My family and I are huge Harry Potter fans. I have also recently converted Timothy into a Harry Potter fan (he had never seen the movies or read the books before – you’re welcome, dear). So, when all the Harry Potter stuff came to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL, we definitely wanted to check it out. It took us a while to get there, but we finally made it this past February and had a fabulous time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Whether you you are planning a trip, debating a trip, or simply dreaming of the day that you can make the trip, here are 10 tips to help add a little more magic to your visit.
Tip #1: Harry Potter World (as it is commonly called) is actually spread out in both of the Universal Studios theme parks. There is not a separate park known as “Harry Potter World.” Diagon Alley is located in the Universal Studios theme park while Hogsmeade is located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park. Check out these maps to help get a better idea…
Tip #2: You must have a park-to-park ticket in order to ride the Hogwarts Express since it travels between the two parks. Take advantage of your park-to-park ticket and ride it both ways because the two experiences are different and worth riding twice. The Hogwarts Express is incredibly well done and makes you feel like you are truly off to Hogwarts! Just don’t let the muggles hear you asking where to find platform 9 3/4 😉
Tip #3: Drink all the butter beer you possibly can! Butter beer comes in many forms including regular, frozen, and ice cream. My family’s personal favorite was the frozen butter beer. Timothy and I spent the majority of our spending money on them with zero regret. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back and buy one…
Tip #4: Use all your willpower and head straight back to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride the morning that you visit Islands of Adventure. The same goes for the Gringotts Bank ride when you visit Universal Studios. Trust me on this one. The lines get longer and longer throughout the day. After you ride it, then you can take your time enjoying everything else. [If you get motion sick like me, take some non-drowsy motion sickness medicine before these rides. It helps!]
Tip #5: If you “don’t do rides,” still get in line with your people for Gringotts Bank and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. As you wait in line, you walk through Hogwarts Castle and Gringotts Bank which are phenomenal. Consider it a tour and then bail out before you get on the ride. Lots of people do it so the workers won’t think anything of it.
Tip #6: Take a few moments and catch one of the Frog Choir shows in Hogsmeade. Think Glee meets Hogswarts and you get a good idea of what you’re in for. Seriously fun! I wanted to jump up there and join them as they were singing “double double toil and trouble!”
Tip #7: Budget to eat at least one of your meals at either the Three Broomsticks (Hogsmeade) or The Leaky Cauldron (Diagon Alley). They both have delicious food and fun atmospheres. We enjoyed the fish & chips at the Three Broomsticks and the cottage pie at The Leaky Cauldron.
Tip #8: Take a few moments to talk to Stan and Ernie at the Knight Bus in Diagon Alley. They are quite funny and it is a fun interactive experience.
Tip #9: Exchange your muggle money for wizard money at Gringotts Money Exchange in Diagon Alley. We almost missed this one during our visit! Your wizard money can be spent throughout the park or taken home as a souvenir.
Tip #10: Keep your eyes open! Everywhere you look in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter there are truly magical things to be found. Look closely as you walk past shop windows, stand in line for rides, and even as you eat. Universal Studios did an absolutely superb job of hiding magic for all us magic-loving-muggles to find!
As you can see, we adored our time spent in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was worth the wait and all the planning. We also enjoyed the non-Harry Potter aspects of Universal Studios so stay tuned for a post on Universal Studios including how to get around, the Universal City Walk, and Universal Studio’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort!