Book A Universal Orlando Vacation Package
The second way to get Early Park Admission is to book a Universal Orlando vacation package, which must include, at the very least, accommodations and theme-park tickets. As far as accommodations go, you can choose from over 20 Universal partner hotels, which tend to be mid-range and quite affordable. With such a broad selection, you should be able to find something to match your budget and style, so check out our guide to Universal vacation packages for more information.
We must emphasize that staying at a partner hotel alone is not enough to get EPA you must book a Universal Orlando vacation package, which includes both that hotel stay and park admission, to be granted the benefit. There are many third-party travel agents who can sell you a vacation package, in addition to going through Universals own website. However, if you arent booking directly with Universal, make sure you get an E-Travel Document that states your Early Park Admission eligibility.
Diagon Alley Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Attractions
So now that you have arrived you are probably wondering what are the best things to do at Harry Potter Universal Diagon Alley. As of right now, and besides the Hogwarts express there is only one ride, but it is amazing!
Harry Potter and the Escape of Gringotts: This one of a kind indoor rollercoaster is themed exactly like the Gringotts Wizarding bank found in the books and movies. Opening in 2014 it quickly became one of the most popular attractions in Universal Studios. On the downside because it is so popular it tends to have one of the longest wait times in the parks.
Thats why we recommend Early Park Admission to our clients so much! If you take advantage of entering the park one hour earlier than other guests you can ride Harry Potter and the Escape of Gringotts and save time later on in the day!
Be sure to check out our Universal Orlando tickets page to learn how we can help you get EARLY PARK ADMISSION without staying on Universal property!
Why Isnt The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter At Walt Disney World
Many people wonder why The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not at the nearby Disney World Resort. You may be interested to know that Disney and J.K. Rowling were in talks for a period of time to bring the boy wizard to Disney World however, Rowling demanded more creative control over the project than Disney was willing to give, and the company surprisingly wasnt willing to commit as much money and resources to the proposed land as Universal would end up bringing. Once their talks died out, Universal was more than happy to step in and agree to the authors terms, setting in motion a new era of development and success at Universal Orlando Resort .
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How To Get Early Admission To The Harry Potter World
Early park admission is essential to truly enjoying the Harry Potter World and its a perk offered to all guests staying at a hotel on Universal Property. So, if you book a night at the Hard Rock Hotel like we did , you can enter the park an hour earlier than general admission. This extra hour allows you to ride the major rides in Harry Potter World without huge lines and crowds. Everyone in our group found it convenient and worth the extra money. In fact, that extra hour is probably the sole reason that we were able to see so much of the park besides Harry Potter World. Additionally, the Hard Rock Hotel offered another sweet perk: Free* Universal Express Unlimited ride access to skip the regular lines at most popular attractions in Universal Studios Florida and Universals Islands of Adventure.
If you dont opt for Early Admission, budget an hour to two hours per queue for every ride you hope to experience . Once youre in Orlando, use this handy Crowd Calendar to figure out the best days to visit which parks in the area, as well as to determine if the Early Admission is for Diagon Alley in Universal or Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, or both . And super bonus is that you can use your Early Admission for a different perk each day, because it also gets you early access to Volcano Bay and its six rides. Truly, Early Admission and Express passes make it totally worth the expense of staying on Universal property.
Arrive Early To Have The Best Experience With The Interactive Wand Spots
Once you have your interactive wand from Ollivanders or Gregorovitch, open the box and youll find a map inside. The map marks the magical wand spots in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade where you can test your wizardry. Each spot is marked by a golden medallion on the ground that shows which direction to move your wand and what spell to recite.
There are also hidden wand spots you wont see on the map. To find them, ask a witch or wizard working in the area if they can point you in the right direction . Team Members can also give you a few pointers if youre having trouble casting spells. If even that doesnt work, your wand may be faulty and you can get a free repair at Ollivanders.
What you really need to know about the interactive wands and wand spots, though, is that they quickly become crowded and overwhelming on a busy day . If casting spells is tops on your kids list of activities , make it a priority to arrive early to the Harry Potter lands and get your spellcasting in before the crowds really fill in . Nothing will make your magical experience feel less magical than waiting in line to cast a spell, and unlike the Harry Potter rides, there are no Express Passes for the wand spots.
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Immerse Yourself In Potter Lore
Theme parks and park designers are fond of using some variation of the word “immersion” when describing their lands and attractions. Sometimes, it’s warranted often, the barely-there themeing makes their use of the word questionable at best and blatantly false at worst.
The folks from Universal parks and Warner Bros. films, however, clearly aspired to grand-scale immersion when they developed The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It is one of the most richly detailed, immersive environments ever presented at a theme park. By taking the art of storytelling to new and breathtaking levels, it reset the bar for park design when it debuted in 2010.
Inside Hogsmeade’s gates, nearly everything and everybody stay true to the Harry Potter mythology. There is no sunscreen for sale in any of the shops. Why would anyone in the snow-dappled village need SPF 30? Items that are for sale, including quidditch quaffles and exploding bonbons, are all actualizations of the fanciful things conjured by Potter author, J.K. Rowling. Both casual and ardent fans of her wildly popular books and the films they inspired will revel when they visit the park, and Rowling’s world comes to life around them.
Whats The Difference Between The Wizarding Worlds In Orlando And Hollywood
While just as magical, Universal Studios Hollywoods version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter only features the Hogsmeade area and is significantly smaller than the Harry Potter world in Orlando. Theres still plenty of shopping, you can dine at Three Broomsticks, get a drink at Hogs Head, and ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff at the Hollywood park, though.
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Additional Harry Potter World Travel Tips
- Wear a good sunscreen or you will burn in the Florida sunshine. Remember, even in cool weather the sun is strong.
- Frozen butterbeer tastes better than regular. If youre only buying one, go with frozen.
- All of the merchandise inside of the Harry Potter souvenir shops is available at other shops in the parkdont stand in the 30+ min lines just to walk into the souvenir shop. That said, you will have to wait in line if you want to see the wand selecting ceremony, thats only available at Ollivanders.
Check Height Requirements Beforehand
There are only a handful of actual Harry Potter theme park rides, but they are all pretty wonderful. Just be sure to check height requirements before you get in line . Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journeys height requirement is 48 inches Flight of the Hippogriff is 36 inches Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is 42 inches. There is no minimum height requirement for the Hogwarts Express.
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Splurge On The Universal Express Pass If You Can
The Universal Express Pass works on every ride in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter except Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. It can be pricey if you have a large party or are visiting for multiple days, but since its included with Universal Premier hotels, you might actually save money by staying at one of Universals high-end properties.
At any attraction that accepts Universal Express, you simply show your ticket to the attendant and they will direct you through a separate line for Express passholders. Because theyll need to scan your ticket, make sure you dont leave it behind with your other belongings on rides that require you to store your belongings in a locker.
You Might Miss The Hidden Entrance To Knockturn Alley
As it is in the books, Knockturn Alley is a bit more seedy and mysterious than the bright and bustling Diagon Alley. Its also easy to miss. The entrance marked only by a small sign on the wall is through an archway next to the Leaky Cauldron.
As you step into the dimly lit corridor, you may worry youve taken a wrong turn, but the shadowy world of Knockturn Alley will soon reveal its secrets. Once inside, youll find spots to cast wand spells, decrepit decor, and dark arts supplier, Borgin and Burkes.
The shop carries Death Eater masks, skeletons of various worldly and otherworldly creatures, and plenty of Azkaban and Deathly Hallows merch. Even if you dont intend to purchase any sinister souvenirs, its worth stopping in for the atmosphere alone.
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Rumors And Official Announcement
In January 2007, About.com reported a rumor from a “highly credible source” that the Lost Continent area within Universal’s Islands of Adventure park was to be re-themed “to the stories and characters of one of the most popular children’s franchises”. Other sources followed up in the next few days with unofficial confirmation the new area would involve Harry Potter, and was being developed under the name “Project Strong Arm” in reference to the KUKA robotic arm technology it would utilise.Nikki Finke reported her own confirmation of the Potter park plans in April, followed shortly by a story in The Scotsman both reports were widely relayed by other media sources. On May 31, 2007, Universal officially announced the 20-acre addition recreating Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade, with a planned opening in 2009.
Shop The Shops At The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
We loved Weasleys Wizard Wheezes of course! And if youre in need of a wand you can visit Ollivanders for the wand ceremony. Theres a shop in both locations- and I recommend you start this early as well. The lines to perform spells can get pretty long. So if youre planning to buy a wand, do it early to get ahead of the game. If youre not interested in seeing the wand ceremony , you can also buy a wand from various carts throughout the Wizarding World.
While in Diagon Alley, be sure to visit all of our favorite places.
- Gringotts Money Exchange
- Florean Fortescues for some ice cream
- Get critiqued by a very judgemental mirror at Madam Malkins
- Stop by The Fountain of Fair Fortune for Butterbeer
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The Shops At Islands Of Adventures
- Honeydukes: Exploding BonBons, Chocolate Frogs, and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans
- Dervish & Banges: magical items, broomsticks, and your Hogwarts uniform
- Filchs Emporium of Confiscated Goods: treasures seized by the surly caretaker, plus more
- Owl Post: writing equipment and a place to mail letters with a Hogsmeade postmark
What’s To Eat And Drink
The Three Broomsticks tavern offers Potter-specific fare such as Cornish Pasties and strawberry and peanut butter ice cream. Conventional grub, such as fish and chips, is also available. The food is quite good.
The Hog’s Head bar as well as outdoor carts feature butterbeer , which has traces of shortbread and butterscotch and is wildly addictive , pumpkin juice, and “real” alcoholic beverages. Discover other places to eat at the resort in our feature, best Universal Orlando dining.
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Universals Superstar Character Breakfast
Start your day at Universal Studios® with an unforgettable breakfast featuring the stars of Universals Superstar Parade. Join Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes, and the mischievous Minions from Despicable Me Nickelodeons Dora & Diego, SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick E.B. from the film Hop and more as you enjoy a delicious breakfast.
Which Harry Potter Park Should I Go To First
For the most authentic Harry Potter experience, head to Diagon Alley at Universal Studios firstjust like Harry did in the first book. Its a great gateway into the Wizarding World, and you can stock up on all your souvenirs and wizarding supplies at the lands many shops. Then, head to Hogsmeade for your first awe-inspiring view of Hogwarts Castle .
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You Dont Have To Buy Your Interactive Wand At The Park
If youve always dreamed of wandering into Ollivanders and letting your wand choose youthen by all means buy the wand at Universal Studios. You wont be disappointed with the attention to detail inside the wand shop. But if you do go this route, arrive early, go straight to Ollivanders Wand Shop or Dervish and Banges and make your purchase before the line begins to stretch outside the store.
If youre more interested in casting spells with your wand than the experience of purchasing it, do yourself a favor and buy the wand literally anywhere else. Theres a Universal Studios gift shop at the Orlando airport and in all the Universal hotels. You can even buy it online before you arrive.
Youre going to spend upwards of $50 per wand no matter where you get it. Dont stand in line if you dont have to. This applies to nearly all of the merchandise you can find in the park.
Can You Do Both Harry Potter Parks In One Day
You can do both Wizarding World of Harry Potter worlds into one day but it would leave little time for other attractions within Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure. However, if you get a 2- day park to park ticket use one day with Harry & friends and the other seeing the rest of the attractions.
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Visiting The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter In Orlando
At Universal Orlando, you can don your best dress robes and visit two unique places in the wizarding world: Hogsmeade at Universals Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. While wannabe witches and wizards can walk the hallowed halls of Hogwarts at other Universal Studios theme parks throughout the world including Hollywood, Japan, and the forthcoming location in Beijing, Universal Orlando is currently the only place where Muggles can wander the crooked cobblestone streets of Diagon Alley.
If I Use Early Park Admission Do I Still Have To Get To The Park Early
Yes, we cant stress this enough! In the case of Diagon Alley, and with the intention of riding Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, we recommend that you get to the turnstiles at least 30 minutes before Early Park Admission starts. Universal occasionally begins to let guests into the park a little before the official opening time, and you dont want to be at the back of the pack, especially if youre trying to hit a headliner first thing.
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Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey takes riders on a floating tour through Hogwarts. As it was originally the flagship ride of the Wizarding World, it pulls out all the stops. You see a dragon destroy the observatory, get whomped by the Whomping Willow, escape dementors, and interrupt a quidditch match. The ride uses a fascinating and unique system, as explained by the YouTube channel Amusement Labs. Riders sit on enchanted benches, which are actually attached to KUKA arms robots that are more usually employed building cars. A KUKA arm can move in any direction, which gives Forbidden Journey a range of movement unseen in previous dark rides. The ride uses sets and screens, with mini IMAX domes surrounding the rider while the vehicle transitions from set to set.
Fans love Forbidden Journey. “The queue is much more immersive, I love to listen to the portraits,” wrote reddit user tealcandtrip. The queue takes you through many parts of Hogwarts Castle: the conservatory, Gryffindor common room, moving portrait gallery, Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and Dumbledore’s office. Holograms of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Michael Gambon all welcome you to the castle. Unlike Gringotts, this ride was able to snag Watson and Radcliffe to reprise their roles, giving the ride a definite edge.