderman and Simpsons. Will I be able to handle this ride? If I close my eyes, will I be ok? I truly appreciate the advice. You gave a fantastic review. Thanks.
If you love Spider-Man and The Simpsons Ride, you will love Forbidden Journey. You’ll definitely be able to handle it.
Thanks, Does this ride go upside down?
I was at the park on tuesday the 22nd. I rode the ride with my 7 year old son, it was a very good ride except it shut down twice while we were on it. The first time wasnt too bad except the was fog blowing in our face. The second time, we were upside down. and it got to be a little uncomfortable.
Hey Ricky… Two guestions…
Im going to Orlando next week and wanted to ask you this.. When entering the wizarding world, which side would you say is the best side to enter from to get the total effect… So I can see shops and then get the, “wow” effect of seeing the castle..
Second, the water on the ride.. Is it really to a point where you come off soaked? I’m sure it’s not like popeye…haha.. But could you compare it to like Spider-man with just drips here and there?
Definitely enter from the front. That is, when you enter the park, walk through Seuss Landing and the Lost Continent. That will let you pass through Hogsmeade Village first before getting the big castle reveal at the end.
Depending on which seat you sit in, you could get rather wet. It’s not like Popeye or Dudley Do-Right, but after one ride my wife described what she felt as like getting a direct hit with a Super Soaker.
Questions… * lol
Hi Ricky. Your review is great! I have 15 weeks to go and ill be there. Just hae a quick question if thats okay. I love rides/rollarcoasters, but my friend is coming to orlando with me. She is a huge HP fan, but has only ever been on 1 rollarcoaster in her life which was a kiddie coaster, and she refuses to go on another. I have explained that it isnt quite a rollarcoaster from what I have read.
Was just hoping to get some info about the track height. Does the track just go along the floor or does it go up and down. What do you think is the highest you go on the ride. This would be ver helpful to us. Thanks in advance
It’s definitely not a roller coaster. The track is largely, if not totally, flat. The vertical motion comes from the giant robot arm that you are attached to. You spend the majority of the ride suspended around 10 feet off of the ground, but you never realize that’s the case. Your feet dangle and sway, but you never have a reason to look down.
thank you…that has really helped :0)
Thanks so much for writing such an informative review. I’m going this winter and am really excited. I read a number of people mentioning that the three rides in the area contain 2 revamped rides and only one new one… out of curiosity, is the dragon ride the old dueling dragons ride and the hippogriff ride the old unicorn kiddie ride? Just curious.
Yes, that’s correct. Dragon Challenge (Dueling Dragons) is essentially the same ride it always has been, with some changes to the queue. Flight of the Hippogriff is the same ride as the Flying Unicorn but with better-looking trains and a fun queue that passes Hagrid’s Hut.
I was just wondering – I have a really hard time dealing with forced/canned air like on soaring and the stink bug fog in the 4D Bugs Life show in Walt Disney World. It almost makes me start to hyperventalate. Does the Harry Potter Ride have any of this? Thanks!
Yes, the section where the dragon blows “fire” at you is filled with that sort of thing. The dragon spits fog that’s lit up in a bright red color. But it only lasts a couple of seconds. You move past it pretty quickly. There are a few other fog effects, but none invade your space.
Awesome – thanks Ricky:) Great review and thanks for your answer:)
Great review, thanks so much. One quick question. I have a phobia of snakes and wondered if you caught a glimpse of any snakes on the ride. I even have trouble watching some of the movies due to this. Thanks again!
Yes and no. There is a giant skeleton of the Basilisk (the big snake from Chamber of Secrets), but it doesn’t move. You just fly past it quickly at one point.
Hi. We will be going to Universal in 2 weeks. I love roller coasters and can handle them just fine. But, I have vertigo and simulated rides give me problems. Soarin’ wasn’t too bad but Mission:Space was bad, and I rode the non-moving one. Do you think I would be able to ride Forbidden Journey without getting sick? Thank you!
Mission: Space is a unique brand of simulator. If you can handle Soarin, Star Tours, The Simpsons Ride, and roller coasters, then you’ll have no problem on Forbidden Journey.
This ride put me into sensory overload, by the end I wanted off and it brought me to tears. Did anyone else have that reaction?
Overall, I loved the ride but it was intense in terms of you feeling totally immersed. Four minutes was just enough time; any longer and I would have wanted off.
I was fortunate to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey twice in July of 2010. I am a 46 year old mother who loves rides and this is truly the most amazing experience I’ve had. The feeling of flying was like no other. The effects were outstanding. As soon as the ride ended I knew I was destined to repeat it even with the long wait times. People lined up at 6 am to enter the park which was not necessary. Although they rarely do this at Universal, we received something comparable to a Fast Pass on entrance to the park which allowed us a 1 hour wait when reporting back at the designated time. While we were on the ride it broke down for 15 minutes. The next morning the ride was shut down for several hours after it left riders stranded for more than an hour and they had to be evacuated via the stairs. Being gluttons for punishment we begged management for compensation by asking for one more flight with Harry and his friends. After another hour wait in line (another Fast Pass) we boarded the ride only to have it break down a 2nd time. We were just happy they were able to get it going so when the ride ended we cut our losses and moved on. Happy to have experienced the greatest thrill ride EVER! Well worth the wait.
One other thing. I spoke to management and they recommend NOT going to the ride first thing in the morning when there was a two hour wait just to enter that section of the park this past Mon thru Thur. Instead they said lines are no longer than 45-60 minutes after 3:00 P:M. I never waited in line longer than 1 hour in the afternoon.
I love harry potter so i am so excited to go in the fall! I am still deciding if I should go on forbidden journey or not. I HATE rollarcoasters and big drops where you feel your weight drop. are the drops on the ride like a rollar coaster at all? And how fast is it? I hate the feeling of not being able to breath because I am being zoomed from one place to another.I may just walk in the queue…
No, there aren’t any real drops in this ride at all. The ride is not terribly fast. It moves you through each scene fairly quickly, as in you only see each scene for a short amount of time, but there is not any really fast movement.
I went first thing in the morning, right after breakfast, and I regretted it because I was queasy for at least an hour afterwards. It really kind of spoiled it for me. I am prone to motion sickness, though, so I wasn’t surprised. For those who are, I recommend going on an empty stomach!
I have a lot of trouble handling drops, but I am a Harry potter Fanatic and want the full expierience. Would you descibe the drop in this ride as comparable to Spiderman or more like The Mummy?
I would compare it to Spidey ride since they both have very similar simulated ingredients, whereas the Mummy ride is more of a proper rollercoaster. One thing to note though is that the Forbidden Journey’s robotic arm creates more pronounced awkward angles than Spidey. For instance, you would find yourself tilted in a way so that your feet points upwards (not completely upside down, mind you, but in a good angle). But if you are a HP fan, hey, just go for it! You would not regret it as it is something that should not be missed by a HP fan.
Thanks for this exhaustive review! We visited WWOHP last weekend and had a fantastic time. The highlight was the Forbidden Journey ride and we went for it thrice (wishing we could have done it more!). Your review really helped in filling up the blanks since I was dying to figure out certain sections/scenes which I had missed (or did not understand well). Fully agree with you on most of the points here. I too felt underwhelmed about the ending. It should have been a massive Patronus driving away all dementors. Instead, we get a feeble incantation. And I wasn’t too thrilled with the dementor-sucking-soul effect as it was clearly a just big LED-like light in the dementor’s face. It should have been more realistic. Other than that, the ride kicked ass!
Errrr… Well obviously the effect wasn’t working the day you went, because everyone I’ve talked to loves this effect! Did it show your face? Normally it shows your faces projected onto the fog, so that might have taken away from it too if you had the misfortune of it not working when you went on it…
An amazing ride as the review describes. The sync between the visual and the physical was almost perfect. If they would convert the 2D projections to 3D, this would be the most outstanding ride in the amusement park world – the switch between the physical sets and the 2D projections was a little disconcerting but still worth the long wait!
Hi! Thanks so much for the awesome review!
I plan on going to Orlando Florida with my family this march, and hopefully be going to Universal to check out this amazing park <3
From what I've read (and seen) the ride looks amazing! I'm not a roller coaster person, but I read some of your replies and you said its not at all like a roller coaster, which I'm very happy about.
I love HP, but I'm a bit un sure about the Dementors. I don't like this coming right up to my face like that. Is it really that scary? I'll close my eyes if I have to, but I really don't want to miss anything lol.
And also, how dark does it get? I mean, is there any source of light coming from anywhere? As long as there is a bit of light, I'm good (:
Yes, there is always a bit of light somewhere… otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see anything! 🙂 The Dementors do get close, but back off quickly. It’s just a startle or two.
I not really know i understood completely that which you supposed by that, is it
possible to broaden much more in cosmetic deals ?
Hey, Thanks for the review!!
I do have a question that sort of ties in with the other “is it like a roller coaster” questions. As other users before me, I do not like drops; I’ll get on the Flying Unicorn, but that’s as far as I go.
So how big is the drop, like foot wise? I can handle Spidey well enough, but I’m just a wuss when it comes to drops. ^^;
You will not have a problem. It’s not really a “drop” as much as a controlled pull downward… maybe 5-7 feet. It’s over before you realize it even happened. If you can handle Spider-Man, you can definitely handle this ride.
15 feet i’de say
Thank you so much for the encouragement! I normally HATE rides and chicken out before going on, but I went on Forbidden Journey and LOVED IT! I got there early, so I went on it 5 times in a row with no wait! If any of you hate roller coasters or feeling your weight drop, really do not worry. Trust me, I am scared of EVERYTHING, but this ride was so epically amazing. Tip: If you do not like feeling your weight drop, do not sit on the end on the left, when the ride tips you feel everything a lot more. I went on it once on the right and once on the left, there was a big intensity difference. And the dementors only go right up to the people sitting in the middle, if you are scared there. I personally loved the ride, but feel like the ending could have been better. It was also very difficult to understand the plot because you move so quickly, it was until my 3rd time that I understood what the characters were saying. I also think that they take the picture at a weird part, it should have been when the dragon breaths fire, when you are expected to scream or smile. Personally, the scariest part was when you go on your back, because it seems like you are about to go upside-down but don’t. 🙂
Ok, i have been on the ride myself and i do agree that it could have been better, but i have been going to the Universal and IOA parks since i was 4 and this is my favorite ride now. There is no down to this ride besides the constant breaking down and the constant confusingness makes this ride a bit brutal but this ride will never get old.
i absolutely loved this article because i always like to read about the ride before going on it. my question is that is it scarier than the ride dinosaur from animal kingdom at disney because my little sibbling was scared during that ride but i read that this was a family ride. are the spiders, dragon, and demon thing realistic and very scary? Im just worried about him having some sort of freak out and end up crying at the end of the ride. thank you for your time 🙂
Yes, I would say Forbidden Journey is scarier than Dinosaur. Dinosaur is darker, as a whole, but Forbidden Journey has much more going on with a larger scale. The dragon does not entirely look like a real creature, but appears quite close. The Dementors are surrounded by darkness and seem to come out of nowhere.
Thank you so much for this detailed description. My 9yo daughter was REALLY nervous about going, but we had flown all the way from California to go! She was sobbing as they pulled the restraints down, and I felt like a horrible mom – but she went a second time and now is telling all her friends how awesome it was. The first time she asked throughout, “where’s the drop?” – so I would say the “drop” is only 5-7 ft and really isn’t noticeable as a drop like a roller coaster. Definitely less than Pirates of the Carribean. She and I both closed our eyes a lot the first time around spiders & dementors, but opened a lot more the second time, and it wasn’t very scary. We are super wimps, and the part in the chimneys was really mild to me. I think people with motion sickness are likely to have more problems than super wimps. anyway, thanks to everyone for the comments. Definitely err on the side of going on the ride – it’s fine – you can always close your eyes. Also, they are doing a thing where you pick up a slip of paper near Sinbad with a return time (usually in just 1-2 hrs) – worked well to spread visitors out. We waited < 1 hr for the actual ride (Feb 24). We got a total of 3 slips of paper and went back to the HP land 3 times through the day (can't get into HP land at all without the paper).
Thanks for your report. As I’ve written in a few comments above, the “drop” isn’t really a drop at all, but rather you being pulled downward in the ride vehicle. And it is quite short. It’s a fun sensation for just a second and then you move on.
Yeah- you were definitely right. Someone else said something about 15 ft – so that was wrong info.
What about any other parts? Tilting backwards on your back,or forwards.What about all of the motion by the spiders? I watched a video with people screaming over there? I wished I knew how everything felt,I think I might be forced onto this ride.I remember I had my eyes closed through most of the back to the future ride back in 1999.
I don’t remember any drops as much as I remember a lot of tilting when I went on this ride. As the reviewer says, it’s sometimes confusing as to what direction you’re supposed to be moving. You feel as though you’re going forward, and then back, left and right, as decent speeds. I’m prone to motion sickness, and I was only good until about half-way through (reading the review, I’m guessing this was at the “drop” which felt more like falling backwards). After that, my motion sickness took over, and the ride seemed to go on forever! I couldn’t wait to get off! Since I was so focused on not puking, I don’t remember much of the actual scenes. Needless to say, THE RIDE IS INTENSE! NOT FOR THOSE PRONE TO MOTION SICKNESS! PERIOD!
OMG I am glad I’m not the only one! This ride made me feel so confused and awful. My husband and I came here for part of our honeymoon in June of 2011. We’re from San Diego, CA and I have always loved rides. Have been plenty of times to Disneyland, Six Flags (all of those crazy rides), Legoland etc. This was my first experience with motion sickness I suppose. I had a huge panic attack and wanted off I closed my eyes for the rest of the ride and prayed. The way the ride is I couldn’t enjoy it and focus on anything. WAY too jerky and just flashes of the screen and too dark of screens. I yelled at my husband to tell them to stop the ride but he was just like calm down… it’s ok… I was mad at him afterwards. From then on now I can’t go on 3D dark rides without my brain flipping out and going into panic mode. Motion sickness medicine only kinda helps but I think it’s more of a panic thing so that’s why. It was also super hot and humid during that season even locals were complaining. I was kinda feeling sick from the heat wave and the humidity was tiring. I’m used to mostly dry heat.
Thank you so much for the review! I was so worried about this ride since I refuse to go on roller coasters, and I scared my husband so bad about eight years ago when he made me get on Splash Mountian but I actually got off the ride on the side right before the big drop. (It shut the ride down. I had a really bad panic attack)We did get to see the back of the ride though.lol. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and I really want to go on the ride when we go back to Orlando this summer, and you made it possible for me not to be scared about what I’m getting myself into. Thanks.
Wondering how the ride would be for a person with a fear of heights?
There are no heights to be afraid of on this ride.
It says in the warnings that people with a fear of heights should not go on the ride. I guess even if there are no real heights, it still looks and feels like you are flying.
I was wondering if you could talk more on the “snug” fit of the ride. I’ve read that those that are “chesty” or have a waist more then 38″, you will not be allowed on the ride. We have people in our party of various heights & weights (5’2″ – 6’4″) and a few very “chesty” gals. Can you help us out on this? It seems a waste of time to wait thru everything and then not be able to ride.
Since the attraction opened, Universal has added seats that can accommodate some larger folks, so you may not have a problem. There are seats outside the attraction that you can test prior to entering the line, so you don’t have to worry about unnecessarily waiting. With that said, the queue is just as entertaining as the ride itself, so even if some of your party can’t ride, they’ll still enjoy walking through the castle.
Unfortunately, no specific measurements have been released regarding what sizes can and cannot ride.
We went this weekend – I took my tween daughter on it and she absolutely loved it. I have some other comments, though 🙂
The review is right – the movie goes way too fast to enjoy; it’s very herky jerky. The ride itself if is technically excellent – until it stops and leaves you there for four minutes :P. Seriously. It got stuck. However, the biggest issue for me was that I was absolutely sick to my stomach for over an hour afterward. I don’t get seasick, carsick, or coaster sick, but this ride was horrible for me. Loved SpiderMan. Loved The Simpsons – but HP was too much for me to handle. Really thought I was going to barf. But, as I said, my tweener loved it, so maybe that’s more important 🙂 If you’re sensitive, I would say you’re probably going to vomit lol…
Was it because of the car’s motions,the video or both?
My motion sickness was due to the car’s motions. Closing my eyes did not help at all, but actually made it worse. Although the video makes it hard to tell what direction you’re supposed to be moving, and that certainly didn’t help. Half the time it was hard to tell if I was supposed to be “flying” forwards or backwards, confusing my inner ear.
I felt the exact same way. I started feeling sick about halfway through the ride, and it took an hour afterwards to fully get over it. This ride is NOT for those prone to motion sickness!
This ride was awful for me. I’m not a coaster person but I enjoy log flumes. I’ve also taken the spider man ride and loved it. However, somewhere about half way through this HP ride I started to feel queasy, and it only got worse… Even closing my eyes didn’t seem to help. By the time I got off, I was on the verge of vomiting, and it took me over an hour to stop feeling really nauseous. The last time I was motion sick was in 1998 on a small aircraft in extreme turbulence (tornadic weather over Denver) so if you get even slightly motion sick then avoid this ride.
I am going on this ride this week and i am terrified. I dont know what it is. I read all these reviews saying how great it is but i am still scared. Should i be? How long are you on your back for? Does it feel like you go upside down? Is it a scary ride? Thankyou!
Need a question answered. Those video domes. Is one video dome assigned to each ride vehicle, so they’re essentially moving with us? My guess is that there might be a series of two or four in a giant carousel and we just rotate with them. Help!
Just went to Universal today. Got to ride Harry Potter 8 times! The rest of my family only wanted to go once – it did make them a bit queasy from motion sickness. I loved it! The single rider line was a big help – got to go several times very quickly.
Ken’s question about the video domes was one thing I was very curious about. Since the ride vehicles are spaced fairly close together I was wondering how the video was managed for each vehicle. Yes, there is a separate dome that travels with each vehicle through those sections. I leaned forward just enough to see the the edge of the dome. And if you look closely as you transition back to the live sequence you can see the dome video turn off and the dome continue off on it’s own track to circle around.
This was my first time on this kind of ride. Later in the day I went on Spider Man and see how that was the stepping stone to Harry Potter. There the video screens are all static and it’s more obvious how you go through live sections and then stop in front of a screen for a video sequence. The traveling video domes are very, very clever.
I did not find the video to be such a problem – I felt the synchronization was great with the video and the motion of the the ride vehicle.
I had a great time!
Woow tthat waas unusual. I just wrote an extremerly loong comment butt after I clicked ubmit my comment didn’t appear.
Grrrr… wrll I’m nott writing all thgat over again. Anyways, just wanted to ssay wonderful blog!
Hola, me gustó tu artículo si bien me parece que aún puedes ir un poco más al fondo y no tanto a la forma.
Me parece que mantienes un toque muy atrayente y
esto hace que el texto sea más agradable. De cualquier manera,
es indispensable mejorar ciertos aspectos que carecen de fundamento.
I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed
about my difficulty. You’re wonderful! Thanks!
Thanks so much for posting this! I’m going to share it with my sister, she loves Harry Potter but isn’t much of a fan of thrill rides.
Quick question. Is the ride supposed to stop amongst the spiders and whomping willow? Our ride did yesterday. There were 8 of us, 1 cart stopped staring directly at a spider, the other almost completely upside down staring straight up at the whomping willow. There was no audio & the stop seemed to make no sense at all. I was in the cart nearly upside down staring up at the tree. We were suspended for at least 30+ seconds. Felt MUCH longer but I’m sure that’s a reasonable guess. Anyway we couldn’t figure out why we stopped in that location and wondered if it was part of the ride or maybe due to difficulties with someone getting on at the beginning while the ride is in motion?
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