Riders of size not welcome on Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park ride

When it comes to overweight guests, none of the magic spells or potions in the world are enough to make them fit in the flagship ride at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” is one of the most modern theme park rides in the world, and our very own Leigh Caldwell described it as “not childs play”.

In fact, when she got a very early sneak peek at the ride back in May, she noted that “If you’re a plus-sized person, it’s fairly likely that you’re not going to fit in the ride cars.”

She was right, because one Harry Potter fanatic said he was “quite disappointed” when ride operators told him his 265-pound frame was too much for the ride safety harness.

Other Universal rides have some modified seats for larger passengers, but in the world of Muggles and Butterbeer, fatties are apparently not invited to share in the fun.

Ride operators are now performing “random” screenings, asking passengers to sit in a test seat in order to kick them out of the line before they actually arrive at the ride itself. As embarrassing as this is, it sure beats trying to strap yourself into a seat and realizing the safety bar won’t go down all the way.

Of course, the main reason for actions like this is to keep riders safe – seats and restraints are designed with a certain size in mind, and the last thing a park wants is to be in the news when an overweight passenger becomes stuck, or worse. And no, unlike on the airlines, buying two tickets won’t solve this problem.

Neville Longbottom has words for London mayor: Harry Potter belongs in Florida!

At this morning’s press conference for the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, actor Matthew Lewis, who plays the ever-important Neville Longbottom in the movie series, was asked what he thought about Boris Johnson’s recent dig at Orlando. The London mayor complained that the theme park for Harry Potter, as a British property, ought to be in Britain.

Lewis doesn’t think much of Johnson’s media diatribe. And he’s an Englishman, by the way.

Explore the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with your webcam and a copy of USA Today

In Spring, Universal Orlando Resort will open the doors to the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In the past couple of weeks, several images have been released, showing a little bit of what you can expect at this 20-acre themed environment.

Universal took things one step beyond boring images, and teamed up with USA Today to bring guests an augmented reality preview of the park.

Augmented reality is a technology that allows for images to appear on top of camera images. To enjoy the experience for yourself, you’ll need a webcam and a USA Today (from today, Thursday January 28th) or you can cheat, and download a PDF version of the map from the USA Today web site.

Once you have the map, point your browser to harrypotter3d.com and follow the instructions. There are several hidden tricks on the site, including the ability to make banners wave faster when you blow into your microphone.

One of the upcoming attractions – Ollivanders Experience (Ollivanders is the Wand shop in Diagon Alley)

From the attraction description:

“When guests visit Ollivanders, they will instantly feel like they’re in the shop from the films. It’s an intimate, single-windowed building, with the same signs, colors and other details read about in the books and seen in the films,” said Alan Gilmore, art director of the Harry Potter films and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. “But more importantly, visitors to Ollivanders will experience for themselves the magical moment that forever changed Harry’s life.”

Inside Ollivanders, visitors will be surrounded by thousands of multi-colored dusty wand boxes stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling. They will be welcomed by an inquisitive Wandkeeper, who will guide them through an enchanting experience to find their very own wand. First the Wandkeeper will ask the guest a few special questions and then select the first wand for them to try. Just like Harry, the guest will be prompted by the Wandkeeper to give the wand a wave, and a series of magical mishaps will occur until the right fit is found.

Of course, no Harry Potter park could ever be complete without its own Hogwarts Castle!

In addition to the magic featured in Ollivanders, guests will experience many other magical happenings at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including a Howler featured in the Owl Post shop front window whose ranting can be heard by guests as they pass by; The Monster Book of Monsters in Dervish and Banges that will snarl and growl at anyone who tries to get too close, and the Hog’s Head which can be seen puffing his jowls at visitors who visit the Hog’s Head pub.

In a poor economy, SeaWorld raises ticket prices to just under $80

SeaWorld Orlando doesn’t seem to think the economy has suffered enough, because it just raised its prices by $4 to an insane $78.95, per person.

With just six rides and ten shows, SeaWorld assumes people won’t have a problem paying this, even though their new prices are just 5 cents lower than neighboring Disney or Universal, who have much more to offer.

Now, I won’t argue with anyone who says the park puts on a good show, and they are known worldwide for their amazing aquatic shows, but when you charge just under $300 for a family of four, you’d better put on more than just a “good show”. Once you add food and a local hotel, a trip to SeaWorld will cost over $500 for just one day.

In this economy I would expect parks to actually lower their prices, instead of raise them. Minor discounts are available to people who pre-order their tickets, but even with those discounts you’ll be spending far too much.

The park does offer a free visit on a second day, within 7 days of your first visit. If you are visiting the Orlando area and want to visit SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica, the total bill will come to just under $550. Add their all day dining option for all three days and your credit card will take a $900 hit, and that doesn’t even include your flights and hotel. Too much? Tell us in the poll below!




TSA fails again – assists illegal immigrants into the airport

Every time I think I’ll give the TSA a break, they manage to make it back into the news with something so stupid it makes me shiver.

This time, the TSA escorted 9 workers into a secure area at Orlando airport, and left them behind to do their work. The proper procedure is to escort the workers and stay with them for the duration of their work inside the terminal.

Working off a tip, the US border protection investigated the workers, and discovered that they were all illegal immigrants.

Six of the men will be deported immediately, two will be eligible for a hearing to decide whether they can stay here. The ninth immigrant was wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet, has been deported twice and was busted for a DUI.

As usual, the TSA spin on the story is that this was not a security threat, as the workers went through the normal security checkpoint procedures, so of course, that makes everything A-OK in their eyes.