Step into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and you’ll be faced with all things magic – rides with magical creatures and your favourite wizarding shops laced with details from the films. You won’t be a Muggle here, just a wizard-in-training cooking up a little magic of your own.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is spread across two parks in Florida’s Universal Studios Orlando. At Universal’s Islands of Adventure you’ll find the iconic spires of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry along with Hogsmeade village, while over in Universal Studios Florida there are the shops and restaurants of Diagon Alley. And to get between the two, you’ll have to hop onboard the famous Hogwarts Express train.
Because the two sections are broken into two distinct theme parks, you’ll need a park-to-park pass to visit both areas. Annual and seasonal passholders will have access too. Otherwise you can just visit one park with a single park ticket and come back for the second on your next holiday.
Fun facts about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- The parks are essentially carbon copies of the Harry Potter film sets – J.K. Rowling and the film’s production team were consulted on every little detail, so you’re getting the real deal when wandering these avenues.
- J.K. Rowling had the final say on the park’s Butterbeer recipe, so you know it’s authentic.
- Purchase a wand at Ollivander’s and you’ll be able to use it around the park at marked destinations to create a little magic of your own. Not all of the magical spots are marked, though, so you’ll have to do a little off-road wandering to find them all.
- There are details hidden within the park absolutely everywhere – behind the door of the Potions classroom, you’ll hear Neville getting scolded. A bird chirps in the vanishing cabinet at Borgin and Burkes. Kreacher the house elf pokes his head out from behind the curtains at 12 Grimmauld Place every few minutes. You just have to know where to look and what to look for.
Parks and attractions
Here’s a breakdown of each park and what you’ll find within.
Diagon Alley is the one-stop shopping district of the wizarding world. Cobbled and lined with age-old storefronts, it’s the beating heart of urban wizard life and is always a lively place. It’s where Hogwarts students come to pick up supplies for the oncoming school year and where wizards can grab a pint of Butterbeer away from Muggles’ wondering eyes. Look out for –
- Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes – The brainchild of trickster twins Fred and George Weasley, it’s where you can pick up all your jokey magic supplies and toys.
- Quality Quidditch Supplies – Everything you’ll need to play Quidditch – the most popular sport in the wizarding world – can be found here, including brooms, golden snitches and sweaters representing your favourite teams.
- Madam Malkins – Madam Malkins is where all wizards go for their school apparel, including robes, scarves and jumpers representing the four houses of Hogwarts.
- Ollivanders – At the finest wand shop in the wizarding world, you’ll be able to see how a wand chooses its owner and can even pick up your own, as well as the iconic wands made famous by the wizards in the Harry Potter films.
- Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment – Here, you’ll find all the magical accoutrements one might need in a wizarding household, including telescopes, compasses and hourglasses.
Enter the shadowy road that is Knockturn Alley and be prepared to encounter some not-so-friendly magic – it’s here where the dark arts linger around every corner.
Borgin and Burkes is where practitioners of the dark arts pick up all their creepy supplies when they’re up to no good. It’s here where you’ll find spooky curios including Death Eater masks and skulls.
Hogsmeade is an all-wizarding village that makes a great weekend getaway for Hogwarts students once they reach their third year, but only when they’ve been permitted. Harry famously didn’t get permission to join his friends initially, but that’s where his invisibility cloak came in handy. Look out for –
- Dervish and Banges – Dervish and Banges is essentially your one-stop shop for all things wizarding supplies, including Quidditch apparel, brooms, Hogwarts uniforms and other magical goods.
- Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods – As the caretaker of Hogwarts, Argus Filch will have undoubtedly come across a number of items no wizard would want to be caught with on school grounds. Here, you can see the assortment of magical contraband along with replicas of film props and pick up magical souvenirs and Hogwarts apparel.
- Honeyduke’s – All of the sugary sweetness seen in the Harry Potter films comes to life in one colourful package at Honeyduke’s, the official sweet shop of the wizarding world. It’s here where you can grab your own pack of Cauldron Cakes or Fizzing Whizzbees, Chocolate Frogs and the ever-popular Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans.
- Owl Post – Send a letter from the Owl Post – where a fleet of owls rests in the rafters – and your piece of post will bear the Hogsmeade postmark. The Owl Post is also where you can pick up an assortment of stationary goods and stamps, as well as cuddly owl toys and gifts.
Of course there are rides at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! It’s a theme park, after all. High-flying roller coasters and rides heavy on the visual effects add to the fun. Look out for –
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – Gringotts is the goblin-run bank that’s notoriously difficult to break into – not that that stopped Harry Potter. And it certainly won’t stop you. On this thriller, you’ll whisk through Gringotts’ underground vaults and passageways at breathtaking speeds alongside Harry, Ron and Hermione.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – On this epic adventure, you’ll enter Hogwarts and see iconic sites like the Room of Requirements and Dumbledore’s office, then soar over the grounds and get up close and personal with magical creatures.
- Dragon Challenge – Choose your dragon for one of the challenges in the Triwizard Tournament and then embark on a roller coaster ride of a lifetime. There are two dragons in total, each one offering up a unique ride.
- Flight of the Hippogriff – Onboard this family-friendly roller coaster you’ll come face to face with a Hippogriff at Hagrid’s hut and learn the proper way to greet this magical creature before taking flight on a ride of your own.
And finally, we have magical nibbles. Because in order to really feel like a wizard, you’ve got to eat like a wizard. Look out for:
- The Leaky Cauldron – Harry and Hagrid famously visited this hole-in-the-wall pub just after The Boy Who Lived discovered his wizarding heritage. It’s the entrance from the real world into the wizarding one. Now you too can dine here on favourite British dishes alongside a glass of Butterbeer.
- Forean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour – Here, you’ll find all things cold and sweet with tasty ice cream flavours popular among those in the wizarding world.
- Three Broomsticks – Traditional hearty British food like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips are on the menu at this rustic tavern, best washed down with a mug of Butterbeer or pumpkin juice.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for us, we’ll just be over in Hogwarts pretending we’ve just been accepted for next term. Planning a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? What are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below.
Can’t wait to start your Hogwarts adventure? Book your holiday to Florida today!