Mary McNamara: Universal’s Harry Potter outduels Disney

June 21, 2010 | 11:55 p.m.

Los Angeles Times television critic Mary McNamara is in Orlando to review the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Her full review will run later this week but here’s a few quick dispatches from the scene. Click on the photos to go to a full gallery.

I never realized it was so hot and humid in Hogsmeade or that snow could look so convincing in Florida. Lines for Honeydukes and Ollivanders are longer than for the two smaller rides, which are great, by the way. And as for the ultimate question — can Universal out-disney Disney? — the answer is apparently yes. Forget Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey is now officially the coolest ride on the planet. Don’t drink the pumpkin juice, though.

The saucy schoolgirl look that has made knee socks and pleated skirts a tried-and-true fetish for so many years has a new twist. Desperate to show their Potter love despite mid-90s heat, some teen girl fans are pairing short shorts and sheer tank tops with capes made to look like Hogwarts robes. Oh, those British boarding schools…

— Mary McNamara



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Daniel Radcliffe talks about life after Hogwarts

Bush administration objected to “Potter” witchcraft themes

Rupert Grint explains the pain of love … and quidditch

David Yates reveals where he will split “Deathly Hallows”

Jessie Cave spills about scaring, smooching Rupert Grint

QUIZ: How well do you know the halls of Hogwarts?

Getting to know the real-life Weasley boys

Photos: Guests arrive under faux snow during the official grand opening at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. Credit: Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel. A guest, in her Hogwarts school regalia, uses a mobile phone during the grand opening. Scott Audette / Reuters


5 Responses to Mary McNamara: Universal’s Harry Potter outduels Disney

  1. kevin says:

    Universal's Harry Potter really does outduel Disney.

  2. David says:

    I was unimpressed from day one. Sure, Wizarding World has lots of fine detail. But what it all it really is, is Main Street, USA — Harry Potter version. Heck, it even has a castle at the end of it.
    The greatest theme park designer has always been and will continue to be, the late great Walt Disney.

  3. K Harms says:

    All I can say is that I can ride all the rides including coasters at Disney, but at 218 lbs, apparently I'm too big to ride Forbidden Journey…. Universal going to lose a lot over that problem. And before anyone gets to self-righteous about telling me to lose weight, I have to take some medicine which caused me to gain about 40 lbs. The point is, if Disney and Cedar Point, and Busch Gardens can build amazing coasters I still fit in, so can Universal.

  4. Val S. says:

    I went to the Islands of Adventure the opening weekend and the new Harry Potter ride was awesome!!! When I walked into Hogsmeade I almost so blown away that I shed a tear in amazement. The castle was enormous and fantastic. Walking inside the castle you are captured by the talking pictures and the massive detail that it took to make the castle. I also took my father who was also intrigued with Harry Potter 4D ride. I recommend anyone to visit Universal's Island of Adventure because you will see something you have never seen before.

  5. jdmark says:

    We just got back from Islands of Adventure. We arrived on Wednesday. WWHP was crazy crowded Wednesday afternoon so we got up early on Thursday and arrived at the park by 8:30. The park was already opened to resort guests. It was our first time not staying on property because we were in the middle of a road trip from Ohio back to Florida, so it was a last minute decision. Once in the park we got in a seperate line for WWHP. They gave us little red tickets and let people into the park in groups of about 100-200. It took about 30 minutes. We made a bee line for the castle and waited another 30-40 minutes for the Forbidden Journey ride. It was awesome! We never got into any of the shops, as long lines had already formed. We plan to return in November or January when the weather is better and hopefully the crowds die down. And we will stay on property!!! That is the only way to do Universal. No lines! It is so worth the extra money.

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