Exploring the hidden wonders of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando Resort for the first time is an unforgettable experience. With so much do, see, taste and discover, it's almost a sensory overload. That's why you may want to consider setting aside multiple days to absorb it all. With two lands spread across two theme parks, here are just some of the reasons why you're going to want as much time as possible to take it all in.
Unique Shopping Opportunities
Both Diagon Alley inside of Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure feature many of the shops you've seen in the films or read about in the books, all perfectly recreated and fully stocked with authentic merchandise. Every good witch and wizard knows that Diagon Alley is the perfect place to pick up everything you need for your next school year at Hogwarts: robes, wands, stationary and more. Hogsmeade is a fantastic place to grab a treat like Chocolate Frogs from Honeydukes, check out roosting owls at the Owl Post, or let a wand choose you at Ollivander’s. You can even encounter live magical creatures at the Magical Menagerie.
Interactive Store Displays
With an interactive wand, you could spend hours and hours enchanting different objects and special displays located throughout the Wizarding World, but even without a wand, every window tells a story. From cauldrons that stir themselves, brooms that sweep on their own, talking envelopes and flying snitches, everywhere you look there's something new to discover. Don't miss the hidden Knockturn Alley inside of Diagon Alley, where it is always nighttime. You may even spot a window of singing shrunken heads. Your family could spend a whole day just trying to see all of the window displays in both lands.
If you do plan on shopping or dining within the Wizarding World, a fun way to really feel like a wizard, is to trade in your regular muggle money for Gringotts bank notes. The Gringotts Money Exchange at Diagon Alley is where you can speak with a goblin and trade in US dollars for Wizarding bank notes, which are accepted anywhere inside of the Universal Orlando parks. Also found in Diagon Alley is Shutterbuttons, where your family can create your own magical moving photographs – the perfect souvenir. In Hogsmeade, you can mail letters and postcards from the Owl Post. Imagine the looks on the faces of everyone back home when they get mail postmarked with a real Hogsmeade stamp.
Stay Immersed by Taking the Train
When visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can navigate between the two lands simply by hopping aboard the Hogwarts Express. This ride is completely different depending on which direction you're heading, with views of Hogwarts Castle, the Scottish countryside and London visible through the train car windows – but it's also a great means of transportation. Rather than leave the Wizarding World to walk from park to park, the train allows you to seamlessly travel between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Now you can spend all day fully immersed in the world of Harry Potter! Plus, this is the only way to pass through the brick wall to Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station.
Explore the Rides
Of course, every guest of the Wizarding World cannot miss the amazing state-of-the-art attractions on offer. Hogsmeade features the signature Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, where you go on your own adventure with Harry, Ron and Hermione. True fans of the series love to take their time exploring every nook and cranny of Hogwarts Castle while waiting in line. Over at Diagon Alley, Escape from Gringotts puts you right in the middle of the break-in scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and allows you to explore the vaults, offices and elevators of Gringotts Bank.
Have a Meal, or Three
There are two main restaurants within the two lands of the Wizarding World: Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade and Leaky Cauldron at Diagon Alley. Both serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Potter fans will recognize the restaurants from the film and book series, but everyone can recognize the delicious food they serve. You can order classic British fare like Fish And Chips and Shepherd's Pie. The Three Broomsticks also offers The Great Feast, perfect for families of four or more. It comes with rotisserie chicken, spareribs, salads and all the fixings. Wash your meals down with a refreshing Butterbeer, or head to the Hog's Head Pub next door to Three Broomsticks for a variety of mixed drinks and specialty (real) beers, that are only available in the Wizarding World.
Try All the Butterbeer
There's more than one way to enjoy this staple treat of the Wizarding World. In fact, there are 6 different ways! Cold Butterbeer is the classic. It's a fizzy drink that tastes reminiscent of butterscotch and shortbread. Of course, don't forget to get a photo of your family with Butterbeer foam mustaches the first time you try it. You can also get Frozen Butterbeer, perfect for hot days, Hot Butterbeer, only available during the winter months, Butterbeer Ice Cream, which is an amazing tasting soft serve, Butterbeer Potted Cream, a delightful dessert at the main restaurants in the lands, and Butterbeer Fudge, the perfect snack to take back to the hotel at the end of the day.
Whether you're a huge Potter fan, a casual fan or even someone that's never heard of the stories, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is still one of the most highly themed theme park destination in the world. It's hard to convey into words just how breathtaking it is to see Hogwarts Castle in person, or walk through the bricks into Diagon Alley, for the first time – you just have to see it for yourself.