by Heather LaPuma
Attention Harry Potter Lovers. Have you heard about the newest addition coming to Universal Orlando this summer? They are adding an entirely new themed area in the Universal Studios Park that features every wizards favorite destination in London — Diagon Alley!
Check out this webcast from Universal featuring some of the new and exciting things you can see on your visit. You might even see some familiar faces! Then below the video, check out my review on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade Village.
Back in 2011 I visited Universal Orlando as part of a 10 day trip to Orlando, FL. The main purpose for our stop at the Universal theme parks was to see the extremely popular, highly acclaimed Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m a Harry Potter nut (almost as bad as my Disney addiction) so after reading all the great reviews, I had to experience it for myself.
The best advice I can give you about visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Get there EARLY! Working with your Tiggerific Travels agent, you can get tickets that allow you to access the park even earlier — an hour before the general public. Plenty of time to take some uncrowded pictures and ride the Forbidden Journey at least twice before the crowds pick up. And trust me, there will be crowds. This place is very popular and arriving at the park for rope drop is a must! As soon as 9am rolled around, you could tell the difference. Here are two photos so you can see the difference between the two areas.
Around lunch time:
One thing that you simply cannot miss on a visit to Hogsmeade Village is the VERY delicious Butterbeer. Mmm. Butterbeer. The best way to describe it is a butterscotch cream soda with a heavy cream topping. I really prefer the cold version to the frozen version, though many posts I read before our trip recommended the frozen. I tried the frozen first while my husband got the cold. My next two were cold. I wish I had some right now….
The WWoHP has many shops straight out of the books from Hogsmeade Village. We bought a bunch of stuff, but I really wish I had bought more. Especially of the sweets. They were great. I can’t wait to open my chocolate frog! (Yes, its been two years and I haven’t opened it! I’m a hoarder.) Here are some of the great details around the shops at Hogsmeade Village.
The rides here include a small coaster, the Flight of the Hippogriff, two larger roller coasters which are intertwined, the Dragon Challenge, reminiscent of the challenges which take place in the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the coolest ride of all time.
What makes the Forbidden Journey the coolest? It takes you through iconic scenes from the books and uses brand new ride technology to get you there. Its a big blend of many different types of rides and it is all put together seamlessly. Think Haunted Mansion meets Sum of All Thrills meets The Simpsons Ride (formerly Back to the Future). It was amazing. For someone who loves Harry Potter as much as I do, it was definitely a highlight of our trip. Plus, you get to tour the inside of Hogwarts Castle as you wait in line (not that we waited in line). Here are some great shots from inside.
The entryway to Dumbledore’s Office
The attention to detail throughout Hogwarts Castle is amazing and the view of it from the outside is also breathtaking as it sits on its perch overlooking Hogsmeade Village. I was so incredibly impressed by every bit of food, drink, trinket, and souvenir that I found in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it is also enjoyable for non-Potter junkies as well as the rides are also downright fun.
The rest of Islands of Adventure was very fun as well. There are loads of other things to do. The Hulk roller coaster really shook your brain up and lived up to its name, the Spider man ride was fun as you were sucked into the scenes, and there are even fun chances to get soaked on fun water rides and the Jurassic Park ride.
Some advice for the Universal Parks:
- If you want to see the WWoHP, get there EARLY! . Remember each minute the gates are open to the park there are more people in front of you on the rides.
- If you think you need to buy more, you should just do it. It may be a while before you are there again.
- Plan to enjoy a meal at the Three Broomsticks. This restaurant has the longest hours in the Islands of Adventure Park and the food is delicious while still fitting the theming.
- You can purchase a park-to-park ticket which will allow you to visit both Universal Orlando parks. When they open the new Diagon Alley section in Universal Studios side, you will want this option so you can ride the Hogwarts Express!
- If you love thrill rides, don’t miss out on all the different roller coasters throughout both parks. This is a great destination for coaster lovers.
- Talk to a Tiggerific Travels Agent for help in planning your trip, they can give you special tips and help you add value to your visit to Universal Orlando with the many package options that they have.
I hope this helps you in your planning a trip to Universal Orlando Resort. There are lots of things to do and Universal is currently updating and recreating areas throughout both parks to enhance the guest experience, so its a great time to visit.
What do you think? Are you a big fan of Harry Potter? Will you be visiting these parks on your next trip to Orlando? And whatever happened to Nickelodeon Studios?