Growing up, I was a huge Harry Potter Fan. I was that kid at the midnight releases of the books and midnight premiers of the movies decked head to toe in proper Potter fandom attire. In fact, when Zach and I began dating in college my roomates and I made shirts for one of the midnight release’s and I’m pretty sure he thought we were crazy ha. Although now at 31, and two kids, he embraces my small obsession with the series.
I had been begging my husband to take us to the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter for years but we were never really able to make it work until last weekend when he surprised me as a Christmas gift. To say I was shocked was an understatement because I don’t think I could talk for a mere 5 minutes. I couldn’t wait to go and not only share the experience with one another, but our good friends as well!
When we first arrived I knew that everything was perfect. What truly makes the park stand out are the subtle references to the wizarding world while making everything magic come to life. There are so many amazing things to see and do- both small ad big- but it’s truly the Harry Potter world hacks that you need to look out for. Here are a few tips on what to do when you’re there ( and a few hacks! ).
1. Arrive Early – If you can, try to be at the park about 30 minutes before it opens! It’s actually a super long work from the parking lot all the way back to the Wizarding World entrances, especially for us! Despite not even having our kids in tow, we booked it there and were excited to see and get a few great photos before the crowds started to set in!
2. Ollivander’s Shop – Plan on purchasing a wand. I think Zach thought I was crazy for wanting to spend $50 on a wand but the experience in itself is absolutely one of my biggest highlights. Head to Diagon Alley where the wait it is much shorter than the shop at Hogsmeade. The wand marker selects on person from each group and they are able to have a special experience of having a wand choose them, just like Harry does in “Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone“.
3. Try The Butter Beer + Other Drinks– I could not have been more excited to try this beverage. It’s non-alcoholic and truly lives up to it’s high expectation ( as I imagined Harmonie, Ron and Harry always sipping it when they were in Hogsmede ). It tasted like a rich, creamy cream soda! Worth every drop! They also offer it frozen or ice cream form! Don’t forget to at Hog’s Head Pub they also offer Firewhisky ( a warm cinnamon that goes down pretty easy ) as well as Hog’s Head Brew- made exclusively for Universal!
4. Shop – There are so many fun things to purchase and each shop is unique, interactive and down right amazing to go into! From purchasing various wizard robes at Madam Malkin’s Robes For All Occasion or interacting with a talking mirror who lets you know exactly how you look, shopping couldn’t be more exciting! At Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, the fireworks perpetually explode over the skylight! There’s even a crazy snake in the window of the Magical Menagerie who speaks in Parseltongue to people that pass by ( and then in English since the majority of us don’t speak Parseltongue! ) By far, Honeydukes was my favorite because I have the biggest sweet tooth and couldn’t pass up getting a few
5. Ride The Rides – Personally, I’m not a roller coaster fan but everyone said these were a must to try! The Flight of the Hippogriff ( a roller coaster ) looked pretty fun but unfortunately the ride for Harry Potter And The Forbidden Forest was about 2 hours long when we got there so we decided to skip it. Despite it actually being a 4D ride, there special effects still have you spinning, twisting and twirling so be warned for those that are prone to motion sickness like myself ha. If roller coasters aren’t your thing either, try the Hogwarts Express! Hack: While on Hogwarts Express- you’ll experience a variety of events such a a trolley lady offering snacks, a dementor invasion or familiar faces outside the window! Make sure you take it the Express both from Platform 9 3/4 to Hogsmeade and then back to Diagon Alley part of the park! You’ll see different things happen depending on which direction you’re going!
6. Bathroom Stop – Nothing is left unnoticed for even the restrooms are enchanted at Harry Potter World! We stopped in to use the facilities next to the Hog’s Head Pub and I kept hearing the ghost of Moaning Myrtle splashing around in the plumbing and wailing her sad fate of not being able to enjoy herself. Poor Myrtle.
7. Take Lots Of Pictures – What’s amazing about this park is that pictures are truly meant to be taken- and from every angle! There was nothing left of “Look over there!” and “Did you see that?” while paroozing this word. A fun hack– if you’re at the phone boot in Muggle London, and dial 62442 ( MAGIC ) you can get the Ministry on the line! Worthy of a picture!
8. Interactive Wands Make It More Magical- To really get a true experience for both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, I knew I wanted a wand not just sentimental purposes but also because you can interactive with it throughout the park! There are gold plates throughout the park with spell name and wand motions for casting it. The results– simply magically…literally!
9. Talk With The Characters – The workers at both the theme parks really know there stuff ( and stay in character! at every turn! We asked a few where to find Platform 9 3/4 and they huffed off as if they had no idea what we were talking about. Darn muggles! A few even challenged us to our Harry Potter knowledge. I admit I was a bit rusty at first but loved sharing my love for the series!
10. Soak It All In – This incredible world is absolutely memorizing so take time to see all the details that Universal Orlando created to put this experience in real life. It was almost like a ‘pinch me’ moment everywhere I looked because I was loving hearing the kids talking to their parents about what fun they were having, seeing families slurp up their butter beer ice cream or talking about how they were selected to get a wand!