A person could write a book about the things to see in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. For this post I will focus on my family’s favorite attractions, entertainment and food that we enjoy while visiting Universal Orlando.
I know that some people would rather see things firsthand themselves and I don’t want to spoil any vacation with too many photos. I will post photos at the very bottom for those of you that want to see them.
1. Pre-purchase Universal’s Photo Connect Star Card. This card will allow you to download all of your attraction photos as well as any photos that you have taken by the Universal, photographers while you are in the park. Pre-purchasing will save you some money. You can find the details HERE
2. Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringott’s
Located in Diagon Alley, in the Universal Studios Theme park, this is a very popular attraction and there is no line for Express Pass Holders. I would suggest getting to this attraction as early as possible. Guests staying at a Universal Resort are often granted early entry into Universal park before the opening to the general public. You will want to go straight to this attraction first. (must be at least 42′ to ride with an adult)
When you are in the queue for the Escape From Gringott’s attraction, be sure to watch the goblin’s closely; they look so very real. After making your way past the goblins you will go into the basement & will have the opportunity to get your photo taken that will appear with a special Gringott’s Bank boarder and the date you were there. You can view & purchase the photo after the ride and if you have pre-purchased the Photo Connect package you will be able to scan your photo connect Star card & download the photo when you return home.
3. Gringott’s Bank Dragon. The Ukrainian Ironbelly Dragon, on top of Gringott’s Bank, is an attraction in itself. It breaths fire every half hour or so. In order to catch the fire breathing action, be sure to listen for when the dragon starts to growl; she will breath fire shortly after. The Gingott’s Bank Dragon breaths fire that reaches 3,560 degrees Fahrenheit (1,960 degrees celcius). That’s more than 16 times hotter than boiling water! You can feel the heat when you are standing under this dragon. Video Below
4. Catch a stage show in Diagon Alley. Watch one of several shows put on in Diagon Alley. These stage shows are entertaining for Harry Potter fans & also a good way to take a break from the walking & the heat. The current performances are “Tale of Three Brothers” and “Fountain of Fair Fortune”.
5. Buy a Wand. You can purchase a wand in Ollivander’s Wand Shop in either Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. The shop in Hogmeade has a little pre-show that you can go to prior to entering the shop, but sometimes the line for the show can be daunting. There are numerous styles of wands and two different types of wands, normal and interactive. The interactive wands come with a map that shows you where to go and how to wave your wand. If you do it just right, you will achieve interesting, animated results.
6. Visit Knockturn Alley. In Diagon Alley you can visit one of the very darkest destinations, Knockturn Alley. You will find the entrance near the Leaky Cauldron restaurant. This alley is a very dark & interesting place to visit, but is really made entertaining by the use of an interactive wand; hold the map up (included with the interactive wand) and watch little figures pop up. If you don’t have an interactive wand, spend some time watching what happens when other people use theirs.
7. Visit the Knight Bus. be sure to visit the Knight Bus just outside of Diagon Alley in London. The Shrunken Head and driver will interact with you for memorable laughter. You can also see the beds on the inside if you peek in the back.
8. Ride the Hogwart’s Express (both ways). You must be sure that you purchase Universal’s Park 2 Park pass in order to be able to ride the Hogwart’s Express. While you are in Universal Studios you will board from the Kings Cross Station in London and travel to the Hogsmeade station in Islands of Adventure Park. The queue really looks like a London train station you can see platform 9 3/4 along with luggage trolleys waiting to be loaded. I must admit that they did a very good job making this train look like it traveled right out of the Harry Potter books. You must experience this ride going both directions. Each has a different show during your travels.
9. Take your photo with the Hogwart’s Express Conductor. Often times you will find the conductor standing beside the Hogwart’s Express, just inside the entrance to Hogsmeade. be sure to stop for a photo and viola, your Christmas card is done.
10. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Attraction
This attraction is in Hogsmeade in the Island’s of Adventure Park. Although not as new or popular as the Escape From Gingott’s attraction, you will still want to ride this early on. This ride also does not accept the Express Pass. This is a dark motion ride, if you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to close your eyes when you are put up near the screens. Don’t be ashamed, I sometimes have to ride with my eyes closed. (Must be at least 48″ to ride).
The queue for this ride is also very fun & entertaining and there is a ride photo that you can purchase at the end of the ride or add to your Universal Star Card for downloading later on.
11. Ride Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge. be sure not to miss these two very different coasters in Hogsmeade, Islands of Adventure Park. They both accept the Express Pass. While the Dragon Challenge is quite an intense coaster and is not for the faint of heart, Flight of the Hippogriff is fun for all ages. See if you can spot the golden egg just outside of the Dragon Challenge queue. Flight of the Hippogriff is worth walking through the line; you can spot Hagrid’s Hut and once you board the coaster the Hippogriff will bow to you before you depart. (Must be at least 54″ to ride Dragon Challenge and 36″ to ride Flight of the Hippogriff) Video below
12. Watch the Frog Choir Perform. Be sure to catch a performance of the Frog Choir on the stage in Hogsmeade. Ask one of the wizards working that day for times of the performances. The Frog Choir is very entertaining to watch and one of our favorite performances in Universal.
13. Enjoy a Frozen Butterbeer. Although they serve Butterbeer warm, cold & frozen, frozen is our favorite way to drink them. You can always grab one from a cart on the street, but what fun is that when you can go into the Hogs Head Bar in Hogsmeade? In the Hogs Head the line is often shorter than at the street carts and it is agreat place to cool off. You can also purchase Butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks Restaurant and the Leaky Cauldron Restaurant. For an added cost you can purchase your Butterbeer in a souvenir mug that is refillable for .99 cents outside of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The refill price is good for soda and soda is not served in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter because it is a “muggle drink”. We love re-using our souvenir mugs after we get home; it brings back fond memories of our vacation.
14. Have a meal at the Three Broomsticks or the Leaky Cauldron. Be sure to enjoy a wizard meal and the wonderful theming inside one of the restaurants in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They both look very similar and have similar menus. The Three Broomsticks is located in Hogsmeade and seems to have a larger seating area than the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. Menu choices consist of things like “Toad in the Hole” and “Bangers and Mash”.
15. Visit the Shops. be sure to explore the shops in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. All are wonderfully themed and really take you inside the, awarding winning, Harry Potter Novels. No purchase necessary just to wonder around inside the stores.
16. Download the Universal Wait Times app before going to the park. This app will keep you updated with ride wait times and closures.
17. Listen for Moaning Myrtle in the Hogsmeade bathrooms.
18. if you dial 62442 (MAGIC) in the telephone booth outside King’s Cross, it will connect you to the Ministry of Magic.
19. Interact with the Wizards hired to work there and be sure to ask them for a picture. Universal has done a wonderful job hiring entertaining wizards to work around the Wizaring World of Harry Potter
20. Relax and have fun!!!!! Don’t sweat the small stuff and be sure to take time to just relax and take in everything that is going on around you.
My name is Melissa and I am a travel agent and a Universal Parks and Resorts Specialist. Thank you for reading my blog article, I am here to help you book and plan your next Universal vacation package at no additional cost to you. Contact me or visit my website for a free, no obligation quote: Melissa@PixieDustAdventures.com www.PixieDustAdventures.com