I am sharing my very best tips for when you’re visiting the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
It’s the last day of September and tomorrow is the first day of my favorite month of the year! And what better way to kick off October than to share my best tips for visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! What I love most about the Wizarding World of HP is that no matter how old you are, if you’re a witch or wizard, you’re guaranteed a great time.
Every year from the time Anees and I got married I would tell him we needed to take a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and we finally went this past November with my best friends birthday with her husband and son.
I’ll tell you this much; I honestly had the best time and would go again in a heartbeat.
I do recommend doing some preliminary research on when the parks aren’t as crowded if you want to go to the Wizarding World or Universal Studios in general. We used this website to check for crowds. We went during the first week of Novemeber when they were just starting to put up the holiday decor, and were fortunate enough to go at a time when there were hardly any crowds — if you can ride the Forbidden Journey ride three times in a row without a line, I’d say you’re pretty lucky!
So without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
- There are two parks. The Islands of Adventure is where the Hogwarts castle and the Forbidden Journey ride are located. Hogsmeade Village and the new Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (which, unfortunately, was still being built when we went) are also there. Universal Studios Florida is where Diagon Alley, the Knight Bus, and Knockturn Alley are as well as the Escape from Gringotts ride is located.
- You must buy a park to park pass to be able to ride the Hogwarts Express! Unfortunately, there is no other way!
- Ride the Hogwarts Express in both directions. It’s different! When you ride from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley, the ride is a lot more cheerful. Young children may find the ride from Diagon Alley back to Hogsmeade a little scary. Our friends’ young son wasn’t very thrilled with the Dementors and all the whooshing noises associated with them!
- The entrance to Diagon Alley is hidden – just like in the book! The London section of the park has the Knight Bus parked right outside. If you look across where it says Leicester Square Station, you’ll find the entrance to Diagon Alley!
- Speaking of secrets, you can call the Ministry of Magic on the payphone right outside Leicester Square! The number you have to dial is 62442, or MAGIC. I won’t tell you what happens when they pick up. We’ll leave that as a mystery 😉
- Just past the entrance to Diagon Alley is 12 Grimmauld Place. If you look up and keep looking, chances are you’ll see Kreacher, the Black family’s house-elf, peaking out at the watchers below. Grimmauld place is located on the left, right before you see Krustyland ahead.
- Speaking of extraordinary creatures, make sure to take a bathroom break! Moaning Myrtle haunts ALL the bathrooms in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade!
- If you stay at the park, you get access to the park an hour ahead of everyone else. This is especially great if you’re visiting the parks during peak season! Even if you decide not to stay at the park, get there early so that you can get ahead of the crowd. We came right when the parks opened to the general public one morning and were able to ride the Forbidden Journey ride twice without a line. What I learned is, ride the rides first. When you get to the parks then hang out and check out the stores when the crowds hit!
- If you’ve got kids with you that are too young to ride, parents can do a parent swap. This allows one parent to wait in a room with the child while the other parent rides. Then, the parent that hasn’t ridden can ride without having to wait in the line again.
- Even if you decide that buying a wizards wand isn’t for you, right outside the wand shop is a secret little alley that takes you to the back of the store where you have a wand choosing ceremony. There is no purchase necessary! They choose one member of the audience who gets to come up and go through the ceremony with none other than Ollivander himself.
- If you do decide to purchase a wand, you might want to consider an interactive wand. These wands are magically hexed. Interactive wands come with a particular map that shows you locations throughout the park that you can wave your wand and make magic happen! But be warned, they do cost quite a few galleons!
- You can tour the Hogwarts Castle, even if you decide not to ride the Forbidden Journey ride. The ride is known to make a few sick from all the twists and turns. Just let the attendant know that you’d like to walk the castle, and they’ll direct you where to go.
- Check the program for timings, Diagon Alley has a special Celestina Warbeck, and the Banshees show that allows you to take a load off for a bit!
- When you’re in Diagon Alley, check out Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes! There’s a rabbit that pops out of the twins’ hat when he lifts it now and then!
- Don’t miss the Dragon that sits at Gringotts; he breathes out real fire! I can’t tell you how much time we wasted waiting for that Dragon to breathe fire! But ultimately, we learned that he growls right before he lets out a belly full of fire. So keep your ears open, that’s your warning sign! Roughly, it’s about every 15 minutes or so.
- The fish and chips at The Broomsticks or the Leaky Cauldron are not to be missed. The lines can get long though. My suggestion would be to eat early like around 11 am or wait until 2:30 or later. The lines do die down quite a bit by then!
- Butterbeer is served in several forms – the regular, the frozen, the hot, or the ice cream! Depending on the season, warm butterbeer could really be a treat! We tried Butterbeer ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor in Diagon Alley, and it was a nice way to cool down. Pumpkin juice is something I ordered on a whim on our last day, and it is just as delicious as I imagined it would be, it has a mulled spice flavor with a combination of (I think) apple and real pumpkin juice.
- Go down Knockturn Alley, even if you’re scared. Turn left where you see the sign and keep walking. You’ll see Borgin and Burkes and all sorts of dark, dark Wizarding shops. It’s dark, creepy and fun!
- Last but still important, bring an empty water bottle with you to avoid excess charges and don’t fall for $4 Gilleywater! Water at the park is not cheap, but there are water fountains located throughout the park where you can refill your bottle for free.
I hope you had as much fun reading my tips about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as I had putting them together!
I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good ⚡️
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