My recent change of jobs allowed me to take a week off to relax and complete some chores. I also looked into cheap flight options and decided to go to Orlando to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Jeff and I had been to Universal’s Islands of Adventure just a few years before they opened the Harry Potter section. We loved the park on that trip, and I was really excited to see what they’d added.
In 2014, they opened a section in Universal Studios as well. That section is a recreation of Diagon Alley. We obviously wanted to see that as well, which necessitated a park-to-park ticket, which is currently $155 per person. After we got over our sticker shock, we purchased the tickets and got ready to go.
Right before we left, I found out through the magic of Facebook that a good friend, Amy, would be in Orlando the same time as us, chaperoning a school theater trip. As it turned out, we were able to be at Universal on the same day and we actually ran into her on the way into the park. Spending the day with a bunch of high school theater kids was actually pretty fun, but I probably rode way more rides than I would have otherwise.
Without further ado, here are some photos and highlights of our time at the park.
Hogsmeade – Islands of Adventure
The ride Dueling Dragons was lightly rethemed as Dragon Challenge. Let’s be clear: it’s the same ride. It’s a good roller coaster though.
Hogwarts Castle! Inside is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a cool 3D ride which did make both Jeff and I a little dizzy/queasy. Just being in line is cool though, as you go through various parts of the castle. I loved the moving paintings and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.
We had a cold butterbeer – it was tasty!
There are lots of stores to go into. The wand shop and the candy shop were really cool.
There is a train that goes between the parks – it’s of course the Hogwarts Express! It has some animated scenes out the window. The scenes are different each direction.
Diagon Alley – Universal Studios Florida
We arrived at King’s Cross Station at Platform 9 3/4!
We passed by the Knight Bus.
We went around a nondescript wall, and suddenly we were in Diagon Alley!
The building at the end, with the dragon, is Gringott’s. This has the ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott’s. It has a really cool line where you can see the goblin bank tellers. Also, it was tied for my favorite ride of the day! The other one that was excellent was Revenge of the Mummy, but that goes beyond the scope of this post…
I really loved all the shop window details in Diagon Alley especially. A lot of them are interactive if you buy a wand. The wands were $55 though, so I just watched little kids using their wands on the windows. We also ate at the Leaky Cauldron. The food wasn’t as horrifically overpriced as we feared, and it was quite good! I had bangers and mash.
Everywhere you turn, there is some interesting detail to take in. I really liked finding Knockturn Alley, but it was difficult to get a good picture with my phone as it was quite dark.
Be sure to hang around in front of Gringott’s for a bit to see the dragon breath fire.
My Overall Thoughts
We ended the day with a swing back through Hogsmeade at sunset.
Overall, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a fantastic place to go for Harry Potter fans young and old. I found the recreation of Diagon Alley especially enchanting, though Jeff preferred Hogsmeade. The 3D rides (Gringott’s and Forbidden Journey) are quite good, and worth waiting in line just to see the details in line!
Happily for us, it wasn’t as crowded as it could have been, and the waits were relatively short. If you are really interested in seeing everything, be sure to budget most of your time in the Harry Potter sections. We did go and ride other rides but didn’t have a lot of time for that. I also thought it was absolutely worth the extra $50 or so dollars to go to both parks.
It was absolutely a magical time!
Have you been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? What did you think?