Hogwarts Castle at Universal Orlando

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Universal Orlando Harry Potter Tips

If you plan to visit Universal Orlando Resorts, you HAVE to visit Harry Potter World. Even if you’re not a fan of the series, the rides and attention to detail alone are worth seeing. To make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss any awesome experiences, read on for our best Harry Potter World Tips. Learn when the wait times are the shortest, which rides and shows you shouldn’t miss, and where to keep an eye out for some extra magical moments in the park!

Man and Woman smiling in front of Hogwarts Castle at Universal Orlando Resort

Harry Potter World Orlando Ticket Prices

The price for Harry Potter World Orlando tickets will vary slightly depending on the time of year, the days of the week that you will be visiting the park and the type of ticket you will be purchasing.  The tickets you will be purchasing are for the entire park since the wizarding world is just a part of Universal’s theme parks.

Tickets will be more expensive around holidays and during the tourist season. You will also pay more if you go on the weekends rather than on a weekday. When you buy your Harry Potter World tickets, you will have to decide if you want to buy 1-park/day or 2-park/day tickets. I recommend that you purchase at least one of the 2-park/day tickets during your trip because that is the only way you will be able to ride the Hogwarts train.

Train pulling into Hogsmeade Station

Tickets for 1-park/day start at $109 and can go up to $179. The price for 2-park/day tickets ranges from $164- $234. Keep in mind that you can save money if you buy your tickets in a bundle (multiple days at a time).

When is Harry Potter World Orlando Open?

The hours of the Wizarding World in both Universal parks do vary slightly. Below we have listed the current times that Harry Potter World is open in Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

Harry Potter World Opening Hours

Universal Islands of Adventure typically opens at 9 a.m., though they do have early admission for several Harry Potter Attractions. Early admission is available for guests who stay at a Universal Resort like Dockside Inn & Suites. Universal Studios opens at 8 a.m.

Harry Potter World Closing Time

The two parks do close at different times, so keep this in mind when you make your late afternoon and evening plans. Universal Islands of Adventure closes at 7 p.m. and Universal Studios closes at 5 p.m. Parks may stay open later for special events.

How Long Does Harry Potter World Take?

One of the most common questions people have when planning their Universal vacation is how long does Harry Potter World Take? Like most things, it will depend on the type of traveler and theme park person you are. It is possible to explore the Wizarding World in one day but if you want to take your time exploring everything they have to offer, plan on it taking about 2-3 days in the off-season. If you are traveling during the height of the tourist season (April – August and all Holidays including spring breaks), it may take you twice as long due to the longer lines and wait times.

The night bus, driver, and talking head at Harry Potter World

How to do Harry Potter World in One Day

If you are trying to see Harry Potter World in just one day, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to make it happen. Most importantly, I recommend that you book your trip in the off-season and try to go during the week. This will greatly reduce your wait times for all of the rides and experiences.

Take advantage of the early admission to Islands of Adventure if you are staying at one of Universal’s Resorts. Most of the attractions available during this extra hour are in the Wizarding World of Hogsmeade. Use this time to go on the rides that opened early and go to a wand ceremony at Olivander’s. This is also a great time to explore the shops and use your interactive wand to cast spells at the different wand stations without feeling rushed.

Top area decorated in one of the stores in Harry Potter World

The third thing you should do that will help you knock out this area of the parks in one day is to ride the Hogwarts train as soon as Universal Studios opens. The train connects the two parks and the only way to be able to get on is to have a 2-park/day ticket. Rember to ride the train in both directions in order to see both experiences.

No line at Hogsmeade Station
No line at Hogsmeade Station end of September

Don’t worry about getting both rides done first thing in the morning, the line goes back to being shorter at the end of the day. Just don’t forget that Universal Studios does close a few hours before Islands of Adventure. The trains will stop when one of the parks closes.

The best thing to do is ride the train to Diagon Alley in Universal Studios as soon as it opens and get in line for the “Escape from Gringott’s” ride so you can get it done before the line gets too long. As the day goes on, use the Universal App to monitor the wait times so you know which ones you should get in line for.

Near empty line approaching the Escape to Gringot's ride

How Much Does It Cost for Harry Potter World?

The amount of money you will need for Harry Potter World will mostly come down to how much you want to spend on food and souvenirs. Keep in mind that when you purchase your tickets, you will need the 2 parks-1 day ticket in order to ride the Hogwarts Express train.

A man and woman taking a selfie in front of the Hogwarts train

Aside from the cost of the tickets for the theme parks, there aren’t a lot of things that you absolutely HAVE to spend your money on. None of the Wizarding World Rides cost money and you’re free to explore the area at no extra charge.

I do recommend purchasing at least one interactive wand for your group so you can participate in the free spell stations around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. The wand will cost around $63 and it’s the same price whether you buy it in one of the stores or as part of the Wand Choosing ceremony.

Harry Potter Wands next to the Ollivanders Wand Boxes

Harry Potter World Souvenirs

There are a ton of Harry Potter World souvenirs available in the parks; from keychains to the gowns worn at the Yule Ball during the Triwizard Tournament. If you’re trying to be more budget-friendly during your Universal vacation, consider choosing the type of souvenirs you will want to buy BEFORE you arrive. I would look into purchasing some of the more basic items, like t-shirts and coffee mugs from stores like Amazon to save money.

Don’t forget to include which Harry Potter-themed candy you’ll want to sample and bring home. Remember that some of the candies, like “Every Flavor Jellybeans”, are easily available (and cheaper) outside of the park. During our trip, we chose to get a Chocolate Frog so we would have one of the Wizard Trading Cards as another souvenir.

Harry Potter World Food

As you walk through Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in Universal Orlando, you will see multiple shops and restaurants where you can buy Harry Potter World food and drinks. Many of the options are either talked about in the famous book and movie series or that’s popular in England.

2 different meals from Three Broomstick...one cottage pie and the other a Spare Ribs Platter
Cottage Pie and Spare Ribs Platter from Three Broomsticks

Apart from the candies we talked about earlier, Butterbeer is one experience that you shouldn’t pass up as a part of your Wizarding World experience. It will cost between $8-9 per cup. You can get it frozen, plain, or hot and if you love the flavor, you can get it in other treats like ice cream and fudge.

You should also consider eating at least one of your meals at the Leaky Cauldron or the Three Broomsticks. These are two of the restaurants that are mentioned in the books and movies. Meals here are a bit more expensive than in other areas of the park but the food is delicious and the décor is great!  

Animated Wanted Poster for Sirius Black in Wizarding World Restaurant

Harry Potter World Tips

Harry Potter World currently extends to both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Islands of Adventure has more rides and is centered around Hogsmeade. The Universal Studios’ part of the Wizarding World is centered in Diagon Alley and in general, has more to explore. To get the most out of your trip, here are my top tips for visiting Harry Potter World.

White Owl sitting on top of a pile of luggage at Hogsmeade Station

Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Secrets

Universal did a wonderful job with all sorts of details all around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You can find an array of magical details in the shop windows like those below that will make you appreciate the work that went into this area.

3 photo collage of the red Ministry of Magic phone booth, the leaking Witch's Cauldron sign, and the dragon on top of Gringotts

  • Witchs’ Cauldron sign leaking
  • You can hear Moaning Myrtle in the bathrooms near Hog’s Head Pub in Hogsmeade
  • Kreacher will come to the window at 12 Grimwauld Place when you knock loudly on the door.
  • Message from Ministry of Magic in the phone booth
  • Dragon breathing fire on top of Gringotts- dependent on weather.
  • Around one of the last turns before you go through Platform 9 ¾, be on the lookout for a magical moment that you can only see from this spot. It makes the platform look like a real wall with people in line walking through it- just like in the movie! You can find this spot as you wait in line at the King’s Cross Station at Universal Studios.

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Harry Potter World Wand Tricks

  • The interactive wand comes with a map and the map shows you the necessary wand movements at each magic location. The emblem on the ground by each spell-casting station will also give you the correct wand movements and magic words.
  • There are special symbols on the map that you can only see in black light. You can find a black light by the talking heads in Diagon Alley.
  • In Diagon Alley, there are 3 hidden wand locations that employees can help you find. They are also available to assist if you need help in mastering the wand movement during your spell casting.
  • Some of the spells will produce different results each time it is cast so make sure to try the spells several times or watch as others successfully perform the magic.
Woman pointing the wand at one of the spell locations in Harry Potter World

Getting Chosen for the Wand Ceremony

  • Be friendly and make small talk with all of the employees. It is ultimately up to the shopkeeper who gets chosen, but the employees that you interact with while you wait can influence them on who they pick when it is busy at the larger locations.
  • Some believe that if you stand by the stairs, wear wizarding gear, or to the right side of the room, you will have better odds of getting picked. Basically, make sure you are easily visible to the shopkeeper.
  • Children often get chosen as well as people wearing the special occasion pins that you can get at guest services.
  • The best time to go is during early admission, the end of the day, or during nearby events such as the light shows in the evening. During these times, there are fewer people in line for you to compete with.
Olivander's Wand shop

Getting chosen for the wand ceremony was my main birthday goal for this trip. We tried twice during the day, the 2nd time with me wearing my birthday pin, stood in the recommended spots, and still didn’t get picked. The first time it was a child, the 2nd time was another girl who had a birthday and had spoken to the assistant first. I finally got chosen on the third try by basically waiting until we were the only ones in line during the evening light show.

It’s up to you to decide what you are willing to do and how long you are willing to try to be the chosen one. Keep in mind that you can buy interactive wands from several locations in the park if you don’t get selected for the wand ceremony.

Harry Potter World Orlando Rides

There aren’t a lot of rides in Orlando’s Harry Potter World and the majority are located in Hogsmeade at Island of Adventure. Not including the Hogwarts Express, there are three separate rides in this location:

  • Flight of the Hippogriff- a family-friendly rollercoaster that takes you around Hagrid’s hut.
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey– a fun 3D ride where your feet dangle on the ride as you go through Hogwarts and encounter magical creatures.
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure– This is the most roller coaster type ride in Harry Potter World. Hagrid takes you around to see different magical creatures on his Motorbike.

There is only one ride on the Universal Studios studio side in Diagon Alley:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts- Tag along with Harry, Hermione, and Ron as they make a narrow escape from Death Eaters in Gringotts bank.
Sign for Gringott's Bank

We went on all of the rides except “Hagrid’s Motorcycle Adventure” as I am not a big rollercoaster fan. My two personal favorites are “Escape from Gringotts” and “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”. We went on these rides numerous times because we had so much fun!

2 Goblins working next to each other behind a counter at Gringotts bank.
Animated Goblins working in the bank at the Escape From Gringotts’ ride

If you are trying to maximize your time with Early Admission, I recommend heading to “Hagrid’s Motorcycle Adventures” since that consistently had the longest wait time. Next, I would try to squeeze in “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” as this ride is also very popular.

Entrance to Hagrid's Magical Creatures Ride

Don’t worry if you end up having to wait in line for the Harry Potter Rides! The details in the ‘waiting areas’ are worth taking your time as you walk to the front of the line, even if there is no wait. Every time we went through a line, we found something cool that we missed previously. Be on the lookout for moving pictures, Video skits and appearances by the main characters of the movies, animated newspaper clippings, and more.

Newspapers from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Best Shows in Harry Potter World

There are several shows throughout the day in Harry Potter World. Our favorites were the Toad Choir in Hogsmeade and Tales of Beedle the Bard (there are two puppet shows that rotate throughout the day) in Diagon Alley. These performances are fun to watch and offer a great excuse to rest your feet.

A scene during the 3 brothers skit during the show at Harry Potter World

You will also want to make sure you stick around for the evening shows at Islands of Adventure. On certain nights you can watch “The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle” which is a light show played on Hogwarts. There are different light shows played during Universal’s Halloween and Christmas festivities.

Universal's Halloween light show against Hogwarts castle

We went during Halloween and were delighted to see Death Eaters circling and interacting with the crowd throughout the evenings. It was great watching them battle young wizards and just generally prowling around. This year, you can find Death Eaters in Diagon Alley during the Halloween season as well.

2 Death Eaters standing together in a crowd at Universal. They are dressed in black and posing with their wands

Why You Should Visit Harry Potter World Orlando:

All Harry Potter fans should visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. It’s so much fun walking the streets and entering the stores that you read about in the books or have seen in the movies. It’s truly magical in the way that they have brought the story to life. Enjoy these tips so you can make the most of your visit and make memories that will last a lifetime!

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Animal and wildlife enthusiast that currently owns four dogs, loves to travel, and try new things while saving as much money as possible!

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