For as long as I’ve been alive, replicas of anything seen on film are rather dull and the hype is better than the experience. For the most part, Disney and Universal are responsible for bringing what you see onscreen to life, and even though Universal puts up a good fight, Disney always gets first place — until now. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando Resort is by far, the best attraction I’ve ever experienced.

Right when you step foot into the Wizarding World (you have to go through Jurassic Park first) there’s this amazing Harry Potter-vibe. Despite the 90-degree Florida heat, there are tons of fans wearing the long school robes that Harry and his Hogwart’s peers wear in the film series.

There are only three rides, thus far, but Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts is the park’s signature. The Dragon Challenge is a pair of dueling roller coasters, themed after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with unexpected turns and flips, but nothing too drastic. And the Flight of Hippogriff, or as I like to call it, Hagrid’s joint, is one of the chillest, and shortest rides I’ve ever been on.

The big draw is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It is state of the art technology, my friends. The attention to every single detail is unbelievable. As you walk through the castle towards the ‘enchanted benches’ you’ll see everything from Dumbledore’s chamber to a copy of The Daily Prophet. Think Disneyland‘s Pirates of the Caribbean — times 100!

There are moving frames, just like in the films, and holograms of Harry, Ron, and Hermione throughout the castle and the ride. There is detail in every corner to the point that it feels like the real thing. And the ride is just as good. I don’t want to spoil the amazing experience for you, especially if you’re a fanatic like me, so I’ll just say that it is worth the $80, the heat and 2-hour line, hands down.

And where would the Wizarding World be without Hogsmeade; a place where you can spend $80 on a wand or buy a cup of butter beer (starting at $4.50). Like everything else thus far, there are replicas of stores from the books like Honeydukes, Ollivenader’s and Zonko’s.

The Wizarding World is all they say it is — amazing! I would go back in a heartbeat if I had the time and spare cash. You’ve seen the Sleeping Beauty Castle (or Cinderella Castle), you’ve been on the Finding Nemo submarine, or the E.T. ride (which is no longer, sadly), but take it from one who’s been there and done that, that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a must. You won’t regret it!

Photos: Laura Aguirre