So many things make the Wizarding World of Harry Potter one of the most immersive and impressive attractions of all time; from the beautiful attention to details, larger than life reconstruction of buildings from the movie, to the cast members in character.
The first indication that we were nearing the hidden entrance of Diagon Alley was the famous triple-decker Knight Bus. I was terribly excited to take a picture with the bus conductor and the talking shrunken head. He quipped that I was dressed to the ‘nines…and three quarters’, and the shrunken head (its name is Talking Dre) laughed at his joke.
Through the brick wall behind The Leaky Cauldron we went, aaand we landed in Diagon Alley. It was quite an experience seeing it for the first time… There were so many interactive elements hidden all around the place, and it was nothing short of magical to be able to explore the streets and shops that I grew up imagining in my head.
If there’s any theme park experience to put on your bucket list, this should be #1 for any Potterhead; pictures hardly do the place justice, but I’ve included a ton of them in the rest of this post to hopefully give you a glimpse into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
If you’re looking for my post on the rest of Universal Studios Florida & the Islands of Adventure, you can find it here (Part 7)!
Anyone would recognise Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes from the funky shop exterior and the moving Fred/George statue in the window (lifting his top hat).
The interior of the shop was connected to another two stores, a candy store (all the HP-themed candy you could dream of) and the Quidditch supplies store (fake brooms, Quidditch uniforms, Hogwarts house varsity clothing).
Below is a video of an Umbridge figurine riding back and forth on a unicycle on a tightrope.
Inside Madam Malkin’s shop, the Hogwarts robes, ties and even prefect badges were available for aspiring cosplayers. Unfortunately, the robes were exorbitant at USD$115, so I had to stick to my shabby $20 knockoff robes that I had bought off Aliexpress a few years back (the green lining of my robes looks like a mix between Slytherin and Ravenclaw’s colours).
For the filthy rich fans, Hermione’s Yule Ball dress was up for sale for over $500…
We watched as other fans waved their interactive wands (USD$50) at various spots in Diagon Alley, setting off fun effects like random sprays of water or shop displays suddenly springing to life.
The centrepiece of Diagon Alley was Gringotts, the one and only wizarding bank. Oh, and it also happens to be guarded by a massive fire-breathing dragon to deter potential bank robbers.
The dragon would breathe fire every few minutes, and I managed to capture a video of it down below.
The massive queue area and ride track for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is housed inside Gringotts. I wasn’t able to bring my bag & phone on the ride when we rode it in the evening (cos the wait time was shorter at 20 minutes, compared to 45+ mins throughout the rest of the day), so this is a ride and queue POV filmed by someone else.
It was a stellar dark ride + mild roller coaster, and everything, from the queue area to the ride movement, was extremely immersive.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour sold unique flavours of ice cream, so you’ll be spoiled for choice if you decide to buy a scoop from there!
We then made a beeline for The Fountain of Fair Fortune, a fancily decorated store that sold Butterbeer and other wizarding drinks.
I ordered a Butterbeer with the souvenir mug, and happily sipped the drink as we continued to explore the place. It was delicious, with a very milky froth and a soda base tasting like root beer.
I stumbled upon Knockturn Alley, the dodgier side of Diagon Alley. It was really dark, so I wasn’t able to get good pictures on my phone.
Inside the dimly lit Borgin and Burkes, there were rows of relics related to the dark arts, Death Eater masks and darker merchandise up for sale.
Upon re-entering the brighter part of Diagon Alley, we headed towards Ollivanders for fun, since I already own Fleur’s wand (a friend had bought it for me from here a few years ago).
We were ushered through a corridor stacked high with wands, into a smaller room where the wand selection ceremony was taking place. A random guest was chosen for the mini-show, and there were some special effects as she tried out different wands. Eventually, the wand-maker found the perfect wand for her, and everyone was ushered into the main shop to browse for their ideal wand.
The Magical Menagerie was a gift shop selling plushies of all the exotic animals from the Harry Potter universe, including pygmy puffs, owls, griffins and unicorns.
The Leaky Cauldron is a dining hall with affordable food options, but it smelled rather fishy and musty, so we decided not to eat there.
We had covered every square inch of Diagon Alley after spending 2 hours in there, so we headed back into the Muggle world to take the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade.
Only those with the Park Hopper pass are able to take the Hogwarts Express, since it spans both parks. They’ll check your park admission, so be sure not to misplace your ticket!
I thought the Hogwarts Express was going to be a simple train ride, but when we entered the train cabin and the windows were LCD screens, I knew we were in for a treat. From King’s Cross to Hogsmeade, a video of the train travelling through London was played, with Hedwig flying beside us at some parts. We encountered Dementors in the train cabin at one point, but Harry saved the day with an Expecto Patronum. After travelling past the Forbidden Forest, we saw Hagrid welcoming us at the Hogsmeade station. Our train cabin opened and viola, we had arrived in the other park!
Hogsmeade was a beautiful, quaint, snow-covered village, and it only made me yearn even more for the wizarding world to be real.
There was a Hogwarts Express for us to take photos with, and I managed to get a photo with the train conductor!
The Three Broomsticks was a restaurant, and there was a queue to get in when we reached there (just before noon), so we gave it a pass.
On the way to the castle, we watched the Frog Choir perform (they have a few shows daily) some songs, with animatronic frogs providing backup vocals. The kid coaster Flight of the Hippogriff was also nearby.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is housed inside the castle, but we chose not to sit the ride since many people on the internet reported feeling sick and puking after the ride (due to the excessive movement and 3D screens). It’s such a shame that I had to skip it due to my motion sickness (I didn’t want to puke that early in the morning…), but you can watch a ride POV in the video below. :’)
Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts is a projection show, where fancy lights and videos are projected onto the castle. Unfortunately, the park closed at 7pm, so it was not showing that night; it was to resume showing in summer.
And so, we had come to the end of our adventure in Orlando, wrapping it up with the fantastical Wizarding World of Harry Potter…
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If you’re interested in exploring my blog, click here for an index of all the posts I’ve ever written (travel, musings, doctoring), or check out my most read series below:
- the Chasing Dreams series: a multi-part series chronicling my thoughts, dreams & changing ideals over the years (since 2018), including burnout, quitting the rat race, migration and trying to find my path in life
- the (not-so-definitive) guide to doctoring: Getting into Med School & FAQs | Surviving your Clinical Years | MBBS Tips | Life as a M1 // M2 // M3 // M4 // M5 during COVID // Life as a Doctor (monthly series) | Chasing Careers series