My husband and I are what I like to call huge, crazy, mega-nerd, super fans of Harry Potter. 100% obsessed would probably be the most accurate description of our feelings for the Harry Potter universe. Ever since I read the first book as a shy eleven-year-old girl at a new school, I’ve been absolutely hooked. I’ve read (and re-read) every page of the books, and I’ve watched and re-watched the entire movie series countless times.
When I found out that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was opening at Universal Orlando, my husband and I were over the moon with excitement. Now that we’ve visited the attraction several times, I can safely say that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter does not disappoint! Universal has done such a great job getting all of the little details right, and you really feel like you’ve been transported into a different world. Keep reading to see all of our favorite parts of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and to learn how you can get into this section of the parks earlier than everyone else!
Best Things to Do At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Diagon Alley is a hidden street in London where Harry Potter and his peers grab all sorts of wizarding equipment and school supplies for their year at Hogwarts. Every little detail of this section of the park is spot-on, and the streets are filled with fun stores filled with wizarding-inspired goods and yummy treats like butterbeer and Chocolate Frogs!
You’ll find shop and attractions like Gringotts Money Exchange, The Knight Bus, Ollivander’s, Borgin and Burkes, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Magical Menagerie, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Scribbulus, Sugarplum’s Sweetshop, Wands by Gregorovitch, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, and more. You can see a list of all of the Diagon Alley attractions here. From the tilted architecture to the impeccably-dressed staff at each store on the strip, Diagon Alley is a MUST-SEE for any Harry Potter fan. Here are some of our favorite spots in this section of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Gringotts Bank + Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Every detail of Gringotts Bank is just right, and the giant dragon on top is so much fun. It spits out huge flames several times an hour, so you’re guaranteed to see the dragon’s shriek on your trip to Diagon Alley. Inside the building, you’ll find the rollercoaster Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. I am a huge scaredy cat when it comes to rides, so I skipped out on this rollercoaster; however, my husband LOVED it and said it was so much fun! If you want to see a Gringotts goblin in action, there’s a small shop where a goblin is begrudgingly doing his job with quite a few onlookers from the park.
King’s Cross Station
King’s Cross station is where the Hogwarts Express train transports visitors from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley. You’ll need a ticket to both parks to go back and forth.
The Knight Bus
The Knight Bus always shows up when a wizard needs immediate transportation, and you can get a chance to see the bus in all its glory outside King’s Cross Station. You can even meet Stan Shunpike and Dre Head!
Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes
In the books, George and Fred Weasley leave Hogwarts early to open a joke shop of their own. You can find their shop, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes in Diagon Alley right next to the moving brick wall shown by Hagrid in the first film. It’s filled with all sorts of fun toys, gag gifts, and “magical” candy to cause all sorts of mischief.
The whimsical atmosphere and fanciful merchandise make Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes the perfect spot to grab souvenirs and gifts for friends/family during your trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We loved seeing some of our favorite products from the book in real life.
Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop
Who doesn’t love a magical sweet treat? At Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop, you can pick up all of your favorite sweets from the books – including Fizzing Whizbees, Chocolate Frogs, and more.
After a quick trip on the Hogwarts Express train, you’ll enter the magical village of Hogsmeade. This snowy village looks just like the movies, and there tons of magical shops around every corner.
You can find all of your favorite shops from the books such as Dervish and Banges, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, Honeydukes, Ollivanders, and the Owl Post. Plus, you’re only a few steps away from Hogwarts Castle. You can see a full list of all of the shops and attractions at Hogsmeade here. Keep reading to see some of our favorite parts of Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Hogwarts Castle + Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey
As you walk to the end of Hogsmeade, you can see Hogwarts Castle in all its glory. Inside the castle is the ride Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey, and as you stand in the queue for the ride, you’ll get glimpses into all of the magical elements of the castle. The ride itself is a moving simulator, and while the movement itself isn’t scary, the dark lighting and dramatic graphics might be a little much for younger kids. I’m a total wimp when it comes to rides, and the movement on this ride didn’t scare me at all. The simulation screens gave me a small amount of motion sickness, but it went away quickly! All in all, it’s a great ride! Outside of the castle, you can also see The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle show or walk a few steps to ride The Flight of the Hippogriff rollercoaster.
Zonkos is the famous joke shop from the Harry Potter series, and it’s filled with all sorts of gag gifts and funny trinkets. You can find a lot of the same items at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes too!
Ever since Harry Potter’s first trip to Honeyduke’s in the books, I’ve been dying to visit this magical sweet shop in real life! The offerings are similar to those at Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop in Diagon Alley, but I prefer the colors and layout of Honeyduke’s.
Inside the shop, you’ll find everything you could ever need to satisfy your sweet tooth. You’ll be able to check out all of your favorite candy from the books in beautiful and completely magical packaging.
Where to Get Butterbeer + Food
As much as I love the whimsical atmosphere and rides in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, one of the other main draws is the chance to try Butterbeer in real life. It takes like a cream soda mixed with caramel, and it’s topped with a vanilla marshmallow-y creme that’s simply scrumptious. I prefer the frozen version in the Florida heat, but I’m sure the soda version is delicious too! You can find Butterbeer in both sections of the park at kiosks and inside the restaurants too. Check out the full list below.
If you’re looking to get out of the sun, check out Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. You’ll find everything from fish and chips to butterbeer ice cream inside. You can check out the menu for Three Broomsticks here.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
Speaking of Butterbeer ice cream, you can also find it at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley. I sampled some myself during our last trip, and it was SCRUMPTIOUS. See the full menu of flavors here.
The Leaky Cauldron
If you’re looking for British pub food in Diagon Alley, check out The Leaky Cauldron. They have everything from Bangers and Mash to Toad in The Hole. See the full menu here.
More Places to Get Butterbeer & Food:– The Fountain of Fair Fortune sells Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, beer, and a variety of other beverages.
– Hog’s Head in the back of Three Broomsticks offers multiple types of butterbeer (traditional, frozen, hot), Pumpkin Juice, Hogs Head brew, and all types of alcoholic beverages.
– The Hopping Pot also has unique Diagon Alley drinks such as Tongue Tying Lemon Squash and Peachtree Fizzing Tea.
Where to Get A Wand
If you’re looking for a wand, head straight to Ollivander’s. You’ll be able to find all of your favorite character’s wands, so you can choose one that’s uniquely suited to you. There’s row and rows of wands in their boxes, and you can even sign up for an interactive wand fitting!
You can also purchase an interactive wand, which will allow you to try out magical spells throughout The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It even comes with a map to show you all of the interactive areas. It’s so fun to make little elements of the park come to life with a swish and flick of your wand. It’s really fun, and I think kids would have so much fun too! See what the spells look like in real life here.
How to Get Early Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Now that we’ve talked about all of my favorite areas of the park, here is my #1 tip. If at all possible, get early admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The park does get crowded, and you can enjoy Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley so much more while the streets are still quiet. So how do you get early access? Stay on property at Universal Orlando!
When you’re a guest at the Universal Orlando hotels, you’ll be able to go into the parks a full hour earlier than normal guests. This extra time is absolutely essential, and I guarantee you that it will make your trip more memorable. There are less lines, and the weather will be cooler too! We recently stayed at Universal’s Aventura Hotel and had an incredible experience. You can read my full review of Aventura Hotel here. I’ve also stayed at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, and it’s a beautiful and luxurious hotel too. See my full review here. No matter where you stay at Universal Orlando, you really can’t go wrong. All of the hotels are amazing, and you’ll only be a few minutes away from the parks and Universal CityWalk. Plus, you get free transportation with their buses and free parking!
If you are a Harry Potter fan, you MUST schedule a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. It is truly a magical experience that your entire family will love, and it will reignite your love for the books and movies! If you want to know where to stay during your trip to Universal Orlando hotel, check out my stay at Universal’s Aventura Hotel here and the Loews’ Portofino Bay Hotel here, here, and here. You can also find more ideas for your trip to Orlando from my post on the Top 10 Things to Do in Orlando. P.S. Don’t forget to check out videos from our entire stay at Universal’s Aventura Hotel and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well as our trips to the Universal Orlando attractions on my Instagram under the story highlight named Universal.
Thanks to Universal Orlando for providing my family with complimentary tickets to visit Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. All stated opinions are my honest thoughts. As always, I value your trust and only partner with brands that I truly love. I’ve been a fan of Universal Orlando since I was a child, and I have visited the park with my own money many times.