23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

In February, my family and I spent an absolutely magical day immersed in the wonderfulness that is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. I’m sharing a little about our day for those of you planning a trip or considering planning a trip. We were absolutely blown away by the amazing adventure that we had there and so impressed by the attention to detail that went into every inch of the park. Let’s get started!

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


If you are looking for tips for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood in California, you can find that post here.


1. Get Park Hoppers Tickets

There are two lands, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, each at a different Universal Park. You will need park hopper tickets to see both lands and to ride the Hogwarts Express. The Hogwarts Express is a must do! The multi-day packages offer the best deals.

I highly recommend Get Away Today for booking your entire vacation and buying tickets. They even have a layaway option if you want to make payments which is a wonderful way to afford a fantastic vacation! If you use the promo code Pencil , you can save $10 off  Southern California packages, including the New Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood, when you book with Get Away Today.


23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


2. Arrive Early – Plan to be at the park about 30 minutes before it opens. It’s a surprisingly long walk from the parking lot all the way back to the Wizarding World entrances, especially for us. We are used to Disneyland where everything is much closer together! Above is a picture of Hogsmeade in the morning before it was crowded and another later in the day below. We were there on a slow day and by early afternoon it started to feel crowded.

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Here is a picture of us in Diagon Alley later in the evening after the crowd had thinned out. This is a really great time to explore!

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


3. Enter through the secret London entrance.

Follow the path that Harry took and visit Diagon Alley through the London entrance. To do this, start your day at Universal Studios. We went through the Islands of Adventure entrance, which was the first park entrance we came to from the parking lot. This led us to Hogsmeade first, so we went a bit backwards.

Next time, we will keep going down to the Universal Studios entrance to get the full effect!


23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


4. Before you enter Diagon Alley spend some time with the Knight Bus driver. He was a lot of fun as well as his little friend.

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

5. Make sure to place a call to the Ministry of Magic from the Telephone Booth. My son and daughter had no idea how to use a rotary phone, so they needed a little help:0)


6. Photography

The details in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are really the best part of the park, so lots of photos are a must! I purchased a new wider angle lens for my Canon that I was really thrilled with. It’s inexpensive and lightweight, making the camera easy to carry. I love the wider angle and was able to fit more in the frame of my pictures. The f-stop is low enough that I can get bokeh and use it in lower light.

I use my iPhone a lot for pictures as well, especially when asking somebody to take a family picture of us.




23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter





7. Ollivander’s Shop

Plan on buying a wand. The wand experience is absolutely amazing and one of the highlights of our entire Florida trip. We headed over to the shop in Diagon Alley where the wait is much shorter than the shop at Hogsmeade. Our line was divided into a group of about fifteen people and taken into the experience. The wand maker selects one person from each group, or in our case a set of siblings, and they have the special experience of having a wand choose them, just like Harry Potter.


23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


8. Try going through a second time if you aren’t selected the first time. 

The wand maker was phenomenal and everyone in our group was delighted with the experience. When we were there the line at Ollivander’s was very short, so when our littles weren’t selected the the first time through, we decided to try again and got selected the second time. I’m so happy we did, the experience was slightly different the second time through, so it really added to the magic.



23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

9. Each wand has a description posted, take a picture so you can remember. That was a helpful tip from one of the shopkeepers!


23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


10. Cast some spells! The wands are around $50 and come in a beautiful box along with a special map. What we didn’t realize before our trip is that the wands are interactive. You use the map and the wands to cast special spells throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.


23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This was the number one activity for our family! We all just loved it so much. The spells are clever and the effects are just magical. We spent most of our day casting spells and it was great fun.

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


Look how serious they were taking their wands! This is my favorite picture from the day:0)

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

11. Spend some time talking to the Muggles and Wizards!

Everybody was really friendly and so many of them were actually from England! My kids really got a kick out of chatting with everyone. All the muggless and wizards we met were in character during every interaction. It was great!


 23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter




12. Try the Butterbeer

I had heard raves about the Butterbeer, the must have drink from the books and movies, and it did not disappoint. Butterbeer is non-alcoholic and tastes similar to a rich cream soda. So delicious!

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

13. Try the frozen Butterbeer – it’s even better!

14. And definitely do not miss out on the Butterbeer ice cream – it’s even better than the frozen Butterbeer:0)


Butterbeer Ice Cream

15. Ride the Hogwarts Express both ways.

The Hogwarts Express is absolutely amazing. The train comes chugging into the station billowing real steam, and the ride between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade is enchanting. Make sure to ride it both directions since the ride is different each way. Platform 9 3/4 has a special surprise, so make sure to keep a look out for the fun effect when in line!

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

16. Skip the Express Pass

We splurged on the express passes, but you can’t use them on any of the Wizarding World which is where we spent all of our time. I would recommend the express passes only if you plan to spend a day in the rest of the parks. No need to buy them ahead of time either, you can purchase them once you see the crowds.



23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter



17. Buying a Robe

If you are considering buying a Hogwarts robe for yourself or your little one, you will not be disappointed with the quality. We weren’t planning on buying a robe, but when we saw it on my little guy we just could not resist. It’s extremely well made and has a special pocket inside for his wand. It was about $100, but we hope to use it again for a Halloween costume and expect it will fit him for a couple years at least. We plan to save it for our daughter to use  as well.

I can imagine this would be too warm to wear during a summer trip!

You may also consider buying a Harry Potter Gryffindor Robe before visiting the park.

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

18. Adopt a Pygmy Puff

Instead of a robe, my daughter picked out a Pink Pygmy Puff from Zonkos in Hogsmeade. They have a special naming ceremony so have your camera ready! (I didn’t!) It’s a cute little fluffy stuffed animal and she was thrilled. You can see her holding it here in our family selfie. Our baby is there too, she’s just hiding behind my son’s head:0)

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter



19. Stay until closing!

The Wizarding World was beautiful at night, and once it started to get dark the crowds pretty much disappeared. We were able to hop on the Forbidden Journey again without a wait!

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


20. The Rides 

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is an exciting ride filled with action and amazing special effects. Our family gives it two thumbs up. My favorite part of the ride was the walk through Hogwarts.We went through twice and where able to see new details each time! This is where you can see the famous Sorting Hat!


23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


Our oldest daughter was not tall enough to ride, which was ok by her because at five she was a little intimidated by all the darkness and special effects.

We didn’t get the ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott’s , which is the newest ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was not running on the day we visited, (Another reason to go back soon!), but I have heard great reviews! Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff were fun rides to hop on as well, but for me just soaking in the atmosphere and details of the park was the very best experience.

21. T-Shirts

Before going I found a cool shirt for my husband and a really cool one for my son from Red Bubble that has a drawing of each character. The detail is amazing! I was glad we bought ahead. We didn’t see any we loved as much at the park.




23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


22. Shop

The stores are packed with merchandise straight from the books and movies. The chocolate frog was on my daughter’s must-have list. She talked about it all the way to Florida! Shopping the unique stores and merchandise are a big part of the experience, so budget accordingly.

23 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

23. Soak it all in! 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is absolutely delightful, so take time to see the details. Universal Orlando went above and beyond in creating this extraordinary experience. We are thrilled they are working on a Wizarding World of Harry Potter in California so we can visit more often!

This post contains affiliate links. 


If you are headed to Disney World, see my 27 Tips for Visiting Disney World.


Dole Whip


You can also read about the brand new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood



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  1. although I will probably never get to go there, I enjoyed your post immensely. Thank you for sharing flour family’s wonderful adventure. It was very fun!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! My boyfriend and I are traveling here in mid September, and your advice and tips will come in handy! I’ve been to “9 3/4 Platform” In King’s Cross in London and while it is nothing like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, thinking about it gets me very excited to go here!

  3. My husband and I are going in Sept to celebrate my 60th birthday! We can’t wait. Thanks so much for your helpful hints!
    Very best,

  4. As everyone else said, thank you for the fantastic post! Also, thank you for not giving away all of the spectacular magical secrets. My sister and I used many of our tips for our trip there (we headed to Universal Studios first, grabbed some frozen butterbeer, and skipped the express passes) and had a wonderful time.

  5. Thank you for your post. I’m going there early next year and I was wondering if it takes the whole day to get through all of harry potter world.

  6. Awesome tips, thank you! Taking my 11 year old Harry Potter fan there next weekend.

  7. We are headed down for for The Christmas Holiday week… Driving no less…any thoughts

    • How fun!

      It will probably be crowded, but you can almost always beat the crowds by going right at opening. Be at the gates before opening of you can! Take all your pictures and ride the rides early, then just relax and eat when it gets busier!

      Are you staying at one of the Universal hotels? They have early entry options, which would be amazing!

  8. Thanks for your review and I’m sure it will help our experience! We are booked to go early in December and haven’t told the kids yet. They are going to be so thrilled. Although I will admit that I’m the one who really wants to go!

  9. Thank you for the great advice! As a single mother of three (older) kids we’re all dying to go visit. I’m going to surprise them at Christmas with a quick 3 day trip in February.

    Any other tips would be greatly appreciated. Currently seeking the cheapest place for the tickets. We definitely want the full expeirence so riding Hogwarts Express is a must. The link you provided above didn’t have Orlando/Universal.
    Any other reputable places I can look for tickets?

    I only plan on doing these two parks and will have about 2.5 days total. With their school and sports we couldn’t take anymore time, so if there is anything else you think of, please let me know!
    Thanks for all your info.

  10. Heading to florida next year from Scotland and will mainly be at disney as we’re staying there. The wee one is wanting to have the harry Potter experience. Can it be done in a day and what’s the deal with the tickets situation? Sounds like I need two tickets can you jump between the two worlds. Thanks

    • The Wizarding World spans two parks at Universal Orlando, so to experience the entire Wizarding World of Harry Potter you’ll need to buy the park hopper tickets that Universal offers. The park hopper ticket also allows you to ride the Hogwarts Express which travels back and forth between the two parks. I think one day will be good, just make sure you get an early start.

      Have an amazing trip!!!

      You can find discounted tickets one day park-to-park tickets at Best of Orlando. Here is a link:

      Best of Orlando

  11. Thanks for sharing your lovely experience! I am going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter from 12/31 to 1/2 and will spend my NYE there! Your tips are really helpful! Thank you!

  12. Hi I loved your post, it’s incredibly informative.
    My hubby and I are coming from Canada to the Harry Potter Wizarding world this Spring Break 2016, and wanted to ask you a few questions… thank you!!! =)
    1) with the 2 park pass, is there a limit to how many times you’re allowed to ride the hogwarts train? could you walk between the parks?
    2) is it better to stay in one of the hotels inside the park?
    3) how many days would you recommend we should spend in the wizarding worlds?
    4) how did you and family dress? footwear? was it cold at night/ did it rain? (we’re accustomed to Seattle weather)

    • Hi Grace!

      How wonderful!

      You can ride the Hogwarts Express as many times as you want, though you may have to wait in a line, especially if the parks are busy. You can walk between the parks, but it’s quite a loop around.

      The hotels at Universal look fantastic, but we did not get a chance to stay at them since we were staying at the Disney World resorts. I would recommend at least looking into the packages that include tickets and hotels since some of those offer special Harry Potter experiences and early entry into the Wizarding World.

      I think two days would be great if you can because there are so many details to see, but we were happy with a full day at the Wizarding World.

      It was cloudy and cool on the day we visited. We wore light jackets and comfortable shoes. During our week in Orlando, the weather varied from all day rain to sunny and warm enough to swim.

      Sorry for the delayed replied, this comment was caught in my spam folder. I hope you have an amazing vacation!

  13. We just went today, me, husband and my 2 daughters (15 and 3 yes.old) we bought the 2 parks tickets because my husband is a big fan of Harry Potter he bought the magic wand and he enjoyed it more than my kids:) me and my 15 yrs. old daughter able to go to the Harry Potter ride and it was fun:) I wish I read ur blog first before going,, because we didn’t buy the butter beer… But overall it was a great 🙂

  14. Fantastic post! We were there on the first week of September, and had a blast!! Wondering when you went? We are looking to plan another trip there in a few years, and I will NEVER go back in the summer heat again. It seems like the week you went it wasn’t super hot, and the crowds were somewhat low.

  15. Great tips! I’d also add ‘Don’t eat in the pub if you’re British!’. I’m from Florida but live in London now. On my blog ‘Sunny in London’ I’ve compared the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour and the Orlando attraction. When I visited Orlando’s attraction I found the British food not quite as good as the real deal 😉 This Christmas I toured the studio for ‘Hogwarts in the Snow’ when they decorate the London studio for the holidays. Fun! Let me know if you ever make it over this way.

  16. Thanks for all your great tips and beautiful photos! We are headed to Orlando in a few weeks ( we’ll be there the first of march) and I wanted to ask you about the weather… When did you visit the parks? You look all bundled up!
    Again thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Patty! We visited about the same time you will be going. Some days were cooler and rainy and some were warm and sunny enough to swim at the hotel pool. Have a wonderful trip!

  17. Lots of good info! Really would love to go – have to put it on my list! First time visiting your blog. You’re family is adorable and it looks like you really had a great time!

  18. Aah, we are just heading to Universal today! Thanks for your tips, they will really come in very handy. My family and I appreciate it very much.
    Also, my child has just been raving about the chocolate frogs as well!

  19. Thank you for this post! We are going in July, and I was wondering if you could spell out a little more clearly what the “best” path is – which park first, where to enter/start, where they can do the wand ceremony, etc! You mentioned that you’d wished you’d started in a specific place to get the “full experience”? We are doing park hopper passes to ride the Hogwart’s Express, if that helps. It’ll be our first time there, and I want to do it right! 😉 Thank you!

    • You may find conflicting opinions on the internet about the best touring plan and depending on what is right for your family!

      For the best experience, next time I will be at the gates before park opening and would do the following:

      1. Pass Island of Adventure and Head to Universal Studios to see Diagon Alley first since that is where Harry starts his adventure. That way you start at the London facade which is really cool.

      2. Either head straight to Escape From Gringotts or Olivanders Wand shop depending on which you want to do most first, then do the other.

      3. Then board the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade.

      4. Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

      5. Once you have the rides out of the way, relax, cast spells, shop, eat and ride the Hogwarts Express back the other way. Both experiences are different! It’s so cool!

      I hope you have a great trip!

  20. Raymond says:

    The dragon breathes fire on a fairly regular basis. If you want to get photos and or video of it breathing fire just time the interval. I did this after being frustrated not being able to catch it the first couple of times. Once I figured out the interval I was able to be ready and get pics and video from multiple angles.

  21. Thanks in advance for the tips!
    My husband and I are planning our trip for early September to celebrate or ten year anniversary and we will have our 1 year old in tow. I see you had a stroller with you did that help or was it more of a burden? I would love your thoughts!

    • I would definitely take a stroller! The walk from the front of the park to the Wizarding World lands is quite long at both parks. We also used an Ergo to change up her view a bit and for times when we couldn’t take the stroller. The baby can go all the way through Hogwarts. Then one parent goes to the rider switch room while the other rides and then they switch. They have it set up quite nicely for families with little ones!

  22. A wonderfully helpful post. We’re going in about a month in late August (yes, I know, it’ll be really hot but I grew up in Miami so used to it!) and I wanted to know if you had to reserve at the Leaky Cauldron? It doesn’t look like it but wanted to confirm. Thanks for taking the time to post such great tips!

  23. What a great post! Your photos are outstanding! My family visited in January 2016 and your info was spot on to what we experienced. My kids are 24, 20, and 15 so our experience was different from that of those with small kids. However, we all had a BLAST experiencing the magic that they had loved as younger children. My 20 year daughter kept saying…Mom, my inner 10 year old is just so excited! We did all the rides and went back a second day to re-do Gringotts and to have a 2nd lunch at the Leaky Cauldron! Butterbere was a huge hit with all of us! We live in So. California, so I am not sure we will ever get back to WDW (unless we have grandkids one day). But, I am excited to see the set Harry Potter world here in CA…even if my husband and I have to go by ourselves. hee hee

  24. Loved your post! My family and I are going this November! I have been to Hogsmeade before but haven’t been since they have built Diagon Alley. Quick question, do you have buy certain special sensor wands to be able cast the spells at the interactive windows?? Or will any of the wands you buy at the park work??

    • Thank you so much!

      They do sell two kinds of wands at the parks, they look the same, but the interactive wands have a gold sticker on the outside of the box. Those are the wands you use to cast spells. We were also told that interactive wands purchased in Florida would work in California and vice versa. Hope that helps!

  25. Hi Melissa. Just a quick thank you. We went to the WWHP on August 22nd, and I have to say that your advice was extremely helpful. I followed your strategy of doing the rides and Olivander’s as soon as the park opened and it worked like a charm (no pun intended). Since buying wands was a priority, we did that first then went on Escape from Gringotts. When we came out of Gringotts there was already a line coming out of Olivander’s! Then we jumped on the Hogwarts Express (almost empty!) and then rode the Forbidden Journey (about a 20 minute wait, but that’s nothing compared to what it swelled to later in the day). For the rest of the day we just ate (at both The Leaky Cauldron and The Three Broomsticks), shopped (a little too much) and just savored being in the WW. It was a perfect visit and I appreciate the fact that you took the time to share all your valuable information!

  26. I wanted to comment in case you haven’t been back to Universal Orlando. The Harry Potter rides, Forbidden Journey, Escape from Gringotts, and the Hogwarts Express, now take express passes. This started mid 2017. As you know, the lines are quite long for the HP rides so express has been a God send! Esp for me bc due to a back injury, I cannot stand in line for more than 20 mins. We generally go to the parks in non peak times as we live 2 hours away, which are Sept, first 2 weeks in Dec, mid Jan, most of Feb, last 2 weeks in April, and first 2 weeks in May (check out the Orlando Informer website for their crowd calendar – fairly accurate), so when we go and use Express (staying on site at Hard Rock, Royal Pacific, or Portofino for free express with hotel room), most times the HP rides will be a walk on. The longest wait was approx 15 mins which still isn’t bad. This really helps out if you want to ride multiple times. We generally ride Forbidden Journey at min 3 times in a row and Gringotts at least 2 times in a row. Also, if you use Express for the HP rides, this leaves even more time for shopping, casting spells, and enjoying all aspects of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Also, there is now a night time light show on the Hogwarts castle on select nights. It is similar technology as Disney’s on their castle. It is simply breathtaking. Oh! One more thing, if hot butter beer is available, you HAVE to get it. It is my favorite of the 3 (cold, frozen, hot). Love your tips and pics! And if you haven’t seen since, I think you will love using express for HP now. 🙂

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