Universal Studios: Thrills and Sexism

Diagon Alley

Universal Studios: Thrills and Sexism

THRILLS

Thrill rides weren’t on my list of consideration when marking my ♥ in the Universal Studios app but, it was a big part of our fun.

The beauty and brilliance of Universal’s Harry Potter Wizarding World is a complete sensory experience.

  • With interactive wands sold in the park, you can actually do “magic” at given locations in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
  • There is a dragon on top of Gringotts bank that breathes fire.
  • You can buy Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, chocolate frogs, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.
  • Everyone working in the world plays a role and enhances your experience.
  • You can walk though Diagon Alley, including Knockturn Alley, and all the shops you’re familiar with from the franchise.
  • Moaning Myrtle can be heard in the restrooms in Hogsmeade.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hogsmeade, Islands of Adventure
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hogsmeade, Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Just standing in line for this ride gives you the experience of walking the halls of the wizarding school of Hogwarts. Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, along with several portraits, tell a story of an adventure they need your help with. The ride is that adventure, where you fly your own broomstick through the Forbidden Forest, past dragons and Death Eaters. As exciting as the movie special effects made Harry’s flight as a Seeker, this ride put you one step closer, giving you the sensation of climbing to the heights of Hogwarts and diving under the bleachers of the Quidditch pitch, feeling the hot breath of a dragon or the chill of a Death Eater.

The Hogwarts Express
The Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts Express is not just a transport between the Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios parks. Leaving Hogsmeade, you experience train activity and outdoor scenery appropriate for leaving Hogwarts and arriving back in London. In line from Diagon Alley you can watch the visual effects of passengers entering platform 9 ¾ and on the train listen to students going back to school and see the scenery change from the muggle world to the wizarding one.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

This ride experience is similar in mechanics to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey but maybe a little more rollercoaster like. About an hour of the line was spent in the covered, snaking outdoor queue which was very dull. Once inside the bank, though, you get to see goblins at work. You will be taking a cart into the vault of Gringotts where you are attacked by Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort and chased by a dragon.

SEXISM

The Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley presented at Universal Studios is essentially genderless and asexual. Harry Potter is a mythos about the quality of character wrapped in a fantastic package of wonder for all ages, sexes, and cultures.

Universal’s Marvel franchise, on the other hand, is wall-to-wall male superheroes. In the Comic Book Shop, the titles appeared to be mostly special issue covers and there were only three female titles: Angela, Electra, and She-Hulk. It’s inexplicable why Captain Marvel was absent. She was on the cover of an Avengers title. But if you wanted a souvenir of a woman superhero, forget it. You can see from pictures of the Marvel themed area that the life-size models and store frontage is dominated by men.

Comic Book Shop, Islands of Adventure, Marvel Superheroes

Comic Book Shop, Islands of Adventure, Marvel Superheroes
Comic Book Shop, Islands of Adventure, Marvel Superheroes

Did this keep me from enjoying the park? No. I loved looking at everything and riding The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (where we are rescued, BTW). But part of the immersion experience I got with Harry Potter was gone. As you can see from the picture of me and Spider-Man last week, I didn’t feel super but more like an observer.

What was more bothersome was the “Hop” themed live performance in front of a retro diner with an all-male drum line and an all-female chorus line that danced to “Lollipop.”

The men were dressed in crop pants, short sleeve shirts, tails, and sneakers. The women were dressed thusly:

Universal Studios Hop dancers

I’ve seen the movie “Hop” and really can’t understand why there’s an obvious gender division here. Why aren’t there female drummers? Why aren’t there male dancers? Drumming and dancing are both equally respected talents. In my struggle to nail down what bothered me about this, I reasoned that this is a retro styled entertainment revue so the sex segregation, burlesque dance number, and the underwear baring costumes all fit the theme. I’m all for authenticity and nostalgia but I don’t think you’re ruining anyone’s glory days here if you simply mix the sexes in this revue.

I’ll Give You a Topic

What would you say to your daughter is she wanted to be a Lollipop dancer? A Solid Gold dancer?

Solid Gold Dancers

Rhonda has a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science and is a self-taught graphic designer. She considers herself a geek*wildcard because she has a little bit of experience in everything.

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