Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando
There may be affiliate links in this post. Read my disclosure policy to learn more.
If you’re a Harry Potter or a Fantastic Beasts Fan this is the guide for you!
Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando
Where is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is based on JK Rowling’s series of Harry Potter books and films. Universal Studios Orlando Resort has two different immersive Harry Potter parks. Universal Studios has Diagon Alley and Islands of Adventure has Hogsmeade.
They are close enough to be able to visit both in one day, and you travel from one to another via the Hogwarts Express!
(You can visit both parts of the Wizarding World if you have a multi-park pass or just one part if you only have a single-park pass.)
The parks are packed with details from the stories – but don’t expect to see everything in a single day. It’s best to pace yourself by visiting one area per day (e.g., either Hogsmeade OR Diagon Alley). This way, you won’t wear yourself out trying to do it all in one shot.
It can be done in one day, but you will struggle to do any other rides at Universal (and Universal Studios has awesome rides.)
Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando
Diagon Alley was the first park built by Universal and it hasn’t lost a bit of its charm. This park is located in Universal Studios in Orlando.
Here, you can visit
- Gringott’s Bank-You can only enter Gringott’s Bank on your way to the Escape from Gringott’s ride. (But if you want to see a Goblin you can find one at the Gringott’s Money exchange.)
- Ollivanders where you can purchase a wand that will allow you to perform “magic” throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Choose from replicas of your favorite Harry Potter characters.
- Weasley Wizard Wheezes– buy your favorite puking pastilles, decoy detonators, pygmy puffs (you have an adoption ceremony), and all kinds of amazing candies. The wizard weezes store looks just like the Harry Potter movie version. This store is a feast for the senses; colorful, crazy, and tons of fun!F18F3538-E159-4A93-B32B-F45607FA198F
- Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions -buy your school robes and ties here. Plus hats, costumes, and fun little trinkets.
- Quality Quidditch Supplies-Get everything you need to play your favorite wizarding game. Brooms, snitches, bludgers, and uniforms to start your own team!
- Magical Menagerie– Buy a magical companion for your newest wizard. From owls to cats to snakes, you will find the perfect pet! If you love “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” this may be your favorite store!
Rides in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Studios
You will find only one Harry Potter-themed ride in the Diagon Alley section. But it’s a pretty fabulous one!
Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts -is the best (and only) ride in Diagon Alley. It is super immersive but not a scary ride for those of you who hate scary rides. The line is great at the beginning of the day, but by afternoon it may be an hour or more.
The ride takes you through the Gringotts office, down to Vault 687 where you will see plenty of goblins. The best part about the ride is that it is 4D which means there are effects like wind and water splashing you as you go crashing through Gringotts.
What to eat in Diagon Alley
- The Leaky Cauldron– traditional British fare including bangers and mash (sausage with creamy mashed potatoes), shepherd’s pie, mac and cheese. And of course, fish and chips! There is also breakfast with all the traditional fare like eggs, sausage links, waffles, baked beans.
- Florean Fortescue’s Ice-cream -The most delectable ice cream you have ever tasted. Flavors change, but my kids got chocolate sticky toffee pudding, earl grey tea & lavender, and lemon & raspberry curd respectively.
- Butterbeer- Me and my kids are huge Butterbeer fans. We each had 3 when we went to Harry Potter World in Hollywood, so we went right to The Fountain of Fair Fortune and ordered a frozen, a warm, and a cold butterbeer! You can also find butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron.
Other things of note in Diagon Alley
- Knockturn Alley– This dark arts section of Diagon Alley is dark and creepy in all the right ways. This small alleyway features Borgin &Burkes-This store specializes in dark magic objects. It is full of “evil” looking things like skulls, knives covered with red stains, and other creepy items. You will feel like Harry Potter when he accidentally ended up in Knockturn Alley without meaning to.
- Gringtotts Bank– Look up and you’ll see a dragon keeping watch over all the visitors. The dragon breathes actual flames every 10 minutes. You will get a warning when the dragon starts to growl.
- Outdoor performances– Watch an unforgettable show; the Triwizard Spirit Rally, the Frog Choir (a frog chorus), and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees.
Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure Universal Studios
Hogsmeade is the newest addition to Universal Studios Florida. It features the village of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts Castle (with several rides), and just as much to see and do as Diagon Alley.
Hogsmeade village looks almost identical to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
What to see in Hogsmeade/Hogwarts
- The Hogs Head– A great place for a drink, this pub serves all kinds of drinks like Firewhisky, Hog’s Head Brew, and Gillywater.
- Olivander’s Wands- One of the coolest things in Hogsmeade is Olivander’s Wands. Here, you can visit a wand shop staffed by Mr. Olivander himself! Where else do you go to choose your own bespoke wand? There are many different wands to choose from with all kinds of magical effects so choosing might be difficult. You can buy a Harry Potter wand or Hermione’s wand, or any of your other favorite characters.
- Honeydukes– A favorite of every kids, this sweet shop has all kinds of candy and chocolates to buy including chocolate frogs , Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, Fizzing Whizbees and more.
- The Owl Post– Buy a postcard to send to a friend, or buy a cool owl to take home with you. Plus ship your purchases from the park to your home.
- Dervish and Banges– This shop is really big with all kinds of magical equipment, including broomsticks. Quidditch gear is available as well as fun keepsakes.
- Filch’s Emporium– Filch runs this unique store that has items I did not find in any other place at either Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade It also features Hogwarts clothing and robes.
Best Rides at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
This is the big one. It’s a ride similar to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal Studios, but much more immersive. You will learn all about Harry Potter through this wild adventure.
Half of the fun of this ride is the line to get on the ride. You will visit the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom, Dumbledore’s Office, the Gryffindor Common Room, and more. You will learn about the journey you are about to go on!
The ride itself is the best in 3D technology. You will be aboard a magicked bench that will swoop, turn, dive, and turn before your very eyes. You will “fly” through Hogwarts with Harry, Ron, and Hermione on your bench.
This ride will make you motion sick if you are prone to that, but it isn’t a super scary roller coaster. Compared to the Escape from Gringotts, this is more intense but just as fun!
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
This traditional roller coaster will take you on an adventure with Hagrid. You will travel with Hagrid and see many creatures this way!
You will travel in a motorbike and side car and head to the Forbidden Forest. Along the way the Motorbikes go crazy and you will do some big drops, move backwards, and wind their way through obstacles.
This ride is a fabulous one for thrill seekers, but my tame group of kids do not like roller coasters and thought this way too intense.
The Hogwarts Express
Hogwarts Express is a ride and transportation between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. (Remember you will need a multi-park pass to go to both.) You can get to the ride by going through King’s Cross Station , which is located in the London section of Universal Studios, next to the entrance for Diagon Alley. While you’re there, check out Platform 9 3/4 if you want a photo spot!
The Hogwarts Express will take you to Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and back to Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. The ride is full of fun, with appearances from some of your favorite wizards. (Plus, each way features different stories!)
This is a great ride and is often overlooked! This is one of the best family-friendly rides at Universal Orlando.
Where to eat at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure
- The Three Broomsticks- The Three Broomsticks- The Three Broomsticks serves traditional British fare – traditional pub food like Cornish Pasties, Shepherds Pie, Ribs, and more. They also serve hot butterbeer as well as cold.
Tips for visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Go first thing in the morning. The crowds are very light, and you can ride Escape from Gringotts or the Forbidden Journey a few times with no line at all.
- Remember to take everything out of your pockets before you go on the Escape from Gringotts or the Forbidden Journey ride. There are free lockers to hold your valuables.
- There is plenty of room to park your strollers throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Look for the sign that says “pram parking.”
- If you want to eat lunch at Harry Potter World, eat early. Try to be in line by 11:00. We were told the lunch rush starts at 11:15 am.
- If you can go on a weekday the crowds will be much smaller and you can enjoy more of the parks.
- If you can visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the winter you will have even fewer crowds. We visited the beginning of February and the crowds were very manageable and the weather was beautiful. Most of the ride times were well under an hour.
Which is the better Harry Potter Park for Potterheads?
If we had to pick one, it would be Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando. The immersive feeling of the park is perfection. There are more shops and places to wander.
As I mentioned earlier, my kids don’t love scary rides, so Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure wasn’t for us, but if you have ride lovers, you might prefer Islands of Adventure.
If you happen to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood, you might want to skip Islands of Adventure as you can do the same rides and have the same experience there.
If you can swing it to do both, do it, because the Hogwarts Express is pretty special and lots of fun!
If you want to up the fun factor you might want to stay at one of these Harry Potter Themed Airbnbs in Orlando!
I endorse products I’ve personally used or come highly recommended by my trusted peers. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Leave a Reply