Harry Potter Land Shops Universal Orlando Florida Vs California
Double, double toil and trouble! Looking for a cauldron, magical creature or your very own wand from the famous Ollivander? Both Universal Studios Harry Potter Worlds offer a variety of shops to get all of your witch-y needs! But which shops are better California or Florida? Lets compare Wizarding World shops in Florida and California.
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.
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Universal Studios Orlando And Hollywood
Hogwarts may be in the UK in the Harry Potter universe, but the real Hogwarts Castle is located right here in the United States!
Soaring one hundred and fifty feet high but made to look much much higher, Hogwarts Castle in Universal Studios Florida is a full-scale replica of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter movies. Complete with turrets and towers including the famed Gryffindor common room, Hogwarts Castle charmed visitors to the park since 2010 when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened.
The castle, itself, though it looks like it, is not made of stone, but instead, like other theme park castles, has a steel frame while the base was made to look like weathered rock. Engineers even had to start over on the stone base of Hogwarts Castle when Warner Brothers, the studio who made the Harry Potter movies, ordered it changed as a preliminary version did not look real enough.
What To Know About The Hogsmeade Shops At The Harry Potter Orlando Theme Park
There arent nearly as many shopping locations in Hogsmeade as there are in Diagon Alley, but there are more than enough to meet all your wizarding needs.
Honeydukes sells many of the same treats found at Sugarplums Sweet Shop in Diagon Alley. If candy isnt your thing, go for the Butterbeer Fudge or Cauldron Cakes in the bakery case.
Ollivanders Wand Shop
To ensure there are enough wands to go around, there are Ollivanders locations in both of the Harry Potter lands at Universal Orlando. Both locations have stacks upon stacks of interactive and non-interactive wands, and both hold wand selection ceremonies throughout the day.
Dervish and Banges
Dervish and Banges is your home for Golden Snitches, brooms, and Hogwarts clothing and accessories. Dont forget to check out the real live textbook, The Monster Book of Monsters. Luckily, its in a cage because this book bites!
Filchs Emporium of Confiscated Goods
This is another good souvenir stop where youll also find authentic-looking replica props from the Harry Potter films.
In addition to letter-writing supplies, you can mail letters and postcards to your friends and family with a real Hogsmeade postmark.
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Plan A Hogwarts Orlando Feast For Your Family
No Harry Potter vacation is complete without a Hogwarts Feast with costumes. We hired a private chef and decided on the meal in advance so that I could print Hogwarts-style menus in advance.
Our meal featured a goat cheese and beet salad, mushroom risotto,filet mignon, popovers, and grilled broccolini.
Were foodies and have some very accomplished cooks in the family.To be truthful, the meal was fine, but we all decided that if we had each takenan item from the menu to prepare, the meal would have been much better. Insteadof hiring the chef, I would reach out to a catering company for a mealassistant to help serve the meal and take care of cleanup instead. .
Also, the Whole Foods in the Doctor Phillips neighborhood has areally excellent prepared foods department compared to all of our Whole Foodsstores at home. We supplemented the kids meals with rotisserie chicken andmacaroni and cheese, and I might look into having them cater next time.
Harry Potter World Orlando Hogsmeade
Here is where we are going to see our biggest difference between Florida vs California Harry Potter Worlds. While a lot of shopping is jammed into Hogsmeade in Hollywood, these shops are spread out a lot more in Orlando between the two parks. So if youre planning on only visiting Hogsmeade in Florida, you will miss out on some shops that are in Hollywoods Hogsmeade.
- Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment
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Go Inside All The Shops
Especially in Diagon Alley, make sure to allow enough time to explore all the shops.
Just like in J.K. Rowling’s version of the magical shopping street, you’ll find everything from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes joke shop to Madame Malkin’s robe shop to Florean Fortescues Ice-Cream Parlour to Quality Quidditch Supplies to Ollivander’s wand shop .
You can even shop for dark objects in Borgin and Burkes down Knockturn Alley.
Yes, most of the shops sell souvenirs and t-shirts instead of actual wizarding goods, but it’s still really fun to wander through them all anyway.
And keep an eye on the fake shop windows, too these are often animated in fun and magical ways.
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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Whats The Best Way To Do Harry Potter World
To get the most out of your visit to Harry Potter World, stay onsite at one of the Florida hotels at the Universal Orlando Resort.
There are eight Universal Orlando Resort Hotels: The Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Lowes Royal Pacific Resort, Lowes Sapphire Falls, Aventura Hotel, Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Surfside Inn and Suites, and Dockside Inn and Suites. Here are a few reasons it pays to stay on property.
Early Admission. Of all the Wizarding World of Harry Potter tips, this is the most important. Universal Studios Parks and Resorts guests are eligible to enter Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure an hour earlier than anyone else on select days.
Note that early admission is only for one park each day, so check to see which park has early admission the day you are going. And by early, we dont mean arrive when the park opens, we mean arrive 30 minutes to an hour earlier that the early entry time.
Why arrive so early? Guests are admitted to a holding area until the theme park gates open and then the attendants need to scan your tickets. Ticket scanning is quick, but if there are a lot of people, they can only scan tickets so fast and generally not all ticket booths are open. Plus, depending on who is working that day, they may allow guest in even earlier than the stated time
Tip: Universal hotel guests receive early admission on the day you check-in, as well as the day you check out.
Where Should We Stay When Visiting The Universal Resort
The Universal Resort has a number of great on-site hotels and each and every one of them have their own benefits, characteristics and price points.
There are multiple categories of hotels which are as follows:
- Premier Hotels and Resorts
- Prime Value Hotels and Resorts
- Value Hotels and Resorts
Our favorite hotel when staying on-site at Universal is the Hard Rock Hotel as its not only the closest to the parks , but has a great pool.
If you are planning on staying off-site, we recommend the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando Universal which is right across the street and is a short walk from Universals CityWalk .
Visit The Parks At Night
Lastly, early park entry is great, but there’s also something magical about visiting Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley after dark.
This won’t be possible every night , but be sure to check the opening hours of each park for every day of your trip to see if you can catch either of these parks after dark.
I promise it’s worth it!
You can read Stephen’s post about our weekend here.
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Tips For Enjoying A Harry Potter Christmas
- Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split between two Universal Orlando Resort parksUniversal Studios Florida and Universals Islands of Adventureand you should visit both to experience all of the holiday festivities.
- Visit both during the day and after dusk if possible. It is easier to see the wreaths and decoration details when it is light. Festive lights and the incredible projection on Hogwarts can only be seen after dusk.
- Special holiday songs are performed by the Frog Choir in Hogsmeade, and by Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees in Diagon Alley, throughout the day.
- The incredible Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle is shown repeatedly from dusk to closing. There is no set schedule, but the show starts every 20 minutes. If you see fireworks going off you know the next show is about 20 minutes away.
- The best place to see the projection show is in front of the Frog Choir stage or from the bridge between Hogsmeade and Jurassic Park. Both areas are likely to be crowded, but repeat shows should give folks a chance to find a good viewing spot.
- There are special holiday items on sale in the gift shop including pretty Christmas stockings and ornaments.
- In 2017, the Harry Potter Christmas fun runs from November 18 through January 6, 2018.
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The Harry Potter Costumes And Decorations
Because Villa Belle is modern, bright, and minimalist in itsdesign, it doesnt feel like a castle, even in the dark. So, we opted to createa table honoring the four schools of Hogwarts: Ravenclaw, Slytherin,Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor.
We asked everyone to pack a white, button-down shirt, and we foundbulk packages of school ties on Amazon for us to represent each of the fourHogwarts houses. The sorting hat told us a which Hogwarts House we belonged to.
We have some super fans in our family who already owned severalprops which they packed.
My daughter mocked me for saying this sentence out loud: MyTri-Wizard Cup doesnt fit in my suitcase!
Check out the Luxe Recess store at for all of the supplies and decorations we purchased.
Running Nightly Beginning Sept 18
ORLANDO, Fla. Beginning next week, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will once again take a darker side as the Dark Side At Hogwarts Castle show returns.
The theme park said Wednesday that the experience will run nightly beginning Sept. 18 in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade.
The show first debuted in 2019 and was an instant hit among Harry Potter fans.
Special effects and lightning illuminate Hogwarts Castle as sinister creatures and villains, like mountain trolls, dementors, death eaters, spiders and even the dark wizard, Lord Voldemort, cast their shadows and spells.
Guests will get a chance to take part in the new show by summoning their inner strength and bravery to face the dark arts and produce a Patronus spell. The charm is said to be one of the most famous, and difficult, defenses against the dark evils.
Watch the show below.
As darkness falls across the Wizarding World, guests will come face-to-face with Death Eaters, the devoted followers of Lord Voldemort, as they walk through the streets of Hogsmeade. Ominous green light and fog will permeate the Hogsmeade village, Universal leaders said.
Darks Arts at Hogwarts Castle will run nightly with showtimes from dusk until park close.
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Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is located within Hogwarts Castle and is one of the premier rides in the Wizarding World. This attraction is a dark-ride motion simulator where riders hop on flying broomstick and go on an adventure with Harry and Ron Weasley.
Along the way you will fly around Hogwarts Castle encountering a fire-breathing dragon and life-sized spiders, fly through a Quidditch match and evade the life draining dementors.
Endless Summer Tip: After your ride, ask a team member to take you on a Castle Tour. The tour is essentially a walk through of the queue line but the team member will point out a number of things from the Wizarding World that are typically not observed when waiting for the ride. Be on the lookout for the Sword of Gryffindor.
Check out our on-ride POV video of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
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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How Much Does This Cost
Youre probably assuming the place carries a hefty price tag. You can rent Wizards Way on Airbnb for $575 a night, which, if you go with 15 of your closest friends to fill all the rooms, comes out to around $35 per person. Of course, youll have the place to yourselves, and youre located a half-hour from Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Sure, many of us are still in the process of accepting that we havent gotten a letter from Hogwarts. But this is definitely the next-best thing to taking Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts classes in a magical castleand were pretty sure its cheaper, too. So head to Gringotts and inform them youd like to make a withdrawal, because for Potterheads, it doesnt get any better than this!
Where To Eat At The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
The Three Broomsticks. Of course, The Three Broomsticks is where wizards get traditional English fare at Hogsmeade . Meals at the Three Broomsticks arent large so dont expect to share. Tip: They have a back porch, which is kind of a secret and usually less crowded than inside.
Secret Tip: When its quiet at the Three Broomsticks, you might catch a house elf running around upstairs. Youll know because of his shadow and the pitter patter of him running.
Hogs Head Tavern. Adjacent to the Three Broomsticks is the Hogs Head Tavern where you can get a traditional American beer, as well as the famed wizard drink Butterbeer in regular or frozen. This can be a quicker option than the Three Broomsticks.
More Harry Potter Secrets: After all that butterbeer youll probably need to use the facilities. While there, listen for Moaning Myrtle, the ghost who haunts the girls bathroom at Hogwarts.
The Leaky Cauldron. This restaurant is located at Diagon Alley and the cool thing to note is the sign actually leaks. And once inside, look for keys hanging for guests.
Where To Buy The Must
You already know theres plenty of places to purchase wands, robes, sweets, and souvenirs in the Wizarding World, but if you want to be extra prepared you can purchase many of these items on Universals website before you even arrive at the Harry Potter theme parks.
You can also get them in your hotel, at the large souvenir stores at the entrance to both Universals Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, or at the Universal Studios Store at CityWalk. The biggest benefit to buying your merch outside of the park areas is that youll have more time to experience the rides and appreciate the attention to detail that went into making the areas feel like Harry Potters world. Window shopping and browsing is more fun than standing in line, anyway.