If you’re planning a trip to Universal Orlando Resort and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter…I’m jealous. 😉 After having the BEST time on our fifth wedding anniversary trip (full recap of our trip + a 3-day Universal Orlando itinerary here for ya!), we’re already gungho to go back! But for any/all of you getting travel plans ready, here are 10 must-see spots at Harry Potter World that we’d recommend not missing (+ a few to pass on altogether!).
First thing’s first – I’m considering Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, and Hogsmeade all no-brainers since they’re main locations at the Wizarding World. So they aren’t on the list below – but, don’t miss ’em. 😉
1.) Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – There’s a reason this ride is the most popular + longest wait in the whole park! It’s a TRIP – a truly fabulous experience all around, from the ride itself (a side-by-side motorbike adventure on a rollercoaster-like track) to the effects/set. Even the queue is made to be quasi-enjoyable – and much of it is air-conditioned!
2.) Escape from Gringott’s – and the fire-breathing dragon! One of the first things you’ll see upon entering Diagon Alley is the massive dragon atop Gringott’s Bank. You’ll find Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott’s inside – which is my personal second favorite ride in Harry Potter World. But make sure you hang out to hear + see the dragon breathe fire (yes, real fire!). And just how often does the dragon breathe fire at Universal, you might be thinking? Every 15 minutes. So brace yo’selves and your cameras to capture it – you’ll hear a rumbling before the fiery roar.
3.) Flight of the Hippogriff – This family-friendly coaster is a tamer HP experience – but still fun. You’ll spot Buckbeat as the ride begins and swirl around Hagrid’s hut, outside of Hogwarts.
4.) The Hogwarts Express – both ways! Definitely a must-see spot at Harry Potter World – or rather, must ride! And both ways are worthwhile, as you get a unique experience in either direction. One way you’ll encounter Dementors on board – the other you’ll see fellow riders hop through Platform 9 3/4. A lovely way to cool down and take a themed breather between parks!
5.) Butterbeer – and Wizard Beer! I know all the hype is around Butterbeer in Harry Potter World – but don’t sleep on the wizarding brews of the alcoholic variety. 😉 Both the Wizard’s Brew + Dragon Scale beers are exclusive brews to the Wizarding World, and both are yummy! The Wizard’s Brew is a bit of a darker stoudt, while the Dragon Scale is a bit of a lighter, amber lager. (Personally, I prefer the latter!). Re: Butterbeer, it’s SWEET – truly a butterscotch concoction. We tried both cold + hot while there, and hot reigned supreme (especially yummy if you’re into hot chocolate or warm apple cider with whipped cream – similar vibe!). But word on the street is that FROZEN butterbeer is the way to go!
6.) Lunch at the Leaky Cauldron – But grab an apple oatmeal flan at breakfast if you’re able – because it’s phoenomenal. The rest of the breakfast accompanying it is pretty basic and overpriced (ie, yogurt + fresh fruit), but the apple oatmeal flan is out of this world. Truly magical, pun intended. OK BUT LUNCH – the Leaky Cauldron was our favorite lunch spot for more “traditional” English fare! The Bangers and Mash entree was YUMMY, and I paired with the Peachtree Fizzing Tea – a lightly carbonated peach iced tea with a hint of ginger.
7.) Knockturn Alley – The darkest alleyway – literally! And figuratively, since home to Bourgin & Bourke’s, where you’ll find the vanishing cabinet used by Malfoy to let Deatheaters into Hogwarts. The alley has ~vibes~ and is hidden away off of Diagon Alley, so it’s worth adventuring into for a spooky experience.
8.) Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour – I wish we had gotten Florean’s every single day of our trip – definitely one of the must-see spots at Harry Potter World. They have both soft and hard ice creams and incredible flavors for both; the hard comes with two scoops, so between J + I we tried chocolate chili, apple crumble, earl grey lavender, + sticky toffee pudding. The chocolate chili was like your classic chocolate with a spicy kick at the end, which was fabulous. Earl grey lavender has light floral vibes (lovely!) and is one of their more popular flavors, I believe. I want to go back to try the strawberry peanut butter!
9.) Ollivander’s wand experience – Now, if there’s a long wait and/or line for the experience, I wouldn’t keep this on my list of must-see spots at Harry Potter World unless you’ve got a young wizard in your party who is gung ho to be the featured guest. But it’s definitely a cute thing to witness! Essentially, someone from the group is chosen by a wand; the experience mirrors Harry’s wand-shopping experience at Ollivander’s for his first year at Hogwarts. So it’s cute and undeniably special if your young wizard is a huge fan, celebrating a birthday, etc – and you’re not obligated to purchase a wand if chosen (although I’m guessing everyone does – ha!).
10.) Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey – FAIR WARNING: Be careful on this ride if you’re prone to motion sickness! We did it twice, and both times through J off his game – and I was a bit off myself. It’s one of the most unique rides I’ve ever been on since it’s a combination of virtual reality and a ride-along; you
The Fizzing Green Ale – Dude…it tastes like toothpaste. J took one sip and almost puked – ha! I tried a few sips and thought it would grow on me…it didn’t.
Three Broomsticks lunch – We didn’t find it that impressive!
SO many shops…while it’s cool to sight see a few classic Diagon Alley hot spots (like Wealey’s Wizard Wheezes and Ollivander’s), it started feeling a bit redundant with so much stuff for sale – ha! You can most certainly find a souvenir (or two, or ten) inside, but many shops have similar merchandise, so we didn’t feel the need to explore every single one!
Have you ever been to the Wizarding World in Universal? Do you agree with my must-see spots at Harry Potter World or have any other must-do’s on your list?