The Ultimate Harry Potter World Travel Guide
Anyone who knows me knows that I am (unashamedly) a huge Harry Potter fan. I’m talking, like, a super huge nerdy fan. One of the peak moments of my year (and probably decade) was visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.
This is the 1st edition of a 3-part series to my Ultimate Harry Potter World Travel Guide. Here you'll find info on how to make the most of your time in the parks when visiting Harry Potter World.
TOP 7 THINGS TO DO TO HAVE AN ULTIMATE HARRY POTTER WORLD EXPERIENCE
- Get a park hopper pass!!! I cannot express how crucial this is if you want to have your ultimate Harry Potter experience. There are Harry Potter attractions in both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios that you will want to see.
- PLUS there is the Hogwarts Express train that connects both of the parks and you cannot ride this train unless you have a park hopper pass. I know tons of people who didn’t get the pass at first, and ended up buying it at some point during their stay. It is worth it—trust me.
- Download “The Official Universal Orlando Resort App” on your smart phone. Not only is this app a perfect map of both of the parks, but it also gives you pretty exact wait times of all the rides in the park. I was addicted to using this app when I went and found that the wait times on the app were all very accurate. (It also helped navigate my friend and I when we had had a few too many cocktails after lunch...) It is great if you want to navigate your day based on location/wait time!
- Buy an interactive wand at Olivander’s OR (which is even better), there are locations through Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade with shorter lines that you can buy the same exact wands with no line to wait in.
“But why buy a wand?” you ask. Firstly, because they are awesome exact replicas of the wands from the movies; but secondly because there are stations hidden around the park in Harry Potter World that you can actually cast spells and make things come to life, move, shift, squirt water, etc. And let me tell you—it is so much fun to do.
You will get a map of both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley with locations of all the stations. Simply point your wand towards the sensors and say the magic phrase! And don’t worry about looking like a weirdo (I’m in my 20s and did this next to kids) because everyone else around you is nerding out and loves it just as much as you do. (No kidding, there are grown adults with Hogwarts robes running around the park and it is so cool.) Expecto Patronum!
- SINGLE RIDERS LINE!!! This is no longer a best-kept secret of visiting the parks; however, I highly recommend (unless you have some inclination with having to be with your party at every second of the trip) jumping in the single riders line at any attraction that allows it. You will definitely cut your wait time in half and sometimes more. On some of the attractions, we even got to ride it 3-4 times in a row because we just kept getting back in the single riders line.
- Consider the Express Pass option. If you’re visiting the park at a peak time of year and you really want to stay with your party at all times and avoid the long lines, I would suggest looking into purchasing the Express Pass for the park. You will fly by in the lines and get the most out of your day.
We visited the park in February, so it wasn’t that busy and we didn’t find it totally necessary to have the Express Pass. They have 2 options of the pass: Unlimited Uses or Single Use. Cost obviously varies and can be expensive, but in some cases it is so worth it.
- Ride the Hogwarts Express!!! The train takes you from one park to the other and has a cute visual show in your cabin going both ways. Like I mentioned earlier, you can only get on the train if you have a park hopper pass. So get the park hopper!!
- Dress comfortably and bring as little as possible to the parks. A nice feature they have at the parks is free, rentable lockers to put your things in right before the rides. But the lines can get so long and you don’t want to waste time with that!
These are just some of the suggestions I have after my ultimate weekend there. Obviously, based on the time of year, wear appropriate clothing, shoes, sunscreen, etc. But the most important thing is to have fun!! The park is so magical (seriously these engineers did an amazing job at making it come to life) and you are going to feel like you stepped right into the movies—music and all!