You can enjoy a day full of magic at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Visit both parks to be fully immersed into all the Harry Potter fun and action.
Going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was the number one thing that my best friend, Emily, and I had to do while she was visiting from Seattle this spring.
When we both lived in Boston, we would see the movies together when they were released. And, ever since I moved to Florida we talked about getting to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter together.
Planning Our Visit
We planned out our visit by purchasing the Park to Park tickets for the day. It is important to get the Park to Park tickets so that you can ride the Hogwarts Express between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. You NEED to visit both parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure to see all of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 1 day.
Traditionally, people start at Diagon Alley (in Universal Studios Florida) and then go to Hogsmeade (in Islands of Adventure) .This allows you to experience both places in the order that Harry Potter experienced them. While that is a great idea, I had read that Hodsmeade tends to be a bit less busy in the morning because people are in Diagon Alley. Since we had only 1 day to enjoy as much of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as possible we headed over to Islands of Adventure and bee lined it over to Hodsmeade.
We had looked into purchasing Express Passes, but I had read that using Single Rider was a great option in order to enjoy rides with a shorter line. Since it was just the 2 of us, we opted to use the Single Rider line whenever possible. It didn’t matter to us if we were not in the same row or same ride as it was more important for us to enjoy more rides than sit next to each other.
We arrived at Islands of Adventure and made a beeline to the Hogsmeade section of the park. Arriving at the the entry to Hogsmeade gave me butterflies. I was so excited to see all the buildings and details that bring the Harry Potter World to life.
Imagining the places that Harry Potter and his friend visit is one thing when you are reading the books. Then it was always so amazing to see a movie for it to come to life. But getting to experience it first hand is a whole other level of fun.
Emily and I were so amazed at the level of detail that was put into every shop, piece of decor, and item to purchase. Everything looks and feels like it is directly out of a Harry Potter movie. We were telling each other how amazed we were with it all and how we would just spend a day walking around in the stores taking it all in.
One of my favorite things about Hogsmeade is how it’s always Winter there. Just like when Harry, Ron, and Hermione were in Hogsmeade and Katie Bell is cursed with the necklace (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)
Clearly, there was some magic happening since it saw so hot but there was nice soft layer of snow on the shops’ roofs.
The waits for the rides in Hogsmeade were quite long at this point. There were several schools hosting field trips there so things were very busy. We skipped the rides at this point and just enjoyed everything we saw around Hogsmeade. We went in and out of the shops checking out the decor and the things to buy. I wanted some candy but I didn’t want to have it melt while being carried around all day. Knowing I would be back int eh future I wanted to just enjoy walking around and doing rides vs trying to deal with bags of things.
We caught part of the Frog Choir performance. Students from each house participate in putting on an a capella show. They are paired with a fat toad that croaks along with them. It’s sorta silly, hilarious, and awesome all rolled into one.
I was so happy to finally get to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Studios parks with my best friend.
Screaming on the Jurassic Park
After enjoying Hogsmeade for a bit, we headed over the bridge to Jurassic Park.
We waited in the Single Rider line, so we sat in different rows in the same car on the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride. No big! Perfect for taking a great selfie.
The ride was awesome! BUT, holy hell, I was honestly so NOT prepared for the steep never ending drop at the end. Okay, so it was actually really quick, but it felt like it was never going to end. The 85′ foot long, 51 degree drop was terrifying and fun. Be prepared to hooooooold on to the lap bar. ha!
After that, we went over to Toon Lagoon. Emily and I we got in line for Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, but bailed after a few minutes of waiting. We just decided to keep with the plan and stay focused on the Harry Potter things.
Hogsmeade Station and The Hogswarts Express
We checked out the wait for The Forbidden Journey again, but it was still too long for us (even for waiting in the single rider line). So, we decided that it was time to head over to Universal Studios, to enjoy Diagon Alley.
We went to the Hogsmeade Station for a pretty quick wait (about 15 minutes around 1.45pm) to head over to Kings Cross Station.
The ride from Hogsmeade Station to London’s Kings Cross Station was so much fun. We settled into our cabin for the ride with another family. The ride was so well done with the view out the window starting in the woods that surround Hogsmeade Station. You pass Hogwarts and go through the Forbidden Forest before crossing the English Countryside and going into London.
Inside the train, Harry and the gang walk by so you see their silhouettes (from a projector). Unfortunately they can’t join you.
Kings Cross Station was really cool as it looked just like a urban train station. There were advertisements that were relevant to the London setting, while still amusing to the Wizarding World.
Experiencing Diagon Alley
Just like Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley was perfectly curated with shops that have charm of London that is mixed with the fun that is in the wizarding world.
Besides that, I just loved seeing everyone dressed up. Kids in school cloaks with their wands- gah! I loved it all.
The Quidditch Supplies shop makes me wish that quidditch was a real game that us Muggles could play.
Weasleys Wizard Wheezes is a fun show that is loaded up with fun toys that are right out of the books and movies.
Pick up a Pigmy Puff so partake in the fun adoption ceremony. DING DING DING!!!! They announce to everyone that you are adopting your pigmy puff and what you are naming it. Then they give you instructions on how to care for it. So fun for kids of all ages.
One of the coolest things we saw in Diagon Alley was a performance acting out The Tales of Beedle the Bard. It was beautifully told, just like when Hermione read it. The puppetry was beautiful. I would really encourage people to stick around and watch a performance of it.
It was time for some drinks! We shared a Butterbeer and a beer.
I don’t think soda often so I felt the Butterbeer was sweet for me. Like 1 was enough for the day. That said, it was delicious. It was exactly what I imagined it to be- the perfect mixture of cream soda and butterscotch. The foam on top was the perfect finishing touch.
I loved getting to see the dragon perched on top of Gringotts spew fire! Did you know that the fire blasting out reaches temperatures of 3,560°F. WOW!
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringots
Inside the Gringotts Money Exchange you can interact with a goblin at the counter. You can exchange money, in $10 & $20 denominations, after asking him a question. We didn’t ask anything but it was fun to watch people interact with him. He was just a grumpy as the goblins in the books and movie.
Then we went over to enjoy 4D fun in the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride.
We put our stuff in the lockers then got in the line for a fun thrill ride that takes you down into Gringotts. Be careful of Bellatrix, dragons, and Voldemort!!
Enjoying Universal Studios Florida
After leaving Diagon Alley, we started to head towards the World Expo section of the park. We rode on the Men in Black Alien Attack ride, which was a blast. Again, we did single rider, because the line was much faster, compared to the regular line. The ride takes you through NYC, where you need to shoot out the bad aliens. It’s similar to the test that Will Smith had to do in the movie, when he didn’t shoot the aliens but shot the girl with the text book. I found this really whips you around, so if that makes you sick you might want to skip it. But I still loved it- it was a blast!
We weren’t too focused on rides there, so we just focused on getting some lunch. Ultimately we decided on having a late lunch at Chez Alcatraz because we felt like it was decent food for the price. It was nothing special but it got the job done.
We continued to wonder through Universal Studios, enjoying the chance to check out some stores and rides. We wanted to go on the Fast and the Furious Ride but it was down. So, we continued on our way to head back to Diagon Alley.
Butterbeer Potted Cream
It was time to enjoy another Butterbeer treat!
We went to the Leaky Cauldron and enjoyed splitting a Butterbeer Potted Cream ($5.79).
It was really enjoyable and perfect to split. The texture reminded me a bit like Cool Whip based cheesecake. It was so light and airy. The flavor was similar to butterscotch. It was just as if I was enjoying it with Hermione in the Leaky Cauldron.
Kings Cross Station and The Hogswarts Express
Around 7pm, we decided it was time to head back to Kings Cross Station to take the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade.
One of the coolest things in Kings Cross Station is Platform 9 3/4!!! Running through the platform is so much fun. It doesn’t look like much of anything as you approach it. The optical illusion of running through the wall can be viewed when you are in line. It’s fun to ting to watch people run through it.
If you want someone to record you, then have someone wait back in line so they can get you running through. Then you an just catch up together on the platform.
You really should ride the train BOTH WAYS. Then, you get to see the Hogwarts Express train ride out of London to Hogwarts and the ride from Hogwarts to London. They are very different!!!!
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey & Flight of the Hippogriff
Back in Hogsmeade we headed over to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. We waited in the single rider line again to enjoy the ride.
We both loved the fast thrill ride as it fully immerses you into the Harry Pottery world. You fly along with Harry as you duck and dodge things like dementors.
One of the things that Emily and I talked about was how these rides are for older kids. The Forbidden Journey ride has a 48″ min, and even thing we felt that it might be too intense for some tall young kids. My take away was that it would be best to wait until Autumn was closer to 8 years old, so she is tall enough and mature enough. Wouldn’t want her to be too scared.
As the crowds were thinning out from the day, we noticed that the ride for the Flight of the Hippogriff was also pretty short. Also, people were waiting to enjoy the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle show.
The ride was a blast! It was cool to do at night so we could see the lights on the castle. (I would like to do it in the daytime so I could get a fun experience seeing everything clearly on the ride)
The night ended with that last night. We walked through Universal City Walk, grabbed some food, and headed home.
I love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
I’m already looking forward to my next visit at Universal’s theme parks. I had such a wonderful day getting to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We have started to read the books to Autumn, and we just finished the 2nd book, which we followed up with the movie. The plan is to continue to read the books, and then watch the movies.
Price and I plan on going when we’ve read all 7 books and she’s tall enough for all the rides (48″+). We want her to be able to enjoy them all to get that full Harry Potter experience. It’s just so, so incredible!