Hidden Gems Of The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Hogsmeade
Weve gone through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley, stopping at and admiring the four hidden gems located there. That means its time to hop aboard the Hogwarts Express and take another tour of the under-appreciated elements, this time over at the first Potter-themed land, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade.
While this sleepy Scottish village isnt anywhere near as teeming with the kinetic energy or the sheer number of Easter eggs as its Universal Studios Florida counterpart is, it nonetheless has a pervasively charming aesthetic and more than its fair share of little magical touches and overlooked spots. This is my list of the four best that is to say, the ones that I think will make the biggest difference or have the biggest impact on your next vacation.
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.
Exchange Money At Gringotts
You’ll find Gringotts in Diagon Alley , but the Gringotts building itself is home to a ride. Not far away, though, you’ll find the Gringotts Money Exchange, where you can exchange your Muggle money for Gringotts bank notes.
I was slightly disappointed that you don’t get handed a bag full of galleons, but it was fun nonetheless, especially since there’s a goblin inside to interact with .
And don’t worry, this isn’t something you spend any money on. You actually exchange money for Gringotts money, and you can use the Gringotts money just about everywhere within the Universal parks.
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Top Things To Do At Hogsmeade
- Ride the Hogwarts Express# between both lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Taste Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice: Head to the Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head pub to sample some iconic wizarding food and drinks!
- Send a letter from the Owl Post and get it stamped with the Hogsmeade postmark!
- Stock up on Hogwarts school supplies and magic sweets at the shops in Hogsmeade village
- See a wand choose its wizard at Ollivanders wand shop
If youre planning on visiting both parks, its a good idea to ride the Hogwarts Express as its the best way to stay immersed in the magic as you travel between King’s Cross Station in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade Station in Universals Islands of Adventure.
And as the sun begins to set, its recommended you make your way back to Hogsmeade to watch The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle.
Dont forget the train journeys are different depending which way youre travelling, so make sure you also take the train both ways!
Insider Tip: Get Early Park Admission!
If youre staying at a Universal Orlando hotel youll get the added bonus of EARLY PARK ADMISSION* to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or Universals Volcano Bay.
Breeze into the Parks before regular guests every morning and enjoy more ride time, more free time and more family time every day of your holiday!
Buy An Interactive Wand
Don’t think this one is just for kids! If you’re going to go to Ollivander’s to get a wand of your own, be sure to get the interactive version!
Throughout both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, there are interactive shop windows, fountains, and statues where you can wave your wand and bring something to life.
It was so fun to watch faces of both kids AND adults light up when they made something move or made a fountain spring to life with the correct flick of a wand.
I didn’t know about this feature of the parks before arriving the first time , but thought it was genius and a fantastic way to make people feel like they were really part of the magical world.
Once I got a wand of my own, it only made the Harry Potter parks feel more magical. I had so much fun following my map to all the spots where I could cast a spell and cause it to rain or make a feather float. So. Much. FUN.
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Other Things To Do In Hogsmeade
Tri-wizard Spirit Rally and the Frog Choir: These 10-minute shows are performed outside on a stage between the village and castle.
Nighttime Lights: If hours permit, we highly recommend visiting Universal Studios Orlando Harry Potter Hogsmeade at night to see all the lights. Depending on the season, Hogwarts Castle can be lit up with incredible projection light images that may highlight the different houses of the school or the season of the year.
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley
If you are staying at any of the on-site Universal hotels, you can get into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour earlier than general admission.
Which park opens early varies by day and sometimes both parks open early. The front desk agent should give you this information at check-in or you can check the Universal Orlando website for the most up-to-date information.
No matter which park is opening early, plan to arrive at the front gates at least 15 30 minutes before the Early Park Admission opening time. Its the only way to beat the crowds and make the most of your extra time.
Only certain attractions open during Early Park Admission, but this typically includes all of the Wizarding World attractions. The ones you will most likely want to knock out are Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios Florida.
For Hagrids, head to Islands of Adventure, take a right after passing through Port of Entry and head toward Seuss Landing. Universal team members will be on hand to scan your hotel keycard and allow you to go deeper into the park. Continue through Seuss Landing to The Lost Continent and you should see team members directing you toward the start of the line for Hagrids.
Be careful not to overshoot and walk past the somewhat hidden entrance to Diagon Alley. When you see an opening in a brick wall, you know youve found it.
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Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts
Once youve entered Diagon Alley, walk straight to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts indoor steel roller coaster ride. You cant miss it its the building with the fire-breathing dragon perched on the roof.
Tip: Find any wizard or witch working in Diagon Alley and ask when the dragon will breathe fire next. The schedule is sporadic so asking is your best bet. Also, when you hear a low growl, thats your signal that this Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon is about to spew some fire.
There are free and paid lockers to the right of the line so you can stash your belongings before the ride.
Children must be 42 inches to ride be sure your party meets that requirement so you dont get to the head of the line only to be turned away. There is also a child swap room where parents can take turns alternating riding or waiting with kiddos not tall enough to ride.
There is also a test seat in front of the building where you can confirm whether or not the seating configuration will work for your body style.
Wait times can get long for this ride, but it does have an Express Pass line throughout most of the day. Theres also a lot to look at while in line since youll snake through the Gringotts bank lobby and see a multitude of goblins at work. The four chandeliers that hang inside the banks lobby are made up of 62,000 individual crystals.
There is a photo opportunity in the line as you pass through Gringotts security. You can purchase the photo after the ride if youd like .
Ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
The other most important thing to do in Hogsmeade is check out the newest attraction Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. This thing opened in 2019 and is not just the best attraction at all of Wizarding World, it’s one of the best theme park attractions anywhere. State of the art technology allows you to hop on Hagrid’s motorbike to take a trip through the Forbidden Forest. What follows is part roller coaster, part dark ride, and all immersive.
The roller coaster portion of Hagrid’s is thrilling but not too terrifying, and you’ll be amazed with how smoothly the ride comes to a halt to take a gander at state-of-the-art animatronics of Hagrid and various creatures. Surprises ensue and you never quite know what’s next, but the entire thing is an absolute blast. But be prepared to check this one out as quickly as you can, because the lines are long.
Speaking of, the queue for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is pretty engaging in and of itself. You’ll get to explore a hidden and dilapidated building deep in the Forbidden Forest where Hagrid has been hanging out. Keep an eye out for plenty of Harry Potter Easter Eggs along the way.
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Where To Buy Universal Tickets
You can purchase your tickets directly from Universal. Alternatively, you can buy from well-respected third-party vendors like Undercover Tourist. This can be an especially good idea right after a ticket price hike. Often, Undercover Tourist will have some tickets left over at the lower price for a few days or weeks after a ticket price increase.
Additionally, ticket purchases from Undercover Tourist typically code as travel for the purposes of earning or redeeming credit card points. Bookmark that site and comparison shop whenever you are buying tickets for Universal or other theme parks like Walt Disney World.
Flight Of The Hippogriff
This kid-friendly rollercoaster takes guests on a short and quick ride in a Hippogriff shaped vehicle. The coaster dips and swirls around a pumpkin patch near Hagrids hut just outside Hogwarts Castle. This is a great first coaster for younger guests and also offers a few great views of Hogwarts as it zooms around the track. Guests must be 36 or taller to ride, those under 48 must have a supervising companion. Eligible for Universal Express Pass.
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Sit A Spell At The Three Broomstickss Back Patio
In times past, the back patio hidden behind The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeades restaurant was something of a secret, a secluded and relatively quiet place where you could contentedly eat your food or just enjoy the sweeping view from across Islands of Adventures lagoon.
Today, this little slice of tranquility has been a bit subsumed by the sheer commotion that has been steadily descending upon the theme park. During the day, a number of riders waiting for their virtual-line return time for Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure tend to park it in this little area, while at night, some viewers use it to watch the Hogwarts Castle projection-mapping show . And then theres Jurassic World VelociCoaster, the mammoth roller coaster whose track nearly butts right up against the spots railing, requiring the installation of some greenery to try and mask its presence .
Still, even with the comparative congestion, the back patio of Three Broomsticks is a not-to-be-missed oasis, a great little spot to collect your breath, enjoy your Butterbeer , and soak up a little peace in the busy Wizarding World.
Hogwarts Express Kings Cross Station
When youve thoroughly explored Diagon Alley and the streets of Harry Potters London, its time to make your way to Kings Cross Station, where youll board the Hogwarts Express and ride the train to Hogsmeade. Remember: You can only ride the Hogwarts Express if you have a Park-to-Park ticket. If youve got one-day, one-park tickets, there is no way to experience this attraction.
The wait queue is convincing and it appears as if you are waiting for a train in London. Pay attention to everything as you near the train platform. A neat mirror trick makes it look like you burst through a brick wall to reappear unharmed on Platform 9 3/4. The train whistle builds excitement, and when you see steam escaping from the locomotive, youll know youre almost ready to board.
Eight passengers are loaded onto each car and it truly looks as if youre departing London on your way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The rides spectacle takes place on the train windows. Be prepared to see some Dementors on the four-minute trip to Hogsmeade. The show is slightly different on the return trip, so be sure you ride it both ways.
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Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to Hogwarts for their second year, but a mysterious chamber, hidden in the school, is opened leaving students and ghosts petrified by an unknown agent. They must solve the mystery of the chamber, and discover its entrance to find and defeat the true culprit.
Columbus and Kloves returned as director, and screenwriter for the film adaptation of Chamber of Secrets. Just three days after the wide release of the first film, production began on 19 November 2001 in Surrey, England, with filming continuing on location on the Isle of Man and at several other locations in Great Britain. Leavesden Film Studios in London made several scenes for Hogwarts. Principal photography concluded in the summer of 2002. The film spent until early October in post-production. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets premiered in the United Kingdom on 3 November 2002 before its wide release on 15 November, one year after the Philosopher’s Stone.
The Good The Bad And The Ugly
I’m happy to say that I finally had the opportunity to visit both Harry Potter Worlds at the Universal Studios parks in Orlando. Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are the locations from the books that have their own worlds for visitors to explore. Unfortunately, I visited during spring break, which is usually an amusement park’s busiest time of the year. Ultimately, I was able to experience the parks at very different timesduring the day when there were a lot of visitors and during the evening when things had slowed down a bit. My takeaway: as with all attractions, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has some things that are good, some bad, and some downright ugly.
Filchs Emporium Of Confiscated Goods
As one of the only Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade shops that also serves as an exit to a ride, youll find some of the more unique and darker-themed merchandise in this shop. The items in this shop definitely appeal to the teens and adults in your group with items like golden snitches, sorting hats, and references to Azkaban and the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
Harry Potter Park Grand Opening
The grand opening celebrations for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter park went on for literally weeks! Soft openings, VIP events, and the official grand opening day consumed the park for the better part of a month. We were very fortunate to have attended many of the soft opening days, one of the VIP grand opening celebrations and the actual opening day. Heres a couple videos of these very special Harry Potter park opening events.
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When To Visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
There is no bad time to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, just times of the year when it may be more crowded or pretty darn hot. Dont overly stress over the choice of dates. Just check expected crowd levels at calendars like the ones from Undercover Tourist and TouringPlans.com and then use some strategies like skip-the-line passes, VIP tours and early starts to evade crowds if you need to .
The Ultimate Guide To The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Orlando: Hogsmeade
Last week, I started sharing my Ultimate Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter -Orlando. Dustin and I got to spend two days at Universal Studios Orlando, mainly to fulfill my dream of becoming a wizard and to celebrate my 10 Years Cancer Free anniversary. It was more magical than either one of us imagined, and we learned a lot about making the most out of our trip in the short time we were there.
If you want to read the first part of the guide you can access that here.
Today, I wanted to share all the ins and outs of Hogsmeade, which is one of the two sections that makes up the Wizarding World of HP. Hogsmeade is part of Islands of Adventure and because we stayed at Cabana Bay, we got in an hour before the park opened!!
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