What Is A Universal Express Pass And How Do I Score Free Universal Express Passes
Another bonus to staying at the higher end Universal Orlando Resorts such as The Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, or Lowes Royal Pacific Resort is Free Universal Express unlimited ride access . Similar to a Disney Fast Pass, the Universal Express allows cardholders to skip the regular line and go in the shorter express line including some at Universal Studios Harry Potter land.
The Express Pass doesnt work on new attractions like Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, but it does work on the popular Forbidden Journey in Hogsmeade and Escape to Gringotts in Diagon Alley, as well as main attractions throughout both Universal Orlando Resort Theme Parks.
If purchased these park passes are $89 per person. Spend your money on one of the nice Universal Orlando hotels and get this perk free youll come out better in the end AND have a nicer experience.
Express Pass vs. Disney Fast Pass. Its important to note that Express passes arent EXACTLY like the Fast Pass at Walt Disney World. You will still wait in line, but the express line is generally half the time of the stated normal line wait time.
Engage with staff who often work in character. Find someone from your house and ask them to teach you the secret handshake.
How to beat the lines. If you dont want to spring for the nicer hotel or the Express Pass, its a must that you:1. Arrive early2. Research and come prepared with a theme park touring plan
How Many Days Do You Need To Plan At Harry Potter World
Another popular question we receive, is how many days should I plan at Harry Potter World? And as you can imagine there are so many amazing things to do in each section, you should give yourself at least two days to experience everything the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer. Thats not saying that you cant see a ton of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in one day, however we find the best way to see Harry Potter in Universal Studios is to not feel rushed. As even guests who purchase the Universal park-to-park ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express will want to ride the train twice as the attraction is different going both ways.
Two days at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will also allow families to enjoy some of the other experiences such as the Harry Potter interactive wands and also all of the fun themed shops. Taking your time will allow your family to take everything in and bring the magic of Wizarding World of Harry Potter home.
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Diagon Alley: A History
On the same day that Universal Studios Hollywoods Hogsmeade was revealed, Universal also announced that the Wizarding World in Orlando would be getting an expansion, although it would be nearly a year-and-a-half before it would finally clarify just what that expansion would entail: on May 8, 2013, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley was confirmed to be arriving at next-door Universal Studios Florida.
Much like Hogsmeade before it, Universal tried to keep everything as top-secret as possible, but nearly every major attraction, restaurant, and shop leaked out into the rumor mill months, if not years, before the company officially tipped its hand. This was primarily due to Diagon Alleys preliminary design work having started before even Hogsmeade was completed Stuart Craig, the movie seriess production designer, started sketching the layout of a Leaky Cauldron restaurant after he completed the blueprints for The Three Broomsticks, and Universal Creative began toying around with the idea of a real, live Hogwarts Express that would connect its two Orlando parks as far back as 2010.
When the announcement on December 2, 2011 was made that Amity, the home of the beloved Jaws ride, was going to be imminently shut down, it was received by the world at large as being the very first confirmation that Diagon Alley was, indeed, going to be inserted at Universal Studios.
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What Universal Park Is Best For Harry Potter
The first thing you need to know about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida is that it is at two different theme parks located right next to each other. Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios theme park and Hogsmeade is at Islands of Adventure. Visit both for a perfect Florida weekend getaway.
Both have incredible Harry Potter theming and offer slightly different experiences. Im just a tiny bit partial to Hogsmeade, but well talk about that later in the article.
Guests can ride the Hogwarts Express in between the two parks, which is more than just transportation its a ride in itself with a different experience each way.
However, to do this, you must have a ticket that allows you to visit both lands within a single day.
Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Tips For Diagon Alley
Diagon Alley is the newest of the Wizarding World parks. There is a large section of this area that has a glass roof, making it a perfect place to visit if its raining too. Wondering where to begin? Read on.
Ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. This is the only ride in Diagon Alley, and the line can be formidable, so get to the park early and ride this first.
Then go back through and enjoy the theming and details. The first thing that caught my eye were the enormous crystal chandeliers. It wasnt until my gaze dropped that I saw the goblins counting their money. Along the way we took an elevator down to the depths, eavesdropped on a conversation between Harry, Ron and Hermione, and passed the offices of Griphook and Ragnuk.
Harry Potter Secret Tip: Trade Chocolate Frog cards with staff at the retail locations.
Visit Ollivanders Wand Shops. You can go into the shop to pick a wand but we recommend taking in the wand ceremony too. During this short performance, Ollivander picks one person from the audience to choose a wand. Its a fun five-minute show where the chosen wizard tries out a few wands before finding the one. Remember, the wand chooses the wizard. The line can get very long, so if this is something you want to do, go here early. You can experience the wand ceremony at either Ollivanders location, the one at Hogsmeade or the one in Diagon Alley.
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What Is The Best Way To Do Harry Potter World
Everyone has their own way that they enjoy exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, however below are some of the best tips and tricks we have learned over the years to get the most out of your day. As youll see there is so much more to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter than just rides and having a solid game plan is key to seeing everything these two lands has to offer.
- Always use Early Park Admission
- Start out at Islands of Adventure over Universal Studios Florida if only visiting for one day
- Always start with Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Upgrade to the Park-to-Park ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express
- Be sure to ride the Hogwarts Express both ways
- Dont forget about the interactive wands
- Make sure you leave room for a Butter Beer
- Be sure to make a visit to Knockturn Alley in Diagon Alley
Does Harry Potter World Decorate For Christmas 2022
Yes! There are many different ways the Harry Potter World decorates for the holiday season. Here are just a few:
- Snow Capped Roof Tops Although this feature is year round, it really brings the Christmas feels when its lit by the warm glow of the twinkling Christmas lights.
- Garland Wrapped in Christmas Lights Harry Potter Christmas Lights wrap archways and shop windows, intermixed with beautiful evergreen garland to enhance the overall holiday feel of Hogsmeade. Pay special attention inside the different shops! The garland hanging above the shops have little details that match what is sold inside of the store.
- Hogwarts Castle Christmas Decor Christmas decor wouldnt be complete without cards over the fireplace, a beautiful tree, and Hogwarts house fanfare throughout the garland.
Make sure to explore all of the ride queues and shops to peer inside and take a peek at all of the hidden decor. Harry Potter World at Christmas is such a unique experience. Dont speed through this beautifully charming immersive land.
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Stay At Universal For Early Park Access
One of my biggest tips for visiting Universal Orlando is to stay at one of the park-associated hotels. There are seven of them the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, the Aventura Hotel, and the new Endless Summer Resort Surfside Inn and Suites.
Staying at any of these hotels will give you access to both Universal parks one hour before they officially open meaning this is the best way to see Diagon Alley without any people, or to get in line for the Gringotts ride when there’s no wait.
I love staying at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which is a funky, family-friendly hotel that opened in 2015. It has two pool areas, a lazy river, a Starbucks right inside the hotel, and a free shuttle bus to take you to CityWalk and back that operates from 7 a.m. 2 a.m. every day. And the prices are more than reasonable we paid an average of $125 per night.
Wizarding World Of Harry Potter With Toddlers
Best ride for your little children:
Flight of the Hippogriff: This is a family coaster fun for all ages. The Buckbeak animatronic is beautiful.
Hogwarts Express: Parents and children will love the laid-back immersive experience that takes you right into the pages of this magical world. It is a real-life recreated train with sophisticated special effects that transports you from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade.
Is Ollivanders In Hogsmeade
But the biggest souvenir, the one that is almost impossible to turn down, is a wand. Especially if the wand has chosen you! That means that youll probably want to visit the park that has Ollivanders Wand Shop. Lucky for you, there is an Ollivanders in each of the parks when comparing Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade! Although book purists may be quick to point out that, technically, Ollivanders is only located in Diagon Alley, youll find a wand shop at either park. So the Hogsmeade Diagon Alley debate wont be decided by a wand!
Other shops, however, do vary.
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.
Escape From Gringotts Locker Information
Another important note is you can not bring a bag onto the ride. You need to use the lockers located in an area to the right of Escape From Gringotts. Just like our experience in Hollywood, the locker area can be extremely confusing.
The lockers at Escape From Gringotts are different than those at Forbidden Journey. There are two locker sizes, small and large. The small lockers are provided at no charge, but the large lockers require payment.
To use the large lockers at Escape From Gringotts you scan your park ticket at one of the locker stations. You will be asked to pay the locker fee with a credit card. Once you have completed the payment a locker will open. Store your belongings and then lock the locker. After your ride, scan your same park ticket to unlock the locker. You can also use cash, but that requires adding payment to your ticket at a cash pay box in the locker area before starting the above process. Find more information about the locker system here.
Which Park Is Better: Diagon Alley Or Hogsmeade
If youre looking for Harry Potter rides, the Hogsmeade area in Islands of Adventure has three of them compared to just one ride at the Diagon Alley area in Universal Studios Florida . On the other hand, Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida has more shops and restaurants.
In the end, though, theyre both great and it probably comes down to personal preference. Do you have a favorite scene or location from the Harry Potter books? If so, you may find yourself drawn to one area more than another, but you should absolutely experience both parts of the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando.
Hogsmeade Restaurants At The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter In Orlando
Theres only one restaurant in Hogsmeade, but there are two Butterbeer carts and a pub, so you wont go thirsty.
The rustic charm of Three Broomsticks lends itself to hearty fare like beef pasties and rotisserie chicken, or go for the full Harry Potter world experience by ordering The Great Feasta family-style meal with all the fixins.
Located in the back of Three Broomsticks, Hogs Head serves Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, and alcoholic drinks, including the Hogs Head Brew thats only available in Hogsmeade at Universals Islands of Adventure.
There are two Butterbeer carts in Hogsmeade where you can get frozen or cold Butterbeer, water, and other Wizarding World beverages.
Hogsmeade Stores Harry Potter 2022
It is no surprise to anyone who regularly reads the blog that I love a store, but the stores in the Harry Potter areas are going to drive you crazy.
Despite liking stores, I am zero consumer and I don’t usually buy on impulse or anything, but I admit that in these stores it is quite easy to lose your head if you are a fan of the series.
Let’s see what stores are found there.
It is the Hogsmeade confectionery that in Portuguese books is called Dedosdemel.
If you have seen the film or read the books, you already know the amount of goodies that are mentioned there.
And in this store you will find many things like chocolate frogs, beans of all flavors , pumpkin juice, among others.
The prices are not the cheapest, especially the most classic items like chocolate frogs.
It’s pretty easy to get carried away and buy a bunch of stuff, but always check prices before you buy something.
For example, the box of beans of all flavors is much more expensive than the same candy sold in bulk at the store itself.
Dervishes & Bangs and Owl Post
These two stores connect from the inside and have some pretty cool stuff.
On the outside of the Owl Post is a howler that you can actually record your message to play every time it is opened.
These stores have very interesting things, like a monster book that snarls and shakes and brooms that move.
There you can also buy stationery, stamps, and even send a postcard with the Hogwarts stamp.
Shop at the exit of the castle attraction
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How Long Do Interactive Harry Potter Wands Last
A lot of parents will be asking this question, and the good news is that they have a pretty long shelf life. Since these wands are only interactive at the parks, they dont have a battery that will drain the moment you return home.
In fact, if you return to Hogwarts at another time and discover that your wand isnt working, the wand shop at Universal Orlando will be able to help you repair it.
Where To Buy Harry Potter Wands At Universal
Just like in the book and film, youll be able to purchase your first wand at Ollivanders Wand Shop in Diagon Alley. Guests will find a large selection of wands at this famous wizarding shop. There are two Ollivanders Wand Shops in Universal Orlando one on the Universal side and the other on the Islands of Adventure side. This is because guests who only purchase a ticket for one park and not the other, will not be able to experience the other side i.e. guests of Islands of Adventure will only be able to access Hogsmeade and everything that side of the park has to offer.
Guests who enter the theme park on the Universal Studios side will be able to access Diagon Alley by walking back and to the right. Look out for the Knight Bus, which is across the way from the entrance to Diagon Alley.
If you entered the park on the Islands of Adventure side, walk straight back and to your right to reach Hogsmede. If you have a park-to-park ticket and enter on the Islands of Adventure side, youll have to hop aboard the Hogwarts Express at the Hogsmeade station to get to Diagon Alley. The same applies if you enter the Universal side.
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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.
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