First Time Tips for Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an amazing experience for everyone in your family! If you are a first timer, planning the experience can be daunting, and I am excited to share my tips with you!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the most well-themed “land” in any theme park in Orlando.  When you step into Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade, you are in an entirely different world. The props, shops, food, entertainment, and everything in between completely transport you to a different time and place immediately. 

First Timer Tips for Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Whether you are just starting the Harry Potter series, or you have binge watched the movies umpteen times, there is something for everyone tucked in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and today I am going to share some first time tips for visiting the Wizarding World.

Where is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Located?

First, you need to know where to find the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal Orlando was genius in creating this.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter spans both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. The Hogwarts Express connects them, so you do need a “park to park” ticket if you are going to ride the Hogwarts Express.

Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios, and Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are located in Islands of Adventure.  If your family would like to visit both of these AND ride the Hogwarts Express, you need a park to park ticket.  Should you choose to add a 1-park per day ticket, then you can only visit one side a day, you cannot travel between both.

First timer Tips for Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

What Should We Visit First?

In my opinion, it is ideal to start in Diagon Alley.  This is where Harry started his journey, right? And then board the Hogwarts Express to the other side.  Just outside of King’s Cross Station, you will see the purple double decker bus.  Great photo op!  Also, you can explore Grimmauld Place, just as if you were in London.  This area has SO many good photo ops. Behind the very unassuming brick wall, lies Diagon Alley. As soon as you enter, you know you are in a special place!  The sites, sounds, and Gringott’s Bank all tell you that you are in a new world!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter ~ Diagon Alley Tips

While in Diagon Alley, you can explore Ollivander’s, and go through the wand choosing process.  This is VERY fun, and you can also just shop if you’d like. The line here gets kind of long. So, we like to go at park close, or very early in the day so we are not waiting too long.  Another one of my favorite shops is the Quality Quidditch Supplies.  Really take the time to soak in the details in the shops, and in the windows.  It is just amazing!

As far as attractions, Escape from Gringott’s is the only attraction in Diagon Alley.  This attraction accepts Express Pass, and that is a huge timesaver! This is a simulator thrill ride, sort of roller coaster through the bank’s underground.  There is really nothing like it!

After you have explored Diagon Alley, hop on the Hogwarts Express.  This will take you to Islands of Adventure, and you will be at Hogwarts Castle before you know it!

First timer Tips for Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Wizarding World of Harry Potter ~ Hogsmeade Tips

One “can’t miss” stop at Hogsmeade is Honeydukes. This sweet shop is SO fun, and you can even take home some chocolate “frogs”. Be sure to also take time to look at the shop windows, and take in all those details.  Another great merchandise location is the Owl Post. 

Did you know you can buy a pack of Harry Potter postcards, as well as stamps?  Take them to the employees outside, and they will stamp them with a Hogsmeade postmark. So cool!! There is also an Ollivander’s in Hogsmeade, so if you missed it in Diagon Alley, you can visit it in Hogsmeade.

First timer Tips for Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

There are three attractions in Hogsmeade. The Flight of the Hyppogriff and Forbidden Journey are both eligible for Express Pass.  The queue for Forbidden Journey is AMAZING.  You really see all the nooks and crannies of Hogwarts.  The third attraction is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.  This attraction is AMAZING, and so worth the wait. This does not currently accept Express Pass, so be sure to get there at park opening to get in the queue.

5 Basic Tips for Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  1. Express Pass.  Since all the Harry Potter attractions accept Express Pass, except Hagrid’s, you will save SO much time in line with Express Pass.  Guests of most onsite Universal Hotels are eligible. If you are not at one of the eligible hotels, you can pay to upgrade and add it to your ticket.  There is nothing worse than whiny kids in line, and Express Pass eliminates that and allows your family to enjoy so much!
  1.  Wait until your children are 8 or 9 to visit Universal Orlando for the first time. There is plenty for the whole family.  But, my stance is that the Universal parks are geared toward older kids, and they will appreciate and understand the Wizarding World so much more if they are a tad older.
  1. Don’t miss the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle. Typically, there are two shows. They do rope off sections, and will turn you away if they are full.  We found that the bridge along Hogwarts was ideal space to watch.  We arrived about 30-minutes before the show started.  The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle is absolutely spectacular!  It is a fairly short show, but so worth the wait.  
  1. Butterbeer is a must. Butterbeer is plentiful on both sides of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  You can try it 4 ways ~ frozen, hot, ice cream, and cold. I prefer the ice cream version, but the frozen Butterbeer is a close second!
  1. Do not rush through the Wizarding World.  I cannot even explain how much detail is in every area of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.  The shops, the fire breathing dragon, the props in the shops, it is all just amazing.  Be sure to take so many photos!  

Will your family be visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?  I hope so!

Carrie Hurst

Not only do I love sharing all my vacation tips and ideas here on A Princess and Her Pirates, but I also work alongside families to create magical vacation memories year after year! Email me at carrie@destinationsinflorida.com to begin the planning process, and join hundreds of families on my current guest list.

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