Headed to Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando Resort and not sure where to begin? Or maybe you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed because there’s so much to cover including dining, tickets, and attractions? I feel ya. For our first trip, we were complete Muggles and had no clue what to do when. Happily, we’ve accumulated sound advice and tips to help you with planning and in both park areas. Here’s exactly what you need to plan a visit and help you with your trip.
What Should We Do First?
This is probably the biggest concern for folks visiting both Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade and Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. So here’s what has always taken priority for my family: the most popular ride at each. Escape from Gringotts in Diagon Alley is, by far, the most popular ride right now. Second most? Forbidden Journey in Hogsmeade. Both are thrilling, fast moving rides with simulation.
If you get queasy or woosy on motion simulators you can still walk through the queue and exit before the ride begins. The queues are absolutely worth it compliments of the details from both the books and movies.
You also need to determine if you want park-to-park tickets that will get you into both parks on the same day or whether you’ll be visiting each on different days. If you only have one day to hit both HP sections, my tip is to head straight to Escape from Gringotts as the queue gets lengthier as the day progresses. Keep in mind that guests hitting rope drop (park opening) will undoubtedly be doing the same so there will be a bit of a wait regardless. Head to Hogsmeade after you’ve seen everything at Diagon Alley via the Hogswarts Express train and hit Forbidden Journey then. If you have two separate days to enjoy, you can definitely mosey more and really take in the details.
Will the Universal Express Unlimited Pass Get Me on Rides Faster?
Yes, and at the same time, a huge, resounding no. You’ll be able to jump on most of the rides in both parks with a super short wait – except for the three that really matter in regards to WWOHP. The Universal Unlimited Express Pass does not include Harry Potter and the Forbidden journey, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and Hogwarts Express. It does include Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge in Hogsmeade.
At the time this post was published, 2-Park Universal Express Unlimited Pass is $84.99 per person plus tax. If you would like to purchase it for other areas of the park, it will get you on more rides faster. We used them on our last two visits and enjoyed them very much.
Hogwarts Express? Yay or Nay?
For me and my family, definitely a yay. Finding Kings Cross Station near Diagon Alley is a hoot and the queue is so much fun. Once you board the train, there’s two different scenarios depending on which park you’re headed to. Harry, Ron, and Hermione make appearances in the walkway and the overall take made us feel like we were in one of the movies.
Note: To take a trip on Hogwarts Express you need to have park-to-park tickets.
An Interactive Wand or Not?
First point to make: the interactive wands are not cheap. With tax, you’ll end up paying right around $50 per wand. Having written that, each comes with a wand box and map giving locations on where the wand may be used in each area. Truth? Kids and adults love it and the cast spells make for some fun photo shots.
There’s also plenty of wands to choose from including Harry’s, Hermione’s, and even Dumbledore’s.
How Do I Get Chosen for the Wand Ceremony at Ollivanders?
Your guess is as good as mine. The Kid got lucky during a visit and, honestly, it was pure luck. What you can do, though: make sure you’re in the front of the group and look very enthusiastic. That’s all she did. Each chosen participant does have a wand picked for them that may be purchased, but that’s totally optional. The Kid did end up buying hers.
The wand ceremony is so much fun even if you don’t get picked, making it super popular at both park areas. The wait queue gets longer throughout the day so, if this one’s a priority, queue up first thing.
Where Should We Eat?
Both WWOHP areas have decent table service restaurants: The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley and Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. If I had to choose my favorite, I’d go with The Leaky Cauldron over Three Broomsticks. While both are pub style, I found both the menu items and ambiance better.
Each restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Both have comparable prices. Both fill up quickly. If you want to enjoy a meal without having a long wait in the ordering queue, arrive at the early end of meal times. We’re always hungry so it;s never a problem for us.
Butterbeer: Frozen or Not?
No matter who you ask, you’re bound to get a different answer as to which one is best. For my family? We always go with the frozen style. Both taste the same, the only difference is the consistency. If it’s hot enough the frozen will eventually thaw but I tend to find it stays colder longer.
Don’t think you’ll be a fan of either? You can still sample the flavor at Florean Fortiscue’s Ice-Cream Parlor in Diagon Alley.
I’m Not a Ride Fan. Will I Still Enjoy?
One word, yes. Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have live shows, shops, and other attractions to keep you engaged and your day filled. Truth? Diagon Alley has more non-ride fun but the general ambiance of both are worth visiting. Check out Gringotts money Exchange to change Muggle money into wizard currency, look for Kreacher in the widow of Grimmauld Place, and chat with a Night Bus Driver.
Wear super comfy shoes. Your feet will be thanking you. Also, even if you only have a single visit day, take a few moments to mosey around and look at the details. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rides and attractions, but it’s all of those minute details that makes us feel like were no longer in a Muggle’s world.
Disclosure: My family was hosted by Universal Orlando Resort to give you fine folks the scoop on what makes WWoHP so amazing. All opinions (and tips!) are my own!