Riding the Hogwarts Express – walking into Hogwarts Castle – trying a taste of Butterbeer – shopping in Diagon Alley – choosing a wand at Ollivander’s and casting spells – if you’re dreaming of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there are a lot of amazing experiences awaiting you! But, there are often a lot of things first-timers don’t know about visiting. Here are 6 things they don’t tell you about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort!
#1: There is No ‘Harry Potter Park’
First of all, many first-timers don’t know that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not a park on its own. The land is part of a larger park complex at Universal Orlando Resort – and, the land is split into two parts. The Diagon Alley section of the land is found at Universal Studios Florida, and the Hogsmeade section is at Islands of Adventure.
You’ll walk past multiple other theme park lands after entering the park in order to get to either section of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Hogwarts Express attraction also runs between the two sections of the land. If you want to be able to visit both in the same day, and if you want to ride the Hogwarts Express at all, you need to make sure to have a Park-to-Park ticket to visit.
#2: You Want Early Park Admission
Early Park Admission is available, and yes, you want it. Universal Orlando Resort offers this great perk for guests staying at their on-site resort hotels, and it allows guests to get into at least one of the sections of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before regular park opening – and before guests without this benefit. We love using Early Park Admission to hit popular rides before the lines get long, and to enjoy some of the shops before they get crowded. Early Park Admission is available every day, though it can sometimes alternate parks at different times of year.
#3: Store Your Stuff
Next, let’s talk rides. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is home to multiple thrill rides, including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Some are roller coaster-like, and all have the types of warnings you normally see on thrilling roller coaster rides (though none of them go upside down).
Each time you go on one of these three rides, if you’re carrying a bag or purse, you’ll need to put it in a locker before you go on the ride. They don’t let you take bags or large loose items on the ride, because there’s nowhere to put them! The lockers are complimentary, but it does take some extra time to put away your stuff before getting in the queue. If you have any other loose items, like your phone, sunglasses, or hats, you’ll want to also put them in a locker or otherwise secure them well on your person so you don’t lose them during the ride.
#4: Going for a Test Ride
Since most of the attractions at the Wizarding World are thrill rides, all of them have ride restraints for guest safety – however, many of the attraction’s restraints are not compatible with some body types. Attraction restraints can be an issue for larger guests, as the restraints must fasten properly in order for guests to ride, and some are not designed to accommodate larger body dimensions. There are test seats outside of each attraction so that guests can try them before they get in line.
#5: Standing in Line, but Virtually
Another item to note about attractions – some of them occasionally take extra steps to ride. The most recent addition to the Wizarding World is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which has remained incredibly popular – popular to the point that Universal Orlando sometimes operates a virtual queue for it, instead of a regular in-person queue. They don’t do this all the time, but on days that are extra-busy, guests need to make a virtual queue reservation through the Universal Orlando app. When the virtual queue is in effect, you can only ride if you have a reservation – you won’t be able to get in line regularly.
#6: No Reservations Needed?
Last but not least, let’s talk dining. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has several dining locations that fans will appreciate, including the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks. All of the dining locations are quick-service where you order at a counter, so you don’t need to make dining reservations. Well… kind of. Both restaurants serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and lunch and dinner don’t take or require reservations. For breakfast, some hotel and ticket vacation packages allow guests to add vouchers for breakfast. These aren’t really a reservation, but if breakfast is full up with guests using their vouchers, then they won’t allow walk-ups for breakfast.
There can be a lot of things to prep for when you’re planning your first visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – but, if this seems overwhelming, there is help! Contact our Travel Pros when you’re ready, and we’ll make that first visit magical!