I had the wonderful opportunity to delve into the magical world of Harry Potter by visiting Universal Studios The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in October of 2016. And it was as wonderful as I would have hoped.
First off, I would suggest buying your tickets online. It saves the hassle of waiting in line the day of your visit. Printing out your ticket assures an easy and quick entrance to the park. Another suggestion is to buy the Park-to-Park pass. This allows you to ride the Hogwarts Express from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure or vice versa.
I went to Islands of Adventure first, and I recommend you do that, only because it’s where you enter through Hogsmeade, the village where Harry Potter and friends would take field trips.
A replica of The Hogwarts Express is there to take photos with, there’s a butterbeer stand nearby, and plenty of fun shops to peruse in Hogsmeade such as Dervish and Banges, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, Honeydukes, and the most important, Ollivander’s, where you can get your very own wand.
As you walk through, Hogwarts comes into view, and it’s an incredible sight. The castle is huge, the music is playing, and you’re instantly transported into J.K. Rowling’s world. *Warning* Potterheads may experience teary eyes as you see your favorite book come to life. Sure, you’ve seen it in the film, but there’s nothing like seeing it in front of you.
One thing you want to keep in mind is time to see and experience everything. Lines for the rides can get extremely lengthy, so head on over to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (located in the Hogwarts castle) and shop later. Not that the wait isn’t enjoyable. You roam inside Hogwarts, getting to see Dumbledore’s office, his phoenix statue, all the talking paintings. You even spot Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
After you’ve made your way through the corridors and classrooms and have come into contact with some magical creatures, you can ride the Dragon Challenge, a high speed rollercoaster, or Flight of the Hippogriff. Getting hungry? Stop at The Three Broomsticks for some British food in a rustic tavern.
After that, make your way over to Platform 9 ¾ where you can catch the Hogwarts Express to Universal Studios to hit up Diagon Alley! You actually get the opportunity to ride the train which is just as awesome as you’d think. Unfortunately, it’s a little dark inside, but the experience is memorable.
As you hit Universal Studios, you exit King’s Cross Station. Suddenly you’re in London – and in front of you is the Knight Bus, where Stan Shunpike will be standing to chat with you. Even the talking head is there. You also can find The Leaky Cauldron, where you can eat in a pub setting. Sirius Black’s pad, Grimmauld Place is nearby as well.
Diagon Alley can be tricky to find, especially for muggles, but once you’ve entered through that brick wall you are back in the magical world, seeing places like Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, The Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes (an amazing joke shop), Borgin and Burkes, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Quality Quidditch Supplies (where you can actually purchase full Quidditch gear), and much more! And be sure to fill up on some Pumpkin Juice!
Once again, if you want to try to avoid long lines, head on over first thing to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. You won’t be able to miss the crooked bank at the end of the alley with a huge dragon sitting atop of it. Just an FYI – he spits fire occasionally! Once inside Gringotts, you will see a familiar sight with goblins managing the lobby, chandeliers of epic proportions, and winding staircases leading you to an adventure through the vaults. But don’t fret, Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Griphook will be there with you to get you through the dangers!
This was probably my favorite ride, but as I said, the wait can be long, so be sure to tackle the important rides first. After that’s done, take time to stop in front of the stores and use your wand to cast spells. Then make it a point to have the best drink ever – butterbeer! There are different types – frozen (almost like a Frappuccino), regular, and there’s even an adult option. You can keep the mug and buy drinks at a discount throughout the day!
Take a seat at The Hopping Pot and enjoy the atmosphere around you. Can I just say that white cream on top is the absolute yummiest thing I’ve ever tasted? I dream of butterbeer!
I shopped a ton, and I have to admit, I haven’t gotten rid of the bags.
Overall, I was incredibly happy with my Harry Potter experience. The only downfall was that I didn’t have enough time to wander around and enjoy everything to its fullest. The park closed early for Halloween Horror Nights, so before I knew it the time had come for the park to close.
The best part of all, however, was experiencing everything with friends. I can’t wait to visit again!
DISCLAIMER – This is the opinion and experience of Life, Books & Loves. I was in no way compensated for this post. All photos owned by Life, Books & Loves.