Today starts the first day of the Harry Potter Celebration at Universal Studios in Orlando, the only official event that celebrates everything Harry Potter. Last year we took a quick trip to Universal Studios and it was serendipity that it was the same weekend as the 3rd annual event. We had a blast! One of the best things about going this weekend is the people watching and seeing all the costumes. There were groups of Death Eaters, professors and even a group Beauxbaton girls dressed in powder blue.
It is becoming an increasingly popular event, and judging from Instagram posts, people travel from all over the world to attend this event. The attention to detail that Universal Studios has given to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has really raised the bar for theme parks in my opinion and I want to share my 15 top tips . This year the NFL Pro Bowl is being held the same weekend which may increase the crowds so you’ll want to pay particular attention to tips #1 and #14.
15 Top Tips for muggles visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Florida:
- Arrive early….. be at the entrance of either park about 30 minutes before the scheduled open time. They usually let you in before the park ‘officially’ opens.
- There are 2 parks within Universal (Islands of Adventures and Universal) and each has a section of the WWHP. Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are located in Islands of Adventures. Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios.
- The Hogwarts Express takes you between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley but you must have a Park to Park ticket to ride. It is worth the extra $$$. Make sure to ride it in both directions. It is a different experience each way. You can take food and drinks on the train, so grab a Butterbeer and enjoy the ride.
- Dress up in wizards robes, a favorite character or at least a HP t-shirt. Otherwise, everyone will know you’re a Muggle. People wathching was a big part of the experience. Wizards robes are $109 at WWHP, plan ahead and order one online ahead of time.
- The entrance to Diagon Alley from Universal is not marked… on purpose to keep Muggles at bay. Enter at the red brick wall in front of the Knight Bus.
- If you followed Tip no 1 and arrived early…. go ride Escape from Gringotts in Diagon Alley or HP and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff in Hogwarts. Later, ride again. The lines will be longer but you will have time to absorb all the detail as you wind thru the line. For the ones that don’t want to ride…they should stand in line with you to see all the cool stuff. They can take the exit before boarding time. The ride itself is only half of the experience for true HP fans as you wind thru the castle, see Dumbledore’s office or the Sorting Hat.
- Flight of the Hippogriff – is a small roller coaster and cannot accommodate a lot of riders, so wait times are long after 11. Ride it…it is the only way you can see Buckbeak and so worth it!
- It is worth the wait to go to Olivander’s (in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade) for the mini show. You may purchase a wand ($50 in the shop. They come with a map of locations you can visit, cast a spell to make something happen…. very cool and not just for kids! Sweetie especially enjoyed drinking a beer by the statue of a Merpeople and watching wizards cast spells on unsuspecting Muggles in Diagon Alley.
- Buy a Butter Beer! You can buy one in a collectible mug for $13. Soda refills are $1.00 and Butter Beer refills are $6.95. Or you can buy one for $6.95 in a plastic cup. There are 2 kinds, cold or frozen.. frozen are by far the best and both non-alcoholic.
- Buy regular beer! There was a good selection of draft beers.. about $8.00
- Go in all the shops. Look up while in the shops…. there is so much to see from Delores Umbridge on a unicycle at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes to the Monster Book of Monsters at Dervish and Bange’s.
- Check out Knockturn Alley. It is not well marked, there is one entrance by the restrooms. Small children may be scared as it is dark and soooo cool. Inside you’ll find Borgin and Burkes, make sure to check out the vanishing cabinet by the register.
- We did not eat at the Leaky Cauldron, but just walked thru. Again so much to see including the wanted poster of Sirius Black.
- Download the Universal Studios AP. This gives you a list of shops, attractions, dining and even ride wait times.
- Read or watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner from Azkaban before you go to ‘refresh your memory’ and make anyone in your party do the same especially if they have never read the books, it will make their experience so much more enjoyable.
The attention to detail is simply amazing at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While there are not a lot of rides, true HP fans will be ecstatic to step inside the beloved books and simply wander about the shops, people watch and make new friends. There are other attractions at Universal Studios, we only spent a short time at those and only wanted to stay in WWHP.
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