Monday, June 28, 2010

Harry Potter and the Disappointing Journey

So, the new attraction at Universal's Islands of  Adventure opened on June 18. All the buzz about the great new ride - Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - got me excited about the trip to Orlando to check this out.

Sunday morning, a mob scene to get into the park before 9AM. 90 degrees, no breeze. Finally, by 10AM, we got to the new ride. Cool stuff from the movies before you get into the actual ride. Then you sit on something similar to a roller coaster and get into the dark attraction. A few interactive scenes projected on a big screen, with some lame mechanical dragons and spiders didn't work for me. The thing shakes, turns up and down, but nothing new is offered. Actually it's very similar, more like an updated version of Haunted House at Magic Kingdom, without the charm. See the video coverage of this ride:

Check The Smart Traveler YouTube video

Besides the ride, there is a little village with stores and you can also try Butterbeer, a drink from the book, that actuaaly tastes like Guarana with vanilla extract. I heard a 5 years old saying:  That's the best thing I ever tried!
That says volumes about this drink...

There are two more roller coasters that were at the park before but had a face lift with Potter characters. Nothing new there either. Overall, the Harry Potter village and rides didn't impressed me at all.

Still, Spider-Man is the best ride of all times. You can see the ride on this Smart Traveler video (remember to use your 3D glasses)

Spider Man Ride Video

And a new ride that I experienced  for the first time The Simpsons, was a very nice surprise. Fun and refreshing. Take a look:

The Simpsons Ride Video on You Tube

We stayed at the Monumental Hotel Orlando, and this is my review on Trip Advisor:

Spent two nights at the hotel with my daughters (18/20). Great location if you have a car and a GPS (10 minutes from every major attraction in Orlando). Quiet, clean, big rooms, nice bathrooms... everything you expect from a nice hotel but there is an eerie feeling in the air. You don't see anyone, except the from desk person, you don't hear anything ever... it's always quiet and empty. Sometimes I felt like I was in one episode of Twilight Zone. Where are the other guests? Are we going to be able to leave this place? Just kidding, but if you can deal with this, it's a very good hotel. They even have a pool... with no one there...

Be aware: Don't book this hotel on their website. Go to and find the deals available. I paid US$53 per night after searching online and at the hotel website the rate was US$160.

Monumental Hotel Orlando on Trip Advisor

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