The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is Universal Orlando’s most popular “island” in the Islands of Adventure theme park. It is made up of several different rides, plenty of shopping and a few shows, and is themed after the village of Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter books and movies.
If you plan on visiting, arrive early in the day and expect to spend a good portion of the day exploring the Wizarding World. While you want to enjoy everything this part of the park has to offer, you won’t want to miss the following extra-special effects.
Part of the magic of the Wizarding World is the atmosphere - once you enter this part of the park, everything you see is part of Hogsmeade. This is a bit of a change-up for Universal - setting the perfect stage is more of a Disney thing, but Universal Orlando has done an excellent job with the Wizarding World. Expect to see old-fashioned cobblestone streets, buildings that look like they’ve been in place for centuries and plenty of magical merchandise as you browse.
Ollivander’s Wand Shop Show
One of the most popular destinations at the Wizarding World isn’t a ride at all. The wand chooses the wizard (or witch) at Ollivander’s, and the fun special effects are well worth the wait. The show storyline is pulled from the first book, and one lucky witch or wizard per audience will have the opportunity to be chosen by a wand. This is a lively, fun show, but only small groups are admitted at a time, so make this one of your first stops. Lines at Ollivander’s back up more quickly than any other area in the park, thanks to the popularity and small capacity of the show.
Dragon Challenge Close Call
Dragon Challenge is a pair of coasters (formerly the Dueling Dragons). The coasters run side by side and give riders the feeling that they may actually collide in mid-air. This unusual effect is enhanced by the timing of the coasters. Unfortunately, in 2011, the park decided to dial back on the “near miss” effect - ending the coasters' dueling - after several riders were struck by loose objects, but this is still one of the most exhilarating thrill rides at Universal Orlando.
Forbidden Journey Flight
The headline attraction at the Wizarding World is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and you’ll see more jaw-dropping special effects here than in any other place in the park. From the amazing Hogwarts walkthrough to the top speed broomstick dash, you’ll be wondering “how did they do that” from start to finish. Line up early to see the Forbidden Journey, and allow plenty of time for exploring the castle in the innovative line queue area.
Food and Fun
Is food really an “effect”? It is when it plays a starring role in the atmosphere and magic of the park. All of the food items that are available for purchase in the Wizarding World are from the Wizarding world, so they add to and enhance the theming. From cauldron cakes to several varieties of butterbeer, you can purchase authentic Harry Potter-themed snacks and beverages in the Wizarding World. Ever wonder what Fizzing Whizzbies taste like? How about chocolate frogs or Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans? Now is your chance to find out. Muggles should note that the atmosphere of the Wizarding World is enhanced by the lack of “normal” beverages and snacks. You won’t be able to buy sodas or similar drinks in this part of the park – but with all of the great themed food choices, you won’t miss them.