Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips
Discover the Top 13 Best Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips
Universal Orlando Resort is overshadowed by its neighbor, Walt Disney World. This is totally understandable because Disney is so much larger and well-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, its 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’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 featured after Diagon Alley and London.
Now, on to the list…
Here is our list of the top 11 Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips.
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 on Hogwarts Express is accessible to only those who buy the multi-park pass.
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 multi-park ticket to travel between the two.
Nobody likes to spend more money than they have to. But, remember, you are on vacation and want to have the best experience possible. So this is no time to pinch pennies.
Universal Orlando’s Express Passes will allow you to skip the normal lines on nearly most of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure’s rides. This does, in fact, include all of the Harry Potter themed rides. Yes, Express Passes are not cheap, but they really are worth the extra cost. Like Disney World, the lines at Universal can consume much of your in-park time.
We recommend the Express Passes Unlimited if this is your first visit to The 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 enterance 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).
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 which your children may not meet.
Like other rides at Universal Orlando, we recommend that you check the height requirements before you go. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter only has a handful of actual rides but they are all pretty amazing and worth checking out if you are able to. 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
- Hogwarts Express: NO minimum height requirement
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. This will cut down on wait times, which may be more important than experiencing the ride together.
The jury is out on which Wizarding World attraction is best, but either 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, 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.
Every young wizard dreams of walking into Ollivander’s and letting the wand choose its master. If you go this route and purchase your want in Wizarding World, then arrive early and go to their flagship store at Diagon Alley instead of Dervish and Banges (in Hogsmeade) because it will have shorter lines and more of a selection to choose from.
If you don’t care about the experience of purchasing a wand in Wizarding World, then you may want to save some time and buy it at one of the Universal hotels, at the Universal Studios gift shop at the Orlando airport, or buy it online before you even step foot in Florida. This also applies to purchasing other Universal merchandise at the park. Save time and buy it elsewhere.
There are several advantages to stay at a purchasing a Universal Orlando Vacation Package and staying at one Universal’s hotel properties.
For one, you will be situated right next the theme parks so you will have easy 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 free 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 guest 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 change compare the hotel perks here. And if need help planning and booking your Universal Orlando Resort vacation package, please contact the commission-free Orlando vacation specialist at TheVacationeer.com.
6. Go Twice
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 comes in both a cold and frozen variety. Its 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. We recommend that you make your way over to the Hog’s Head pub in Hogsmeade because the lines will be shorter and you can sit 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.
6. Go Twice
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 to avoid the crowds and have less of a wait time for your meal.
6. Go Twice
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 bank notes. 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.
6. Go Twice
Owl Post is a cute little shop in Hogsmeade that sells stationary, 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 Wizarding World.
6. Go Twice
Knockturn Alley is a little spooky shop tucked away down one of Diagon Alley’s dark corridors. It’s easy to miss. The shop 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.