Whether you are completely obsessed or mildly amused with the Harry Potter books and movies, you absolutely have to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios in Florida. It’s the best bet for reliving the magic we all love from the famous series.
J.K. Rowling herself helped design this Universal experience, and you will be amazed at how much awe you experience once immersed in this enchanting world. There’s so much magic and wonder to absorb in the parks that adults will love it just as much as kids.
Don your robes, grab your wand, and use your Firebolt (or other broomstick of your choosing) to fly straight to Universal Studios immediately!
1.) Hogwarts Express
One of the most exciting experiences for true Harry Potter fans is to take the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station to Hogwarts Castle. Visitors pass through a vanishing brick wall to emerge onto platform 9 3/4. Once aboard the train, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto the actual movie set because the cabins look exactly like they did in the films. Of course there’s always some excitement aboard the Hogwarts Express, so the journey to Hogwarts definitely isn’t dull. Once you’ve arrived in Hogsmeade Village you’ll probably stop in your tracks as you glace up the street and see the magnificent Hogwarts Castle.
2.) Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Join one of Harry’s impossible adventures while riding this thrilling journey around the grounds of Hogwarts. This ride is intense, so if you’re unwilling or unable to ride, there is an opportunity to walk through the line without going on the ride. The walk through allows you to see all of the details of the castle like the Fat Lady portrait, the mandrakes in the greenhouse, Dumbledore’s office, and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom where you’ll meet Harry, Hermione, and Ron. The line to embark on this ride is almost as enjoyable as the ride itself, so make sure to take your time and enjoy the details of the castle.
3.) Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Before you enter this one-of-a-kind experience, pause for a few moments to appreciate the fire-breathing dragon that guards Gringotts’ treasures. Once inside, you will pass through the bank’s ornately decorated (yet dreadfully dusty) lobby and into the vaults. Then, when you board the ride, absolute chaos ensue. If you’re lucky enough to escape the grasp of Bellatrix and Voldemort, you’ll probably be dying to ride it again.
Yes, butterbeer deserves its own spot on the list. You can have it cool and frothy, frozen, or as ice cream – there are so many ways to choose! Just don’t follow in my footsteps and get them all within an hour of each other. I’m no Seer, nor did I earn top marks in Divination class, but I foresee a tummy ache in your future if you have too much butterbeer at one time.
5.) Diagon Alley
If you can find your way into Diagon Alley through the unmarked brick walls then you must be a true wizard or witch because there are enchantments to prevent muggles from entering. Once through the brick wall, you will know what Harry felt like on his first visit to Diagon Alley with Hagrid. Unique storefronts line the walkway and Gringotts Bank can be seen towering in the background. Don’t miss the performances of Celestina Warbeck (one of Molly Weasley’s favorite singers), or the puppet reenactment of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
6.) Olivanders Wand Shop
Not only is a visit to Olivanders Wand Shop a place to purchase your wand but also it’s an experience. Once you witness the joy of a wand choosing its wizard, you will want a wand to choose you as well. I highly encourage purchasing a wand because all wizards and witches need a wand, and you’ll get the opportunity to test your magical skills throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. There are marked as well as secret locations where you can wave your wand and say an incantation to watch your magic in action. Just make sure to get it right or you might end up eating slugs!
7.) Leaky Cauldron
Get your fill of hearty traditional British fare at the Leaky Cauldron just like Harry did before venturing into Diagon Alley. This pub is reminiscent of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, with cathedral ceilings, dark corners, and Wanted posters of Sirius Black posted throughout. Before entering, take note of the sign above the entrance – the cauldron actually leaks!
8.) Huneydukes Sweet Shop
You will literally feel like a kid in a candy store when you set foot in this tantalizing shop. The bright, colorful displays will make you want to try one of everything. Don’t miss the Bernie Bott’s every flavor beans, fizzing whizzbees, caldron cakes, or chocolate frogs complete with collectible card, which will please every Harry Potter fan.
9.) Mail your Post from the Owl Post
If you have postcards to mail, bring them with you to the Owlery. You will be the envy of your friends and family when they receive their mail that’s been posted-marked from Hogsmeade. While you’re at it, mail one to yourself – it makes a great souvenir.
10.) Knockturn Alley
Knockturn Alley isn’t just a place for wizards who are looking for trouble, it’s a place for those who are looking for adventure! Brave a trek down this dark alley where shadows lurk and enter Borgin and Burkes to browse the unusual assortment of objects and check out the vanishing cabinet. You might be able to make out a chirping noise by the bird Draco sent from the Room of Requirement.
It’s clear that attention to detail was of utmost importance when designing the parks, and it definitely pays off. From the mystical music that plays through the speakers, to the house elves that peak out the windows, to Moaning Myrtle making her presence known in the Hogmeade bathrooms, it’s amazing that even with all of the muggles surrounding us, we can still feel like we’ve landed right in the middle of the wizarding world!