Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I'm a big Harry Potter fan; I actually visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter's Hogsmeade the same month it opened!  Once I knew I would be returning to Orlando for the Disney marathon, I had to return to check out Diagon Alley, which opened last summer.  I had about 5 hours to kill before my parents would arrive, so I headed to the parks straight from the airport.

The first thing I will mention is that it isn't cheap to visit the Wizarding World.  Parking is $17, and to visit both parks (Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are split) with the park-to-park ticket is $136 for an adult, for a day.  You really get the most bang for your buck at Universal in planning ahead and spending multiple days at the park.  That said, because I knew I wanted to focus on the Harry Potter pieces, I knew it was worth the investment to be able to linger and wander.
As you approach the entrance to Diagon Alley, you get to walk by 12 Grimmauld Place and the Knight Bus.  Tons of people stop to take photos.  It's fantastic just how much attention to detail they put into everything!  It's like a movie set.

The entrance into Diagon Alley is fantastic.  It's tight, so the crowds can get crazy, but it's tight for a reason... you really feel like you walked into the real deal.  You can see Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and Gringotts Bank, complete with dragon!

There are stores and things to wander through, including a creepy and excellently executed Knockturn Alley!  There were so many Harry Potter fans decked out and dressed up to be there, including some adult couples in school robes that looked adorable.

My favorite part of Diagon Alley was the Escape from Gringotts ride.  I get motion sick pretty easily, but this ride didn't bug me at all!   My only complaint it that it was too short... it was really fun.  I will mention that I didn't get to see the full inside of Gringotts because I chose to do the Single Rider line... you have a much shorter wait, but you don't get to see all the rooms and whatnot as you linger in the queue for an hour.

After enjoying Diagon Alley, I took the Hogwarts Express to and from Hogsmeade.   The video on the train ride is a different experience each way, so I recommend taking advantage and going both ways!  There is often a wait for the train, just like any other ride.

I enjoyed my return to Hogsmeade.  I had lunch at the Three Broomsticks and a warm butterbeer to boot.  It was a chilly day!  I also got to ride the Forbidden Journey again.  I recommend first-timers not to use the Single Rider line, because you miss Dumbledore's office and more.  I was fine skipping it since I'd been before.  I also noticed so many spots in both parks where you could start, wave your wand, and make something "magical" happen.  Again, the attention to detail is phenomenal!  I bought a cute little storage jar at Honeydukes as a souvenir, using my "Muggle currency" for the purchase.  (The employees are all in character!)

If you're a self-admitted Harry Potter fan like me (or a closet fan) you HAVE to visit this place.  There are only two places I feel I would have a more awesome movie magic experience: the Harry Potter studio tour in London, and Hobbiton in New Zealand.  And this is much more affordable, and loads of fun even while you're waiting in lines.

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P.S.  Dan is a huge Simpsons fan, so I had to get him some Duff beer gear on my walk to Diagon Alley!  There's a whole Simpsons area in Universal that he would have loved seeing.


  1. We have yet to make it to Universal. Corey has been several times. It's hard to get out of the bubble once you're in it.

  2. I agree. If I wasn't such a big Harry Potter fan, I would never leave the Disney parks and resorts!!!

  3. I think I am the only human not Harry Potter obsessed. I have read a book and seen 2 movies, but I don't love it. It kind of pisses me off because it looks super fun and magical and filled with stuff to get excited about, but I just can't get into it. Even Jamie is into it...and he has been accepting of my lameness. Someone told me I must not be into majical realism...which may be spot on. Anyway, I am saying this because I scrolled through all your pictures wishing I could get as excited about something as most people get about Harry Potter, then I saw the Simpsons stuff and my eyes lit up! I guess I'm with Dan on that one. :)

  4. Don't worry, you're not alone. Dan is not into Harry Potter (nor are pretty much any of my work friends). One of the reasons I went too Universal in the first place was because I was by myself, as I would hate to drag Dan (or my parents!) through all the Wizarding World stuff... it just wasn't created for him. I got into the books in high school, and the movies. Lord of the Rings too. But I don't shove my fandoms on anyone else who isn't into it.

    Dan was entirely jealous of The Simpsons area though. I got him a Duff beer shirt and he really liked it.

  5. Gosh, I am so obsessed with Harry Potter. I went to the one in Osaka, Japan and it was nowhere as magical. But still magical nonetheless!

  6. I hear the Osaka one has a Hogsmeade that is VERY similar, but there is definitely something magical about being able to visit the two "sides" of the Wizarding World connected by the train.


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