Universal Studios Orlando Tips for Harry Potter | Best Things to Do at Harry Potter Wizarding World

Universal Studios Orlando tips for Harry Potter World and the best things to do at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando Florida.

Before you can plan your Harry Potter day you need to know a few details about the parks. “Harry Potter Land” is actually The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and there are two different locations, at two parks.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley is located at Universal Studios. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade Village is located at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

They are connected by the Hogwarts Express train. In order to visit both Harry Potter areas in one day and to ride the Hogwarts Express, guests must have a park-to-park ticket.

Both parks offer an incredible Harry Potter experience and are worth visiting. Our Universal Orlando tips for Harry Potter World will help you ride the most popular rides and are great for first time visitors.

hogwarts express at universal orlando wizarding world of harry potter.

Tips and Things to Do at Harry Potter Universal Orlando

There are so many things to do at the Harry Potter Universal Orlando lands at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I have listed them below so you can pick which ones are best for you.

I go into details about what our favorite things are later in this post. I have also included a sample itinerary at the end of this post to help you plan your day.

I have divided the list of things to do at The Wizarding World to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. If you only have one day and are visiting one park you can decide for yourself which one is best for your Universal Orlando vacation.

Both areas are great places to include in your visit to Universal but they both offer a different experience.

Diagon Alley feels like a secret village tucked away behind a brick wall. On our first visit we walked by the entrance completely and couldn’t figure out how to visit.

Much like the Harry Potter movies guests need to pass through the brick gateway to Diagon Alley. I find Diagon Alley to feel much more immersive. You forget you are in a theme park when you visit.

Hogsmeade Village has a different feel to it. It doesn’t feel quite as immersive but it does have 4 Harry Potter rides compared to the two at Diagon Alley. It also has Hogwarts Castle.

Both areas are very fun and if you are a Harry Potter fan I do not think you will be disappointed.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida Overview

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley is located at Universal Studios. It includes the streets and area of Diagon Alley as well as the London area seen in the films.

King’s Cross station is where you can board the Hogwarts Express from London to Hogwarts at Islands of Adventure. Guests must have a park-to-park ticket to experience the train ride.

You can also meet the Knight Bus driver in the London area, which is one of our favorite photo-ops at Universal Orlando.

Kreacher the House Elf can also be seen peering out the windows. This is after you walk past the Diagon Alley entrance.

The Diagon Alley entrance is hidden among the brick walls and on our first ever visit, we walked right by it. As you walk through the brick wall to enter Diagon Alley you will be immersed into the Wizarding World.

At the end of the road you will see Gringotts Bank. Gringotts Bank is home to the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios Escape from Gringotts. This entire experience is a can’t miss for Harry Potter fans.

The entire ride from start to finish is incredibly immersive and a really fun experience.

Gringotts is not the only thing to do in Diagon Alley. You want to plan time to explore the area. There are shops, shows, and wand locations to experience, as well as dining options.

You’ll want to explore Knockturn Alley, which is where you will find a shop and wand experiences. We also like to stop at Leaky Cauldron for lunch.

Diagon Alley does a really great job of making you feel like you are part of The Wizarding World and not just visiting a theme park.

List of Best Things to Do at Harry Potter Universal Studios

  • Watch the fire-breathing dragon on top of Gringotts Bank
  • Stroll along the steets of Diagon Alley and stop to look at the shop windows
  • Ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Take the Hogwart’s Express from King’s Cross Station to Hogsmeade Station (Must have a park-to-park admission ticket.)
  • Explore Knockturn Alley for Harry Potter Dark Arts shops. There are a interactive wand stops here.
  • Walk through Platform 9 3/4 at the King’s Cross Station
  • Watch for Kreacher in London Window
  • Meet the Knight Bus Driver in London
  • Watch interactive wand experience at Ollivanders. You do not need to purchase wand to watch show.
  • Eat at the Leaky Cauldron for traditional British Food. Offers Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, and mobile ordering.
  • Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour- Try Butterbeer Ice Cream!
  • Watch Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees
  • Watch The Tales of Beedle the Bard
  • Exchange your Muggle money for Gringotts Money at the Gringotts Money Exchange. Guests can use this money at both Wizarding World Parks. The money can be exchanged back to US dollars at the end of your day.
  • Use your wand and spell casting skills at the 11 locations at Diagon Alley and 5 locations at Knockturn Alley.
  • Visit Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes shop.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade Islands of Adventure Overview

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade is located at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. It is lined with snow covered shops and dining, and at the end your will find Hogwarts Castle.

Hogwarts Castle has the ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This ride is not for the weak stomach and if you get motion sickness you want to proceed with caution.

I try to ride it before lunch because that keeps the motion sickness at bay.

If you do not want to ride the attraction or have a young child with you there is an option to use child swap or walk the line to see the inside without riding the attraction. Ask the team members when entering the attraction.

After riding Forbidden Journey we will ride Flight of the Hippogriff which is a kid friendly coaster that most will enjoy.

Then I like to order a Butterbeer from the stand across from Hogwarts before the lines get too long.

Butterbeer comes in Frozen, Hot or Cold. I prefer the frozen and like to share it. It is very sweet! You can also purchase Butterbeer fudge and Butterbeer ice cream at both parks.

The most popular ride at Islands of Adventure is Hagrid’s Magical Motorbike Adventure. Expect long lines for Hagrid’s.

If you are staying on-site take advantage of early park admission. If you are staying off-site this should be your first ride of the day or last ride.

I suggest watching the app to see if the lines get shorter. At times it may be beneficial to ride after the early morning rush.

This is only if you are staying off-site. On-site guests should ride as soon as they enter the park.

Hagrid’s does not have express pass options. Express Pass is a ride reservation system that allows you to skip the line. This is a purchased add-on to your ticket. Check out this post to learn more about express pass at Universal.

Guests can use the Universal Orlando Resort app to secure a ride time for Hagrid’s with the virtual line option, when available.

Basically you pick an attraction, add your number of guests, and pick a time to return. Learn more here. This changes often so it is always best to check the app before your visit.

List of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade Village Islands of Adventure

  • Ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure Roller Coaster
  • Visit Honeydukes for a Chocolate Frog or Sherbet Lemons
  • Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Go to Ollivanders Wand Shop for the Wand Choosing Show
  • Ride Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Take the Hogwarts Express Train Ride from Hogsmeade Station to King’s Cross Station
  • Watch the Frog Choir performance
  • Order a Frozen Butterbeer
  • Try Butterbeer fudge from Honeydukes
  • Watch Triwizard Spirit Rally.
  • Listen to Moaning Myrtle in the Girls restroom in Hogsmeade.
  • Enjoy the Great Feast at Three Broomsticks. Offers traditional British food for lunch and dinner, mobile ordering may be available on the Universal App.
  • Watch the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts.
  • Use your wand and spell casting skills at the 9 locations at Hogsmeade.

Harry Potter at Epic Universe: Universal Orlando’s Newest Park

Universal Orlando is opening a brand new theme park: Epic Universe. There are (reliable) rumors that their will be a new Wizarding World of Harry Potter land themed to the Ministry of Magic.

Epic Universe is set to open in 2025. Little details have been released, I will update when I learn more.

Top Things to Do at Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Try Butterbeer in All Different Ways

A fun experience at both of the Harry Potter areas is to try all the different Butterbeer options. I prefer the frozen butterbeer but it is fun to share them all and see what you like best. Check out this post to learn more about Butterbeer at Universal.

Explore the London Streets Before You Enter Diagon Alley

This area can often seem like a regular street in Universal Studios but Harry Potter fans will want to knock on the door to see Kreacher the Elf and stop to talk to the Knight Bus Driver, or at least get a picture.

Ride the Harry Potter Rides

We love the Harry Potter Rides. Escape from Gringotts and Hagrid’s are probably my favorite because they are so immersive from the minute you enter the queue.

They are also family friendly so we can all enjoy them. If you are trying to avoid long lines consider using the single rider line on Escape from Gringotts. This saved us hours of waiting.

Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station

When you are taking the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross to Hogsmeade let your party go ahead of you as they walk through platform 9 3/4.

Up close the illusion isn’t that impressive but if you let them go ahead you can see them mysteriously disappear through.

This area is not marked but you will see it as you walk through the queue. You can always walk back to make sure you have an opportunity to video it.

Just be courteous of letting others pass you. Move to the side and do not block the line.

Wands at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Guests can purchase interactive wands at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These work at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. They also can be used on multiple visits.

We have had our wands that we purchased in 2018 and have used on many visits since. If you have issues with your wand, and it is not working properly, you can talk to the team members at Ollivander’s Wand Shop to assist you.

There are Ollivanders locations in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

You can also experience an interactive wand experience where one lucky guest will get picked by a wand. (The wand is not yours to keep unless you choose to purchase it.)

wizarding world of harry potter at universal orlando wand.
The interactive wand experience at Ollivanders at Universal Orlando Resort.

As of writing this wands cost $63.00 each. You can purchase a standard wand or an interactive wand. Standard wands cost $55.00 and do not work at the spell stations.

If you are traveling with a large group you can share the wands. It may take a bit more time as you stop at each spell station but it will allow you to save on the cost of the wands.

There are numerous spell locations in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. There is a map of the Wizarding World you will receive when you purchase your wand to assist you in finding the spell locations.

Harry Potter Universal Orlando Itinerary: One Day at Wizarding World

Planning a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in one day depends on what you would like to see and do, how early you arrive at the parks, and what your prioritize for the day.

If you have express pass ride Hagrid’s first and then do your day anyway you want. If you do not have express pass expect to wait a bit in lines. I still recommend doing Hagrid’s first.

Tips to Avoid Long Lines at Harry Potter Universal

  • On-site guests-start at the park that offers early park admission. Off-site guests start at Hagrid’s.
  • If you start at Diagon Alley do not take the train to Hagrid’s, it is almost always slower than exiting the park and entering at Islands of Adventure.
  • Take advantage of single rider lines.
  • Ride the most popular attractions early in the day or later in the night. Keep an eye on the app to see what wait times are.
  • Hogwarts Express, both ways, typically sees long lines in the afternoon. This is because guests start at one park and then head to the next.

A disclaimer: No touring plan is perfect. We have seen this work well on some days and not at all on others. Be flexible and try to stay ahead of the crowds.

Doing two parks in one day is not easy if you want to avoid the lines. If you can do one day at each park you will save yourself a lot of time in the lines and be able to plan a less busy day.

Morning at Harry Potter Universal Orlando

If early entry is at Universal Studios I suggest starting your morning with Diagon Alley and then visit Hogsmeade.

Walk into Diagon Alley and head straight for Gringotts Bank. You will see it as soon as you enter the land and will see the fire breathing dragon on top.

If you have backpacks you may have to get a locker before entering the line.

While you are in line for Gringotts secure a Virtual Line time(if available) for Hagrid’s for after lunch. This will give you time to explore Diagon Alley, have lunch at the Leaky Cauldron and ride Hogwarts Express over to Islands of Adventure.

After Gringotts explore Ollivanders wand shop and purchase a wand if you plan to use it throughout the parks.

With your wand explore Knockturn Alley and the rest of Diagon Alley. As crowds start to grow stop for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron and then head out to London to meet the Knight Bus Driver.

If you are planning lunch at one of the Harry Potter restaurants you may want to line up 15-20 minutes before opening. The lines tend to get long at lunch time.

walking around diagon alley at universal studios. Harry Potter
Arriving early is the best way to visit Diagon Alley.

If early entry is at Islands of Adventure ride Hagrid’s and the other Harry Potter rides in Hogsmeade. Save exploring for after the rides if they are a priority.

Afternoon at Harry Potter Universal Orlando

After meeting the Knight Bus Driver and viewing Kreacher from the London windows, walk over to the Hogwarts Express to take the train over to Hogsmeade.

After you enter the queue and make your way to board the train you will have to go through platform 9 3/4. It will look like you are running through the wall.

Once you arrive at Hogsmeade expect to see busy crowds. At this point your virtual line should be available for Hagrids.

Also check the wait times for Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. If wait times are long save this for later in the evening.

At this point you have a few options. You can explore Hogsmeade, use your interactive wands to cast spells, and check out the shows.

You can also head back to your resort for an afternoon rest. If you are staying at an on-site resort this is a very easy option. Also check the park hours to make sure you can return in the evening.

Evening at Universal Orlando

We use the last few hours of the night to ride any attractions we may have missed. Usually at the end of the day wait times are short.

Hogwarts is beautiful at night and has a nightly castle projection show.

My biggest tips for planning one day at Harry Potter is to arrive early, stay ahead of the crowds, and prioritize the most popular attractions first.

Tips for Harry Potter Wizarding World

Before you arrive at the park read the Harry Potter books and/or watch the movies. We really enjoyed the illustrated Harry Potter book before our first visit.

It helped us get excited for the trip and made us familiar with a lot of the things at the park.

Guests must use the lockers for any loose items, including purses and wands, for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and Escape from Gringotts.

Take advantage of Early Park Admission if you are staying on-site. Early park admission allows guests to enter the parks an hour before official park opening.

Accept that you may not be able to see everything in one day. If you want to spend more time at the parks consider planning a longer Universal Orlando vacation.

We’ve done this and it gives us time to explore without feeling rushed. 3 days would be best to make sure you see all the Harry Potter and non-Harry Potter attractions.

If you are traveling with young children check the ride heights and scare factor for each park before you arrive: Islands of Adventure Height Requirements and Ride Scare Factor (A Guide for Families) and Universal Studios Height Requirements and Scare Factor (A Guide for Families)

Don’t prioritize a popular ride if it is not a priority for you. If you don’t like roller coasters don’t waste your time riding them. Plan your trip based on what is right for your family.

FAQ’s about Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

There are a few questions I often hear about visiting the Harry Potter attractions at Universal.

Is Harry Potter at Walt Disney World?

Harry Potter is not at Disney World. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and all Harry Potter attractions are at Universal theme parks.

Is It Possible to Do Wizarding World in One Day?

Yes it is totally possible to do both Wizarding World of Harry Potter in one day. How long it takes to do the Harry Potter rides, watch the shows, take the train ride to both parks, and experience the everything will be different for everyone.

If you are visiting Universal for Harry Potter only, you can easily immerse yourselves in all things Harry Potter and see everything in one day.

If you are planning to do both parks and all of the Harry Potter attractions you will have to prioritize your must-see things. You may have to miss a show to ride an attraction or spend less time casting spells with your wand.

Which Harry Potter rides use Express Pass?

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Flight of the Hippogriff accept Express Pass.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure does not. Learn more about Express Pass.

Where to Stay When Visiting Harry Potter at Universal?

Universal offers a variety of on-site resorts ranging in price. All of the resorts offer early park admission. The premier resorts include express pass.

Check out the reviews of the Universal Resorts we have stayed in:

Which Universal Resorts include Early Park Admission for Harry Potter?

All on-site Universal Resorts include early park admission. Universal Orlando rotates the park and days they offer early park admission. For latest updates check here.

Can you meet Harry Potter at Harry Potter Land in Universal?

No there are not Harry Potter characters walking around the area and there is no meet and greet for specific characters.

Guests can meet the knight bus driver, the train conductor, the frog choir students, and during the Halloween season dementors.

Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando is an amazing addition to the theme parks.

Read Next: Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure (Best Universal Park)

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