The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the most popular reasons that guests come to visit Universal Orlando Resort. There is so much to see and do throughout this land which spans both theme parks. Do you know all the tips and tricks? This insider’s guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will give you all the details, including our firsthand experiences from the parks.

Universal Studios

Diagon Alley

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hidden along the streets of London, you will find the entrance to Diagon Alley. As you enter, it’s as though you are walking into the story of Harry Potter and reliving some of the best moments in the book as he entered Diagon Alley for the first time.

Dining & Snacks

Leaky Cauldron

When you visit the Wizarding World, the one snack that can’t be missed is Butterbeer! Luckily, when you are in Diagon Alley, there are several opportunities to try it. There are even several versions of Butterbeer available including cold, frozen, hot, and even ice cream. You can head to the Fountain of Fair Fortune or the Hopping Pot. For Butterbeer ice cream and several other unique flavors, head to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour.

First, though, you will want to grab a meal at the Leaky Cauldron. You may choose Butterbeer as your beverage here if you would like. Breakfast is my favorite meal here. You do need to pre-purchase a voucher to go to breakfast. However, you can also enjoy lunch or dinner. It is a fun environment to eat that takes you into the story of Harry Potter. If you look up, you will even see the room where Harry stayed while visiting.

Things to Do

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In Universal Studios, you will find the popular attraction Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™. This attraction is an indoor, multi-dimensional thrill ride that takes you on a journey deep below Gringotts™ bank. Be on the lookout for the goblins who are always on the watch for intruders and of course, Lord Voldemort who is hunting Harry Potter himself!

One of the most unique experiences in Diagon Alley is the wand experience at Ollivanders Wand Shop. Here, young witches and wizards can see the wand choose the wizard. If you participate in this experience, you will then have the opportunity to choose whether to purchase the wand that chose you. You can also purchase your own unique wand, character wand replicas, or interactive wand. Be sure to take a peek at the map in the box if you opt for an interactive wand! You can practice your magic throughout the Wizarding World! I highly recommend doing the wand experience and purchasing an interactive wand if you are a fan of Harry Potter. It is a unique experience and kids will love being able to practice their magic throughout the land!

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

There are plenty of opportunities to shop too. You can visit Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, get all your supplies for Quidditch or pick out your favorite pet from the Wizarding World at the Magical Menagerie. If you are feeling brave, you may even want to venture down to Borgin and Burkes in Knockturn Alley.

As you’re shopping, make sure that you stop and watch one of the shows that take place regularly throughout the day. You can see a retelling of some of the most famous tales of Beedle the Bard or listen to Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees sing some original wizardly tunes.

Hidden Gems

On your way to Diagon Alley, you will pass an old phone booth near King’s Cross Station. You can grab a picture here and even call into the Ministry of Magic! Be on the lookout for the Knight Bus as you pass by as well. It can take you to any destination. Just past the entrance to Diagon Alley, you will find Grimmauld Place and the home of Sirius Black. If you look quick, you may even be able to spot Kreacher peeking out of the window!

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Head down to Knockturn Alley and into Borgin and Burkes to explore the world of dark magic. In addition, you may find the vanishing cabinet that Draco Malfoy used. Listen closely – do you hear anything?

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Throughout Diagon Alley, you will find plaques on the ground where you can use an interactive wand to practice your magic. Team members can also help you perfect your spells to get the magic working.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Once you are done exploring London and Diagon Alley, be sure to head over to Platform 9 3/4  and hop on the Hogwarts Express. First, though, you have to enter the platform and that requires a little magic of its own. Look out for Hedwig and Harry’s luggage as your waiting to board the train. Then, you can ride along to Hogsmeade Village just like Harry did.

Insider's Guide to Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogsmeade Village

Before any young witch or wizard enters Hogwarts, they arrive at Hogsmeade Village via the Hogwarts Express. There is so much to see and do throughout the village and it’s always exciting to explore!

Dining & Snacks

There are a few places to grab a bite to eat or a cold drink throughout Hogsmeade. The Three Broomsticks is the place to grab a quick service meal. Like the Leaky Cauldron, it requires a voucher for breakfast. However, you can also eat lunch and dinner here.

Hog's Head Pub

Photo: Courtesy Universal Orlando

Hog’s Head™ is the pub located right next to the Three Broomsticks. Here, you can grab a Butterbeer™ or your choice of beers, specialty drinks, and more. In addition, there are a few carts throughout the village where you can purchase Butterbeer™, light snacks, or a cold drink.

Things to Do

Insider's Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In Universal’s Islands of Adventure, there are three attractions in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These attractions include:

  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™
  • Flight of the Hippogriff™

When you are staying at an on-site hotel, you can enjoy all of these attractions during Early Park Admission.

There are a couple of shows that take place on the stage near Hogwarts Castle. You can see the Frog Choir made up of Hogwarts Students and a few giant amphibian friends or watch as the students from three different wizarding schools get ready to compete in the Triwizard Tournament during the Triwizard Spirit Rally.

In the evenings as it gets dark, you can once again see the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts™ Castle. This show runs several times throughout the evening and includes projections on the castle and pyrotechnics as all four Hogwarts houses are celebrated!

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If you are looking to do a little shopping, be sure to stop into one of the many shops throughout Hogsmeade. The Owl Post™ is the place to go for stationery, quills, and all kinds of owl-related gifts. One thing that I love about this shop is that you can send letters, complete with a Hogsmeade postmark! In addition, Dervish and Banges™ or Filch’s Emporium™ of Confiscated Goods are great places to stop for all kinds of wizardly souvenirs.

Owl Post

Photo: Courtesy Universal Orlando

Honeydukes™ is your one-stop-shop for all kinds of wizardly treats. This is the place to get your Chocolate Frogs™, Fizzing Whizzbees, and more. Don’t forget to grab a box of Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans™! There are quite a few interesting flavors in that box!

Last but not least, you can also find Ollivanders™ Wand Shop. Similar to the experience in Diagon Alley, young witches and wizards may be selected to participate and watch as the wand chooses the wizard. In addition, wands of all kinds are available for purchase.

Hidden Gems

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Be sure to ride the Hogwarts Express back to London when you are finished exploring Hogsmeade. It is a different experience than coming over.

As you are heading through Hogwarts Castle to get on the attraction Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, you will encounter several familiar scenes or objects from the books and movies. The amount of detail in the ride queue is pretty amazing, especially for any Harry Potter fan! As you walk through the greenhouse, be on the lookout for mandrakes but make sure you leave them planted! Then, see where your Hogwarts house is in the standings as you pass the display of house points earned.

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Be on the lookout for various doors throughout the castle too. One of the coolest in my opinion is the office door for Professor Severus Snape. You can also see the door to the Potions classroom. Take a listen, you may hear some familiar voices! As you continue through the castle, be on the lookout for the Mirror of Erised and of course, the Griffin that marks the entrance to Professor Dumbledore’s office. Once in the office, you will find Dumbledore’s Pensieve and the Sword of Gryffindor! Be sure to look closely or you might miss it!

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

As you enter the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom, you will find something representing each teacher who has taught the class.

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The last one is the sorting hat, right before you board the ride. This proud Hufflepuff loves looking for all of the details as you walk through the queue and throughout the Wizarding World! Have you noticed any of these in the past?

What is your favorite thing to do while visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? If you have not visited yet, what are you most looking forward to?

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