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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In this post we are going to talk about all things Harry Potter, and only Harry Potter, that can be found at Universal Studios.



If you are like us, you are a die-hard Disney fan who found yourself wandering to the dark side with the lure of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We held out until the opening of Diagon Alley and since then we will often incorporate a day during our Disney vacation to visit Universal Studios just for a Harry Potter fix. Over the years we have found other attractions and areas we enjoy, but we’ll tell you all about the other areas in our comprehensive Universal Studios overview. So without further ado, grab your wand and your butterbeer, get comfy in front of the Gryffindor fire (or wherever you find yourself) and let's talk about the wonderful world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando.


Getting Your Bearings

There are two different Harry Potter sections at Universal, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley can be found at Universal Studios, while Hogsmeade is located in Island of Adventure. If you are planning to visit both in one day, you will need a 1 day park-to-park ticket. If you do not have that ticket, you will find yourself disappointed and missing out. Let’s start with a small virtual tour of Diagon Alley.


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

As you enter Universal Studios you will want to make your way to the back right corner of the park.



When you first get to the area you will find yourself on a London Street. If you pause here for a minute before rushing into the Wizarding World, you’ll see a plethora of details from the movies. The Knight Bus is positioned off to one side, and if you go over you can chat with the cheery conductor and a shrunken head. Make sure to ask the head something because your first bit of magical surprise awaits you as the head actually interacts with you. If you look closely you’ll also see Number 12 Grimmauld Place, complete with a grouchy Kreacher peeking out the window. Kings Crossing is, of course, present (and we’ll get back to that later) and nestled between a secondhand bookshop and a record store (if you know you know) is a barely noticed entrance for The Leaky Cauldron. This is not the actual entrance you will use to get to Diagon Alley, but it is a fun detail for those keeping an eye out. The path into Diagon Alley is a few short steps to the right through a hole in the brickwork to the right of the sign for Leicester Square Station.



Just like in the books and movie you will pass through the opening in the brick to enter the magical world hidden from the muggles. You won’t get a proper view of Diagon Alley until you turn a corner and then the street opens up before you, full of magical whimsy, fantastic beasts (see what we did there), and, of course, lots to see, do, and buy.

The first thing that will likely catch your eye is the giant, life size dragon perched atop Gringotts at the end of the street. This is an excellent photo opportunity, but watch out because dragons breathe fire when feeling testy. You’ll want to be-line for that dragon, first because it is super cool and fun to see up close (or as up close as one can get when it is perched way above you), and second because that is where the Harry Potter Escape to Gringotts is located. This is a fast paced and immersive ride through Gringotts and you might just see some familiar faces along the way. Once you’ve finished riding Escape to Gringotts take some time to explore Diagon Alley, there are lots of interesting and fun details. You’ll find shops like Weasley Wizard Wheezes, Ollivanders Wand Shop, and Magical Menagerie among others that are straight out of the books and movies. If you get an interactive wand at Ollivanders, you can make some magic of your own.


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

As you enter Islands of Adventure, the quickest way to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, is going to be hooking a right to veer through Dr. Suess Landing and then The Lost Continent. You’ll then find yourself at the entrance to Hogsmeade. If you go right, instead of entering Hogsmeade, you will get to the Hogwarts Express, which you can take over to Diagon Alley if you have a park-to-park ticket.



As you enter Hogsmeade, you will find snow-capped, stone buildings with shops and dining options and a cobbled street that leads to Hogwarts, which looms high over Hogsmeade. To your immediate right as you enter Hogsmeade is the Hogwarts Express locomotive that is a fun photo opportunity. Just past that is a building housing lockers, this is where you will store your items when you are riding Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. To the left of that building is the entrance for said attraction. If you had looked left instead of right upon entering, you would see Honeydukes, the famed candy shop, full of Chocolate Frogs, Acid Pops, Fizzing Whizzbees, Cauldron Cakes, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, and so much more. Continuing on the left side of the street, next up is the entrance to the Three Broomsticks. This is an excellent place to stop for a meal if you are feeling peckish, but there is generally a line out front you’ll have to wait in before going in.





The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Attractions

Universal Studios Florida - Diagon Alley

Gringotts



The only actual ride in Diagon Alley is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, the entrance for which can be found through the main doors into Gringotts, under the roaring dragon. This is a 3D roller coaster where you will, sort of by accident, help Harry Potter as he steals the horcrux from the Lestrange’s vault and makes his escape, narrowly avoiding Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the process. Not only is this the only ride is Diagon Alley, it is also one of the most popular rides in the parks, so expect long lines throughout the day. This ride does have Express Pass, so if you have that it is a great way to experience this attraction with a much shorter wait.



Hogwarts Express - King’s Cross Station



If, and only if, you have a ticket that allows you to change parks in a single day, you can travel between Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) and Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) via the Hogwarts Express. From the Diagon Alley side you’ll get to venture into King’s Cross Station, which is located outside of Diagon Alley along the London side, and get to go through the barrier at Platform 9 ¾, there is a fun view point where it actually looks like people are disappearing into the wall! The line to get onto the Hogwarts Express is generally not too long and then you’ll be ushered onto the train. Each of the compartments on the train will fit 6-8 people, so there is a good possibility you will be sharing with another family. Then off you go! On the ride between the parks you’ll get to enjoy some magical views out your window and see some familiar witches and wizards wandering up and down the train. Then, before you know it, you have arrived and are ready to disembark at Hogsmeade Station.





Hogsmeade



Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Journey into Hogwarts itself to join Harry, Ron, and Hermione on a magical, and sometimes fraught, journey around the castle and its grounds. Hermione is there to help you ‘fly’ so you can escape the castle and enjoy some time on the grounds with Ron and Harry, but when has anything ever gone smoothly at Hogwarts when Harry Potter is involved? Be ready to encounter some of the scariest creatures from the books before your journey is done. This is a very popular ride so expect long lines throughout the day. This ride does have Express Pass, so if you have that, it is a great way to experience this attraction with a much shorter wait.


Flight of the Hippogriff

For those who are too young to go on daring, and sometimes questionable journeys, there is the Flight of the Hippogriff ride. This is a lovely little coaster, a bit more than a full kiddie coaster but much tamer than the other rides around the Harry Potter areas. This ride does have Express Pass, so if you have that, it is a great way to experience this attraction with little to no wait.


Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure



By far the most popular ride in either Universal or Islands of Adventure is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Here you get to mount Hagrid’s motorbike, or sit in the side car, and zoom around the Hogwarts grounds, seeing some fantastic creatures along the way. Make sure to watch out for the blast-ended skrewt! If you enjoy roller-coasters then this ride is for you, whether you like Harry Potter or not (though who doesn’t like some Harry Potter). As we said, this is the most popular ride in the parks right now, and there is no Express Pass option for it, so get there early in the day or aim to join the queue closer to closing and pack your patience.


Hogwarts Express - Hogsmeade Station

If, and only if, you have a ticket that allows you to change parks in a single day, you can travel between Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) and Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) via the Hogwarts Express. From the Hogsmeade side you’ll get to venture out of Hogsmeade and just on the left as you exit under the arch, you’ll find Hogsmeade Station. The line to get onto the Hogwarts Express is generally not too long and then you’ll be ushered onto the train. Each of the compartments on the train will fit 6-8 people, so there is a good possibility you will be sharing with another family. Then off you go! On the ride between the parks you’ll get to enjoy some magical views out your window and see some familiar witches and wizards wandering up and down the train. Then, before you know it, you have arrived and are ready to disembark at King’s Cross Station.



Shopping

You’ll want to make sure you have some spending money on hand when you visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Both in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade you will find a plethora of shops to peruse while you are visiting. Some of these shops are well known to fans of the books and movies, such as Ollivanders or Honeydukes, but others have been created specifically for Universal Studios. Diagon Alley, as the place where wizards do their shopping, has a wider variety of different places to check out. However, you can typically find a lot of the same merchandise in Hogsmeade, just between fewer locations.


Diagon Alley

Weasley Wizard Wheezes

There’s Weasley Wizard Wheezes, back toward the entrance to Diagon Alley, the joke shop opened by Fred and George Weasley. Here you’ll find all sorts of amusing joke items and sweets, such as Skiving Snackboxes, Extendable Ears, Decoy Detonators, and Pygmy Puffs. The shop is bright and playful and great fun to duck into just to look around.



Quality Quidditch Supply

Next door is Quality Quidditch Supply, which is full everything you need to play the most popular sport in the wizarding world, including brooms, Quaffles, Bludgers (and Bludger bats), Golden Snitches, and Quidditch sweaters so you are outfitted properly. And to make it better you can pick which house Quidditch team you’ll be on with Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff options available.

Magical Menagerie

If you are a lover of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this shop is for you. Here you will find unicorns, pygmy puffs, bow truckles, phoenixes, and so many other cuddly (and possibly not so cuddly) creatures.

Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions

Looking to get decked out in Hogwarts best? Make your way over to Madam Malkin’s to purchase Hogwarts robes, sweaters, scarfs, and more.

Borgin and Burkes

For the Death Eaters at heart (in a good way) you can wind your way into Knockturn Alley and find Borgin and Burkes. Here you can buy dark arts themed merchandise ranging from clothing, to journals, death eater wands and more.

Ollivanders

What one item does any Harry Potter dream about having more than their very own magical wand and being able to perform magic!? Between the Ollivanders shop and the magic of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, that dream can become a reality (or as close to reality as we’ll get living in our muggle world). At Ollivanders you can select an interactive wand to purchase, either a replica of one of those used by the many characters in the movies or a more unique one that you can call all your own. Then you can venture out into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and use that wand to make magic at different places all around both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop

Attached to Quality Quidditch Supply is Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop. This is not actually in the books or movies, but it allows guests to do some candy shopping as Honeydukes is located in Hogsmeade.

Globus Mundi

Located on the side street that runs parallel to the main one, you can find some fun entertainment, a neat drink vendor, and Globus Mundi. Here you can grab all the wizarding travel items you might need, from luggage tags to pins for your bag to tumblers for your on-the-go coffee. A lot of these items are 9 2/3 themed merchandise but there are some “Globus Mundi Travel Agents” items that can only be found at this store.

Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment

As you leave Escape from Gringotts, the exit will filter you out through Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment. This is a shop that is filled with a range of wizarding wares and supplies and is a good catch all store for anyone looking for generic Harry Potter merchandise.

Scribbulus

Attached to Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment is Scribbulus. You’ll likely find yourself crossing between the two without noticing, but the items in Scribbulus are all geared to writing. Ink, quills, journals galore for the discerning witch or wizard.


Hogsmeade

Honeydukes

This is THE place for anyone with a sweet tooth and a love of Harry Potter. They have it all, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, Fizzing Whizzbees, Cauldron Cakes, Acid Pops, Fudge Flies, Sugar Quills, and so so much more. Their big seller are the Chocolate Frogs, which each come with their very own Chocolate Frog card featuring famous witches and wizards.

Dervish and Bangs

Dervish and Bangs is the catch all store for a lot of the merchandise you find spread over a bunch of stores in Diagon Alley. Here you can find quidditch paraphernalia, Hogwarts robes, and plenty of fun themed knick-knacks.

Owl Post

Have you ever wanted to receive your very own owl post, mail delivered via owls just like in the books and movies? At the Owl Post you can almost make that wish a reality. From this kiosk you can mail specialty postcards (for a fee) or even mail full items back home or as a present to someone. This is a fun way to send a gift to a friend or family member who loves Harry Potter but isn’t there with you. Or even a special way to send home some of the delightful purchases you made in the wizarding world that won’t fit in your suitcase to fly home. Note, there are some items they will not ship though, including broomsticks and food.

Ollivanders

Just for the guests of Hogsmeade, Ollivanders opened up a second location so people could purchase their very own wand and make magic happen. Much like its counterpart location in Diagon Alley you can select to purchase either a replica of one of the wands from the movies, or a unique wand that you can call your own. All wands purchased at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are interactive wands that can be used throughout the wizarding area to make magic happen.

Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods

Located under the towering Hogwarts castle, you will find the entrance to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods. Here you will find everything to show your love of Hogwarts and your house pride: Hogwarts t-shirts, shoulder bags, caps, scarves, house crest banners, stationary, and more.


Dining

Diagon Alley

Leaky Cauldron

Enjoy traditional British fare at the famous Leaky Cauldron. This grubby little pub is best known for being the entrance to Diagon Alley (in the books and movies, at Universal you enter through a brick wall to the side of the pub), but also serves quality food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is a quick service location (no reservations), but between the food and theming it doesn’t feel like a traditional theme park quick service joint. This is a great place to grab a meal while you are exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour

Fans of the books will recognize Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour most notably from the third book when Harry studied medieval witch burning with help from Florean Fortescue himself with the added bonus of free ice cream. In another scene Harry, Ron, and Hermione enjoy peanut butter and jelly ice cream from this Ice-Cream Parlour.

The Fountain of Fair Fortune

This location was named after one of the fables in The Tales of Beedle the Bard and serves a variety of beers and other beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Some of the non-alcoholic themed drinks offered here include Butterbeer, Frozen Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, and Gillywater (bottled water but with a fun Gillywater label).

The Hopping Pot

Another drink location named for one of tales from Belled the Bard, The Hopping Pot is located toward the front of Diagon Alley, off to the right side. You’ll find an eclectic selection of wizard drinks here, from the popular Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice to Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice, Tongue Tying Lemon Squash, Fishy Green Ale, Dragon beers, and more. It can be fun for everyone to get something different and do a taste test of some of the different options.


Hogsmeade

Three Broomsticks

Grab a hearty lunch or dinner at the well known tavern frequented by Hogwarts students. Here you can grab a variety of wizarding drinks, including the infamous Butterbeer, alongside large portions of British fare such as Beef Pasties, Fish and Chips, Shepherd’s Pie, or Turkey Legs. Or enjoy a giant meal meant to be shared between 4 that includes ribs, roast chicken, grilled corn on the cob and assorted vegetables, and the most amazing potatoes. This is our favorite place to grab food when we visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter hands down. And we are not alone in that assessment, it is a super popular restaurant and it does not take reservations, so expect to wait a bit to get a table.

Hog’s Head

If you are just looking to quench your thirst with some specialty wizarding drinks, then skip the Three Broomsticks and head to the Hog’s Head. This little pub is located in the back of the Three Broomsticks and is a great place to grab a ButterBeer or Pumpkin Juice. There is also an assortment of domestic and imported beers available here, along with wine, mixed concoctions and other specialty drinks.

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