Taking a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando? Check out this post with tips and advice before you go!
Orlando was stop #3 on my road trip with Kyle to our new home in Dayton, Ohio. To follow along on our road trip, click the links below:
Stop 1: Destin, Florida
Stop 2: Tampa, Florida
Stop 3: Harry Potter World and Orlando, Florida
Stop 4: Charleston, South Carolina
Stop 5: Seattle, Washington
Stop 6: Orcas Island, Washington
Stop 7: Our new home in Dayton, Ohio
Prefer to watch our visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando?
When we were planning our road trip, we toyed with several different routes, but when the idea of going to Harry Potter World in Orlando came up, we pretty much ran with it from there even though it was way, way, way out of our way from Shreveport, Louisiana to Dayton, Ohio.
If you’ve been reading Endless Bliss for any amount of time, you know that I’m absolutely obsessed with Harry Potter. I’ve been on the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London, I have a Harry Potter tattoo and I’m a proud Hufflepuff. Going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando has pretty much been on my bucket list since the day I knew it was going to be built.
If you’re planning a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there are definitely some things you should know and do to make sure you make the most out of your time on your visit, especially if you only have one day to spend there. We ended up doing everything we wanted to do and then some, so I hope this post will serve as a helpful guide for you! Also, there are way more than 9 3/4 tips, but I just wanted to be clever, okay?
1| Purchase tickets for both parks.
If you’re going to Harry Potter World for the first time, you’re definitely going to want to get the full experience. With a Park-to-Park ticket, you’ll be able to go to the Harry Potter experiences at each of the parks. Diagon Alley is located at Universal Studios, and Hogsmeade is at Islands of Adventure. Both are amazing, and it’s worth it to splurge for the Park-to-Park ticket.
2| Get there as soon as the park opens.
It gets really busy during the middle of the day, so I recommend getting into the park as soon as the gates open. You’ll be able to make the most of your trip, and while it stays pretty busy the entire time, it’s definitely less busy early in the morning, comparatively.
3| Ride the Hogwarts Express both ways.
When you’re going from Park-to-Park, you’ll have to scan your ticket (you can go back and forth as many times as you want), and then you’ll get a seat on the Hogwarts Express. The experiences are a little different each way, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you take the time to ride the train from park to park both ways.
4| Get a wand.
A wand is definitely not a cheap purchase, but it’s worth it to be able to do magic around the park. There are spots in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade where you can wave your wand and say a spell and feel like you’re doing magic. It’s part of the full experience, and it’s just so much fun. If you’re traveling with a few people, you can just purchase one wand within the group and share it. Kyle and I took the time to decide what kind we wanted, and we shared the wand throughout our visit.
5| Drink the Butterbeer.
Admittedly, when I went to the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London, my sister and I both got Butterbeer and neither of us were fans, so I wasn’t necessarily skipping with excitement to drink Butterbeer again. But now they have a frozen version. Kyle and I shared a regular Butterbeer and a frozen one, and we both agreed that the frozen Butterbeer was much, much better.
6| Ride the rides!
It wouldn’t be the full experience if you didn’t go on the rides. The two most popular rides are Escape from Gringotts and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Whichever park you decide to go to first, try to get to one of these rides ASAP if you decide to go right when the parks open. Later in the day, the wait for each of these rides is a lot longer.
One thing I will say is that I actually appreciated having to wait in line because they make the experience more interesting. There are so many things to see from items from the movie to moving portraits and everything in between. If it’s your first time visiting, I wouldn’t recommend getting a fast pass to go to the front of the line because you miss out on getting to experience all of these things.
Also, when you ride the rides, you’ll have to put all of your things in a locker. If it doesn’t fit in your pocket, you can’t take it with you. Put your stuff in a locker before you go on the ride. It’s free, and it’s a hassle to have to get sent back to put your stuff up. Keep in mind that you can only open your locker once, so if you close it and lock it up, you’ll have to move your stuff to a new locker if you end up needing to open it again.
7| Go to the wand ceremony at Ollivander’s.
Even though they usually choose a child to be a part of the experience, it’s still pretty cool to watch it all unfold.
8| Get in a good meal.
We ate at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade, and it was so good. There are a few different restaurants in both parks, and they operate pretty much the same. They serve traditional British food, and it’s the perfect thing to eat after a long day of magic. The Leaky Cauldron also serves food and has the same menu, and it’s located in Diagon Alley.
9| Have a drink at Hog’s Head.
The Hog’s Head is adjacent to the Three Broomsticks, and you can get some delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at the bar. We enjoyed some Firewhisky, and it was super refreshing. They also have a Hog’s Head Brew that you can only get in the park, so enjoy it while you can!
9 3/4| Take time to experience all the magic.
You can tell that so much time, energy and passion went into making both of these parks, and they made sure that there are hidden surprises for everyone. It truly is a magical place, and you feel like you’re living in the world that J.K. Rowling created.
Make sure you don’t miss out on these things:
– Go to the telephone booth in King’s Cross Station and dial “MAGIC” (62442). A voice from the Ministry of Magic will give you a message. You can do it multiple times and get a few different messages.
– See Kreacher at Number 12 Grimmauld Place. Every few minutes he peeks out behind a window.
– Near Grimmauld Place, you’ll see the Knight Bus where you can speak with the Stan Shunpike and Dre Head.
– At King’s Cross Station, you may recognize the perfume ad from the beginning of the Half-Blood Prince movie.
– At Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, the man outside of the building is constantly picking up his hat. Every once in awhile, you’ll notice a bunny sitting at the top of his head.
– In Diagon Alley, you won’t be able to miss the dragon breathing fire. It happens every few minutes. What’s even crazier is that you can feel the warmth from the dragon’s fire no matter where you are in Diagon Alley.
– Don’t miss out on the short shows that are performed in Diagon Alley. We watched the Tale of the Three Brothers, and it was so neat!
– At the Gringotts Money Exchange, you can actually speak to the Goblin. Ask him any question, and he’ll answer.
– Speaking of the Money Exchange, you can purchase Gringotts notes and use them as money throughout the entire Harry Potter portion of both parks. The smallest amount you can get is a $10 note.
– You can hear Moaning Myrtle in one of the bathrooms in Hogsmeade.
– See shows throughout the day on the stage in Hogsmeade. Unfortunately, we missed out on seeing the Frog Choir, and I’m so disappointed. Even more disappointing is that we saw the men of Durmstrang and the ladies of Beauxbatons come to the stage, but instead of giving a performance, they only took photos. If you have the chance to see a show, do it! Do it for me since I didn’t get to.
– Throughout the park, you can spot actual things used in the movies, such as Hermione’s Yule Ball dress and Mr. Weasley’s car. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably geek out after spotting them.
*| Shop til you drop.
One thing I noticed about Harry Potter World is that most of it is themed shops. There are plenty of experiences to have outside of shopping, but if you plan on purchasing some Harry Potter-themed items, it’s worth it to see what’s available on both sides of the park before making your purchases. There are seriously an overwhelming amount of things you can get. And of course, you’ll want to go to all of your favorite shops from the series, like Honeydukes, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Zonko’s Joke Shop, the Magical Menagerie, Borgin and Bourkes, Dervish & Banges and so, so, so many others. You can also ask the cashiers to send your purchases to the front of the park so you can pick them up at the end of the day rather than having to carry everything around.
**| Download the Universal Orlando Wait Times app.
This is so helpful when trying to figure out what rides to go on next. It shows rides for Harry Potter as well as the rest of the park. Honestly though, don’t be intimidated by the wait times for Harry Potter. Like I mentioned, waiting in line is an experience. When you go to Gringotts, you get to see the goblins in action. When you go to the Forbidden Journey ride, you’ll feel like you’re actually in Hogwarts. The app is useful to get an idea, but if the wait is 45 minutes, don’t be deterred by that. Enjoy the experience.
Our trip to Harry Potter World in Orlando was unforgettable. It was easily my favorite day of our vacation. Even though we did almost everything I wanted to do, I definitely want to go back, especially for holidays and after they make any updates. It’s such a magical place, and I don’t think I could ever get tired of it.
What Hogwarts house are you in?