Even if you are not a huge Harry Potter fan, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal, cannot fail to impress. A fire breathing dragon, witches and wizards roaming the streets, quaint shops selling mysterious goods and murmurs of spells as you amble along, your eyes darting around as you are captivated by something new with every step.
The theming is absolutely brilliant and for fans you feel like you are actually stepping into Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. Even young kids will get caught up in it all: my kids first explored the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at age 3 and 6 and became firm fans once they held the interactive wand in their hands and performed magic spells!
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We’ve now visited numerous times and have picked some tips from every visit. Whether you have just one day to cover park to park or have a couple of days to cover the Universal Parks, these tips will help you and the family make the most of visiting the Wizarding World aka Harry Potter World Orlando! If you want our handy Harry Potter checklist to take with you, print it below!
If you are a first time visitor to the Wizarding World at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida start here or if you just want to skip to the tips, see a bit further below!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is based on the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling and the subsequent films. There are two immersive areas: Diagon Alley area in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade located in the Islands of Adventure park.
You need park-to-park tickets to visit both Harry Potter lands in one day or a ticket for each park if you choose to visit separately.
The two Harry Potter areas are connected by the Hogwarts Express train which you can use if you have the park-to-park ticket. The experience on the train ride between the two parks is different with Dementors visiting Hogwarts Express on the way from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and the Weasley Twins and Hagrid whizzing past on the journey from Hogsmede to Diagon Alley.
It doesn’t matter which park you start at first, but a popular way for first-timers wanting to explore the Harry Potter area is to visit Universal Studios first and go through to London and King’s Cross Station. However, ride wise, you may wish to skip to Hogsmeade as there are three Harry Potter rides at that location.
Before you reach King’s Cross and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, you pass Grimauld Place – look up at number 12 where you will see Kreacher peer from behind the curtain.
A little further on is the triple decker purple Knight Bus with Stan the conductor and Dre Head, the shrunken head.
Across from the bus is the entrance to King’s Cross where you can catch the Hogwart’s Express to Hogsmede if you have a park-to-park ticket. A typical British red phone box sits just outside where you can call the Ministry Of Magic – more on that below! It’s also quite amusing watching kids try to work a dial up phone!
To enter Diagon Alley you can walk through the ‘secret’ brick wall or through another gap in the buildings.
Tips for Visiting Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida
A huge appeal of the Wizarding World are the interactive spells you can perform in both Harry Potter parks. There are 18 spell locations in total within Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley combined. Sixteen are mapped and two are secret. There are nine spell locations in Hogsmeade. Look for the golden emblems on the floor to see the exact spot to stand. There are usually a few people waiting their turn, but the line moves quickly.You need an interactive wand to work the spells.
There are two hidden spots to cast spells, as well as the ones marked on the map.
- Outside Slug and Jiggers Apothecary look for a barrel of dragon dung. Wave your interactive wand in the shape of a triangle and watch the dragon dung bomb bubble and steam to release a smell into Diagon Alley.
- Visit Scribbulus Writing Implements on Horizont Alley and go to the right hand window, where there is a blank piece of parchment paper. (The left window has a marked magical spot to make the feather fly.) Aim your wand at the parchment, and make the shape of of a triangle without the bottom line, like this ^ then do the same backwards. Watch as an advertisment of invisible ink appears. You can try the spell again for more hidden words.
- In Borgin and Burkes put your hand on the vanishing cabinet. See the box move and feel the vibration plus hear a bird chirping.
The “hidden” images on the map are only visible in Knockturn Alley with the UV light/black light. Spot a candle, spider, skeleton bones, shrunken heads, chimney sweep elf to clean the chimney and key – all clues to help discover where the spells are.
Want to know the spells? There are details on the maps which come with the interactive wands, but here is the lowdown:
- Chimney Sweep Elf Sign: Spell ‘Locomotor Chimney Sweep’. The hidden image on the map is of a house elf. Go to the Dystyl Phaelanges window and look upwards and to the right for the sign . Cast your spell pointing up and you will see a chimney sweep elf climbing up the chimney and some smoke pop out the chimney.
- Dystyl Phaelanges: Spell ‘Moving Skeleton’. The hidden image on the map is a skeleton. Head to Dystyl Phaelanges shop. Raise your wand and make the skeleton copy your movements.
- Noggin and Bonce: Spell ‘Mimblewimble’. The hidden image on the map is the shrunken heads. head to Noggin and Bonce and cast the spell to stop the chatty shrunken heads from singing.
- Tallow and Hemp Toxic Tapers: Spell ‘Incendio”. The hidden image on the map is a poisonous candle. Head to Tallow and Hemp Toxic Tapers shop and look for a bird in a cage. Cast your spell and watch the bird suffer different ill effects every time you cast the spell – including boils!
- Trackleshanks Locksmith: Spell ‘Alohomora’. The hidden image is a spider on the map. Cast your spell outside the locksmith’s to unlock the door. Peer closer as the door unlocks for a surprise – a sudden blast of air!
Magic in Muggle London
- If you dial 62442 (MAGIC) in the red phone box in London, outside King’s Cross, you can speak to the Ministry of Magic.
- You can catch a glimpse of Kreacher the house elf at 12 Grimmauld Place every few mins as he peeks out the window. You don’t need to knock – he comes out on a timer.
- Visit the purple triple decker Knight Bus and chat to Stan the conductor and Dre Head the shrunken head – he will chat to you directly.
- Ask the staff at London’s King Cross station how to find Platform 9 3/4. They may look very confused!
- At King’s Cross Station, as you walk through main the queue towards Platform 9 3/4 there is a trick mirror that makes it appear you’re walking through the wall between Platforms 9 and 10.
- At the record store, look through the window – there are lots of references to the film JAWS (as the Jaws ride used to be on that lot).
More Magical Fun in Diagon Alley
- Don’t get wet! This caught me out first time, but was a lot of fun! At the fountain in Diagon Alley, there is an Aquamenti spell to make the frog spout water. However, the spell also causes an arch of water to descend on the spell caster too – causing them to get slightly wet.
- If you call the Goblin at the money exchange in Diagon Alley a house elf he replies grumpily!
- Change Muggle Money for Wizarding Gringott notes ($) at the money exchange. They are valid to use throughout the parks.
- Look up outside Weasleys‘ Wizard Wheezes at the large Weasley’s hat. It magically shows a rabbit which disappears again.
- Purchase a Pygmy Puff in Weasleys Wizard Wheezes and staff ring a bell and do a naming ceremony.
- In the window of the Magical Menagerie shop, there’s a snake that speaks ‘parcel tongue’ then in English.
- If you say the name Voldemort to the Harry Potter Staff they freak out at you.
- The Leaky Cauldron sign really leaks. Just a small drip by the crack.
- The mirror in Madame Malkin’s talks to you with some hilarious phrases.
Free Wand Repair
Your interactive wand can be repaired, for free at Olivanders. Just take it and ask and it will be fixed quickly! (There is an Ollivanders at Hogsmeade too.)
The Rides at Diagon Alley (Universal Studios)
The main Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Even the line is brilliantly themed as you walk through Gringotts bank with goblins busy at work, talking paintings, and magical locks.
The ride itself is a mix of a steel roller coaster but with plenty of 3D effects too.
Although not a ride, the Wand Choosing Ceremony at Ollivanders is amazing, particularly if you get picked. About 20 people enter the room at a time and one will be chosen. Remember, the wand chooses the wizard!
Hogwarts Express: You need park-to- park tickets to access this.
Diagon Alley Shops (Universal Studios)
- Borgin & Burkes: Knockturn Alley’s place for dark arts purchases.
- Globus Mundi: Wizarding travel accessory shop
- Gringotts Exchange: Change Muggle US money to wizarding notes and spend in Universal Resorts
- Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions: clothing and jewelry
- Magical Menagerie: Toy magical animals
- Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop
- Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes: Jokes and pranks galore
- Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment
Diagon Alley Restaurants, Bars & Treats
The Leaky Cauldron
Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in an old style English tavern.
The Hopping Pot
This walk-up counter serves Butterbeer™ (regular or frozen, and ice-cream), a variety of non-alcoholic drinks, Wizard’s Brew and Dragon Scale beers
The Fountain of Fair Fortune
Named for one of the fables in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, The Fountain of Fair Fortune serves a variety of beers and other beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Non-alcoholic offerings include Butterbeer™, Frozen Butterbeer™, Pumpkin Juice™, Gillywater (bottled water), and more.
Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop
Buy chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts every flavour beans and more here!
Florean Fortescues Ice Cream Parlour
Try Butterbeer flavor, Chocolate Chilli, Apple Crumble, Vanilla, Salted Caramel Blondie, Chocolate, Clotted Cream, Earl Grey & Lavender, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Chocolate & Raspberry, Strawberry & Peanut Butter!
Tips For Visiting Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Apart from visiting the nine spell locations in Hogsmeade, look out for:
- Moaning Myrtle haunts a bathroom in Hogsmeade.
- You can buy Wizarding World postcards and stamps exclusive to Universal’s Wizarding World and post them from the Owl Post office in Hogsmeade. They should have an exclusive postmark once posted.
- Look for the Three Broomsticks window in the alley to the left of the restaurant’s entrance. You’ll hear and see dishes being washed and kitchen clangs and bangs.
The Rides at Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure)
The newest ride is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – the ride with the longest queue in both parks!
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey has a wonderful entrance queue in Hogwarts itself, making wait time whizz by. You’ll see the Headmaster’s office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom and the Gryffindor common room. Paintings talk and move, newspapers photos move and the sorting hat chats before you board the ride. This a 3D ride with some jerks and tilting – you may feel a bit sick if prone to motion sickness.
Flight of the Hippogriff is the most gentle rollercaster ride – perfect ride for those with younger kids.
Hogwarts Express: You need park-to- park tickets to access this.
Don’t forget to see the Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally at Hogsmeade!
Hogsmeade Shops (Islands of Adventure)
- Dervish & Banges: magical items, broomsticks and your Hogwarts uniform
- Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods: Buy treasures seized from Hogwart’s pupils by the caretaker.
- Honeydukes: Everyone’s favorite wizarding candy/sweet store including Chocolate Frogs, and Bertie Botts’ Every Flavour Beans
- Owl Post: Hogsmeade’s post office where you can buy exclusive postcards and post to get the Hogsmeade postmark.
Hogsmeade Restaurants & Sweet Treats
The Three Broomsticks
This rustic tavern is the place to go in Hogsmeade for breakfast, lunch or dinner and butterbeer!
Butterbeer, pumpkin juice and other drinks.
The legendary sweet shop with colourful treats including Acid Pops, Exploding Bonbons, Cauldron Cakes, Fizzing Whizzbees, and Chocolate Frogs™ which contain a wizard trading card in each box. While you’re here, fill up a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans™
Do Universal tickets get you into Harry Potter world?
Universal tickets give you access to the park you have tickets for, so you would need park-to-park same day tickets tickets OR a park ticket for Universal studios AND a park ticket to Islands of Adventure to access both areas. You need a park-to-park ticket to use Hogwarts Express.
Should I go to Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade first?
Entirely up to you! Diagon Alley has a lot of interactive action and charm, but only one major ride, Gringott. Hogsmeade has more rides (Hagrids, Flight of the Hippogriff and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.) Hagrid’s is the most popular ride, so you may prefer to get in line for that first.
Can you see all of Harry Potter world in one day?
Yes, if you have a park-to-park ticket.
Which Harry Potter world is better?
Hogsmeade Vs Diagon Alley is a tough question! If rides are your priority, then hop over to Hogsmeade as there are three rides, compared to the one at Diagon alley. We suggest visiting both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Stay at Universal for early park access
Universal resorts ALL offer one hour park access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – with a great lazy river
- Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites – brilliant value resort with two bed suites
- Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort
- Universal’s Aventura Hotel
- Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel
PRINT THE TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT?
Click on the Harry Potter tips image to print or click here
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