6 Fascinating Windows to Examine at Florida Theme Parks

Saturday, February 20, 2016

If you think windows are boring, the designers of Florida's theme parks want you to think again. The many attractions that draw tourists to Florida aim to make every element of the park fun for guests, so even practical features like windows get special treatment.

Here are six windows you can examine and interact with at tourist destinations in Florida.

1. Spot Kreacher the House Elf

Universal Studios Florida holds The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley. This section of the park recreates in striking detail the London described in J.K. Rowling's beloved and bestselling books. As you walk into this park, look up at 12 Grimmauld Place. The Black family's faithful house elf, Kreacher, regularly peeks out from behind some ghoulish curtains.

2. Practice Window Wand Magic

Universal's Islands of Adventure houses another Harry Potter park that brings the wizarding village of Hogsmeade to life. Guests who purchase a special wand can look for special cobblestones in front of store windows. When guests wave their wands, the window responds with a corresponding bit of magic, such as a levitated object.

Dozens of interactive wand experiences exist in both parks (not all are near shop windows). Every interactive wand comes with a map showing where some spells can be cast, but guests can also discover hidden magic spots on their own for extra fun.

3. Spy a Tribute to the Jaws Ride

Before Diagon Alley was constructed, the Jaws ride resided in that area of the park. Several store windows in the magical shopping center contain tributes to Jaws:

  • The record store window displays an album by The Quint Trio entitled "Here's to Swimmin' With Bow Legged Women," a reference to a line from the 1975 movie and the character Quint who says it.
  • The shrunken heads in Knockturn Alley often sing "Show Me the Way to Go Home." In the film, the three men sang this song while they searched for the villainous shark.
  • Various store windows contain shark teeth on display.

Devoted theme park fans will love seeing these small details that showcase the park's history.

4. Take a Literal Walk Through History

Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom is Disney's tribute to American history. From one end to another, this themed land lets guests stroll past examples of American architectural styles and view how they evolved, including authentic window recreations.

The Haunted Mansion begins the historical walk, serving as an example of a New York mansion from the late 1600s or early 1700s. From there, time moves forward clockwise around the Rivers of America.

Look at the addresses on each building for clues about the architectural year being represented. The Hall of the Presidents bears the address 1787, the year the US Constitution was signed. Buildings with two-digit addresses are from the 1800s. For example, 26 demonstrates the style of 1826.

Be sure to look up at the red brick tower near the Hall of the Presidents; it features two lanterns as an homage to Paul Revere's famous ride. Some Colonial windows also have shutters that hang at an angle, similar to true windows of that time which were attached with leather straps.

5. Read Dedications to Key People

Disney parks have a long tradition of hiding Easter eggs in plain sight. The many windows along Main Street, USA in the Magic Kingdom contain the names of contributors to the park, almost like the credits that play after a movie.

Look out for these names in particular:

  • A window above the Main Street Confectionary names Yale Gracey, Bud Martin, Ken O'Brien, and Wathel Rogers. These effects artists engineered memorable elements of rides like the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Above the Main Street Bakery, a window advertises the steroscopic cameras of Ub and Don Iwerks. This father-son team worked on Disney films for more than three decades. Ub, the dad, even helped create the most iconic Disney character ever, Mickey Mouse.
  • Walt Disney's name sits on three Main Street windows. Look for his moniker on the cinema, above the Plaza Restaurant, and above the railroad station.

If you've visited the Magic Kingdom numerous times, you can focus on these small window details to discover fascinating new elements of park design and Disney history.

6. Get the View of an Astronaut

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex lets anyone experience the wonder of space flight. Guests can't actually take off in a space shuttle, of course, but a display lets them examine one up close. A catwalk around the Space Shuttle Atlantis lets curious guests see inside the spacecraft.

The Kennedy Space Center also has an exhibit known as the Apollo/Saturn V Center. There, visitors can walk past a full Saturn V rocket from end to end. This marvel of technology propelled groups of American astronauts to the moon. The command module at the top of the craft contains its only windows. Notice how tiny they appear in comparison to the rocket boosters.

Next time you trek to these Florida hotspots, look for these windows. For more facts about windows for your own home, read our other blog posts.

Alexandra 2/20/2016

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