I got back Saturday from my quick trip to West Palm Beach- I went to visit my friend, and one of the days I was there, we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Well, okay- we technically went to Universal Studios, where Harry Potter world is. But being the huge fans of the series that we are, we spend the vast majority of our day in the most magical part of the park (I’m talking 6 of the 8 hours we were there…).
We went on a Thursday, which wasn’t terribly crowded. The most we had to wait for a ride was 25 minutes- though Universal makes waiting in lines really interesting. You wind through Hogwarts and Gringotts Bank, up and down stairs and lifts just like you’re actually there. And if you can’t climb stairs, there are always elevators nearby.
First, we arrived in London and saw the Knight Bus. There was a crowd waiting to take pictures with Stan Shunpike, but we passed on that to try and find our way into Diagon Alley. It isn’t labeled (to keep out Muggles, obviously) so we followed the crowd through the brick arch into Diagon Alley! There’s Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Madam Malkins Robes for All Occasions… all of the best shops mentioned in the series. Then you have Gringotts, hard to miss because there’s a giant dragon on top of it. Inside, there’s a roller coaster that had me screaming like a little kid. It was AWESOME.
Nearby there is Knockturn Alley, which is dark, cold and creepy- just like it should be. Borgin and Burkes had the best stuff, I think. I was very tempted to purchase a Deathly Hallows mug, but held out for a house sweatshirt.
Then we went back to the London side to find Platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. It felt just like I imagine a train station in London would feel, with advertisements, porters and British accents. Finally, between platforms 9 and 10, you “walk through the wall” and there’s the Hogwarts Express. (!!!!!!)
The journey from London to Hogsmeade is really interesting and entertaining, and also pretty laid back (it feels really good to sit after so much walking!). Then the train pulls up to Hogsmeade and suddenly you’re in a snowy winter wonderland.
There’s a bunch of shops-Honeydukes being my favorite-and three rides in this section. One takes you inside (and flying around!) Hogwarts, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a rollercoaster. It also had me screaming like a child in the best way. There is one low-key rollercoaster, the Flight of the Hippogriff, and another high-thrill roller coaster, based on the dragons in Goblet of Fire. Two separate tracks are two separate dueling dragons. This roller coaster is intense- lots of twists, turns and flips. Not unlike riding a real dragon would be, probably.
You can’t bring any bags on the rides, but the locker rentals were free for an hour or so while you rode the ride. We ended up renting them and just leaving our stuff there. It was always a bit of a struggle to force our way through the crowds and back to our stuff.
We had a refreshing frozen butterbeer and ate dinner at the Leaky Cauldron. I bought love potion from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes for my fiancé 😉 and a jar of sweets from Honeydukes for us to share. I also bought myself a Hufflepuff sweatshirt (house pride!).
It was a pretty expensive day, not gonna lie. But it was well worth it. It was also entertaining to see so many people wearing shirts relevant to Harry Potter. All in all, I would recommend this park to anyone, but ESPECIALLY fans of the series. Remember how disappointed you were when you didn’t get your letter? Now you can make up for that. ❤