I crossed off a bucket list item last week when I finally got the chance to visit HP World Orlando!! I had such an amazing time! It was so much fun, the weather was really nice and I love how much thought was put into each of the HP areas. I had visited the Hogsmeade area in LA, but Orlando has so much more to offer, and Diagon Alley is INCREDIBLE. Here’s a rundown of all the highlights!
We started our day in the Hogsmeade park with a cup of butterbeer! I only tried the cold butterbeer (which is the regular type) and it’s so good! The whipped cream is the best part. Next time I visit I’ll make sure to try the other types (hot and frozen)!
Then we rode HP & the Forbidden Journey. They also have this one in LA, but it was still super fun. The line takes you all throughout Hogwarts castle, complete with talking portraits and projections of the Golden Trio planning ways out of the castle. The ride has a lot of twists and turns, and uses screens to make it seem like you’re riding a broomstick along with Harry! Super fun, and definitely wakes you up first thing in the morning! Hogsmeade also has two small rollercoasters, but my friend Jennifer and I are both ride chickens so we didn’t ride those 😛
In addition to Hogwarts castle, Hogsmeade also has a bunch of small shops, like Filch’s Emporium (where I quickly spent $150), Owl Post, and Honeydukes. You can also eat at The Three Broomsticks or the Hog’s Head! At night, there’s a fun projection show on the castle that honors all the four houses.
Since we had a park hopper, we were able to take the Hogwarts Express between the two HP parks. SO COOL. The ride is different for each direction, so make sure to take it both ways! So once you step off the train from Hogsmeade, you are transported into King’s Cross Station- muggles wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the entrance and a London train station! So many small details to make it seem more realistic.
I’ll admit that I now prefer Universal Orlando over LA for one reason only. DIAGON ALLEY. Ugh, where to begin.
Once you step out of King’s Cross, you walk onto a city street with many a photo-ops! First, you’ll come across a red phone booth with access to the Ministry (unforunately it seems that the visitor’s entrance is closed). There’s the Knight Bus, where you can talk to the conductor and the shrunken head. Plus, right across the street is GRIMMAULD FRICKIN’ PLACE- you can even see Kreacher peeking out of the window every few minutes!
The really cool thing about Diagon Alley is that there’s no signs or indication of where it is. There’s just a brick walled tunnel that you turn into and then BAM! You’re in the heart of Diagon Alley, with a perfect view of Gringotts (and the fire breathing dragon). It breathes fire every 10 minutes and it’s amazing.
There’s a myriad of awesome shops lining the area: Ollivander’s, Flourish & Blotts, Florean Fortescue’s, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Magical Menagerie, Madam Milkin’s, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and more! They have great merch and the window displays are really fun. There’s also The Leaky Cauldron and the Hopping Pot for some food options. For entertainment, Celestina Warbeck performs or you could also watch a really neat puppet show of The Tale of the Three Brothers!
There’s only one ride in this park: Escape from Gringotts. I was super nervous about riding this because it’s deep in the heart of the bank and there’s no way to see what you’re getting into. But I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t ride AND BOY AM I SO GLAD I DID! It’s SO FUN. We ended up going back to Diagon Alley on our last day just to ride this again. The line takes you through the Gringotts atrium and down to the security and goblin offices. You can even see silhouettes of Harry, Ron and Hermione talking about their Horcrux hunt in some of the doors! The ride is 3D and has about 12 people to a cart. You’re quickly discovered by Bellatrix and she triggers the Thief’s Downfall (which is actually what I was dreading but ended up being really fun) and you’re thrown to and fro by Voldemort and some giant guards. Once you plunge further down, you meet up with the Trio and are able to escape by hitching a ride on the back of the dragon. I loved it so much!
The last part of this park is Knockturn Alley! It’s hidden in the back and it’s a small, dark area that is super cool. Borgin & Burke’s is stuffed full of dark objects (and fabulous merch)! We made it a mission to conduct our own personal Horcrux hunt throughout the parks which was super fun- 3 of them are in here!
It was such an incredible trip! Would definitely recommend Orlando for any Potter fans out there! We also got to spend two days over at Disney World which was also fantastic. We got to visit Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot! Tip: the Happily Ever After fireworks show at Magic Kingdom is a MUST SEE. It’s the best theme park show I’ve ever seen, right up there with World of Color. Super excited to have had the chance to visit Orlando and I’m already planning ways to get back to HP World LA haha 😀