Harry Potter World at Universal Studios Orlando, Florida
If you’re a loyal reader of my blog, you’ll know how much I love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Japan and my in-depth guide on how you can get USJ tickets online easily. When I went to a trip to Orlando, I cannot resist not going to Universal Studios Orlando to see my favorite world – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The tickets are really expensive, in my opinion, and the foot traffic in Universal Studios Orlando is not as many as the one in Japan, so I wouldn’t recommend getting the Express Pass for the sake of saving 10 minutes.
On a side note, I really saw how NBC Universal fell behind in terms of developing Universal Studios. It lacked luster and looked like a carnival, rather than a theme park worth visiting for USD 170 per person. Roadrunner and Simpsons roller coaster, seriously? If it weren’t for Harry Potter, I wouldn’t really visit this theme park.
While the rest of Universal Studios pales into insignificance, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando is composed of two locations, Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade in Universal Island’s of Adventure, and these special locations are connected by the Hogwarts Express. Yes, you can ride the Hogwarts Express in real life! I got really excited with this because I get to be a wizard for a day!
Before you get inside, you’ll walk past 12 Grimauld Place
We started our trip to Diagon Alley first, where you can find exactly the same stores at it is in USJ. From Dervish and Banges to Ollivander’s to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, it’s a very magical place.
The landmark that made the place extra special was Gringotts Bank, where you can ride the Escape from Gringotts Bank. And even before you ride, the interiors of Gringotts Bank is just beautiful. The ride can be extremely dangerous, as there are already reports of people fainting after riding, so proceed with caution!
Butterbeer at Harry Potter World
Of course, if you’re thirsty, you can always grab a butterbeer at Harry Potter World, and even butterbeer ice cream!
The best part of Harry Potter in Orlando that differentiates it from the one in USJ is that they sell magical wands. Equipped with a map, these activate magic inside the Harry Potter world, and sell for USD 50 each. You can cast spells around Diagon Alley with it! I saw people brandishing their wands to spout water out of gargoyles. It’s really amazing.
Three Broomsticks or Leaky Cauldron
If you get hungry, you can always eat at the Leaky Cauldron or Three Broomsticks, both of which offer dishes similar to the one in USJ.
Riding the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross
After seeing everything in Diagon Alley, we rode the Hogwarts Express to get to Hogsmeade. In case you didn’t know, you need to purchase Park-to-Park tickets to ride the train. That’s $170, instead of the 1 Park Option at S110.
It was such an incredible journey to be inside the cabin with interactive movie and sound effects, being attacked by dementors and hearing the frogs from the trolley.
Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle
There isn’t much difference with Hogsmeade, except you get to see Hogwarts Castle and ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction. I was a little disappointed with Forbidden Journey ride. While it was exactly the same as the one in USJ, the quality of the 4K video wasn’t that good and I could the gaps between the floor and the curved screen, which made it less immersive. I wished they stretched it a little further and made it similar to the Transformers ride, where the graphics is 3D, not a 2D film. Also, they made it scarier by speeding up the ride, which made it really terrifying. I felt like I was going to be turned upside down and based from my experience 3 years ago, I rode this back in Japan, and it stopped in the middle of the ride, and I was face to face with a veil of the fake dementor. It wasn’t really safe.
Overall, it was a great experience soaking up with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. If you haven’t been here, I would recommend this theme park attraction to any Harry Potter fan and experience magic!