The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the biggest attention-grabber at the Universal Orlando Resort, and that is not likely to change any time soon. The recently-announced expansion (which will be linked with a new Harry Potter-themed land at Universal Studios Florida) will likely bring even more guests into what is still a relatively small part of the Islands of Adventure theme park. Here are 5 essential tips for “muggles” making the pilgrimage to this real-world recreation of Harry Potter’s universe.
5. Make the Wizarding World your first stop
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is made up of three rides, a few restaurants and some shops; the area can get very crowded very quickly. As soon as you enter the park, head towards the Wizarding World, and queue up for the Dragon Challenge or Flight of the Hippogriff. Both rides are relatively quick, and when you are done, you can head right to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which will take about 45 minutes to an hour to fully experience.
4. Set aside plenty of time
Even though this area is not large, there is plenty to see and do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. From the quirky and fun shops to the innovative and interactive queue line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (the line often gets held up as guests forget to move along, thanks to the stunning effects and décor). Shop windows, movie props and the engaging wand show at Ollivander’s can take lots of time to explore as well. Allow at least half a day to explore this area, and set aside more time if you are visiting during a busy time of year or with several young witches and wizards.
3. Stay on-site
If the Wizarding World is your main reason for heading to Islands of Adventure, consider staying on-site. If you stay at the Portifino Bay, the Hard Rock Hotel or the Royal Pacific Resort, you’ll be able to use an Express Pass to zip through the lines. Not staying on-site? A limited number of Express Passes are available to purchase each day, but this can be expensive (prices range from about $20 to about $60 USD per person).
2. Budget some extra cash
The shops in this area offer an array of very tempting merchandise and food - check Zonko’s for joke and silly products, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods for everything from t-shirts reading “I served time in Azkaban” to themed chess sets and brooms, and Honeydukes for sweets of all types. Note that this section of the park does not offer soft drinks - you can get a butterbeer or several different themed drinks and various snack items as well. Try the frozen butterbeer here, but be warned, it is addictive! If you simply must have non-Harry Potter-themed food, you can find several dining locations nearby, before you enter this part of the park.
1. Ditch the stroller
The Wizarding World becomes very crowded once the park begins to fill up, and it will be very difficult to navigate with a stroller or pram. The stroller’s residents won’t like this part of the park much either, since the Wizarding World is definitely skewed towards an older age group. Babies, toddlers and young children won’t find much to do here (though you may be able to tempt them with an enormous lolly or other sweet treat from Honeydukes if you want to explore.)