Photos by Erik Yates
J.K. Rowling and director David Yates took us back to the Wizarding World on the big screen over the weekend with the huge new film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” It’s not a Harry Potter movie, but it certainly takes place within the same world as the Harry Potter films and books. In fact, it takes place about roughly 75 years before the Harry Potter series picks up.
The new film introduces us to Newt Scamander, the author of the revered “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” book, which is the definitive authority on magical creatures in the Harry Potter series. The new movie introduces us to a bevy of new characters, but most importantly, fantastic new creatures! Luckily for us, we know exactly where to find many of these Fantastic Beasts, and it’s a lot closer than you think!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, Universal Japan, and Universal Hollywood take the world of Harry Potter and brings it to life in amazing ways. Naturally, there are the state-of-the-art attractions and the world-class food crafted especially for Universal. Did you know that there’s also creatures of all shapes and sizes wandering about in our “Muggle” world?
The parks have fantastically made creatures appear throughout all the Wizarding World areas. From house elves to dragons, and even nifflers, Cornish pixies, phoenixes and pygmy puffs, you never know what kind of creatures you might find.
Of course one of the biggest and most magical of creatures that you can find are dragons! While they are in the Forbidden Journey attractions at all three Wizarding World areas, it’s Diagon Alley where you can get as close as you dare to a Ukranian Iron Belly. She sits atop Gringotts Wizarding Bank, and yes…she really does breathe fire! Every ten or twenty minutes you can hear a gurgling growl, and then, WHOOSH! The heat from the flame is so intense that you can feel it down on the street. There’s no bad spot to see the dragon either, as it’s the first thing you see as you come into Diagon Alley.
Another amazing beast is the Hippogriff. These creatures are proper and majestic, they can only be tamed by the most daring and polite of wizards. You must first bow to gain its trust and then, if you’re really lucky, you’ll be able to take a flight! In fact, at Universal Studios Hollywood you can do just that, as the Flight of the Hippogriff is an amazing family coaster.
At Hogsmeade Station at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, you can see a thestral. Well, okay, maybe most of you won’t be able to see a thestral, as it’s a creature that only those who have seen death can see. Maybe that’s for the best that you can’t see it. Kreacher, the house elf can be seen at 12 Grimmauld Place, in disgust of all the Muggles.
Probably the best place to find Magical Creatures and Fantastic Beasts is at the Magical Menagerie at Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida. Guests can not only see, hear and smell (yes, smell) the magical creatures, they can also take some home.
Plush versions of the creatures that many love from the Harry Potter series are available, including Fawkes the Phoenix, and Fluffy the three-headed dog.
With so many magical creatures getting into the Muggle world, we’re sure that you’ll be able to spot one fairly quick.