Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips

Discover the Top 13 Best Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips 

This article will take you through the top 13 tips for your next trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Save time and money by incorporating these tips into your Universal Orlando trip planning.

Universal Orlando Resort is overshadowed by its neighbor, Walt Disney World. This is totally understandable because Disney is so much larger and better-known. But one thing Walt Disney World doesn’t have – and Universal does – is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series then this themed area of Universal Orlando Resort is certainly not to be missed. But even non-Harry Potter fans will appreciate the enchantment of Wizarding World because, well, it’s just that good.

The next time you plan a trip to Disney World, make sure that you allow for at least a couple of days at Universal Orlando Resort as well. Even just a trip to Universal  Studios and Islands of Adventure is worthy of a dedicated vacation. So with that said, let’s take a look at the top 13 best Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips for your next visit to Orlando.

Universal Orlando Resort’s Harry Potter Land

Harry Potter Universal Studios

Universal Orlando’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a themed area that spans over the resort’s two theme parks – Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. It’s inspired by the Harry Potter media franchise and incorporates many of the themes from the film and novels (by J. K. Rowling) into its design.

The first phase of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was open at Islands of Adventure on June 18, 2010. This area’s flagship ride is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Other noteworthy features include The Flight of the Hippogriff and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure rides and a re-creation of Hogsmeade (with gift shops and restaurants).

Wizarding World’s second phase expanded the area into Universal Studios Florida theme park and was opened to the public on July 8th, 2014.

The expansion includes a full-scale replica of the Hogwarts Express which transports guests between the two lands., the flagship ride of Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (a 3D dark/simulator ride), and areas modeled after Diagon Alley and London.

Now, on to the list…

For more Universal Orlando Resort pages, please see our Universal Orlando Map and Best Universal Rides pages. And if you need help planning and booking your Universal or Disney vacation (at no additional cost!), please contact the Universal and Disney travel agents at The Vacationeer for a free quote.

Top 13 Best Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips

Here is our list of the top 13 Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips.

1. Visit Both Theme Parks

islands of adventure harry potter

In order to get the full experience of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you must visit both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida theme parks. And you’ll need at least two days at Universal to see all of it.

The rides and shops of Diagon Alley are located in the Islands of Adventure. Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle are located in Universal Studios Florida.

These areas are connected via a short (and fun) train ride called the Hogwarts Express which travels between the two parks. Access to Hogwarts Express is available only to those who buy the park-to-park tickets.

Another way to travel between the parks is via the Universal City Walk. This area of Universal Orlando is the shopping, dining, and entertainment district. While Universal City Walk is accessible without a ticket, you will need a park-to-park ticket to travel between the two parks.

2. Purchase the Universal Express Pass

Nobody likes to spend more money than they have to. But, remember, you are on vacation and want to have the best experience possible.

Universal Orlando’s Express Passes will allow you to skip the normal lines on nearly all of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure’s rides. This does include all of the Harry Potter-themed rides with the exception of the newest ride, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Like Disney World, the lines at Universal can consume much of your in-park time, so do weigh the cost vs. benefit of skipping the long lines.

We recommend the Express Passes Unlimited if this is your first visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Pro Tip: Universal’s Premier hotels (Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay, and Loews Royal Pacific) offer complimentary Express Unlimited Pass included in the room reservation, at no extra cost.

3. Get an Early Start

universal orlando wizarding world of harry potter

Plan to get to Universal at least 15 minutes before the park opens.

Once the gates open, then hot-foot-it straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter because this is the only time of the day when you won’t have crowds to contend with.

You will normally have at least 30 minutes to explore the nooks and crannies of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley – or try your hand at spellcasting – before the crowds begin to swell. 

Then, once the crowds start to arrive, head over to Forbidden Journey or Escape from Gringotts and use your Express Pass to bypass the normal lines.

Be sure to wear some comfortable walking shoes because you’ll be on your feet for most of the day.  It will take a few minutes to walk from the parking lot to the entrance gates, then another 10-15 minutes to the entrance of Hogsmeade. And if you are coming with little ones, be sure to come prepared with your stroller (or rent one).

4. Know the Height Requirements

Hogwarts Express

There is nothing worse than getting excited about something only to find out that you – or your child – don’t meet the requirements. Such is the case with theme park rides. Unfortunately, many rides have height requirements that your children may not meet.

Like other rides at Universal Orlando, we recommend that you check the height requirements before you go. Here are the height requirements:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’s: 48 inches
  • Flight of the Hippogriff: 36 inches
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts: 42 inches
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure: 48 inches
  • Hogwarts Express: NO minimum height requirement

5. Ride Solo to Save Time

If you are visiting Universal Orlando with children, then this may not work for you. But if your kids are older, or if you are adults and hate waiting in long lines, then you may want to use the single rider line at the Forbidden Journey at Hogsmeade or Escape from Gringotts in Diagon Alley.

Riding solo will cut down on wait times, which may be more important than experiencing the ride together.

6. Enjoy the Ride – Twice!

The jury is out on which Wizarding World attraction is best, but for many, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey come out on top.

Be aware that the Universal Express line is a different experience than the standard entry line inside Hogwarts. So, if you are a huge Harry Potter fan, and have an Express Pass, you may want to check out the standard line first thing in the morning, then go again with your Express Pass once the lines begin to swell.

7. Buy 1 Interactive Wand

Every young wizard dreams of walking into Olivander’s and letting the wand choose its master. If you go this route (purchasing a wand in Wizarding World), then arrive early and go to their flagship store at Diagon Alley instead of Dervish and Banges (in Hogsmeade).  This store will have shorter lines and a wider selection to choose from.

Half of the fun of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are the dozens of opportunities to cast spells using interactive wands sold at shops like Olivander’s.  Once you have a wand, search for the small brass plaques in the ground.  The plaques will show you what motion to make with the wand to trigger the spell.

The trick is, no matter how many people in your group, you can all share one wand, since only one person can cast any of the spells at a time. You can even bring a wand back for each of your future trips to the Wizarding World so there’s no need to ever buy another wand.

Pro Tip: If your wand is ever damaged, or even if you just don’t like it anymore and want to try another, you can head back to any of the wand shops (bring the wand’s box with you) and ask for a “Wand Repair”.  They’ll exchange your wand for a brand new one. 

8. Stay at a Universal Hotel

There are several advantages to purchasing a Universal Orlando Vacation Package and staying at one of Universal’s hotel properties.

For one, you will be much closer to the theme parks so you will have easy, through complimentary transportation or walking paths, access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and all of Universal’s attractions. This is especially convenient if you do not have a car.

If you stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel®, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, your Universal Express passes are included and complimentary for each day of your visit, as well as priority seating at select restaurants throughout the resort.

All Universal on-site guests receive Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (and Universal’s Volcano Bay) one hour prior to the park’s opening.

You can compare the Universal hotel perks here.

Pro Tip: Universal’s Unlimited Express Pass is included from the day of check-in until the day of check-out, so you can get 2 days of Express Pass for your family for just the cost of a 1-night stay at a Premiere Resort.  If you’d like help planning and booking your Universal Orlando Resort vacation package, please contact the totally free Orlando vacation specialists at The Vacationeer. Click HERE for a free, no-obligation price quote today!

9. Try the Butterbeer

universal studios wizarding world

No trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is complete without trying the Butterbeer. It’s delicious and worth the price of admission on its own!

Butterbeer is non-alcoholic creamy butterscotch soda that comes in both a cold, hot and frozen variety. It’s sold through the Harry Potter areas of Universal and some of the locations give you a replica goblet or beer stein souvenir to go with your beverage. This sweet treat is not to be missed!

Butterbeer is very popular and you will encounter long lines where it is sold. We recommend that you make your way over to the Hog’s Head pub in Hogsmeade because 1. the lines will be shorter and 2. you can sip your Butterbeer in the cool air-conditioned pub or out on the pub’s back porch (great views of the lagoon!). If you find yourself craving Butterbeer while in Diagon Alley, then head over to The Hopping Pot or the Fountain of Fair Fortune.

10. When to Eat

Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley and The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade both serve traditional British-style cuisine inside dining rooms that look like film sets.

If possible, we suggest that you avoid the busy 12-2 PM time slot and schedule your meal early (around 11 AM) or sometime after 2:30 PM to avoid the crowds and have less of a wait time for your meal.

11. Visit the Gringotts Money Exchange

universal studios wizarding world

Stop into the Gringotts Money Exchange when you are in Diagon Alley.  There you will be able to chat with the goblin banker at the counter and exchange your regular muggle currency for authentic Gringotts banknotes.

They are available in denominations of $10 and $20, come in a Gringotts Bank sleeve, and can be either used to make in-park purchases at stores and restaurants or kept as a souvenir.

12. Head to Owl Post and Send a Letter

Owl Post is a cute little shop in Hogsmeade that sells stationery, writing supplies, and owl plushes. Guests can also mail a letter or postcard from this location. When you do so, you will receive a special Hogsmeade postmark that proves the letter was actually mailed at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

13. Don’t Skip Knockturn Alley

Knockturn Alley is a little spooky area tucked away down one of Diagon Alley’s dark corridors. It’s easy to miss. The shop within Knockturn Alley is called Borgin and Burkes and is filled with skulls, Death Eater masks, and other spooky souvenirs that sinister wizards may enjoy. Here you can also view the Vanishing Cabinet from the Harry Potter films.

Wizarding World Review

A few more tips:

  • Visit Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour (Diagon Alley) for the best Butterbeer ice cream as well as other delicious flavors like Chocolate Chili, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and Earl Grey and Lavender. 
  • There are free lockers near the rides. If you bring a backpack, you will be required to store it while you’re on the ride.
  • Consider bringing a fanny pack (instead of a backpack) so you can bypass the lockers entirely and just wear your fanny pack on the rides.
  • Save time by planning a grab-and-go type of breakfast instead of a big sit-down breakfast. You want to get to the park before it opens, so don’t delay!
  • Be sure to take full advantage of the perks if you stay at a Universal hotel, especially the Early Park Admission.
  • Take your posed Wizarding World photos during Early Park Admission because there are fewer people to deal with.
  • If you want to beat the dinner crowds, head to Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar (at Universal CityWalk) about 20-minutes before Islands of Adventure closing time.
  • Head to the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium (Universal CityWalk) for dessert!

Enjoy your Universal Orlando Resort vacation!

We hope our Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips page has helped you to prioritize your Universal Orlando Resort plans.

For more useful Universal and Disney World information, please review some additional pages on MagicGuides like our Disney World vs Universal Orlando ComparisonHow to Plan a Disney Vacation, Club Level at Disney World, Disney World History, Walt Disney Quotes, Disney World Strollers, and RunDisney Marathon articles.

If you need help planning and booking your magical  Universal and/or Walt Disney World vacation, then please contact our friends at The Vacationeer. Their services are always helpful and totally free of charge!  Click HERE for a free, no-obligation price quote.

Enjoy your trip!