If you’ve ever read one of the Harry Potter books or seen one of the movies, you have to go see the new Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, Florida. It opened last June (2010) and it is absolutely fascinating. It’s so real, it’s like stepping straight into one of the movies …

But for all the fascinating things to see and do at Universal Islands of Adventure (where Harry Potter World is located), as well as the original Universal Studios, there are five things you absolutely have to do. Are here:

1. The walk through Hogwarts castle

The walk through Hogwarts Castle, and even the walk through the castle itself before hopping in, is by far the highlight of the entire Universal Studios complex. The detail of the exterior architecture is superb. The interior looks and feels like real castles in England, except they are a bit warmer and drier in the Florida sun. Almost everything in the first two films is included in the Universal Studios version of Hogwarts Castle. You’ll see the mirror that reveals what you love the most, the paintings with characters moving and talking (looking as real as in the movie), 3D projections of Dumbledore, Harry, Ron and Hermione that look almost like they are. really there, and much more.

Then there is the journey itself. You will literally feel like you are flying, but watch out for the Dementors and the Dragon!

2. The Dueling Dragons roller coaster

As soon as you get out of the castle, you need to go on the Dueling Dragons roller coaster. There are two separate roller coasters, the orange dragon and the blue dragon, and they repeatedly throw each other, intersect, spin, and spiral as if they are in fact “dueling”. It’s a blast with your feet dangling on nothing but in the air.

3. Try the butterbeer (it’s delicious!)

You have to try the butterbeer. It is sweet and salty and you must try it.

4. The original levitation trick in “The Magic Shop” at Universal Studios

This was a complete surprise. In the original Universal Studios, there is a little store on one of the streets called “The Magic Shop”. They put on a free show where the guy does amazing levitation tricks. I promise you will be surprised. While we were there, a boy yelled, “How is he doing that?” … repeatedly.

5. Free movies and meals at Universal Studios City Walk

Did you know you can get up to three free movies and meals at Universal Studios City Walk? I’m talking about free meals at places like Margaritaville, and you can choose from at least eight different movies. My daughter and I ate at Margaritaville (non-alcoholic beverages, food and tip included) and watched the new blockbuster movie, “Limitless.” It was wonderful!

Like I said, if you’ve ever been remotely interested in the Harry Potter phenomenon, you should see these five things at Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, Florida.

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