Universal Orlando is there the Harry Potter theme park started. Originally it was just Diagon Alley but soon Hogsmeade was thrown into the mix. Each park covers about 20 acres and host a plethora of different activities and rides.
When you first walk into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you will be amazed – just like Harry was. The attention to detail is just incredible and nothing was left out. From snow-crested rooftops to butterbeer, this is an experience like no other.
One activity that is really cool is after you pick out your wand at Ollivander’s. If you have one of the special interactive ones you will be able to go around and perform “spells” throughout the park. You will know which ones they are on the map. But, just like magic, not everything is as it seems. There are hidden spell places that will take you off of the beaten path and show you a world you didn’t know existed.
Ollivander Wand Ceremony – The ceremony is a short show where one person from the audience is chosen to try out different wands. It’s a mimic of the wand choosing ceremony from the actual Harry Potter books. Afterwards, you are free to browse Ollivander’s to find your own wand. Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have the wand shop, but only Diagon does the ceremony. Another great tip is if you have a child that wants to do it, try to watch the line and go in with a group of adults. They lean more to picking out children but the more kids they are, the less likely yours will be picked. Another great way to stack the odds in your favor is to have your child dress up like their favorite character.
Escape from Gringotts – Everyone remembers the iconic Deathly Hallows scene with Harry, Ron and Hermione. This ride takes that and puts you right in the action of the escape. You’ll have to break in, and out, and avoid dragons as well as death eaters. Escape from Gringotts is found in Diagon Alley. This was one of my favorite rides because they animatronics was amazing.
Dragon Challenge – This fast-paced roller coaster is located in Hogsmeade. It’s two different coasters on separate tracks that race against each other. Set around the theme of the first challenge for the Triwizard tournament, be prepared to ride on either a Chinese Fireball or a Hungarian Horntail. (I thought the Chinese Fireball was more intense!)
Hogwarts and the Forbidden Journey – We’ve all wondered what’s it’s like to ride on a broomstick, right? Well, in Hogwarts and the Forbidden Journey you get to experience just that. What starts as a late night sneak out to play quidditch turns into a flight through the forbidden forest. The ride queue for this one is uniquely special considering you get to walk through Hogwarts. The Forbidden Journey is in Hogsmeade and is one of the longest waits due to being popular. But, it’s totally worth it!
Hogwarts Express – Okay, so this isn’t really a ride you would expect. It’s a relaxing train ride that shows a different story from the two different destinations. You sit in a carriage car much like the Hogwarts Students did at the beginning of each school year. It’s a great way to have a few minutes to yourself to relax. You board the train at King’s Cross or Hogsmeade Station. Make sure you ride it both ways because the story is different each way. You need to have a multi-park pass in order to ride this one.
So, there you have it. Whether you’re looking for thrills, a relaxing ride, or something fun to watch, Universal Orlando has it all.