Ultimate Harry Potter World Travel Guide: Diagon Alley
Like I said before, I am an absolute huge Harry Potter geek and loved everything about visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter this year. There are 2 locations for Harry Potter world—Diagon Alley and Hogwarts/Hogsmeade. Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios towards the back of the park. Visiting this part of Harry Potter World blew my mind. Here are some things to make sure you see when you’re there!
London, The Red Phone Booth, The Knight Bus, King’s Cross Station, and Grimmauld Place
Even before you enter Diagon Alley, you’re able to step into the magical world of Harry Potter by seeing little parts of “London” right outside the entrance to Diagon Alley.
- See the outside of The Leaky Cauldron and the sign that muggles seem to miss. It gives you a visual taste of what you are about to experience when you step behind the walls.
- Step inside the Red Phone Booth that is near The Leaky Cauldron and The Knight Bus right outside of Diagon Alley. Once inside, if you dial the code “MAGIC” on the phone, you will hear the voicemail recording of the Ministry of Magic!
- The Knight Bus comes fully equipped with the creepy Jamaican shrunken head in the front of the bus, as well as the bus boy, who is always giving people a good laugh. Step up and talk to him and then walk around to the back of the bus and get a look inside The Knight Bus! It has all the beds and luggage just like in the movie.
- The entrance to King’s Cross Station is just outside of Diagon Alley and looks absolutely majestic. You will need to have a park hopper pass to get into the station and ride the train to Hogwarts/Hogsmeade (do this if only for 1 day because it is so worth it!). Once you are in King’s Cross Station, you will get a chance to “walk through the wall” of Platform 9 ¾. I was lucky enough that no one was behind me, and my friend got an awesome video of me entering the magical world through the wall. It is so cool and whatever technology they used for this visual effect makes me really happy. Kudos Universal Studios engineers!!!
- Just before you go into Diagon Alley, step over to the town houses of Grimmauld Place and stand outside of #12, which is the house of Black. Look above the door, and every minute or so you will see Creature peeking his head out and watching all the muggles walk by. Such a creepy looking guy!
Inside Diagon Alley
Stepping behind those magical walls into Diagon Alley might have been one of the happiest moments of my life. The entire vibe in there is like you are literally in the movie and in Diagon Alley. They even have the music playing to set the mood! It is beautiful...
- First thing’s first: Go buy an interactive wand. If you want the Ultimate Harry Potter World experience, you’re going to need a wand to go around and cast spells. Let the wand pick you! **Secret**: You don’t have to buy the wand at Olivander’s wand shop. They sell them in a few different locations throughout Harry Potter World. We went to a shop called “Wands by Gregorovitch” that is just around the corner from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and they had the entire selection there with no line to wait in.
- Inside Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, they make it look and feel just like the real store. Look up at the top of the ceiling and see 2 awesome details: Fireworks on a screen and a Dolores Umbridge doll that screams, “I WILL. HAVE. ORDER!” as it rolls back and forth on a line.
- Step into The Leaky Cauldron for some quintessential Harry Potter/English food. You can even try Butter Beer (unfortunately not really beer/doesn’t have alcohol, more of a cream soda) or Pumpkin Juice (very sweet and tasty like apple cider with pumpkin spices).
- Follow the dark alley and sign into Knockturn Alley for some creepy views of this part of the city. They have moving “Wanted” signs for evil characters like Bellatrix Lestrange and many other death eaters.
- Borgin and Burkes is in Knockturn Alley and you can come in here for your typical villain-type souvenirs. They even have the Vanishing Cabinet in the back of the store and you can hear the bird chirping from inside the walls!
- About every 15-20 minutes, the dragon above Gringotts Bank roars loudly and breathes fire out of his mouth! It is so great to see, so make sure you have your camera ready!
- You can actually shop in many of the stores along Diagon Alley. Even if you don’t buy anything, it is still great to stop in and feel like you’re getting ready for your year at Hogwarts. There is a boutique to buy robes (also a talking mirror in this boutique!) and other Hogwarts apparel, there is an ice cream shop, and even a place to buy Butter Beer and other beverages.
- Stop and take a seat in Hagrid’s motorcycle right next to Gringotts Bank.
- The ride at Gringotts Bank is a very cool one that you shouldn’t miss. To save time waiting, try the single riders line if you really don’t mind riding alone or if you don’t have the Express Pass. The technology and engineering that has gone into these new rides is so impressive. They use holograms and lots of other modern technology to make it a unique experience. The inside of Gringotts even looks like the actual bank—goblins and all!
- Around the corner from Gringotts, there is a Money Exchange shop and you can go in to exchange money for Harry Potter currency. There is a goblin that sits at the top of the desk when you walk in who is interactive with the guests and talks to people. You can ask him questions and he will answer however he feels is most appropriate. Some of his responses are pretty comical too.
- See the creepy mermaids from Goblet of Fire on top of the water fountains near Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. They even shoot out water from the top of the fountain every so often.
The best part of visiting these parks is seeing this fairy-tale world come to life. Enjoy seeing all the little details that went into making it a reality, and relax with a Pumpkin Juice or Butter Beer at the end of the day. I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!