Immerse yourself in the magic

If you are a big Harry Potter fan, and even if you're not, be prepared to be amazed at how magical the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando really is. My family and I have been travelling for over 20 years now and from my experience, I can tell you, there aren’t many places around the globe that meet, or exceed expectations. However, a trip to the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter will captivate and fascinate you as you’re transported to another world.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter consists of two separate themed lands. Diagon Alley (located in Universal Studios) and Hogsmeade (located in Islands of Adventure).

Universal Studios has done a phenomenal job of bringing the beloved Harry Potter book series to life. With staff dressed as wizards, The Harry Potter overture playing, and even fake snow on the roofs, the attention to detail that’s gone into the shop fronts and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry allows you to step inside the pages of the much-beloved books.

Whether you are travelling as a family, as a couple, or even solo, when you first walk through the entrance to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, prepare to be filled with awe and wonder. From adults to teenagers to young kids, you’ll hear screams of joy and see looks of amazement. If you’re not already a Harry Potter fan, you’re about to be cast under a spell.

To experience all the magic of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, be sure to visit both parks, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Each land has different rides and experiences that can be traced back to a different scene in one of the books and movies. In Hogsmeade, enter Hogwarts and visit iconic locations such as Dumbledore's office and the Gryffindor common room. Then, jump on the most popular ride in the park, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - a thrilling adventure ride bringing you face-to-face with an array of magical creatures and puts you in a game of Quidditch.

Shop for sweets at Honeydukes, have your fill of tasty British fare at The Three Broomsticks, and stop in at the Hog’s Head for a pumpkin juice, butterbeer, or the pub's exclusive Hog's Head Brew!

The most fun and convenient way to move between Universal Studios (Diagon Alley) and Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade) is to ride Hogwarts Express.

For die-hard Harry Potter fans, this is one of the best things to do in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The train comes chugging into the station billowing steam, and as you travel between stations, the windows act as movie screens that replicate the British countryside - you never know who you might see outside.

Be sure to ride Hogwarts Express in both directions since the ride is a different experience each way. And don’t miss the mystery of walking through Platform 9 ¾ at King's Cross Station in Universal Studios to ride from Hogsmeade to King's Cross Station in Universal Studios, head to Hogsmeade Station inside Islands of Adventure.

When you arrive at King's Cross Station, pop around the corner to find the secret entryway into Diagon Alley. To ride from Diagon Alley, board the train at King’s Cross Station.

Warning: Butterbeer is addictive! Whoever came up with the recipe is a genius. But fear not parents, it's non-alcoholic so your kids, and you can have a Butterbeer or five!

Drink all the Butterbeer!

So what is Butterbeer? Basically, it's a very popular wizarding beverage that tastes a bit like butterscotch, or ice-cream soda, and it’s delicious. The drink is drawn from a tap, just like a beer, and the dense, whipped topping is added from a separate tap. Butterbeer comes in five varieties- cold butterbeer, frozen butterbeer, hot butterbeer, butterbeer ice-cream, and butterbeer potted-cream.If you’re after a pint of the bewitching brew, you’ll be sure to end up wearing a compulsory foamy moustache!

One of the coolest things to do in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is to buy your own unique wand at Ollivanders, makers of fine wands since 382 BC.

The walls of Ollivanders are filled with thousands of boxes of wands, stacked to the ceiling. Here you can purchase character wand replicas or buy an Interactive Wand for $50. The wands come in a beautiful box with a special map.

The interactive wands allow you to cast spells like a wizard to create amazing magical experiences throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Throughout Diagon Alley, you will find 16 interactive wand spell locations. Hogsmeade has nine interactive spell locations.

Playing a wizard adds another level of fun and mystery to your visit

There are brass plaques on the ground showing the spell name and wand motion for casting it, plus helpful park wizards are on hand to help!

In Diagon Alley, you can make trolls dance in Pilliwinkle’s window, light the lanterns at Flimflam's Lanterns, create a stream of water from the mermaid fountain, and cause an archer to fire his arrow at Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment.

In Hogsmeade, set off spinning wheels and rockets at Zonko’s Joke Shop, open a chocolate frog box to reveal the frog at Honeydukes, and start the music box in the window at Dervish and Bange's playing a wizard adds another level of fun and mystery to your visit. Get your wand first thing so you have time to play. It's a great family activity.

It's hard to miss the massive dragon that sits atop of Gringotts Bank. You might recognize it from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which Harry, Hermione and Ron rode to freedom after breaking into a vault at Gringotts.

Throughout the day it breathes fire. When you hear its loud growl, look up, and you'll feel the heat from the streets below in Diagon Alley.

Follow in Harry Potter’s footsteps

Outside of King's Cross Station before you enter Diagon Alley is a red phone booth, just like you would find in London. When your kids finally figure out how to use an old rotary phone, this can be hysterical, dial 6-2-4-4-2 which spells M-A-G-I-C and connects you to the Ministry of Magic.

You’ll hear a recorded message from none other than the Ministry of Magic, with the operator kindly informing you that the Ministry is not open today. But who knows what message you may receive!

Follow in Harry Potter’s footsteps as you explore Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley and discover the mysteries. Both themed lands offer surprises in every shop and around every corner, so take your time to see all the details.

For a completely immersive experience, be sure to dress as your favourite character or in your house colours, cast some spells, go on all the simulated rides, take home some souvenirs, and drink ALL the Butterbeer!

About the author

Craig Makepeace is the co-founder of, one of the world’s biggest family travel blogs. He’s been travelling and living around the world since 2002 and believes that life is about accumulating memories and moments, not just possessions.