The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort is one of the most impressive offerings at any theme park resort. Comprised of Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, these immersive lands let guests step inside scenes straight from the books and films. The combination of screen-accurate details, thrilling attractions, and interactive experiences, it’s easy to see why these lands have become a major draw for families vacationing in Central Florida.
Diagon Alley opened in 2014 as the second land in Universal’s Wizarding World expansion, after Hogsmeade’s massive success. The creative team at Universal went even bigger and better with Diagon Alley, adding a new level of whimsy and theming to their parks. Hidden behind an unassuming train station facade in Universal Studios Florida’s London recreation, the only real indication of its presence in the park is the Knight Bus parked out front. Those who step inside the land are greeted with a fantastical downtown market filled with elaborately decorated shops, restaurants, and landmarks. Including the centerpiece, a fire-breathing dragon perched high atop Gringotts Bank at the end of the alley. Here guests can make a harrowing escape from a goblin-owned bank, cast spells with magic wands, eat popular wizard treats and enjoy enchanted entertainment
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
This thrilling 3D adventure combines screen-based effects, motion enhanced vehicles and a rollercoaster track to put guests in a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Riders begin their trip with a walk through the grand marble lobby complete with animatronic goblin bankers toiling away at their booths. After a greeting from Blordak, the head troll, guests descend into the bank’s vaults and receive an introduction from Bill Weasley. The ride itself is a fast-paced, multi-dimensional retelling of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s harrowing escape from Voldemort on the back of a dragon. Scenes feature actors from the films as well as some fearsome creatures and spells. Guests must be 42″ or taller to ride, those under 48″ must have a supervising companion. Eligible for Universal Express Pass.
Hogwarts Express – King’s Cross Station
Diagon Alley’s other attraction is also a means of transportation between the two Wizarding World lands. Hogwarts Express is a faithful recreation of the majestic train system that transports Harry and his friends to and from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry each school year. This highly enjoyable and relatively relaxing ride utilizes moving window projection screens and special lighting effects to create enchanted landscapes and recognizable characters. As the British countryside changes to lands off-limits to muggles through the windows, Harry, Ron and Hermione encounter friends, and foes on the other side of the frosted glass cabin doors. The effects are fun and impressive and the air-conditioned train cars make this a nice break from the heat while traveling to Hogsmeade. It should be noted that guests may only take advantage of Hogwarts Express if they have Universal’s “Park to Park” ticket. Eligible for Universal Express Pass.
- Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees: Guests can enjoy the swinging sounds of Wizarding World singing sensation Celestina Warbeck as she treats guests to a selection of her hits in this fun and interactive show. This musical review features original tunes with a witchy twist like “A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love” and “You Charmed The Heart Right Out Of Me” combined with dancing and crowd participation. Shows happen multiple times daily in the Carkitt Market section, check park guides for times.
- The Tales of Beedle The Bard: This stage show presented by the “Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts” features retellings of wizarding folklore stories told in the Harry Potter series like The Tale of the Three Brothers. Two tales are acted out using elaborately designed puppets, stylized scenic pieces, and props created by Emmy-award-winning designer Michael Curry. The show is a beautiful presentation that should not be missed. Shows happen multiple times daily in the Carkitt Market section, check park guides for times.
- Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment: This kiosk in the Carkitt Market section of the land serves bottled water that can be combined with a selection of magical elixirs. These elixirs transform the color and flavor of the water into delicious fruity potions. Guests can enjoy Fire Protection Potion, Babbling Beverage, Draught of Peace, and Elixir to Induce Euphoria.
- Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour: This brightly colored spot serves soft-serve and scooped ice cream in one of Harry’s favorite locations to get a frosty treat. Guests can enjoy sundaes and cones with fantastical flavors like Butterbeer, Granny Smith and Earl Grey and Lavender as well as standard offerings. This location also serves bottled pumpkin juice and a selection of breakfast pastries in the morning.
- Leaky Cauldron: This is Diagon Alley’s only true Quick Service location. Here guests can dine on traditional British fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast menu includes items like pancakes, oatmeal and traditional plates with eggs, bacon, sausage, and potatoes. For lunch and dinner, guests can enjoy dishes like bangers and mash, fish and chips, and beef, lamb and Guinness stew. The theming here is as good as any other part of the land. Guests dine under expansive cathedral ceilings with views of the inn’s guest rooms. This spot can be quite popular for lunch and dinner, so the Professor suggests eating early or late to avoid the crowds.
- The Fountain of Fair Fortune: This tavern in the Carkitt Market serves a selection of draught beers as well as other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and Butterbeer ice cream.
- The Hopping Pot: Walk-up counter in Carkitt Market serving Butterbeer as well as other wizarding 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. Also, a good spot to grab Butterbeer ice cream.
- Borgin and Burkes: Found deep within the dark passage of Knockturn Alley, this shop caters to patrons of the dark arts. Guests can purchase sinister items like Death Eater masks and dark arts-themed souvenirs as well as costume replicas, apparel, accessories, jewelry, and collectibles.
- Gringotts Money Exchange: After an interactive encounter with one of Gringotts’ not-too-friendly goblins, guests can trade their muggle currency for Gringotts banknotes that can be used for purchases in either Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. Banknotes are available in $10 and $20 denominations. Any unused amount left on the banknotes can be converted back into dollars at a park Guest Services office.
- Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions: Every new wizard or witch needs to look the part, and Madam Malkin’s is renowned for her fine wizarding attire. Here guests can buy Hogwarts uniforms and robes as well as authentic replicas of Hermione’s Yule Ball gown and Dumbledore’s robes. Ties, scarves, sweaters, cardigans, and jewelry are available for purchase as well.
- Magical Menagerie: This store sells magical companions perfect for keeping you company while studying your spells. Guests can purchase plush versions of iconic creatures from the Wizarding World like Crookshanks, Fang, Buckbeak, Fluffy, and Scabbers. Cornish pixies, ferrets, Pygmy Puffs, and an assortment of owls, including Pigwidgeon and Hedwig are also available.
- Ollivanders: Diagon Alley’s most popular shop also houses a unique and magical experience. At Ollivanders, guests can purchase wands featuring unique designs as well as replicas of those owned by famous wizards and witches. There are two types of wands sold here, interactive ones that can be used to cast spells and trigger hidden effects in the lands, or those that are purely decorative and do not interact with those elements. Guests can also enjoy a wand ceremony that happens multiple times daily within Ollivanders. After being led into a magical showroom, one special guest is chosen from the crowd where their wand chooses them. You can read all about the interactive wand experience at the Professor’s guide here.
- Quality Quidditch Supplies: This shop features everything for the Quidditch fan in your family. Items like sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles, and more are all available to show off your love of the Wizarding World’s most popular sport.
- Scribbulus: A stationary store for the distinguished witch or wizard. Here you can purchase items like ink and inkwells, feather quills, parchment, and writing paper. You’ll also find notebooks and journals, bookmarks, stationery sets, and seals, as well as envelopes and postcards.
- Sugarplum’s Sweetshop: The perfect spot to satisfy your sweet tooth, or get adventurous and try a strangely flavored jelly bean. Sugarplum’s sells a wide variety of colorful sweets and tasty temptations even Muggles can enjoy. Guests can enjoy imaginative treats like Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans™, Acid Pops, Exploding Bonbons, Pink Coconut Ice and chocolate frogs.
- Wands by Gregorovitch: This secondary wand location in Carkitt Market, sells a selection of interactive and standard magic wands modeled after those owned by famous wizards. This is a great alternative to a crowded Ollivander’s but it should be noted that this location only sells famous wizard wands, and does not carry the other models.
- Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes: This wild technicolored shop sells everything a mischevious wizard needs to get up to no good. Here guests can shop from a wide variety of novelty jokes, tricks, and toys curated by the fun-loving Weasley twins. Notable items include Bombtastic Bombs, Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, Decoy Detonators, Extendable Ears, and love potions!
- Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment: If you’re in need of some magical items to bring your wizardry to a new level, you’ll want to stock up on supplies from Wiseacre’s. Here, new practitioners of witchcraft and wizardry can purchase items like crystal balls, telescopes, armillary spheres, compasses, moon charts, and hourglasses.
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Some Photos Courtesy Universal