We’d pegged today as being devoted to Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure but were very aware that there was a lot left to explore at Diagon Alley so decided to get back in there first thing to carry on.
We started with brunch at the Leaky Cauldron and found great delight in the British-sized portions of well cooked food, even down to a good batter for the toad in the hole.
Suitably fuelled for the morning, we then went into every shop we could find, before ending up in front of the new Ollivander’s. Wand selling stores are popping up at each site that focus on the named character wands as a quick drop in, but having heard about the wand choosing performance we thought we’d invest the time and see what they were like.
As we were led through to where it would all happen, we found ourselves remarking that we kept expecting to see cast and crew names on the boxes piled high, given our experience at the Studio Tour before Christmas.
Chattering away, we filed around the dimly-lit room and fell silent as the soft spoken wizard began to welcome us. Much to our surprise, and the notable chagrin of several other parents with their children, my daughter was picked out to participate.
I don’t think I’ve seen such a mix of excited nervousness on her face for quite some time. As in the film, a number of wands are presented, and the prospective owner invited to cast spells.
The first wand made flowers die instead of watering them; the second made drawers rattle violently rather than pull a ladder closely. On picking the third (described as being made of willow and containing unicorn hair) there were sudden light, gusts of air and a fanfare, just as in the first Harry Potter film. The wand had picked its wielder, and both could now learn from each other’s qualities.
Well, we couldn’t not buy it, given we’d every intention of picking something up anyway, and as Charleesi’s wand was one of the ones capable of making magical effects with the two Wizarding World locations we picked out wands for ourselves too from the same range rather than choosing character wands as souvenirs.
I picked out a “reed” wand, if you’re curious, which is supposed to be flexible and suiting creative writers.
The majority of the rest of the day was spent re-exploring the sites, trying to find the markers and motions required to open locks and books, make toys fly and spin, set shrunken heads singing and animating skeletal diagrams (these last two in Knockturn Alley).
Staff, in-character, were always nearby to help if people got stuck, advising on where to point the wands for best effect. The dark wizards were suitably unnerving when they stepped out of the shadows.
We even sneaked back on to the Dragon rides in Hogsmeade, just because we could and the efficiency at which they move the queues was so good that we were in and out within ten minutes.
We did explore the Islands a little, and mostly spent time in the Marvel Superheroes area. We went on the Incredible Hulk ride and it has gone on to our top rides list, with elements of Colossus and Nemesis to its fast looping smooth metal track.
We also got chased around by the Green Goblin. I think he liked making the girls jump by sneaking up on them. After the second surprise though, he beat a hasty retreat. This was mainly because Lady M nearly swung a punch at him, and Charleesi poked her new wand straight in his face as he bounded up to her. I was very proud to see them run off this nefarious villain, and relieved security didn’t get called…
Our evening meal was at the Port Orleans resort, at the Boatwright Cafe. This was good Southern cooking to sing and dance about. Lady M had crawfish, Charleesi had catfish, and I had an epic jambalaya that made my tastebuds very happy.
I can also happily recommend the non-extra-sugared creme brulee with raspberries on top as a reasonably sized portion of deliciousness. We’ll definitely go back there next time.