There’s a lot to see and do at Wizarding World at Universal Orlando! Some things you need to do, see, eat and drink are obvious. But there are other things you may not even know about! Avoid any disappointment by saving this post so you have all the info on what you can’t miss before you head to both Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.
Things You Can’t Miss at Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando!
What to Ride
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts Castle – Located in the Hogsmeade area of IOA, this motion simulator ride experience follows along as Harry, Ron and Hermione ride their brooms around Hogwarts dodging dragons and dementors. As you make your way to the actual ride, you’ll wander through the castle and see things like the Mirror of Erised, Dumbledore’s office, the Fat Lady, the Sorting Hat and more.
Flight of the Hippogriff – Also located in Hogsmeade, this smaller coaster is a more family friendly ride. In line, you’ll see Hagrid’s hut and Buckbeak.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – This bigger coaster ride took the place of Dueling Dragons, which had been a feature of IOA for many years prior to the HP addition. The pre-ride video features Hagrid, Fang, and Arthur Weasley accidentally setting a motorbike on fire. Once it’s time to board, you will choose whether to ride on the motorbike or in the sidecar. Both positions are thrilling. During the ride, you’ll see Fluffy, a Blast-Ended-Skrewt, the blue Ford Anglia car, Cornish Pixies, a centaur and more.
Escape from Gringotts – In Diagon Alley you’ll find the Escape from Gringotts ride. You enter through the bank lobby where you’ll see the most gorgeous chandeliers, marble floors and very realistic looking goblin tellers. This 4-D attraction is a combo of an indoor roller coaster and high definition virtual reality. You’ll feel like you are actually flying as you’re chased through the vaults by Bellatrix and Voldemort himself. It truly is a magical experience.
The Hogwarts Express – The train is the best way to get between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Keep in mind that you need a two park ticket to ride. Each train compartment holds up to six passengers. I recommend sitting across from each other and getting the seats by the window if possible. In the seats by the door, it’s difficult to see what’s happening outside the cabin doors. Be sure to ride the train both ways as the experience is different each way.
What to Do
Disappear into platform 9 and 3/4 – When you board the Hogwarts Express in London, you can actually disappear through the wall just like those wizards and witches do. Have a friend hang back to take a video of you walking through to the train platform.
Pick up the phone at the red booth outside of Diagon Alley – Dial 62442 (M-A-G-I-C) for a message from the Ministry of Magic. Apparently, the message changes so you may want to stop by more than once.
Spot Kreature at 12 Grimwald Place – Climb the steps to 12 Grimmauld Place and give a knock on the door. Then, be sure to look up to see Kreacher the house elf peaking out through the second story window.
Stop by the Knight Bus – The Knight Bus driver Stan Shunpike loves to chat and snap pictures with visitors. The feisty shrunken head hanging from the rear view mirror will also chat (when he’s awake). The first time we stopped by, he was napping. Swing by the back end of the bus for a great photo op.
Cash in your Muggle Money – Go to the bank and trade your cash for Wizarding money that you can use to buy things in the park. The goblin banker working on site will answer any questions you may have, but beware, he’s a bit of a grump.
Peek in the magic mirror – Stop in front of the magic mirror at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions and you’ll get an honest reaction to how you look.
Listen for Moaning Myrtle – Stop by the “public conveniences” of Hosmeade and you’ll hear the cries and complaints of Moaning Myrtle as she gives up her usual haunt at Hogwarts Castle to hang out here.
Visit the post office – Mail something in Hogsmeade and it will be sent with the official stamp. But know that if you’re looking for something to buy to mail on site, it’ll cost you. We recommend taking a letter along with you.
Get a wand tutorial – If you buy a wand and find yourself struggling with results at the spell stations, chat with one of the wand experts at the stores or cart. They can give you tips to get the best results – like the fact that the motion should be the size that it is on the gold plate, which is about the size of an adult hand.
Shop at Borgin and Burkes – Of all the stores in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, Borgin and Burkes in Knockturn Alley was our favorite for the most unique souvenirs. In the far back you’ll even find the vanishing cabinet used by Draco to sneak Deatheaters into the castle. If you put your ear up to the cabinet you can hear the canary he used for testing chirping inside.
What to Eat and Drink
Mix our own Butter Beer potion – There are multiple places to get Butter Beer but our favorite spot is The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. That’s because it’s a pub so you can sit and really enjoy your drink. Plus, because it’s a pub, you can order something a little stronger to use to practice your potion making skills. Just don’t do it in front of an employee. Grab a seat and discreetly mix up your concoction.
Dine at the Leaky Cauldron – If you’re looking for food or drink in Diagon Alley, this is the best spot. And the best deal on the menu is a glass of house wine (only $7.50). If you’re not a big eater, the kids fish and chips is the best option. It’s $7.49 for one piece of fish and a small order of fries. The adult size serving is $16.99!
Gilleywater is just water – Don’t be fooled thinking Gilleywater is something cute or creative. It’s a $5.50 bottle of water. That’s it. Apparently, at Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment stand in Carkitt Market you can get flavors added to your Gillywater but it was not in service while we were there. Either way, we recommend ordering Butter Beer, Pumpkin Juice or Fishy Green Ale instead.
Sweeten Up at Honeydukes – Honeydukes has the most tasty and picture perfect treats. Just look at these amazing pics we snapped with a cauldron cake in front of the dragon atop Gringott’s.
Of course, you MUST know that the dragon breathes fire. He does it every 15 minutes in fact. You’l hear him grumble right before he does so you’ll know it’s coming!
So there you have it: everything you need to know before you go to Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.
Want some ideas for non theme park related things to do in Orlando? Check out this article.
And don’t forget to read up in how to ease your anxiety while traveling right here.