harrypotter1The new theme park attraction at the terrific Universal Orlando Resort, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is set to open June. 18. The world travelers in my family, along with Harry Potter fans the world over, can’t wait.

My daughter and I saw the construction of Hogwarts Castle when visited in December (if you’re going, consider staying onsite at one of the three Universal resorts to get easy access to the parks). We hope to return soon to see the real thing.  

In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the first them park attraction featuring the boy wizard. Inside will be three themed attractions, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge. All the highlights of the films will be there, including the Whomping Willow, a Quidditch math, dragon, Floo powder and Harry, Ron and Hermione themselves. It’s all wrapped in a 360-degree them park experience that combines live action, robotic technology and innovative filmmaking.

England’s Harry Potter

harrypotter3For a more realistic Harry Potter experience, you can head to England, buoyed by the fall in the value of the Euro that is making European travel affordable again.

The folks at VisitEngland have put together a list of Harry Potter spots to see the places where the magic was made.

For example, there’s Hogsmeaded Station, or Goathland Station in Yorkshire, as it’s really known. The picturesque countryside station is on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in North York Moors National Park. The station has been restored to its post World War 1 charm, including a 1922 style tea room. It may not be the Hogsmead Express, but you can take a ride on an original classic steam locomotive into the park. Go now and you can get a early look at the Yorkshire Dales National Park which will be featured in the new Harry Potter film, “The Deathly Hallows,” which will be released later this year.

More Harry Potter locations can be found in Oxford, where the Gothic Christ Church College served as Hogwarts, and the southwest of England, where Gloucester Cathedral became the corridors leading to Gryffindor House. In London, you can visit Kings Cross Station (site of the infamous Platform 9 3/4) and the Reptile House of Regent’s Park Zoo, where Harry learns he can speak to snakes.