A First Timer’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios

Universal Orlando’s two theme parks, each with its own section of the Wizarding World — and a first time witch or wizard? You’re probably wondering where to start planning your adventure, and you’ve come to the right place!

Gringotts

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a place to escape reality and step into a magical world within Universal Orlando.

But if you’ve never been to Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade before, it might seem like a daunting task to choose what to see, what to do, and what to eat.

We have to say that it’s a VERY good thing you’ve sought out advice from your very own Head Girls and Head Boys here at AllEars since we’ve spent loads of time in the Wizarding World and want to share our tips to help you conquer the parks! We hope you’ve got your Floo Powder handy because we’re taking a trip to the Wizarding World.

Hogsmeade

Dedicate a Day to Each Side of the Wizarding World

In order to make guests really feel immersed in the world, there is SO much to do in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley that they could easily take you a full day each. While we all can’t help but feel like an excited First Year running to Hogwarts for the first time when we enter the parks, you’ll want to plan to spend a day in each side of the Wizarding World on its own.

Hogsmeade

Instead of rushing through everything to make it to both parks, designate certain days to visit each area’s unique attractions, stores, and restaurants (not to mention entirely different atmospheres). If you spend more time in each park, you’ll actually be able to spot more details than you would if you were hurrying through one to get to the other!

Diagon Alley

Plus, you’ll have more chances to ride certain attractions or head to park-specific restaurants when you dedicate a full day to either Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley.

Take Advantage of the Hogwarts Express

We PROMISE that the Hogwarts Express isn’t just for show, even though she is a beaut. During the days that you do want to visit both parks, the Hogwarts Express will drop you off in the center of either Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade so you don’t have to walk around the entirety of Universal Studios or Universal’s Island of Adventure to go from one part of the Wizarding World to the other.

Hogwarts Express

Plus, the Hogwarts Express is its own experience in itself! The rides going either way have separate storylines and experiences, whether you’re arriving at Hogwarts or navigating the streets of London. As you walk through the queue areas, you’ll even find chances to disappear through Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station or admire the British countryside.

Hogwarts Express

It’s important to note that you WILL need a double park pass to take advantage of the Hogwarts Express, since it directly connect both parks to one another. You’ll also want to be aware that there can be a long line to actually ride the Hogwarts Express! Be sure to check your Universal app to see the wait times before you decide either to ride the train or to do the walking yourself instead.

Hogsmeade Station

Treat Yourself to an Interactive Wand

Although they can be a bit on the pricier side, the Interactive Wands are WORTH IT for Harry Potter fans since they unlock an entirely unique experience in the Wizarding World! Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have their own separate Interactive Wand locations with various spells that cause magic to happen with moving items, bright lights, and more!

Interactive Wand

Once you’ve purchased an Interactive Wand, you will receive a map to show you exactly where the magical areas are located. And you might want to solemnly swear you’re up to no good, because the Interactive Wands can be used time and time again (so they don’t go out of use or style)!

Ascendio and Descendio

Want to journey with us to conquer ALL the Interactive Wand spots in the park? Watch our video below!

There Isn’t Just ONE Form of Butterbeer

This is actually a pretty common misconception for all the Muggles out there. Although you’ll usually see Cold and Frozen Butterbeer at the entrance of Hogsmeade and Diagon, these aren’t the only options you can find in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! In fact, there are six variations total that you can try during your visit.

Butterbeer!

Cold and Frozen Butterbeer are available year-round, but the holidays bring about the Hot Butterbeer option for the cooler weather in the parks.

Hot Butterbeer

You can satisfy your sweet tooth further with Butterbeer Fudge, Potted Cream, and Ice Cream in spots like Sugarplum’s, Honeydukes, and Florean Fortescue’s!

Butterbeer Ice Cream

The Wizarding World Isn’t for the Rides — It’s for the EXPERIENCES

It’s probably already VERY clear that we could practically live in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter all the time. Although we could ride Escape from Gringotts, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, the Forbidden Journey, and Flight of the Hippogriff, the attractions are only a small fraction of all the things you can do in the Wizarding World!

Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure

The atmospheres of both parks were painstakingly modeled and crafted after the films and books, right down to the tiniest details. The restaurants have exclusive food that makes you feel like you’re actually in the Wizarding World, dining at the Three Broomsticks or Leaky Cauldron. Plus, it’s practically a must to end things on a sweet note with unusual ice cream flavors at Florean Fortescue’s and LOADS of treats at Honeydukes and Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop.

Honeydukes

The stores even have distinctive merchandise that are specific to their themes and names, including travel items at Globus Mundi, pranks and joke gags at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Dark Arts collectibles at Borgin and Burkes, and wands at Ollivanders (side note: the wand experience is a MUST-DO in our books).

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

Each time you go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can find something new, whether it’s Kreacher hiding in the windows or Moaning Myrtle wailing in the bathrooms or a treat you’ve never tried. No matter what you’re doing in the parks, it really does feel like you’ve stepped into the books and movies!

Kreacher Feature

Curious about more hidden secrets in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Watch our video below!

Although it might be your first time heading to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we’re sure it won’t be your last! 😉 As we continue to make our way around Universal Orlando, we’ll give you a look at all the must-dos, must-sees, and must-eats in the parks!

Put your Harry Potter knowledge to the test with these tricky quotes!

What is your favorite thing to do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Let us know in the comments below!

Rachel Franko has been going to Disney Parks since she was a baby, and her love of Disney has only grown into a SLIGHT obsession since! She's been writing for AllEars since 2019 and loves sharing the magic with all the readers. When she's not writing, you can catch her heading to Disney and Universal Studios with a heart full of dreams and a backpack full of themed ears!

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