The stretch of path between the gates of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle is often inundated with guests rushing to grab a spot in the line for the amazing Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure park at the Universal Orlando Resort. But those ignoring the gradual buildup of the tilted, snow-capped roofs of the Hogsmeade village as they part to reveal the castle also miss numerous details, big and little, that Universal Creative peppered throughout the realm when creating the now-famous, immersive world of wizards and witches. Along the windows of these oft-neglected faux storefronts are a world of added items that playfully nod at the books and films from which they originated, while further enveloping guests in deeper layers of story than they often care to recognize.
Underneath The Owl Post’s roof, you’ll find a number of “living” owls nestled among the supports overhead. It is in this same patio that you’ll find a particular window that displays boxes of packages and letters waiting to be mailed via owl. One box is curiously left open, and if you look into it at the right moment, you may witness a Howler (a wizard’s form of voicemail) sharing its message loudly, if not prematurely, before shredding itself to pieces.
Across the way in the window nearest the Hog’s Head Pub (menu)and the restrooms (which, if you stop in, listen carefully for the weepy words of resident Moaning Myrtle–in both genders’ restrooms, you’ll find a screaming, shaking plant with a peculiar face. This upset infant is actually a Mandrake, seen previously in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The roots of this plant are used to cure the petrification of students who have looked the basilisk in the eye. Moving further along, you’ll see a very pink dress floating in one of the windows. This dress was worn by Hermione Granger at the Yule Ball during the Triwizard Tournament depicted in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This item ties into the overall timeline of the area, with Dragon Challenge and the Triwizard Champions show, in addition to the “Have you seen this wizard?” Sirius Black poster in front of the entrance to the Three Broomsticks (menu) restaurant.
Further on, you can look closely on the ground level to notice a shop with ink quills in the window. Peeking out just slightly over a person-less desk is an upright quill, that will ocassionally spring to life to write an unknown message on the parchment. Above that, you’ll notice a music shop with string and wind instruments in the window. The cello will begin to play with aid of any human hands every few minutes or so, and a sharp eye will see a flurry of sheet music flying behind the instruments if timed properly.
Despite (slight spoiler alert) losing his memory at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Gilderoy Lockhart’s literary successes and fame live on in enchanted portraiture form. Guests looking closely can see that the seemingly paper covers of Travels with Trolls and several framed pictures of the star all come to life in order to show off actor Kenneth Branagh’s perfect portrayal of arrogance and unfairly-acquired richness. Also featured in this store front is a complete Quidditch set, box shaking from its animation. With the Quaffle and Bludgers strapped down, an empty slot reveals that the Golden Snitch has been released–to be seen fluttering behind the window for keen eyes to track.
There are countless more details that the avid Harry Potter fan can recognize on their trip through Hogsmeade towards Hogwarts Castle. If you’ve been able to enjoy these added layers, or have found another one that I didn’t include on this stroll, please feel free to share them in the comments section! And since you’ve made it this far in your walk, don’t forget to witness the wonder of the featured Triwizard Champions hailing from the Beauxbatons Academy and the Durmstrang Institute.