Attraction of the Week: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando
Rides at Hogsmeade
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
The highlight in this section of the park is the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, housed inside the Hogwarts castle. The ride itself is one of the most intense in the park, very thrilling and entertaining at the same time. You will pass many different Hogwarts scenes, following Harry on a broomstick for the majority of the ride. Overall, the journey is pretty fun with lots of twists, turns, and surprises. Caution: this ride is not recommend for those with motion sickness!
The waiting line inside the castle is simply amazing. A few of the highlights include talking portraits, Dumbledore’s Office, the Griffyindoor Common Room, and appearances by Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, and Hermoine.
Flight of the Hippogriff
This family friendly coaster is located right next to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. You might as well check the wait time as you will be right there. The coaster is not very intense, however, it’s fun and the views of Hogwarts castle are great! This is a great alternative for those who can’t handle the more intense upside down/big drop roller coasters. The Harry Potter theme is great and it’s much less intense than Gringotts and the Forbidden Journey, yet still enough fun enough for those who prefer thrill rides.
Dragon Challenge has been at Universal before Harry Potter arrived, only it used to be called Dueling Dragons. This intense coaster begins as you choose either the Chinese Fireball or Hungarian Horntail. There are lots of loops and twists on this ride, and it is quite hard to keep your head from banging around. Very fast and fun, although I’m not sure if it is worth the post ride dizziness!
If you are limited on time, I would skip this coaster in favor of better options at the park including The Incredible Hulk Coaster and The Mummy. The Harry Potter theme isn’t as the other 2. Also, you will have a wicked headache afterwards!
Overall, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is just so detailed that you possibly can’t take everything all in, which is also part of the reason why the park is so great! Have fun exploring everything Harry Potter and be sure to explore every magical nook and cranny. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a magical experience for book fans, movies fans, and anyone else who enjoys the theme park atmosphere. It would be difficult not to have a great time with all the excitement around.
**Additionally, don’t forget all the other awesome rides available throughout Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Check out my 13 Can’t Miss Rides at Universal to see which rides are a must and which you can skip over.
Helpful Tips for visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
*Stay at a Universal on-site for hour early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Not surprisingly, this section of both parks get extremely crowded (as you can see from the pictures above). That hour early admission will allow you to get in some shops and take some great pictures without the hefty crowds. Another benefit of an on-site hotel is the ability to send your store purchases directly to a hotel. No lugging around your souvenirs all day!
*Avoid summer and holiday visits. Summer afternoons in Orlando are brutal, both in terms of heat and humidity. Holidays, especially the week between Christmas and New Year’s, spring break, 4th of July, and Memorial Day often see the highest crowds. January, February, and November are great times to visit as the crowds aren’t as bad as the above mentioned times, plus the weather is a bit cooler.
*Bring with a backpack filled with water bottles and snacks. Universal does allow you to carry food and drinks throughout the parks. Don’t worry about where to put your stuff while on rides – free lockers are available!
*Try to get on the major rides (Gringotts and The Forbidden Journey) early in the morning – first thing! This will allow you to get one of the rides out of the way before the big crowds hit.
*Don’t plan your vacation around holidays or the busy summer seasons. The crowds are bad enough in the off-season!
*Save shopping at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade for the early morning or late evening hours. During the afternoon hours, you can barely walk. Not a pleasant experience!
*Download the free Universal Wait Times App. This handy app will let you check wait times for both Universal Studios and Island Adventure, and thus, plan your day accordingly.
*Purchase at least a 2 day pass to give yourself time to explore both everything at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and all the other fantastic rides, attractions, and shows within Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
*There are little extra touches throughout the park such as Kreacher looking out the window at 12 Grimmauld Place (near King’s Cross Station in Diagon Alley). At the Gringotts Money Exchange, you can talk to the goblin and he will answer questions. You can also exchange your money for special Gringotts bank notes which can be used at the park gift shops. Also, if you dial 62442 inside the telephone booth at Diagon Alley, you will hear a special message from the Ministry of Magic. There are lots of cool extras throughout the park, so keep your eyes peeled!
Have you ever visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? What were your favorite rides and attractions?