I have a confession: I am a Harry Potter nerd.
It will come as no surprise that my spring vacation took me south to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Flordia.
Or that my vacation attire consisted of a different Harry Potter themed shirt for every day plus one for the plane ride down and back.
And let me assure any fellow Harry Potter fans right off the bat (in case the title didn’t give it away)…Harry Potter World will blow your mind!
I almost cried when it was time to leave.
15 Reasons Harry Potter World Is as Amazing as You Think
I could not get enough of the magical wonders in Harry Potter World.
The entire vacation I was as giddy as a house elf who’d just received a sock from his wizard. Muggle translation: Harry Potter World is as amazing as you think. Do you doubt me? Read on.
#1 – All in the Details
Even a casual Harry Potter-er will appreciate the attention to detail used to create the two worlds, Hogsmeade (located at Universal’s Islands of Adventures) and Diagon Alley (located at Universal Studios Flordia).
Everything inside the walls of these lands transports you to another world. I expected to turn the corner and see Harry or Hagrid at any moment (Side Note: I was a bit disappointed they didn’t pop out and say hi to me but I suppose they were busy).
#2 – MAGICAL ME!!
YOU CAN CAST SPELLS!!!! Let me repeat that in case my caps lock did not accurately reflect how amazingly awesome and fun this activity is: YOU CAN DO LEGIT MAGIC JUST LIKE HARRY!!!
And yes the wands come from Ollivanders.
How does it work? All throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, there are designated spell spots. Anyone who purchases an interactive wand from Ollivanders in the park can try their hand at a variety of familiar spells. And YES – it is as cool as it sounds.
I had to resist the urge to shove little children out of the way a good bit of the time. It’s also worth noting that just as many adults were casting spells as children.
#3 – Ride in Wizard Style
Any good wizard knows there is only one way to travel to and from Hogwarts – the Hogwarts Express. And Harry Potter World does not disappoint. The train has 2 purposes: a fun ride and an actual form of transportation between the two Harry Potter Worlds, because only a muggle walks from park to park.
The coolest part about the Hogwarts Express (aside from it looking EXACTLY LIKE IT SHOULD) is that your experience on the train changes depending on where you are going!! That’s right: it actually looks like you are traveling from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley and vise versa. I lost count of how many times we rode the train. It was that amazing.
#4 – Eat like Harry
All this exploring is bound to make anyone, wizard or muggle, thirsty. So it’s a good thing there is plenty of Butterbeer to go around. You can get it frozen, as ice cream, on ice, hot, or the classic drink. I recommend them all. Because they are all pure deliciousness.
Clearly you’re going to want a snack to go along with your Butterbeer and there are plenty of options.
Need a full meal? Pop into The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley or Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade.
Prefer a quick snack? Head to Honeydukes in Hogsmeade or Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley.
#5 – Visit Hogwarts
Since I’ve long accepted that my Hogwarts owl isn’t coming, a visit to the Hogwarts castle was the next best thing. Again Harry Potter World exceeded my expectations.
The Hogwarts Castle was breathtaking, both inside and out.
Inside it had everything, except maybe for the REAL Harry Potter people to pop in and say hi. The castle had it all: the Gryffindor common room (complete with its faithful guard the Grey Lady), Dumbledore’s study, talking portraits decorating the wall, Professor Sprout’s greenhouse (with crazy plants), the Mirror of Erised, the sorting hat, and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.
BONUS: the castle housed my favorite ride in the park, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This 3D Ride took you through all the best and dangerous parts of Hogwarts. You fly on a broom, dodge the Whomping Willow, escape from the Dementors, play Quidditch, and more.
#6 – Bank with Goblins
I obviously left with some serious Harry swag (I mean let’s not kid ourselves) and in order to purchase it, muggle currency would not do. Enter Gringotts Bank, the only way to bank in the Wizarding World. Inside Gringotts you (just like a young Mr. Potter once did) can get actual wizarding currency! From a goblin!!
The magic doesn’t stop there. Gringotts also comes equipped with a giant dragon guard hanging out on the roof. And did I mention this dragon will spew fire every so often? CAUSE IT DOES!!
#7 – Ride a Dragon
Gringotts is not the only place you’ll find a dragon inside Harry Potter World.
If you are brave enough, you can undertake the Dragon Challenge in Hogsmeade. This fast-paced rollercoaster lets you ride not one but TWO of the famous Potter world dragons, the Chinese Fireball and the Hungarian Horntail.
Personally I preferred the Hungarian Horntail. If you are a big rollercoaster rider, then I highly recommend waiting the extra time and riding in the front car. It makes a huge difference.
#8 – Fashion Advice
The most fashionable witches and wizards will want to stop in Madam Malkin’s Robes For All Occasions. Not only can you shop for official wizarding apparel, but you can also get fashion advice from the mirror in the store!
Word of Warning: the mirror is sometimes a bit more honest than you may want…
#9 – Hagrid’s Hog
Want to pretend you are Hagrid bringing baby Harry to London on your flying motorbike? YOU CAN! The famous bike (with room for a tiny rider) is available for a photo opp next to Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley.
(Note: Hagrid and baby Harry NOT included)
#10 – Join the Order
If your Hogwarts’ owl fell through, then it’s also likely that your invite to join the Order of the Pheonix has yet to arrive. Fear not! You can do the next best thing and visit their headquarters, 12 Grimmauld Place, right outside Diagon Alley.
#11 – Night Bus
Day OR night, you can take a stroll outside of Diagon Alley and chill with none other than the Knight Bus Driver AND his sassy shrunken head.
BONUS: The actual Knight Bus is there too!! Plus you don’t actually have to be stranded to catch this ride like in the books.
#12 – The Dark Side
If you’re more Slytherin than Gryffindor, then you are in luck! The dark side of the Wizarding world is well represented. Take a stroll down the dark and foreboding Knockturn Alley to get your fill of the creepy side. Shop at Borgin and Burkes and if you dare cast some not so nice spells.
Look closely and you’ll even see the famous vanishing cabinet Draco used to let Deatheaters into the Hogwarts Castle.
#13 – Sing Out
If every girl dreams of being serenaded, then every die-hard Harry Potter fan dreams of being serenaded by the Hogwarts Choir. DREAM NO MORE! The Village of Hogsmeade hosts regular performances by the famous magical choir.
#14 – Send an Owl
Want to rub all the magical fun you’re having in a friend (or foe’s) face? My suggestion: send them an owl. If you mail it from a special Owlery in Hogsmeade, it will bare an official Hogwarts postmark ONLY available from within the park. How could this not illicit screams of jealousy?
#15 – HARRY!
Have you not been listening?! Please re-read reasons 1-14.