I’ve been a diehard Potterhead since 1999. As most 90s kids did, I lived and breathed the Harry Potter series, dreaming of the day I would receive my Hogwarts letter (and still waiting for that darn owl to make its way across the pond!). Every year that a new book was released, I spent the whole night reading the newest novel in the series.
I’ve been wanting to come to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida ever since they announced the first phase of the park back in 2007. When I learned that I would be in Orlando last month, I was beyond ecstatic to come to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split into two parks — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade/Hogwarts at the Islands of Adventure. You can purchase tickets for either park or both. You can take a Hogwarts Express train between the two parks. I definitely recommend purchasing tickets for both parks!
Diagon Alley includes many of the key Diagon Alley shops from the series, including Ollivanders, Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, the Leaky Cauldron, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Wands by Gregorovitch, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, and Gringotts Money Exchange. There are shows here including Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees and the Tales of Beedle the Bard show. The main attraction ride is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. There is even a Knockturn Alley you can wander off into, where you stumble upon Borgin and Burkes.
I checked out most of the shops, grabbed some butterbeer (a MUST), and ate at the Leaky Cauldron. The food was surprisingly good. They serve traditional British food, such as bangers and mash, fisherman’s pie, toad in the hole, beef, lamb, and guinness stew, and fish and chips.
Afterwards, I went to the King’s Cross Station to catch a ride on the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. You need a Park-to-Park ticket in order to board and ride from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and vice versa.
When I was queuing to catch a ride on the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross, I was able to see people ahead of me walk through the “wall” forming the entrance to Platform 9¾. Apparently, this effect uses the Pepper’s ghost illusion but it felt pretty magical to me!
There’s a bit of a story occurring as you ride the train to Hogsmeade. Hedwig, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, and Dementors all show up! Before I knew it, I was at Hogsmeade.
At Hogsmeade, there is another Ollivanders, Dervish and Banges, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, Owl Post, Honeydukes, Hog’s Head, and the Three Broomsticks. There are a couple more attraction rides here, including Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
I bought a Chocolate Frog (got Rowena Ravenclaw!) and some other sweets at Honeydukes, went to the Three Broomsticks for more food and another butterbeer, and then rode Forbidden Journey. This ride uses robocoaster technology, meaning the seats can pivot around. It’s not really a roller coaster but more of an interactive dark ride – there is 3D animation, sound, and special effects like mist. The ride takes you through Hogwarts castle and grounds.
Afterwards as sunset fell, I gazed upon Hogwarts castle and felt at home — just like Harry.
I had a magical time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. For any Potterheads, I strongly recommend stopping by for a visit. I was able to get through what I wanted to see in one day but if you have at least two days, you can visit all the shops and ride everything related to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The price is definitely a bit steep, but keep in mind that you get access to all Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure attractions.