Taking The Hogwarts Express
Regardless of which Park you start in The Hogwarts Express will usually start running about 15- 30 minutes before actual Park open, so if you can be among the first on that train ride over to whichever park you didnt start in, it will put you ahead of the people who are coming in when that Park opens.
Both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are located far from the entrances of their respective Parks. So taking the train over early will put you ahead of those without Early Park Admission racing to the back even if you dont catch the first train ride of the day. Youll want to experience the train in both ways anyway so this is your first opportunity. Its a pretty short ride and is the only way you should be getting from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley.
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Hogsmeade: A History
The first slice of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was announced by Universal in May 2007, after author J.K. Rowling signed a deal to bring her popular book and film franchise to Islands of Adventure, the second theme park at Universal Orlando Resort. The new lands development and construction would be overseen by two Harry Potter movie franchise alumni Stuart Craig, the production designer of all eight installments, and Alan Gilmore, the art director for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire . Ground would break on the project that summer, with a scheduled opening date of late 2009.
The news could not have come at a better time for Universal between 2004 and 2007, attendance had been dropping at its resort, with many criticizing the company for not introducing new excitement after completing its Orlando expansion just a few years before . In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, the president of Universal Orlando, Bill Davis, stated that we think is going to have a huge impact on all our constituencies: our guests, our team members, our management team everybody. This is absolutely huge. Were just thrilled and excited we were selected for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The plans Ive seen look incredibly exciting, Rowling herself said in a prepared statement. I dont think fans of the books or films will be disappointed.
Warner Brothers Studio Tour In London
Although this isnt a theme park in a traditional sense of the word it is definitely worth mentioning. The tour of the studio is an amazing experience for any fan of the series.
The tour offers a unique look into the process of filming the movies. As the visitors walk around the studio they can see most of the sets used in the movies.
Most of them are also filled with different props and costumes from beloved characters. One of the most popular sets on the entire tour is The Great Hall, which always looks exactly as it does in the movies.
An interesting addition is a small souvenir you get once you actually get inside. The Harry Potter passport is a small booklet introducing the visitors to what theyll see ahead accompanied by interesting facts about the exhibits.
The tour also features a model of the Hogwarts castle which you can walk through a few times to make sure you got all the details. Another model feature on this tour is the Kings Cross train station completed with platform 9 3/4 and a perfect photo opportunity for any Potterhead, a wall with half of the luggage cart making you look like someone caught you right as you were rushing to catch Hogwarts Express.
Warner Bros Consumer Products Inc
Beginning in 1984, Warner Bros. Consumer Products was created by Dan Romanelli to license the rights of the Warner Bros. library to other companies to make merchandise. When the 1989 Tim BurtonBatman film was in production, that was when WBCP really became relevant. The merchandising campaign to promote the film, was the largest one in history to promote a feature film. Through WBCP licensing the rights to Batman, the studio made over $500 million through the merchandise alone.
In 1998, when Warner Bros. sold their 49% of Six Flags, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Inc. began licensing the characters of WB such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Batman and Superman for use in the parks.
Under Romanelli, Consumer Products oversaw the licensing of Warner Bros. properties, and Warner Bros. Studio Stores. Under Mr. Romanelli’s guidance, Warner Bros. Consumer Products had grown from a small licensing enterprise to a multi-business powerhouse that included Warner Bros. Worldwide Licensing, Inc., Warner Bros. Studio Stores, Inc., wbstore.com, Worldwide Publishing, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Inc., Kids’ WB! Music, WB Toys and the recently announced Live Events department.
Romanelli announced he was stepping down June 20, 2006. Brad Globe who joined Consumer Products in February 2005 as the Executive Vice President was appointed to replace him.
Best Overall: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Hogsmeade
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade is the most transportive of the Harry Potter worlds. The replica of Hogwarts Castle, along with the cobblestone, shop-lined streets, are brilliant. Plus, the dark ride Harry Potter and Forbidden Journey is a state-of-the-art indoor motion ride filled with high-flying fun.
Even if youre not a huge fan of Harry Potter, its hard to deny the sheer awesomeness of this immersive section of the park. So, grab a butterbeer and prepare to be impressed!
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The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Diagon Alley At Universal Studios Florida
Experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley as you walk the familiar streets of London, passing buskers, red telephone booths and Kings Cross Station. You will know youre close to Diagon Alley once you see the Knight Bus. Just pass through the brick archway and catch your first glimpse of this hidden magical marketplace.
Once inside, grab a cup of Butterbeer or Pumpkin Juice from iconic establishments like Leaky Cauldron, the Hopping Pot and other themed dining options, or even from a passing street vendor. Several Diagon Alley venues also have wizard-friendly eats.
Of course, its not the wizarding world without adventure, and youll find plenty of it at Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Keep a watchful eye on the roof of Gringotts Money Exchange while youre there, though the 60-foot Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon is known to breathe fire!
Next, its time to gear up on everything youll need to make your time at Hogwarts a success. Find the perfect wand at Ollivanders, get sized for your school uniform at Madam Malkins Robes for All Occasions, prepare for the big game at Quality Quidditch Supplies, or just stock up on side-splitting gags at Weasleys Wizard Wheezes, among other shopping opportunities. And if you have the nerve to brave Knockturn Alley, Borgin and Burkes is your source for Death Eater masks and other merchandise coveted by members of House Slytherin.
Orlando’s Only Official Website
Harry Potter World Opening Dates
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Islands of Adventure June 18th, 2010
Warner Brothers Studio Tour, London March 31st, 2012
Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando July 8th, 2014
Osaka, Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter April 7th, 2015
Hollywood, California The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood April 7th, 2016
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Beijing September 20th, 2021
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Freshwater West Beach In England
Remember that devastating scene where Harry, Ron, and Hermionie bury Dobby near the sea? Well, if you’d rather skip the busy London streets and hectic theme parks, try visiting Wales instead where you can see the beach where it was filmed. While the creaky old house is no longer there, the tides are a beautiful sight to see.
Diagon Alleys Best Spots To Sit Drink And People
Many guests flock to the Wizarding World to sample some of the delectable and completely exclusive culinary wares that have become the most famous in all of the theme-park world. But once you have your Butterbeer or your scoop of unique ice cream flavors from Florean Fortescues Ice-Cream Parlour, youll need a good spot to get out of the crush of people and to sit, relax, and enjoy your refreshments.
This is where the picturesque London waterfront area comes into play again sitting on a bench in front of the fountain and enjoying my cup of ice cream is one of my all-time favorite experiences to have at Universal Studios Florida. It doesnt even matter whether Im taking in all the Harry Potter details or facing the other way, looking out over the parks lagoon to enjoy all those sights.
Another must-do relaxation spot can be found right next to Gringotts Wizarding Bank , on the so-called stairway to nowhere. Although these steps were meant to be merely decorative and really do end without taking guests anywhere, they have become an open secret for being the optimal spot for people-watching or for polishing off that drink or bite, given their close proximity to all of Diagon Alleys food options.
My Top Universal Orlando Tips
So which park is right for you? Which park should you visit? Which is the best Universal park?
The truth is that theyre all different and all very much worth visiting! I cant pick a best or favorite , and chances are youre going to want to visit them all!
I would recommend at least 3 or 4 days to fully enjoy Universal Orlando, with at least one full day dedicated to Volcano Bay.
Here are some other tips for making the most out of your Universal Orlando experience:
Filchs Emporium Of Confiscated Goods
Take a peek inside this captivating grotto and youll see all kinds of weird and wonderful confiscated items from the world of wizards!
Youll also find movie prop replicas including Death Eater masks, character walking sticks and themed chess sets, as well as Hogwarts and Quidditch clothing and more.
This is also where you can purchase a photo of your experience on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
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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.
The Single Rider Line Is Your Friend
If you choose to forgo the Universal Express Pass and eschew the early arrival recommendation, theres another way to avoid long wait times: the single rider line. The single rider line is a great option if youre comfortable potentially separating from your park companions for the duration of the ride. That said, it might be worth waiting in the regular line for attractions like the Forbidden Journey to get the full castle experience the first time and then going single rider for repeat rides. The Child Swap system is also clutch for parents with little kiddos.
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Completion Of The Series
In December 2005, Rowling stated on her web site, “2006 will be the year when I write the final book in the Harry Potter series.” Updates then followed in her chronicling the progress of , with the release date of 21 July 2007. The book itself was finished on 11 January 2007 in the , Edinburgh, where she scrawled a message on the back of a bust of . It read: “J. K. Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room on 11 January 2007.”
Rowling herself has stated that the last chapter of the final book was completed “in something like 1990”. In June 2006, Rowling, on an appearance on the British talk show , announced that the chapter had been modified as one character “got a reprieve” and two others who previously survived the story had in fact been killed. On 28 March 2007, the cover art for the Bloomsbury Adult and Child versions and the Scholastic version were released.
In September 2012, Rowling mentioned in an interview that she might go back to make a “” of two of the existing Harry Potter books.
Take Advantage Of Early Park Admission
Guests who book a vacation package, stay at one of the Universal Resort on-site hotels, or have a Preferred or Premier Annual Pass have the opportunity to enter one of the parks an hour before scheduled park opening with Early Park Admission. During this time, you will be able to enter Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley and ride all of the rides except the Hogwarts Express. This time is incredibly valuable to maximize your time in the parks and experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions with shorter waits.
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The Making Of Harry Potter
In March 2011, Warner Bros. announced plans to build a tourist attraction in the United Kingdom to showcase the Harry Potter film series. The Making of Harry Potter is a behind-the-scenes walking tour featuring authentic sets, costumes and props from the film series. The attraction is located at , where all eight of the Harry Potter films were made. Warner Bros. constructed two new sound stages to house and showcase the famous sets from each of the British-made productions, following a £100 million investment. It opened to the public in March 2012.
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
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Early Admission Ticket At Universal Studios Orlando
Universal Studios Early Admission Ticket is the best way to get a head start on your day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You dont have to stay on-site for this perk, but if you choose to stay off-site, you will need to book your vacation including accommodations and tickets through a Universal Vacation Package. If youre an annual passholder with preferred or premier status, you get access to this benefit with your pass!
We have stayed offsite and onsite to utilize this benefit. And when we stayed offsite at a nearby partner hotel that was a 4-minute drive from Universal, it saved us hundreds of dollars while still getting early admission. You can find the early admission calendar here, to see which park is opening early, at what time on what days. Having this will make a HUGE difference in wait times whether you are arriving early or at Park opening. Depending on which season youre traveling in can make a difference in which Park will offer Early Admission so its very important that you check before you plan.
Hogsmeade Vs Diagon Alley: Based On The Food
To honest, the food doesnt make much of a difference from one Wizarding World to the next. In the Universal Hogsmeade vs Diagon Alley debate, dining wont be much of a factor.
At Universal Studios,you have the Leaky Cauldron the small pub and inn where Harry spent several weeks one summer. They offer traditional British fare plus kids meals .
Over at Islands of Adventures, you can dine at the charmingly decorated Three Broomsticks. The food offerings here are pretty similar, a little less British and with the addition of a couple of more American items .
The Verdict: Its a toss-up. Dont decide which Harry Potter park is better at Universal Studios based on the Harry Potter food!
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Arrive To The Park Early
Get there early. Like, before-it-opens early. Leave now if you can. Once the park opens, walk directly to the Harry Potter area without stopping for anything. I cant stress this Harry Potter theme park tip enough: If you want to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter without shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, you must arrive before everyone else does. Theres no other way.
With the Universal Express Pass, you can get onto virtually every ride in both parks in pretty short order. But Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley arent ridestheyre open areas with shops, restaurants, vendors, and all of the design details you dream about when you imagine your visit. So naturally they are quickly overwhelmed by the crowds.
Casting a successful spell in a virtually empty Diagon Alley is magical being 10th in line to perform the same trick is frustrating and a bit ludicrous.
When you arrive at the parks, go directly to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, wander around, take it all in, maybe browse the shopsenjoy the scenery and the atmosphere of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter before everyone else gets there. Then, once the rest of the world arrives, use your Express Pass to quickly hop on the various Harry Potter-themed rides.
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.
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