7 Things Every Muggle Must Do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter01 May 2016
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando in Florida is a life-like recreation of the books or movies, certain to please any HP fan. But even if you're not certain which House you'd be sorted into or are unfamiliar with crumple-horned snorkcacks and why we cannot name He Who Must Not Be Named, the theme parks are guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience for everyone.
As this may be your only time sneaking off to Hogsmeade or wandering down Diagon Alley, here are 7 things every muggle must do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Know how long the wait time is for each ride in real-time so you can plan your day accordingly. Escape from Gringotts in Diagon Alley is known for having the longest lines at more than 2 hours on crowded days, so it may pay off to keep an eye on it with this app.
If the lines are against you, Escape from Gringotts is still well worth the wait. You'll feel like Hermoine disguised as Bellatrix Lastrange waltzing into the Gringotts bank, with goblins all around you. This 3D ride will take you on an adventure with some of your favorite characters, and you'll even come face-to-face with a fire breathing dragon!
This will require a park-to-park pass, since Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are in separate Universal Orlando parks, but it's well worth it. Ride it both ways, and you'll get a different story each time—just watch out for the dementors!
3 | TRY SOMETHING OTHER THAN BUTTERBEER
I enjoyed the Pumpkin Juice, which tastes deliciously like apple cider mixed with pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. I've also heard the mint-flavored Fishy Green Ale is also a game stopper, but I did not have the chance to try it myself. Or stop by the Hog's Head and pick up a pint of one of the unique, specialty beers the Wizarding World of Harry Potter offers, aptly named Wizard's Brew and Dragon Scale.
But also, get the Butterbeer as many times as you can. Frothy and frozen, hot and spicy or just ice cold, it is exactly how my taste buds imagined it would be. I'm still dreaming of that toffee-flavored mug of magic months after my visit. You can even try it in ice cream form at Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley!
This is a ride you won't mind waiting in line for! The queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey takes you straight through Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, winding through the green house and into the dungeons, complete with talking portraits, and you'll even get to see the Sorting Hat up close. You'll even be doused with floo powder so you can fly through a Quidditch Pitch—watch out for the bludgers!—and past the Womping Willow.
5 | LET THE WAND CHOOSE THE WIZARD
Yeah, so, you might be nearing 30 and standing in line amongst toddlers waiting to cast spells, but you won't be happier. Stop by Ollivander's Wand Shop and pick up an interactive wand—or get lucky enough for one to choose you!—and then look for crests inside each park where you can take a stab at making your own magic.
6 | EXPLORE SOME OF THE SHOPS
Among my favorites were Honeydukes in Hogsmeade—where you'll find an assortment of candies like Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, and Fizzing Whizbees—and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley. It so closely resembles Fred and George's colorful joke shop from the movies, with lots of toys like pygmy-puffs and skiving snackboxes.
As an added bonus in Hogsmeade, you may get to watch the students of Hogwarts, Beauxbatons Durmstrang put on performances for the Triwizard Tournament! And while you're wandering around Diagon Alley, stop for a moment to watch the dragon atop Gringott's breathe fire. It happens every ten minutes or so—you can't miss it!
7 | PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO EVERY DETAIL
There are plenty of easter eggs hidden throughout the parks. You might notice Kreacher poke his head out from between the curtains of 12 Grimmauld Place, or hear a bird chirping inside the Vanishing Cabinet at Borgin and Burkes.
Need more advice on planning your trip? Check out our guide! And if you're thinking of throwing in a few days at Disney World, we've got you covered.
Stay tuned for our guide to the rides at Universal Orlando if you have more time to explore beyond the Wizarding World!