If you are a fan of the boy wizard Harry Potter, feisty gal pal Hermione Granger, and best bud Ron Weasley and find yourself in Orlando, Florida, you must plan a trip to Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
That’s not to say that Universal Studios itself isn’t a sight to see, but for this adventure to Orlando, we came purely for the entire Harry Potter experience!
There are 2 Harry Potter lands to explore at two different Universal Studios parks with the Hogwarts Express Train linking the two parks together — Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios Florida, and Hogsmeade is at Universal Islands of Adventure, and each requires a separate admission ticket.
A 1-day Park-to-Park admission ticket is your best bet if you are on a budget but of course, that means you have to see both parks the very same day. With so much to see, do, and walk, you have to have a plan of attack and comfortable shoes!
If you do a little bit of planning for your visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you’ll be able to see both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, ride the Hogwarts Express and see some of the parks other attractions at Universal Studios all in the same day.
To be honest, we did not have children with us. I’m not entirely sure that you could accomplish as much as we did or would have wanted to if we had little ones in tow.
Here are a few of my tips to experience BOTH Wizarding World of Harry Potter parks in 1 day
1. Buy a Park Hopper and Express Pass
Express pass is imperative if you wish to do both Harry Potter worlds in one day so that you can skip the very long lines. However, be aware that since you will be walking through the shorter queue (not the regular long queue), you’ll miss some of the items on display that they have on-hand to keep you occupied.
Tip: if you take photos of the “moving” Daily Prophet – the images show up blank 🙁
2. Buy an interactive wand early in the day
If you plan on purchasing a wand, do it as soon as you enter the park so that you can “play” with it the entire day. I hummed and hawed at the cost of the wands, and by the time I decided to buy one, it wasn’t worth it because we were leaving soon.
When I say “play” I truly mean PLAY. Keep your eye out for gold medallions on the ground, and with a flick of the wrist and a little incantation you can interact with the displays and make “magic”!
3. Details Matter
The attention to detail is what I found fascinating about the entire Harry Potter experience. The details are everywhere — in the paint, walls, lights, doorknobs. It all looks so realistic and it’s an entirely immersive attraction if it weren’t for all the Muggles wandering around you would honestly think that you are in the movie.
4. Look up, down, and all around
There is always something happening somewhere. When we first boarded the Hogwarts Express train, we expected a simple train ride where we could close our eyes and rest our feet, but this was so wrong. Yes, we got to sit down, but we still had an interactive experience! As the train passed through the Forbidden Forest, the creatures that lived there ran alongside the outside of the train while witches and wizards walked the hallway. These little details are what make the whole trip fun.
At first, we didn’t bother going into the shops since we weren’t planning on buying anything and we didn’t want to waste time browsing. Mistake. The shops are immersive also, so do go inside and check out every one of them as well as look into the shop windows. Just leave your wallet zipped tight in your pocket.
5. Stay in Character
I love that the staff are in full character as you tour the park. Wizards and witches will refer to you with arrogance as Muggles, and although slightly rude, it adds to a realistic Harry Potter experience. Plus with so many of the other park visitors in their own newly purchased school uniforms and cloaks, it helps you identify who works there and who doesn’t.
I did find it amusing when we were lost and asked a staff member at Kings Cross Station for directions to Diagon Alley and he claimed (in his best British accent) that he hadn’t heard of such a place before. After seeing my expression, he winked, quickly dropped the British accent and in an “American” accent pointed us on our way.
6. Pack Light
In the past, when we would go to theme parks, we would bring a backpack with snacks and water, etc. but I’ve come to change my mind on this idea over the years. Sure, it helps keep the budget small, and it’s great to be hands-free, but it’s also cumbersome in crowds, it gets in the way when you want to go on rides, and it takes time to find an empty locker, stow your belongings, and then retrieve your belongings afterwards. Not to worry though if you do have baggage with you, Universal Studios makes it easy for you to store your belongings with free locker stations at every ride.
If you go with the plan of having everything in your pockets – and I do mean travelling without even a purse Ladies – you’ll be able to queue up for rides straight away and save some precious touring time.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a fabulous way for kids of all ages to immerse themselves in the books of author J.K. Rowlings. Imagining oneself living in a magical land is part of what travel (and being a kid) is all about.
Travel assistance provided by Universal Studios Orlando. All opinions as always are our own.
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