A Twenty-Something's Guide to Planning A Trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter11 April 2016
As a huge Harry Potter fan, a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando was one of my most memorable travel experiences last year. To help you make the most of your time, this is my guide for any twenty-something planning a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
KNOW WHICH WORLD IS IN EACH PARK
Universal Orlando consists of two theme parks—Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Here's the catch: part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in each park. Hogsmeade, the original Harry Potter park, opened in 2010 in Islands of Adventure. Diagon Alley opened more recently in 2014 as part of Universal Studios. If your main desire is to skip the rest of the park to spend as much time as humanly possible among witches and wizards, sipping on pumpkin juice and frolicking around Hogwarts, then you really only need one day—but we loved having two!
GET A PARK-TO-PARK PASS
With this ticket, you can visit both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in one day, and unlike Disney parks, they are so close in proximity that you can literally walk from one into the next. A one-day park-to-park ticket will set you back only $155, just $50 more than a one-day single-park ticket. The park-to-park pass is the only way we muggles can ride the Hogwarts Express. This ride is one of the coolest parts of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and make sure you ride it at least once each way for a bit of a surprise!
If you're staying on Disney property, the cheapest option to get to Universal Orlando is Uber at about $16 one-way. When your day is over, have an Uber pick you up from the park if you head out to the pick-up area past City Walk and drop your pin there.
You'll do well to heed this advice for all of Universal Orlando, as stashing your belongings in a locker before getting on rides is mandatory for most. The lockers are quite small—though long enough to hold your wand if one chooses you at Ollivander's—and really only fit my tiny purse, wand and a water bottle. But if you can avoid using lockers altogether, you'll be better off. Shoving your way through crowds of people to get one may make you feel like you're being kissed by a Dementor—like all of the hope and happiness is being sucked from your body!
HIT UP DIAGON ALLEY FIRST
Escape from Gringotts is by far the best ride at Universal Orlando, and it has wait times to prove it. Make this your first item of business and start your day in Diagon Alley. We were lucky enough to visit during a slow couple of days and managed to ride three or four times, and the longest we waited was 15 minutes. If you do find yourself in a long wait, the journey to the ride platform is full of recognizable details from the movies that any HP fanatic will appreciate if you pay attention. My favorite part was noticing the newspaper with the enchanted photo of the Weasleys in Egypt from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban laying on a table.
I know you may be trying to save money, but trust me when I say that today is not the day to fill up on that box of cereal you brought from home. There are so many delicious things to eat in the Harry Potter themed parks—many plucked right from the books! From sweets like Chocolate Frogs at Honeydukes to frozen Butterbeer and Sticky Toffee Pudding at the Leaky Cauldron, make room to sample it all!
Stay tuned for tips (and lots more pictures!) that every Muggle-born should know before visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter—or wind up a squib!
Are you planning on visiting Disney World while you're at it? Check out our tips and tricks!