While Julio and I were in Florida recently, I made it clear that there was one place I wanted to go during the course of our trip, no matter what. That place was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Harry Potter World is split between two parks at Universal Orlando- Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade is in the Islands of Adventure. Since I couldn’t choose just one (honestly, who could?) we decided to buy the one day, 2 park pass that would allow us to go back and forth from both parks. We also decided since we were trying to fit two entire theme parks into one day, that we would buy the Express Passes in order to skip the lines on most of the rides.
We arrived at Universal Studios about 15 minutes before the park opened at 9am on a beautiful sunny day. We got situated and headed into the first area of the park, Production Central, and rode the Minions ride, Transformers 3D, and the Hollywood Rip Rocket. Since we got to the park first thing in the morning, the lines weren’t that long yet, but we breezed on through with our Express Passes anyways, seeing the Mummy ride, the Simpsons ride, and Men in Black.
After checking off all the other areas, we arrived at Diagon Alley, which is located in the back of the park. Passing “through” the brick wall and entering Diagon Alley was as exciting in real life as I imagined it would be in the books. Gringott’s stands at the center end of the alley with a huge dragon on the roof, and is surrounded by other shops and stores including Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, Ollivander’s, Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour and more. We stopped in Ollivander’s right away to get our wands, which come with a map of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade that show spots where you can practice your spells and do “magic.” It was exciting to walk around and see little kids waving their wands to make statues move and water fountains turn on and off. We got Butterbeer of course, and had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron before heading to Kings Cross Station to catch the Hogwarts Express. The best part was walking “though the wall” between platforms 9 and 10 to get to Platform 9 and 3/4. The Hogwarts Express then took us over to Hogsmeade and the Islands of Adventure.
The Hogwarts Express arrives in Hogsmeade in the Islands of Adventure so we spent time in that area of the park first. The Harry Potter areas of both parks were the most crowded and unfortunately most of the rides there didn’t accept the Express Passes. However, there were also separate lines for single riders, which bypassed most of the regular line, and we didn’t mind if we weren’t sitting next to each other. The Dragon Challenge roller coaster was very cool, and within the Hogwarts castle there was another 3D ride called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
After Hogsmeade we made our way around the other areas of the park, starting with Jurassic Park. There was a River Adventure water ride that we wanted to go on, but we got ponchos so we wouldn’t get wet. There were also two water rides in Toon Town but one was closed for maintenance so we just rode the other and put our ponchos away for the day. In the Marvel Superhero area we rode Doctor Doom’s Freefall and Spider-Man 3D, and walked around Suess Landing (the rides were more for little kids there).
Finally we rode the Hogwarts Express back to Universal Studios (the show is different in each direction so we sure you catch both!) and rode Harry Potter’s Escape from Gringott’s one last time. We walked out of the park right at 7 as they were closing after a wonderful, magical day!