Ultimate Guide To Visiting The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is an experience thats truly hard to describe. Whether you are a die-hard devotee of the Harry Potter books and movies or just a casual fan, you are bound to have an amazing time. The Harry Potter area of the parks is so immersive that you will really feel like youre a wizard at Hogwarts!
Here is everything you need to know about visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter so you can have an amazing and magical experience:
Insider Family Tips For The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter At Universal Studios Florida
- The Universal Studios App has a great map and wait times for the rides. Id highly recommend downloading before you start your day.
- Dont bother bringing a camera. You will just have to lock in in the lockers when you get on any of the rides.
- If you plan on buying a wand with magic do it early so you can search for the magic. Maybe even purchase it at the hotel before arriving at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
- You will need transportation. We found Silvercar car rental an easy seamless hassle-free experience.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is best suited for those old enough to have read some of the books. And, it seemed to have a happening night-time environment ideal for teens and above. For those with younger kids, you might want to head over to Toy Story Land at Disney World instead.
There are many other fun things to do in Orlando. So, be sure to take time to enjoy the fun outside of the theme parks too.
Go Early And Stay Late
If you cant stay at a Universal property or book a partner hotel vacation package, plan on getting to Universal Orlando early and staying late. Given the cozy nature of its shops and attractions, it doesnt take very many people for Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley to start to feel pretty packed. To beat the crowds, its best to go to the parks during the non-peak times, which are first thing in the morning and just before closing .
Its possible that, on a very busy day, both morning and evening will still be crowded, but these remain the optimal times on a day like this, midday would be very crowded, and the lands might even close for capacity.
Keep in mind that we strongly recommend to plan on going first thing in the morning and againlate in the evening The Wizarding World of Harry Potter lights up at night, and its spectacular.
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Harry Potter World Orlando Tickets
Compared to Disney, one can organize a trip to Universal more spontaneously. They do not have a ride reservation system. The downside is that a day to visit Harry Potter costs much more than a day at Disney.
The Harry Potter rides and experiences are split between UniversalStudios and Universal Islands of Adventure. One has to buy a two-park ticket inorder to see it all, and one of the best experiences is theirHogwarts Express train ride that connects both parks. Ill cover more about therides in each park below.
Additionally, the Universal Express pass is a must that you canbuy at the ticket window. .
I took advantage of an official Universal ticket wholesaler, Best of Orlando, because there was a special that took $20 off per ticket. Considering a two-park ticket at Universal is over $200 per person, the discounts add up when there are 14 in your party!
Which Ticket Should You Get
I always do the one-day park-to-park ticket when I go to Universal, because I like to visit both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and ride the Hogwarts Express train between the two.
Ive only ever spent one day at a time at Universal, because I spend the majority of my trips to Orlando at Disney World. But the BEST deal you can get is buying multi-day tickets. For both park-to-park and one-park tickets, the tickets get cheaper as you add more days.
Whichever option you choose, just remember that you need a park-to-park ticket if you want to ride the Hogwarts Express at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
I think one day is enough to thoroughly explore all of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, along with hitting the highlights of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. But if you can spare the extra time and money, then going for more days is definitely worth it and will give you more time to enjoy yourself and soak everything in.
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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.
Transportation To Harry Potter World
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Staying on the resort allows you to easily get transportation to all the parks without having to drive your car, park it, and commute to the park. It is so nice to walk right out of your hotel room and jump on a bus.
Once you get off the bus at the parks, there is an escalator going up, and then moving walkways. The moving walkways went a long way, and you can look out in both directions as the sides were not enclosed. It helped build up the anticipation for us!
There are also water taxis that run starting 30 minutes before the early hours start.
If you want to drive, parking starts at $25 but is free after 6:00 pm except during Halloween time.
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Best Universal Orlando Hotels For Using Hotel Points
On-site Universal hotels are a good bet for some families, but others may prefer to stay off-site for reasons like sticking to a tight budget. You can often score terrific cash prices for accommodations near Universal, especially if youre traveling during the offseason. But if you’d rather save that cash, you can also redeem traditional hotel points or free night award certificates.
Related: Hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night
If you select a Universal Partner Hotel, you can stay off-property but still enjoy some Universal perks. Some partner hotels offer free transportation to Universal theme parks, plus discounts on some park merchandise and food and nonalcoholic beverages at select venues in the parks and at CityWalk. Well note below if a property on this list is a Universal Partner Hotel.
Here are some of our favorite points-friendly hotels near Universal Orlando. Keep in mind that if you want a more complete resort hotel experience, there are plenty of those in Orlando. We chose to focus on the hotels closest to Univeral that are a little more limited in service offerings.
Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
Magic comes to life at Universals Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Step inside Harrys world, where you can explore mysterious Hogwarts Castle, cute Hogsmeade village and bustling Diagon Alley. How do you get between these wizarding places? The Hogwarts Express, of course! Pick up your ticket and head down to platform 9¾ to start your adventure!
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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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Guide To The Harry Potter Rides In Diagon Alley
Theres only one ride in Diagon Alley, and it sits just below that fire breathing dragon inside Gringotts Bank. But what a ride it is!
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
The concept for this Harry Potter ride is that youre there to take a tour of Gringotts, but, as so often happens on theme park rides, things go awry. Thanks to ride vehicles that can tilt and spin, 3-D glasses, and other special effects, this Harry Potter ride is a step up from your everyday coaster. The minimum ride height is 42, but there is a child swap room where one parent can wait with anyone who is too young or doesnt want to ride.
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Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
From the on-site bowling alley to the impeccably done midcentury modern beach theme, Cabana Bay Beach Resort strikes a sweet note that balances the overall experience with more value-oriented pricing.
You can make solid use of your downtime while staying here by enjoying activities like evening campfires and midday zips down the property’s waterslide.
While your only option to get to the main theme parks will be a shuttle bus or an approximately 20-minute walk, you’ll likely pay a couple of hundred dollars less per night than you’d spend at some of the pricier Universal Orlando resorts, so that may be a fine trade.
Try The Fun Treats But Theyre Not All Great
The most exciting part of Harry Potter World, for me, is all of the fun wizarding treats
I made it my personal mission to try as many of the treats as possible, and many were very good! However, some were also super disappointing.
But as a quick preview:
- Definitely have lunch at the Leaky Cauldron or the Three Broomsticks
- Have butterbeer ice cream from Florean Fortescues Ice-Cream Parlour
- Drink butterbeer at the Hogshead
- Have a Fizzy Orange Juice at the Hopping Pot
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Other Tips For The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
1. Check theme park hours before you go. Sometimes Universal Studios will open an hour earlier than Islands of Adventure or vice versa. The parks also close at wildly varying hours depending on the day/season. You can see current theme park hours here.
2. Arrive early at the park. I am a firm advocate for showing up at theme parks right when they open. It will be the only time of day youll have the chance to ride one or two rides without absolutely no wait.
3. Dont miss Knockturn Alley. In bustling Diagon Alley, dont miss the almost-hidden entrance to Knockturn Alley, where wizards who practice the Dark Arts go to do their shopping. This dark alleyway is a great place to walk through to cool off on a hot day. And dont forget to check out the creepy Borgin and Burkes shop!
4. Ride the Hogwarts Express both ways. The storyline changes depending on which way youre going so its worth riding the train twice to experience it both ways.
5. Call the Ministry of Magic. If you stop in the red phone booth outside Kings Cross Station, you can dial MAGIC and reach the Ministry of Magic!
6. Buy an interactive magic wand. While the interactive wands for sale at Ollivanders are pricy theyre well worth it because you can take them around the park and perform magic spells at designated interactive spots. This is the perfect souvenir for younger kids who will be delighted by the magic they can create!
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.
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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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Visit For At Least Two Days
While it is possible to see both sections of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in just one day, it will feel a little rushed especially if you want to go on all the rides.
Because of this, I recommend spending at least two days at the park. Personally, I think two days is the perfect amount of time, but someone who loves going on rides will probably enjoy spending 3+ days between the parks.
Early Entrance To The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
This benefit is so worth it! Especially, if you are going during a really busy time of year.
We really wanted to do the Ollivanders Wand Shop first thing and getting to the park early was great because our daughter was chosen to be the one who got to get a wand. Also, riding the rides before the lines get long is amazing!
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Sleep Inside The Hogwarts Express At Villa Belle
Villa Belle is different. It is the passion project of a couple who purchased the home to enjoy their own large family gatherings with siblings, nieces, and nephews all in one place. It was not mass designed like the other Orlando vacation homes near Disney.
The owners created Villa Belle to enjoy for themselves and their family. As a result, nothing has taken the path of least expense. Its appointed with luxurious bedding, a kitchen stocked with real cookware, and beautiful art hung on the walls.
The owners welcome guests with a Hogwarts letter and a stunning trayof Harry Potter themed cookies.
While Villa Belle is named after every Gen Xers favorite Disney princesswith its Belle themed room on the second floor, Harry Potter is the true loveof these owners.
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To cut to the chase, there is a life-sized, custom made Hogwarts Express train with beautiful woodworking and six bunk beds located within a spectacular Harry Potter themed bedroom on the third floor.
Each of the six beds showcased Pottery Barn Harry Potter bedding and pillows, and a television with headset was at the foot of each bed, too.
Statues of Harry and Dobby greet you once you pass through a revolvingdoor that mimics Platform 9 3/4. The Womping Willow, dragons, Aragog, and theblue Weasley car complete the room. Dumbledores portrait hangs above thetoilet adorned with directions to the Ministry of Magic.
More Details On Where To Stay For Your Visit To The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
Adding another hotel night is expensive. One night at the Royal Pacific will cost you, including tax, $250 to more than $375, depending on the price season and any discounts you can find. Rooms at Cabana Bay are much less expensive
However, doing so grants you unique early access privileges to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, letting you in to the park as much as an hour before everyone else. This can save you hours of waiting.
Universal has given remarkable free early access and front of the line privileges to guests staying in one of the three Universal deluxe hotels the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, and the Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Guests at Cabana Bay get free early access but dont get front of the line passes.
This set of privileges, the Universal Express Program for Universal resort guests, allows Universal deluxe hotel guests to move to the front of almost every rides waiting line as many times as they wish, beginning as soon as the parks open.
However, you can use this privilege neither to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, nor to go to the front of the line of its rides.
For these, you use your privilege of early entry insteadyou will be able to enter the park up to an hour before non-hotel guests can.
All in, the best way to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, if you can at all afford it, is to book a night at the Royal Pacific or Cabana Bay
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Don’t Make It All About The Rides
Yes, the rides are wonderful, but it’s the mind-blowing attention to detail that really makes the Wizarding World a beloved place for Potter fans. Two amazing details not to overlook:
- People really disappear through Platform 9 3/4. If you’re taking the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station, it’s easy to miss one of the coolest special effects if you don’t know where to look. Stand a bit back from the entrance to the tunnel leading to the train. The people in line ahead will appear to pass through a solid brick wall to Platform 9 3/4. Note: you can’t see the effect as you walk through the tunnel, but those in line behind you will see it.
- There’s a magic phone booth outside the train station. The red phone box outside of King’s Cross Station makes for a great photo op, but few tourists will actually try to use the phone. If you dial MAGIC , you’ll be patched through to the Ministry of Magic.