Okay, this is going to be a long post but I hope it’s informational for anyone who is considering going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando! This is my second time, but first timewith both parks so I’m going to start with the planning phase and then we’ll dive into where/what you should visit and all the attractions.
Planning your trip:
Like I said, I’ve gone to the theme park more than once. The first time was by a vacation package, this second time was for a visit on top of some days in St. Petersburg (more on this later). If you’re wondering which is the cheaper version, that would be the package. You can usually get packages which include park to park admission (which you need now– they put the two ‘worlds’ in two parks), the hotel and flight for about $600 for 4 days. You can find more information here: Universal Orlando.
This trip however, wasn’t done that way. Park to Park Admission for one day will cost you about $165. If you want to upgrade that to have the speed pass, it will cost you $249, which is a significant difference. The speed pass is great if you’re going during peak season. We were not. I was able to find what the average wait time on the day we were going about a week ahead of time by using this website: Orlando Informer. This was probably one of the best things that I found. I would highly recommend using it because it was almost spot on when it came to wait times once we were at the park.
Experiencing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:
Once you get there, if you can, I would recommend downloading the Universal App just for the day because it will provide you with the wait times for ALL rides. You can also find out where they are, and get notifications when the wait times decrease. For us, going outside of peak season, the longest we waited was 30mins, when I went a few years ago (in May)– some of the wait times were closer to an hour.
Once you get there, I would suggest starting in Universal Studios first if you want to follow the story. There you will walk through picturesque London, England. While in London, you will stroll to Grimmauld Place and see where Sirius Black lived. Then you will walk through some ‘stones’ and be immersed into Diagon Alley. Let me tell you. I squealed when I saw it. I had no idea the new park was going to be that fantastic! I felt like I had walked into a dream and as a Harry Potter fan I was totally in love. Even my friend who went with me (who hasn’t seen more than 2 of the movies) was shocked, surprised and overall impressed with what they did.
After you enjoy the Gringotts Ride (let me know how it is– we skipped it — another reason to go back!). You can walk through Knockturn Alley, exchange some of your money for Gringotts notes, get something to eat, go to Zonko’s joke shop and listen to some live performances.
Once you are through all of that, you get to experience Platform 9 3/4 as well which is just fabulous and will bring you to Islands of Adventure. It actually looks like King’s Cross Station, there are even signs telling you to visit London and touristy posters. It got me so excited for my England trip in 2018! Anyway, as you go through the wall of platform 9 3/4 you will then take the Hogwarts Express over to Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. The train ride is short but fun. You don’t see the park, but instead you go on an interactive ride through what Harry, Ron and Hermoine would see on their way to school. This is why you need the park to park admission and it’s how you get from one park to another. If you have the park to park ticket, it will be super easy. I would recommend taking the train twice. This is because each trip has a different journey to it so if you want to experience it all, go back and forth to the parks.
Once you get to the other side, I would recommend getting a butterbeer or pumpkin juice. I like the butterbeer frozen but that’s just me. If the line isn’t too long, I would then say go stand in line with your butterbeer for Ollivander’s. There you can watch a reenactment of someone having a wand chosen for them. It’s pretty neat but if the line is really long I would say you could skip this. You can also walk into Ollivanders and get your own wand– based on your birthday or just based on your favorite character. I had trouble with this one but ended up choosing Sirius (I was between Sirius, Snape and McGonnagall). Then stop over on the other side of Ollivanders where you can buy some post cards and have them stamped as if the postage was from Hogsmead. You can also have them mail it for you but that becomes really expensive (about $30 for postcards and postage stamps). If you didn’t get food at Diagon Alley, you can get food at the Three Broomsticks.
There are three rides on this side of the park, we didn’t do the Dueling Dragons (I really need to go with my boyfriend next time) so I won’t talk about that one. The Hogwarts Ride and Flight of the Hippogriff we did ride though. Flight of the Hippogriff to me is a children’s ride. It’s really short and not very tall so I think anyone could go on it. My friend was a little nervous but I thought it was fine and I’m not a rollercoaster rider. The Hogwarts ride is a little scarier but so worth it (I would recommend seriously cautioning on this one if you have little ones with you)! My friend who doesn’t like things that pop out at her was a little scared but she enjoyed it anyway. This interactive ride really provides you with an experience of a lifetime. I have never been on a ride like it before. What’s even better is that even though the ride could have a long wait, it wouldn’t matter! The line is so imaginative, that it’s worth going through twice just to see everything. I don’t want to spoil it, but if you don’t want to go on the ride but some friends do I would recommend walking through it with them. I was kind of bummed that our line moved so fast, we weren’t able to really experience all it has to offer.
Last but not least, I would recommend going to Honeydukes to get some chocolate frogs or bertie bots. I recommend doing this last because if it’s hot, the chocolate will melt!
I wish I had more to write just so I could post more of my photos but I don’t. If you catch me on instagram you will see more though. Will I be going back? Absolutely! Third time is a charm! Let me know if you have any questions!