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And all the Rest

There are no formally scheduled theater shows within the Wizarding World. Nor are there any actors portraying “Harry Potter” or any other name characters (you’ll have to go on the ride to see them). But there are a number of interactive entertainments involving less-famous Potter characters that are worth seeking out.

The Hogwarts Express Conductor watching over the train at the area's Lost Continent entrance is more than a living prop for photo-ops. He's a veritable wealth of knowledge about the attraction and all Potter lore; just try to stump him. Several times daily, one of two performances is presented in front of the pseudo-Celtic, rune-covered monolith across from the friendly frozen snowman. Both are good fun, but operate on an unpublished schedule. No set show times are listed on the park map, but performances usually occur a couple times each hour, so hang around and see what pops up.

The Frog Choir, briefly seen in Prisoner of Azkaban, is an a cappella choir consisting of four Hogwarts students and two bass-singing toads (psst, they're puppets). The group, led by an emphatically gesticulating conductor, performs beat-box versions of songs from the Potter scores, such as "Hedwig's Theme" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes."

At the Triwizard Spirit Rally, the visiting students from the Beauxbatons and Durmstrung show off their school pride. First the lovely French ladies demonstrate their ribbon dancing talents to a classical soundtrack. Then the Russian lads show off their martial arts skills with some fighting-stick acrobatics. Afterwards, everyone poses for pictures.

When you are exhausted from your adventures, seek refuge from the sun in The Owlery, a pleasantly shaded area beneath the innards of a rustic clockwork bell tower. Animatronic owls roost in the rafters, depositing realistic droppings on the beams below although not, it should be noted, on you. The restrooms, located across from Ollivander's, are an attraction in and of themselves. If you listen over the flushing, you can hear the ghostly Moaning Myrtle sighing and weeping. Of course, if you're a parent you're probably already used to hearing a little child cry while you try to pee.

But the greatest Potter attraction is the one most likely to be overlooked in the rush to the headliner rides. Each street-facing window, including the ones that front inaccessible facades, contains delightfully detailed dressing and animated illusions. Hidden touches abound, from dueling chess pieces to rolling eyeballs. Here are a just few to keep an eye out for:

The goblin-run bank Gringotts has an ATM branch near the back patio. Spintwitches sporting goods sells quivering quidditch equipment (spot the runaway Golden Snitch flying in their window). Tomes & Scrolls displays living pictures of Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), while Scrivenshaft's & Pottage's stock quills and cauldrons that work by themselves. Inside Dogweed & Deathcap Exotic Plants you'll spot a potted Shrieking Mandrake and other freaky flora. Gladrags Wizardwear has Heromine's Yule Ball gown from the fourth film, with an animated kitty made of measuring tape pawing at its hem. In Dominic Maestro's second-story music shop, when the enchanted cello hits a bad note, sheet music flies. And outside the Three Broomsticks, dishes wash themselves!

You've read the excerpt,
now buy the book!

Universal Orlando 2011

 

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