Upon entering The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Orlando Resort™, I am immediately transported into J.K. Rowling’s magical world. If you’re a Harry Potter super fan like me, you need to experience it for yourself. This post provides you with a Ravenclaw-like strategy to take advantage of all The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ has to offer.
First, the basics. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ is comprised of Diagon Alley™ in Universal Studios Florida™ and Hogsmeade™ in Universal’s Islands of Adventure™. You’ll need a park-to-park ticket to access both areas in one day, as well as to ride the Hogwarts™ Express which links the two areas.
If you’re planning a day trip while staying at Walt Disney World ®Resort, I’d recommend taking an Uber. It’s easy and inexpensive. There are also ticket options that include transfers from your Walt Disney World ®Resort Hotel, or your Key to the World Travel® agent can arrange private transfers for you. If you’re staying onsite at Universal Orlando Resort™, you can walk or take a shuttle, or take the water taxi offered at select hotels.
Arrive early, before the parks open. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ gets busy quickly, so you want to be among the first in line to take advantage of smaller crowds. Bonus: if you’re staying on property, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Diagon Alley™ and/or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™ open an hour early for Universal Orlando Resort™ guests!
Now, we’re ready to enter the world of magic!!! When Harry learned he was a wizard, he visited Gringotts™ bank to get money to purchase his first-year school supplies. So we’re heading to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™ in Diagon Alley™. Before the ride itself, you’ll be in awe at the lobby’s opulence and at the goblins at work. I won’t spoil the ride for you, but get ready for action in a high-tech, multi-dimensional adventure. Riders must be at least 42″ (107cm) to ride. Children between 42″-48″ (107cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion. Although Harry didn’t visit Ollivanders™ next, for smart touring purposes we’re off to the wand selection show where one lucky guest will be picked by the wandmaker himself to participate in the wizarding rite of passage. You’ll exit in a shop where you can purchase your very own wand! You’ll want to buy the Interactive Wand which costs a bit more but is worth every penny. Your wand will come with a map detailing where you can perform magic.
Next, we’re boarding the Hogwarts™ Express to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™. First stop is Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Don’t rush through the queue because the castle is alive with moving portraits – who doesn’t love the Fat Lady – and a special appearance from the terrific trio. Inside the castle, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ takes you on a heart-pumping quidditch match. Guests must be 48″ (122cm) to ride. For those who are prone to motion sickness and for little ones who don’t meet the height requirement, you can watch a Harry Potter film while you wait for the more adventurous in your group. Hogsmeade™ is also home to Flight of the Hippogriff™ and Dragon Challenge™, the latter which will close on September 4, 2017 to make way for a new magical ride coming soon.
We’ve worked up an appetite, so it’s time for a snack. Butterbeer™, anyone? There are three different varieties offered at outdoor kiosks or inside Hog’s Head™ in Three Broomsticks™. Regardless of where you get your Butterbeer™, you’ll want to pop into the most popular pub in Hogsmeade™ for a look.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™ and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Diagon Alley™ are also home to a medley of themed shops. They are extremely small and narrow. Unfortunately, you can’t use your wand to clear the paths; but you can use your muggle plastic to pick up edible souvenirs like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans™ and Chocolate Frogs™ at Honeydukes™ as well as plush creatures at Magical Menagerie. Take your time, and explore the unique offerings in both areas.
All that shopping makes muggles and wizards alike hungry. Time to board the Hogwarts™ Express again – it’s a different experience each way – for traditional British fare at Leaky Cauldron™ in Diagon Alley™. Nearby, Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour is a great place for dessert.
With a full stomach, we can enter Knockturn Alley – home of the dark arts – where the temperature, lighting and atmosphere change dramatically. Have your wand at the ready!
Other one-of-a-kind experiences include getting fashion advice from the talking mirror at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions; catching a live performance by the Frog Choir; exchanging your muggle money for wizard currency which you can use in the parks (it also makes a great souvenir); and if you visit during the holiday season, extend your visit for the new nighttime projections on the castle.
Before leaving the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™(which will be hard to do – obviously), engage in witty discourse with the Knight Bus™ driver; visit the red telephone booth for a special message from the Ministry of Magic; and look out for the elusive Kreacher at 12 Grimmauld Place. There’s so much to do; you’ll need a Time Turner to experience it all!
What are you most looking forward to experiencing at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Orlando Resort™? Let’s craft an experience that you will remember ALWAYS!
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