Out & About, Westways Magazine, July/August 2014

friendship-ring

Opening Scene
Friendship Ring
When it’s ringing, the Korean Bell of Friendship in San Pedro’s Angels Gate Park can move people to tears. Even when silent, the majestic 17-ton bell and its intricately designed pavilion overlooking the Pacific Ocean invoke nobility and splendor. Both are shining brighter these days, following a restoration that was completed last January. In 1976, South Korea gifted the bell to the United States to honor the U.S. bicentennial and veterans of the Korean War. Over time, the bell suffered the effects of rust, salt spray, roosting birds, and graffiti and for years did not ring. Last year, Chai Dong-hey, a South Korean protégé of one of the project’s original bell masters, Kim Chul-ho, oversaw the restoration, which included hand-chiseling out some of the damage as well as subjecting the bell to an elaborate tuning process. Hear the bell ring on the Fourth of July and on Korean Liberation Day (August 15) and revel in the ancient sound that signifies friendship and a celebration of cultures. Entrance to Angels Gate Park is free. (310) 548-7705. —Brenda Rees

Theme Park News
Make Way for Wizards
Fire up the broomsticks, Muggles. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter expands this summer with a straight-out-of-the-movies experience that’s so big it spans two Florida theme parks.

Universal Orlando turned its former Jaws attraction into a fully actualized wizards’ London, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley, which opens this summer. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade, Universal’s original Harry Potter attraction, is located in the separate but adjacent Universal’s Islands of Adventure (a dual-park pass is required). To get from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade, you begin as Harry did: at King’s Cross Station, where you run through a brick wall (no joke) to enter Platform 9¾. Muggles then board a full-scale Hogwarts Express, complete with authentic steam and whistle.

During the seven-minute train ride through the British countryside, watch for Hagrid on his motorbike, the Weasley twins on brooms, and Buckbeak the hippogriff. The return trip to King’s Cross presents different scenes.

In the new attraction, visitors pass through another brick wall to explore the themed shops in Diagon Alley and its dark-side counterpart, Knockturn Alley. See how wands choose their wizards at Ollivanders, pick out novelty items at the three-story-tall Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and browse among the Death Eater masks and skulls at Borgin and Burkes. At Gringotts Bank, a high-speed thrill ride whisks riders through jaw-dropping passageways deep inside the goblins’ vaults.

Restaurants in the new attraction add to the fun: The Leaky Cauldron serves fish and chips, while Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour scoops unusual flavors, including a strawberry-and–peanut-butter mixture. (407) 363-8000. —B.R.