The Wizzarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort is amazing. Really, it's beyond amazing. Here is a little video we put together showing Hogsmeade during the day and Diagon Alley at night.
There is a lot to know about the Harry Potter experiences at Universal Orlando so I'm going to break it down for you so you can get the most out of your experience.
The Wizzarding World of Harry Potter spans across two of the Universal Orlando Resort parks - Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure. Universal Orlando has Diagon Alley and Islands of Adventure has Hogsmeade. Both are like walking right into a Harry Potter movie. To see everything, you need to have tickets to both parks. A multi-park pass is best so you can take the Hogwarts Express between the parks. There are rides in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley as well as restaurants and shops.
Harry Potter Rides
At Diagon Alley, the ride is Escape from Gringotts. The heigh requirement is 42" but, like almost all rides, there is an air conditioned child swap area inside if you have younger kiddos with you. You walk through the Gringotts bank and take an elevator down to the vaults. The elevator ride down is a little shaky and was scary enough to keep my middle and youngest from riding the first time. The ride itself is a 4D rollercoaster with the fire breathing dragon blowing flames onto you. It is so fun and after we rode the first time, our 3 year old and 8 year old rode the next times. I think we rode it like 6 times.
Hogwarts Express connects Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade. You must have a multipack pass to ride because it lets you off in the middle of each park.
Entering Kings Cross, it is just like traveling through London. Then you see the 9 3/4 platform and the Hogwarts Express.
Strollers and wheelchairs are not an issue, the conductors take care of everything. When we boarded the train I was expecting to just look out the window and see the parks. Nope, it is a total experience with Harry and friends spoiling an evil plan while we travel between parks.
Now that you are now in Diagon Alley, there are three more rides. Well, actually there are two. When we went this summer the racing Dragon Challenge was still running but since then it is being taken down and replaced by a new ride. The rides that are currently running are Flight of the Hippogriff, an easy outdoor rollercoaster for younger children and the Forbidden Journey, a 4D motion simulation that is my absolute favorite ride. The height requirement for Forbidden Journey is 48" so Will was too short. He was VERY upset but once he was in the child swap area watching a Harry Potter movie, he calmed right down.
The Forbidden Journey is actually inside Hogwarts. Even if you are going to sit out with a smaller child, make sure you walk through because it is just like being in the real Hogwarts.
Pro tip: If you are wearing flip flops, take them off before the ride. You will flip all around and it was a miracle I got off that ride with my Birks still on!
Food & Drinks
Have you dreamed of eating at the Leaky Cauldron? Or tasting Butterbeer? Best news of the day - you can do all of that at the Wizzarding World of Harry Potter!
The food is traditional British food like fish and chips. Everything we ate was delicious.
But our favorite things were the ice cream and Butterbeer. Or Butterbeer ice cream! It's all amazing. Butterbeer is a butterscotch flavored, smooth drink. Frozen Butterbeer, which was a lifesaver in August, is more like a slushy. Then the Butterbeer ice cream is the same flavor but in ice cream form.
I'm pretty sure everyone's favorite form of Butterbeer was the frozen Butterbeer.
The rides are fun, the food is delish but there's so much more to do! You may notice that my girls have wands in almost all of the pictures. The wands come with maps of each spot and different spells you can do to make things happen.
There are two different kinds of wands, interactive and decorative. The interactive wands have gold labels and are more expensive so you'll know the difference. You can go to a wand selection ceremony and maybe get picked to let the wand select you. Or you can order your wands online ahead of time, in the hotel lobby or any gift shop around the resort.
Or if you have a little kid, they can use their pointer finger and think they are doing magic.
There are wizards all over both parks to help you learn to do magic. They are super patient and helpful.
But all throughout the parks, there are directions on the ground of how to move your wand to make magical things happen.
Is my child too young for the Wizzarding World of Harry Potter?
Probably not! Forty-two inches gets you onto almost every Harry Potter ride other than the Forbidden Journey. There are no scary, jump out and get you type things in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade but the dragon in Diagon Alley is much scarier at night. Will was really afraid our first night but it had much less of an impact on him during the day. The dragon breathes fire every 10 minutes so you can keep an eye on the time and let your little one know when to cover your ears and close their eyes.
The child swap areas at Universal Orlando could not be nicer. They are all air conditioned with a changing table and tv showing a related movie or show. It makes not being able to ride a ride a little less dramatic.
To Plan Your Trip
Earlier I've talked about planning a VIP Tour, our favorite place to stay and Volcano Bay. To book your trip to Universal Orlando Resort, visit UniversalOrlando.com. If you have any questions just leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!
Disclosure: Our trip to Universal Orlando Resort was part of a press trip with Family Forward. We paid a discounted rate but all opinions are honest and my own.