It’s every Harry Potter fan’s dream to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL. Originally being from Florida myself, you’d think I would’ve made it there on a break from college, but alas, schedules being what they are, I missed out on the greatest theme park adventure ever. That is until this month when my fiancé and I visited during the lull between summer and Halloween – the sweet spot of vacations when lines are short and it’s still warm enough to take a dip in the pool.
In this review, I’ll take you step-by-step in planning an epic trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and let you in on secrets we discovered. If you’ve been and found something we did not, please add it in the comments below so future vacationers can take advantage of our combined experiences.
What is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter?
If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last four years, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an area of two theme parks in Orlando, FL — Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure — based on the very popular Harry Potter book series. One park-hopper ticket can get you into both parks where you can ride the Hogwarts Express between Digaon Alley in Universal Studios (the newest addition to the Wizarding World) and Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. Each area has rides, shops, restaurants, activities, and more. The Wizarding World is not part of Disney, but that is a common misconception.
Harry Potter nerds and muggles alike will enjoy the overall experience of Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure. As a former FL local and Disney enthusiast, I never gave either park much thought unless we were going on a school trip, but with the addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I was compelled to visit. The Wizarding World could be a park in itself – which we commented on regularly.
Reasons to go if you’re a Harry Potter fan:
- The decor alone is worth the trip. Diagon Alley is immersive with its movie-replica stores and restaurants. Hogsmeade and the view of Hogwarts was worth every penny.
- The rides are like being inside the movie. Many of the rollercoaster/simulation hybrids have scenes cut straight out of the films (but these are new scenes!).
- Butterbeer is by far the greatest invention ever. JK Rowling had them make tons and tons of recipes before it was perfected and it is glorious.
- Interactive wands are the best souvenir and you can only use them at the parks. These wands allow you to do “magic” in the shop windows. It’s pretty delightful.
Reasons to go even if you’ve never read the books or watched the movies:
- The hybrid rollercoaster/simulation rides are pretty neat. It’s amazing to get the experience of going super high speeds and having a more tactile experience with heat, water, etc.
- The Hogwarts Express is the best way to get between the parks. It’s a short train ride, but with a fun interactive experience and you don’t have to walk.
- The dragon on top of Gringotts is an amazing sight to see. It breathes fire every 15 minutes or so and you’ll want a picture of the fireball.
- Butterbeer is the best non-alcoholic drink in the park. Seek it out and you’ll be joyous the rest of the day.
That about wraps it up for Part 1. In Part 2, I’ll go in depth into the rides, shops, shows, and souvenirs. In Part 3, I’ll give tips on when to go, where to stay, and secrets we found on our latest trip.
Author: Carolyn Noe
Carolyn is the Founder & Executive Director of Super Heroines, Etc. She is a recent transplant to Cincinnati and lives with her husband and her dog. She regularly nerds out about Parks & Rec, Firefly, and Pride & Prejudice.