Make the Most of Your Magical Visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Jan 26, 2017

By Rich W.

A myriad of wizards, witches and Muggles alike will descend upon The Wizarding World of Harry Potterat Universal Orlando Resort January 27 – 29, 2017, for the fourth-annual A Celebration of Harry Potter, which will feature the largest Harry Potter Expo in event history, as well as film talent Q&A sessions, special panels and demonstrations, authentic movie props, film trivia, Fan Art Walk and much more! Special guests at A Celebration of Harry Potter will include Warwick Davis (“Professor Flitwick” and “Griphook”), Matthew Lewis (“Neville Longbottom”), Nick Dudman (makeup and creature effects designer for the Harry Potter films) and Pierre Bohanna (head propmaker on all of the Harry Potter films), among others. Access to A Celebration of Harry Potter is included with regular theme park admission or with an annual or seasonal pass. However, certain activities during the event are available on a first-come, first-served basis. In honor of A Celebration of Harry Potter, below is a brief profile of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – which consists of Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, as well as Hogwarts Express, which travels between both magical lands. In addition, the insider tips provided will help you make the most of your Orlando vacation to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort!

Hogsmeade – Islands of Adventure

Nestled within Universal’s Islands of Adventure (between The Lost Continent and Jurassic Park), Hogsmeade is home to two amazing thrill rides: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (located within Hogwarts Castle) and Dragon Challenge (billed as a “high-speed roller coaster across the sky”). In addition, Hogsmeade features a kiddie coaster called Flight of the Hippograff. Purchase an interactive wand at Ollivanders and enjoy a delicious bite to eat at Three Broomsticks, a rustic tavern that serves British pub fare such as fish & chips, shepherd’s pie, rotisserie chicken, ribs, salads and Butterbeer (a nonalcoholic beverage that tastes like a combination of butterscotch and cream soda). Relax and unwind in the Hog’s Head pub, which offers domestic and imported beers, specialty drinks, wine, spirits and mixed drinks. Shop for assorted treasures at Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods; magical supplies and wizarding equipment at Dervish and Banges; and incredible treats at Honeydukes, the legendary sweetshop at Hogsmeade.

Hogwarts Express

With park-to-park admission or an annual pass, guests can ride the Hogwarts Express to travel between both lands and truly immerse themselves into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (the special effects aboard the train are truly amazing – watch out for those Dementors!). Guests may board Hogwarts Express at Hogsmeade Station in Hogsmeade or King’s Cross Station in Diagon Alley.

Diagon Alley – Universal Studios Florida

Cleverly tucked into the Northeast corner of Universal Studios Florida (between San Francisco and World Expo) Diagon Alley was built on the site of the former Jaws ride (in the window of Mr. Mullpepper’s Apothecary, you can view a set of shark’s teeth that serves as a tribute to Jaws). Diagon Alley is home to the thrill ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, as well as the purple, triple-decker Knight Bus (where guests can chat with a shrunken head hanging from the rear-view mirror!), Ollivanders wand shop, Gringotts Money Exchange and many corridors full of Harry Potter specialty stores such as Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Borgin and Burkes, Magical Menagerie, Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment and Quality Quidditch Supplies. Dining options within Diagon Alley include Leaky Cauldron (fish & chips, bangers & mash and cottage pie) and Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. Try some Butterbeer at Fountain of Fair Fortune or a draft beer at The Hopping Pot.

Insider Tips (Spoiler Alerts!)

  • Arrive early (both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley sections fill up extremely fast!) and hit the thrill rides – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (by far the most popular thrill ride at WWoHP), Dragon Challenge or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – first.

  • Buy the Park-To-Park Pass, which is the only way you will be able to access both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley via Hogwarts Express.

  • Make sure to take time to wander aimlessly through Diagon Alley – wonderful surprises await you around every corner!

  • By purchasing a special wand at Ollivanders (located at either Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley), you can activate sensors throughout the park to cast special spells for a true interactive experience.

  • Have your camera ready to catch the dragon on top of Gringotts Bank breathing fire about every 10 minutes!

  • If you wait patiently outside 12 Grimmauld Place, you will be rewarded with a glimpse of “Kreacher” peeking out of the second-floor window.

  • Make sure to indulge in special treats such as Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice or a Peppermint Toad from Honeydukes during your WWoHP visit.

  • Watch as others enter platform 9 ¾ to board the Hogwarts Express and it actually appears like they are going through the wall (a great video op, by the way!).

  • Be advised that even if you do not enjoy thrill rides, you are welcome to walk through both Hogwarts Castle and Gringotts Bank to experience the amazing details of each attraction without actually going on the rides.

  • Take the opportunity to send a postcard from the Owl Post “to all of your Potterhead friends” – addressed by quill and featuring a Hogsmeade seal!

  • Hear “Moaning Myrtle” chatting away in the restroom in Hogsmeade.

  • Ask the goblin seated at Gringotts Money Exchange some questions and wait for his sometimes humorous and sarcastic replies.

  • Visit the bright red phone booth outside of King’s Cross Station and dial “MAGIC” to reach the Ministry of Magic.

  • Don’t miss the live shows at Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley scheduled throughout the day such as the Frog Choir, Triwizard Spirit Rally, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees and The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

  • Stroll down Knockturn Alley inside Diagon Alley and meet the animatronic snake hissing parseltongue in the window of the Magical Menagerie shop.

When visiting A Celebration of Harry Potter, stay at Westgate Palace Resort, a Two-Bedroom Villa Resort. Plus, enjoy complimentary transportation to the theme park (so you don't have to pay for parking).

Other tagged pages of interest: orlando hotels near disney, resorts near universal studios orlando, lake buena vista resort, kissimmee resorts, kissimmee hotels, hotels orlando, orlando resorts, resort hotels, staycations