Easily maneuver through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter With this Travel Guide
If you awaited your Hogwarts Acceptance Letter in your pre-teens with fervor, you can’t miss this. Live out your wildest dreams -and biggest childhood letdown- at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In this guide, I’ll be sharing everything you need to know about Universal Orlando’s’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter. At the end of this post, I’ll be sharing 7 tips for your Wizarding World of Harry Potter interactive wand, an absolute must for all visitors.
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A Tour of Diagon Alley, London
Universal’s Wizarding World left no detail out in creating Diagon Alley. This cobblestoned shopping area located in London, England behind a pub called the Leaky Cauldron, is the center of wizarding London. Inside the alley is an assortment of restaurants, shops, shows, and rides.
What Rides are at Diagon Alley?
Diagon Alley is an impressive impersonation of your favorite books and movies. The interactive spells and shops are what really make this spot, however, there are two phenomenal rides here for your enjoyment as well.
Escape From Gringotts
Escape from Gringotts is a 3D/4D motion simulated thrill ride. First, you will need to store any of your belongings in a locker. Thrill rides require you store loose items in a locker before boarding. The standard lockers are free for a pre-stated amount of time; this time is based on the current wait time and duration of the ride with a large cushion. Large lockers cost $2 ($3 for every additional half-hour, with a max at $20) and can be opened, closed, and charged via your park ticket.
Wait in the queue among goblins hard at work in the marble lobby of Gringotts. Upon being briefed, you will travel deep down underground to board your mine cart. The entire experience is absolutely mind-blowing in so many ways. They did a phenomenal job designing the multi-dimensional thrill ride. With a fast pass, we waited between 25 and 30 minutes each of the three times we rode this ride; without a fast pass, you could be waiting anywhere between 50 and 80 minutes.
The Hogwarts Express, Kings Cross Station
From this park, you can ride the Hogwarts Express from Kings Cross Station to Hogsmeade. In order to do this, you need a park to park pass. Join the queue at Kings Cross station and watch as those waiting ahead of you enter platform 9 and ¾. Each time the train pulled into the station, mine and my brother smiles stretched a few miles wide! Onboard, you’ll see characters and creatures featured in the films. Be sure to ride in both directions because the experience is different each time!
Universal’s Wizarding World’s Diagon Alley Shops
All items on the Hogwarts supply list can be bought at Diagon Alley. I suggest coming prepared and all decked out in your best Potter garb, however, if there’s anything you forgot, you can find an authentic replica here.
Gringotts Money Exchange
Here you will find an animatronic goblin that will explain wizard money to you. You can get a refresher course on how many sickles to a galleon, etc. OR you can ask the goblin anything you’d like – try to be patient as you wait for his response. While you are here, you may turn your muggle money into paper wizard money that can be used within Diagon Alley, however, you do not have to.
Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions
This shop has a large selection of Hogwarts house robes, costumes, and accessories. Although I was not about to rock a robe in the 80-degree weather (I hate the heat!), there are so many awesome opportunities to dress just like your wizarding friends in this shop. Make sure to check yourself out in the antique mirror – it talks!
Ollivander’s Wand Shop
The maker of fine wands since 382 B.C. Step into this small, dusty shop -after watching a wand choosing ceremony of course- and find yourself in awe of the wand boxes stacked up to the ceiling. An interactive wand, which I highly suggest, will cost you $55 at a minimum; choose your wand based off of your favorite character, or your very own personality traits. If you’re looking for specific information on Spellcasting with your interactive wand, look no further than these 7 tips!
Commemorate your vacation with an interactive memento at Shutterbutton’s. You’ll be guided through 12 iconic locations in either Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley. With a little bit of acting, you’ll have created a DVD photo album in a collectible Shutterbutton’s tin for you to cherish forever.
Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes
I love this joke shop! It’s colorful, fun, and bound to make you giggle. Don’t miss the dazzling display of never-ending fireworks exploding at the ceiling as you shop with your mind on mischief. Find some of Fred and George’s most popular creations in this shop! Magical jokes, tricks, and toys including Pygmy Puffs, U-No-Poo pills, Skiving Snack boxes, and Puking Pastilles line the shelves. You’ll also find Sneakoscopes, Bombtastic Bombs, Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, Decoy Detonators, Extendable Ears, and more.
While you’re shopping, don’t forget to take into consideration package pickup and delivery. You can often purchase your items and pick them up on your way out of the park; items can also be shipped to your home or straight to your hotel room.
Diagon Alley Live Shows!
Ollivander’s Interactive Wand Choosing Ceremony
This short, intimate experience happens every couple of minutes at Ollivanders Wand Shop. Pile into a room and watch as a wand keeper walks an individual, chosen by them, through a number of spells. Each will go wrong until the proper wand chooses its wizard! At the end of the ceremony, you will exit into the shop so that you can purchase your interactive wand.
Improve your chances of being chosen for this experience by wearing event pins (I’m celebrating _______) and being decked out in your Harry Potter gear (but not a wand). Be warned, this show takes place in a dimly lit room where spells go wrong, loudly, until they go right! It can definitely be frightening for small children. You are able to leave in the middle of a show.
Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees
Sway and groove to the dulcet tones of Molly Weasley’s favorite, the singing sensation of the wizarding world, Celestina Warbeck! Sway and groove to never-before-heard songs including ‘A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love’, and ‘You Charmed The Heart Right Out Of Me’.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Gather ‘round for a trunk show performed by the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts. Watch as they retell the famous tales of Beedle the Bard, a 15th-century author of wizarding fairytales, through stylized scenic pieces, props, and puppetry.
Everything you Need to Eat and Drink in Diagon Alley
The Leaky Cauldron
Just like the books suggest this pub-style inn provides a decent meal in a casual setting. Make sure you look for the wanted posters of Sirius Black during your meal. Don’t forget to notice the actual leaky cauldron in the fireplace as well!
The Leaky Cauldron is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! You order and pay at a cashier who will give you a table number. You then take this number to the seating area and staff will direct you to a table. Your food will be brought out to you when it is ready. The cottage pie is a family favorite and the Beef, Lamb & Guinness Stew is hearty and delicious. Most people rave about the Toad in the Hole dinner, and I really wish we would have tried it! Butterbeer potted cream is a must for dessert.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
If you’re a solid fan of both Potter and ice cream, you probably remember Harry spending a lot of time at this Diagon Alley ice cream spot before school started in The Prisoner of Azkaban. Now is your chance to have some soft-serve or hard ice cream on a hot day. Or it could be a cold day, realistically, any day is a good day for ice cream. Hardpack top flavors include Clotted Cream, salted caramel blondie, and earl gray and lavender.
The Fountain of Fair Fortune
This shop sells non-alcoholic wizarding drinks such as Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, and Otter Fizzy Orange Juice. These are classics from the books that you simply need to try!
The Hopping Pot
The local watering hole if you know what I mean. Aside from Butterbeer – which is a must- , you can try exclusive Diagon Alley drinks like Tongue Tying Lemon Squash, Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice, Peachtree Fizzing Tea, Fishy Green Ale, and the Wizard’s Brew and Dragon Scale beers. You can also find small snacks here as well!
Diagon Alley Universal Tips
- Late at night, right before the park closes is perfect for photos down the alley.
- Certain merchandise is only available in Diagon Alley. If you see something you want in Diagon Alley, buy it because it might not be available in Hogsmeade.
- Make sure you explore all of Diagon Alley, taking a wrong turn down Knockturn alley for some dark magic might just be the highlight of your experience.
- Take a photo with the Knight Bus and its driver, watch the windows of Grimmauld Place, and call the ministry of magic from the phone booth before you enter into Diagon Alley.
- If you aren’t sure how much time you are going to need and what corresponding ticket package to purchase, you can upgrade your tickets in the parks any time before closing. So if you purchase a 2-day pass, but find you need another day, simply upgrade your tickets while in the resort and you will still get the discounted multi-day rate.
Explore Hogsmeade Village
Spend your day in the picturesque little village of Hogsmeade. The cottages and shops mirror the wizarding village near Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where the Hogwarts Express train station is located. Appreciate every detail of the thousand-year-old shops, eat some of the best food in the parks, and ride one of my absolute favorite rides ever.
Hogsmeade Rides and Attractions
Hogsmeade is home to several Harry Potter themed rides as it was the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal’s Islands of Adventure houses a majority of the Harry Potter-themed rides.
Hagrid’s Magical Motorbike Adventure
Hagrid’s Magical Motorbike Adventure is an absolute masterpiece of a ride. This epic new (June 2019) addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will fly you beyond the grounds of Hogwarts Castle, deep into the Forbidden Forest, twisting you through towering trees, rubble, and past magical creatures. You will have a massive smile plastered on your face for the entirety of the adventure.
You need to get to the park before the gates open and head to this line first. Due to the nature of the ride, it has had a rough opening with technical difficulties shutting it down – often halfway through the day. The opportunity to secure belongings in a free locker is available at the ride’s true entrance. Currently, the line begins in the lost continent due to the number of people who beeline for this queue as soon as the park opens. Staff members are really amazing about allowing a member of your party to leave and use the restroom or grab a snack while you wait. Have a plan for who will ride the motorbike and who will ride in the sidecar. You board the coaster on a moving platform which helps to keep everything flowing. Hold on tight and expect the unexpected.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
You will be required to secure your belongings in a free locker located at the base of the castle before entering the queue. Walk through the halls of Hogwarts Castle as you are welcomed, as a muggle, to attend a lecture on the history of magic. Harry, Ron, and Hermione will distract you from your destination where you will then experience moving and talking photos and the sorting hat. From here you’ll wait patiently to board your flying bench.
The motion-based dark ride begins with a sprinkling of Floo Powder from Hermione before taking off through the grounds of Hogwarts to a Quidditch match. After being chased by a dragon, you will find yourself in the forbidden forest riders descend into a set of the Forbidden Forest, where you will encounter Aragog and the Whomping Willow which will take a swing at you, conveniently knocking you onto the Quidditch pitch. Get in on the action of the game until dementors ruin the fun and send all witches and wizards scrambling to safety. With the help of Harry, your ride will end by flying back to Hogwarts where you will exit your bench.
Flight of the Hippogriff
A junior rollercoaster located in Hogsmeade that takes you on a Hippogriff’s journey. A Hippogriff has the front legs, head, and wings of an eagle and a backside of a horse. This is a family-friendly roller coaster that spirals and dives around Hagrids living space.
The Hogwarts Express also leaves from Hogsmeade and travels to Kings Cross in Universal Studios (Park-To-Park Ticket Required). In Hogsmeade, you can take a photo with the engine and conductors before or after riding. Remember that the ride is different in each direction so don’t just travel one way and say it’s over; experience familiar characters and creatures from the books and films. Once you arrive in London, at Kings Cross Station, pop around the corner to the secret entryway into Diagon Alley and keep the Potter magic alive.
Hogsmeade Village Shops
The quaint, snowy village of Hogsmeade is meant for shopping! Everything is true to character and just perfectly Potter.
Dervish and Banges
Dervish and Banges sells all the items that wizards and witches will need before starting school at Hogwarts. Supplies including quidditch equipment, school robes, sweaters, ties, journals, and stationery items, can be found here.
Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods
Located at the base of Hogwarts, Filch is selling all of the items he’s confiscated from students over the years to unsuspecting muggles. Here you can find Hogwarts related merchandise, books, movies, and special collectibles. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride photos can be viewed and purchased inside Filch’s as well.
A mini Ollivanders is present in Hogsmeade for those who may only be traveling to one park. Although I’m glad Universal thought about their guests in the light, I still suggest the true Ollivanders in Diagon Alley if you do have the option.
Owlery/ Owl Post
The Owl Post sells a variety of writing implements, stationary, and stamps from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Missing your family and friends back at home? Mail your loved ones a postcard or letter. By dropping them into the post box at the Owlery, you are ensuring they will be delivered with a true authentic Hogsmeade postmark on it.
I was drooling the entire weekend waiting to come in here! If you have a sweet tooth, you must stop by Honeydukes for the greatest chocolates, fudge, and candies in the Wizarding World. Don’t leave without buying Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans for those Harry Potter lovers at home.
Hogsmeade Live Shows
There are several live shows available for your viewing pleasure in Hogsmeade Village.
Triwizard Spirit Rally
This is an awesome display of martial arts and dancing. This demonstration. Staged right in an alcove near the Flight of the Hippogriff brings together the students of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and the Durmstrang Institute. The Triwizard Spirit Rally showcases a group of three men performing martial arts-type moves and a group of four women performing rhythmic gymnastics moves with ribbons. The performance lasts about 6 minutes; although it is fun and exciting, especially for true Harry Potter fans, I wouldn’t go out of my way to attend this show – however, if you’re walking by, definitely stop and watch.
The Frog Choir includes a group of 4 singers. The witches and wizards sing three or four a cappella wizarding-related songs, including “Hedwig’s Theme” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” The ten-minute show is followed by a photo op. Cute if you’re passing by, but not something I would make it my mission to attend. There is so much to do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that this is simply not at the top of my list.
The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts
A show I would definitely go out of my way to witness. On select nights, watch in awe from Hogsmeade village as a dazzling spectacle of music and lights are cast against the majestic backdrop of the castle. The later the showing, the less crowded the viewing area will be and the better the lights! There truly isn’t a more enchanting way to end a magical day.
Best Food and Drinks in Hogsmeade
Hogsmeade doesn’t have very many food options, but the restaurant they do have is one of the absolute bests in the park.
Three Broomsticks is wonderfully themed and provides one of the freshest and tastiest dining experiences in the park. This dimly lit, rustic tavern provides a reprieve from the Florida Sun and family-friendly dining experience. When you enter, you head straight to a cashier. At the cashier, you will order everything for your whole party.
The menu offers English pub fare, such as fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, Cornish pasties, and a “Great Feast Platter”. A children’s menu is available as well. I ordered the Cornish Pasties and Garden Salad which included flakey pastry pies filled with ground beef, vegetables, and potatoes, served with a side salad and choice of dressing. I really enjoyed my meal and it was quite cheap at $9.99. My parents had no complaints about the Smoked Turkey Leg and Shepards Pie as well.
After ordering you’ll be directed to another counter to pick up your food. From here you’re free to choose your seat; if it is exceptionally busy, a cast member will guide you to an open table. The large back patio is definitely the best spot to dine! Don’t forget to order your Butterbeer or the famous strawberry and peanut butter ice cream.
Hogs Head Pub
It offers a selection of beers, the most prominent being the exclusive Hog’s Head, which can’t be purchased anywhere else. Hogs Head Pub also offers specialty drinks, wine, spirits, and mixed drinks for Muggles and wizards who are of age.
Don’t Miss These Universal Harry Potter Tips
Universal Studios is an amazing park packed with a ton of great experiences. It would be an absolute shame to miss any of them! Here are my top two, out of 11 Universal Orlando Tips for First Timers.
Universal Express Pass
I love the Universal Express Pass and honestly, I invest in express passes at nearly every Amusement Park I travel to. If I’m spending money to be there already, I want to ride everything and I want to ride it multiple times if I do so desire. The Express Pass will help you out on Escape from Gringotts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, The Hogwarts Express, and Flight of the Hippogriff. Hagrid’s Magical Motorbike Adventure does have the queue for an express line, so I do foresee it being available in the future. For now, because the ride is so brand-spanking-new, it’s fair that everyone has an equal opportunity to ride!
Universal Photo Pass
I love a good unlimited photo pass opportunity. What better way to remember your vacation than by photos alongside your favorite characters and on your most memorable rides? Universal offers multiple packages each including unlimited digital downloads, discounts photo gift products throughout the parks, and free prints.
We had a ton of fun with our Photo Pass on rides and at photo spots throughout the park. Don’t miss a single opportunity!
Park Entrance Photos)
E.T.’s Toy Closet & Photo Spot
Meet SpongeBob SquarePants and Friends
MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack
Revenge of the Mummy
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Meet Shrek, Donkey, and Friends
Meet The TRANSFORMERS
Roaming Universal Studios Florida characters, where applicable
Back to the Future Automated Photo Capture in KidZone
Despicable Me Super Silly Stuff Store Photo Op
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts In-Queue Photo Op
The Dark Room
Universal’s Islands of Adventure
DeFotos Expedition Photography (Park Entrance Photos)
Spider-Man appearing at the Marvel Alterniverse Store
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
Jurassic Park River Adventure
T-Rex Automated Photo Capture in Jurassic Park
Raptor Encounter Photo Op in Jurassic Park
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
The High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! In-Queue Photo Op
Roaming Islands of Adventure Characters, where available
The Grinch Seasonal Photo Op