BEST OF HARRY POTTER WORLD
As a proud Hufflepuff, I’m loyal to my siblings. I’ve only been to Harry Potter World in Universal Studios with them. It’s seriously a travel bucket list item. You won’t regret walking into Diagon Alley for the first time (if you find it—no joke, it took my brother and me a couple of tries the first time around) and feeling like you’re actually in Diagon Alley.
So in true honest Hufflepuff spirit, let me share with you my tips and tricks to the parks and what’s in my opinion, the best of Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Orlando.
Two Magical Parks.
Universal Studios is split up into two parks—Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios. If you’re a Disney World nerd, you can easily do Universal Studios Florida in a day, two days max.
Each park has a section of Harry Potter World in it. Cleaver. I know. I would recommend getting a park-to-park ticket so you can ride the Hogwarts Express back and forth. Each park has it’s unique entrance to the train ride and it’s treated like an attraction. Meaning, wait times can be ridiculous.
If you’ve already done it once and want to get your steps in, just exit the park you are in and walk to the other. It’s about a 15-minute walk. You’re probably not interested now, but when the wait time for the Hogwarts Express is 45 minutes you might reconsider.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS SIDE
Diagon Alley is located in the Universal Studios side of the park and is honestly the highlight of Harry Potter World. You can easily spend more than 3 hours in this part of the
The best thing about Diagon Alley (besides getting a Butterbeer) is the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Ride. Try and do this first, the lines get way long. This is inside where the dragon is. You can look around Diagon Alley and get your Oo’s and Ah’s but hit the shops and explore after you do this ride.
If you want to ride this again when there is a long line, get in the single rider line. Disclaimer: you won’t necessarily sit together but you get to go again, as the line goes faster. My siblings didn’t want to do this. They wanted to all ride together. You might have someone in your party that feels the same or they might take some convincing.
WHAT IF I WANT A WAND?
Head to Olivanders. Seriously. You can do this interactive thing where there’s a little show and then a volunteer from the crowd gets a free wand. Chances are it’s always a kid so don’t get your hopes up. There are two kinds of wands, a regular one and an interactive one. If you really want to do the show, choose this in the morning over the Gringgots ride.
If you’re only going for a day, don’t get an interactive wand. If you really want one, only buy one per party and take turns using it. The interactive ones are more expensive but it’s part of an interactive activity you can do all around the park.
If you just want a souvenir, they sell most wands (non-interactive) in the big Universal gift shops around the parks if you don’t want to wait in line at Olivanders. Go in and take a look around and if the line is too long to pay, just go buy one at the general gift shop on your way out.
I’M HUNGRY BUT I WANT SOMETHING MORE THAN JUST BUTTERBEER.
I get it. After your third butterbeer, I’m sure you’re looking for something more sustainable. Go eat at the Leaky Cauldron but don’t go during lunch. Leave the Harry Potter World area at lunch and just go eat somewhere else in Universal Studios. Wait until dinner time to eat at the Leaky Cauldron, the lines will be significantly lower. Nothing changes, you get the same experience. You can even chug another butterbeer.
Ah speaking of, butterbeer comes frozen or cold. I prefer the cold, my siblings preferred the frozen. Try both and see which one is your favorite.
ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE SIDE
Hogwarts. If you’re still waiting for your letter, you won’t need to wait much longer. The best part of this side of the park is the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride inside the castle. That’s right, you read that right. Part of the ride is the line itself, taking you through different parts of Hogwarts. The line along with nteracting with students (aka the ride workers) before getting to fly with Harry is all part of the journey.
After riding that ride about three times, take some pictures by the castle. Grab more butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks or the Hog’s Head. If you’re just looking for butterbeer, go to the Hog’s Head, it’s set up like a bar and the lines are always shorter here. Sorry, you can’t find alcohol in the butterbeer here, but ask one of the workers for their favorite at home recipe. Before you get back on the Hogwarts Express, get a sweet tooth fixing at Honeydukes.
WHEN SHOULD I GO?
Now. Just kidding. I’ve been using Undercover Tourist’s Crowd Calendar for years. I use it for both Universal and Disney Parks. Check out the calendar and see when you’re thinking of going. If you’re locked in on a week, look at the crowd levels by park and plan your day that way.
Ideally, Summer and Spring Break will always be busy. Early January or October
It’s always better to have a