Do you love the magic and adventure in the Harry Potter series? If so, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is a great place to visit. Once you enter the park, you are immersed in the story. You get to play Quidditch, go on adventures, drink butterbeer, shop in Diagon Alley and let a wand choose you at Ollivanders.
I love Harry Potter and the adventures in all of the books. It is amazing when an author can bring something as magical as Hogwarts to life and allow us muggles a chance to be a part of it. When I heard about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, I couldn’t wait to go. I finally got my chance and it was well worth the wait. This was one of the best trips I have ever taken and would love to go back.
Roadtrip to see Harry Potter
Our trip to Florida was to visit relatives, but I suggested taking a detour to Orlando. We rented a car since we had to make multiple stops. The eight-hour trip was not as bad as I thought. It is really a straight shot from Georgia.
The hotel was not the best but it was near all the theme parks so we were set. It was difficult trying to figure out the shuttle schedule and where they would pick up. We decided to take Uber which was so much easier and we got dropped off right in front of the park.
It was overcast and I was very worried that we wouldn’t get to do everything if it rained. Since the weather wasn’t great, fewer people were there the first day. This was a huge benefit to us as it meant much shorter lines. We had been warned that the lines to rides like Hogwarts school could be two hours long.
At Universal Orlando
We arrived at the gates right when they opened and the crowds were big but not horrible. You have to walk a good ways to get to the Wizarding World past shops and restaurants.
The walk takes you through different areas like Dr. Seuss rides and a few others until you finally get to Harry Potter. Next, you decide if you want to go to Hogsmeade to the school or London to Diagon Alley. You need a park to park pass to go back and forth.
Hogsmeade is where we started. The top attractions on this side include Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff, and Hogwarts Express. Of course, there are many other things to do like drinking butterbeer and eating at the Three Broomsticks tavern. There are shows in the walkways and different displays were the kids can use the new wands they bought at Ollivanders to make magical things happen. It is so much fun!
Shopping includes stores like Dervish and Banges for magical items, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated goods and you can get all your stationery needs covered at the Owl post. There are other shops that are just for window shopping with various items from the stories.
When we got in, the first ride was the Flight of the Hippogriff which was a tame ride. The line was short and we got on right away. It was fun as you pass by Hagrid’s hut and he gives you instructions for the care of a Hippogriff. They have lockers near the rides so you can store your items.
Next to it was a roller coaster called the Dragon Challenge. You get on one of two dragons, Chinese Fireball or Hungarian Horntail. Each dragon is a different ride and both have lots of twists and turns. That was also fun but more intense. The line was long, but not bad at all.
Since we knew the main attraction was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is a ride inside Hogwarts, we did that next. I was worried it would be a two-hour wait, but we were fortunate it was about forty-five minutes. You see a beautiful view of the castle and walk inside, then you go into Madame Sprout’s greenhouse and see all the interesting plants. It was pretty hot in there and that is where we waited longest in line.
When you get into the castle it is dark and cool. The inside was beautiful and had intricate details in the woodwork and stained glass windows. There was so much to see like newspapers that had moving figures and collectible items. You then get to a big room where they have a video going of Harry, Hermoine, and Ron. The room has unique objects from the movie. You get to see Dumbledore’s office and the Room of Requirements.
When you finally get to the ride they are seats on a platform that doesn’t stop moving. You have to quickly get on it and get strapped in your seat. The ride is very modern, engaging and entertaining. Your seats go up and down and you spin around a lot. You get to see a Quidditch match, giant spiders, and more scenes from the movie. It was so much fun and I immediately wanted to go on it again.
We ate at the Three Broomsticks tavern which was very well organized for the amount of people. They had fish and chips, sheperds pie, some sandwich items and of course butterbeer. Butterbeer tasted like a watered down butterscotch. It was ok nothing I would want again, but it was a fun experience. We shopped and that ended our day at Hogsmeade.
The next day the weather was still bad but there were a lot more people. We were going to Kings Cross Station in London but took a chance to see if we could get on the Harry Potter ride again. We were very lucky.
It took about thirty minutes and we were on the ride. This time we could enjoy it more as we knew what to expect. We still had to rush to get in our seats as the platform moves. It was so much fun and definitely my favorite ride as I love Hogwarts. I was so happy we got to ride it twice.
We didn’t find any portkeys to get us to London, so we got on the Hogwarts express. The station is cute with luggage and things like Hedwig the owl in her cage. You go past platform 9 3/4 and you disappear, which you see in a mirror. The people that work there are dressed up and engage in role play. You are put into a train car with other people and then the train departs.
It looks just like in the movies and out the window a video is playing with things like Fred and George Weasley flying alongside on their brooms. We enjoyed watching them flying and the fireworks they shot off.
Arriving in London
Now we were in London which is very different then Hogsmeade. You are actually in a different Universal park so that is why you had to have a park to park pass.
The main ride here is the Harry Potter Escape from Gringott’s which was an impressive ride. The lines were long on this. You go through Gringott’s bank and see all the goblins working. It is beautiful. Then you move along through different areas and get to the ride. Next, you get in a car and travel through a cavern with twists and turns. You see Voldemort and Bellatrix as well as trolls and other dark creatures. It is fastpaced and fun, but it ended very quickly.
Once we left the ride we walked through the shops in Diagon Alley. We saw the Knight bus, Borgin and Burks, and walked through a lot of shops with creepy dark wizard items. They had Harry Potter and Sirius Black on wanted posters that moved. We saw items for potions and lots of books that would be in the restricted section at Hogwarts library.
Next, we stopped by the Leaky Cauldron which had all kinds of food. Sugarplums Sweetshop was one of our favorite stops because you can get chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s every flavor beans. We also got ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlor. Some of the flavors were odd like chocolate chili.
Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes was so much fun. There were colorful items for jokes, lots of candy and sweets as well as toys. You could get a Pygme Puff or a puking pastille. Next was Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment that had the coolest telescopes and crystal balls. I really liked that store.
The crowds were not too bad and we were able to see all the stores except Ollivander’s wands. That line was at least an hour and a half long so we skipped it.
Islands of Adventure
This was our last day at Harry Potter and we wanted to buy items, but since we had a few hours left we went into the main Universal Islands of Adventure park. Our park to park pass allowed us access to this area.
We rode Men in Black which was fun as we got to shoot aliens. The Simpsons ride was very interesting as you feel like you are part of the story. There were little rides all around there that entertained us. As we continued into the park we saw the Terminator show and then ate at a 50s diner. We rode a few water rides and got soaked starting with Jurassic Park which is one of my favorite movies.
It was getting late so we ended with Spiderman and Transformers. We went back to Diagon Alley and did some shopping. It was fun going through all the dark wizard items.
I got Bertie Bott’s beans and some other candy. We also got t-shirts, Gryffindor of course, and keychains. In Diagon Alley, we got a Scabbers the rat toy for the cat.
A sad goodbye
I was sad leaving Harry Potter, but I am so grateful I got the chance to go as it was much better than I expected. The attention to detail in all the shops was incredible. Hogwarts castle is ornate and amazing just like in the movies. I would love to go again.
This was a truly magical trip and I would highly recommend going. While you are in Orlando, consider going to SeaWorld as the shows and roller coasters were fun.
Rating (5+ stars):
Pros: Magical experience, action-packed, interactive, great rides, good food, very unique
Cons: Large crowds
Priority: Very High – must see
Cost: $255 adult park to park pass, 2 parks for 2 days. Cheaper with discounts but that is a general price.
Savvy Tip: Universal on-site hotels allow guests to get in the park one hour before it opens.