Did you finally receive your coveted acceptance letter to Hogwarts? Ready to step into the night and pursue that flightly, temptress adventure?Then grab your broomsticks and jump abroad the Hogwarts Express to Universal Studio Florida’s Diagon Alley!Read below (tips and tricks are bolded text) to learn all of the spells you’ll need to manage your mischief and become the best half-blood you can be at Universal Studios Florida:
This post may contain affiliate links that I may make a small commission from, at no additional cost to you. This post was created in collaboration with Universal Studios Florida who hosted me with a 1-Day-Park-to-Park Express Pass.
Get the Best Deal on Universal Studios Resort Tickets
The best way to purchase tickets is to buy them is directly through the official Universal Studios website. This ensures the tickets are valid, and you don’t run the risk of getting scammed. You can also purchase them directly through a certified travel agent or travel company.Ticket options range from 1-day-1-park passes to more extensive experiences like a 3-Park 5-day pass (including Volcano Bay). Prices vary depending on number of parks, days, and extra add-ons. Prices for these tickets can range anywhere from $80 to $500+ per person. Annual passes are also available and price ranges from $424.99 to $754.99 per person.
The best option is to get a 2-Day-2-Park Pass with a Universal Express Unlimited pass. This will allow you to move freely between Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. With this add on youcan alsoskip the regular lines an unlimited number of times at participating rides.You can also unlockspecial discounts. You can qualifyIfyou are a AAA member, a veteran or active member of the military, a Costco member, or with awards points. Compare packages and buy your tickets to Universal Studios Orlando Resort here!
*I personallywouldn’t recommend using Get-Your-Guide to book tickets or experiences. If problems arise, it’s often difficult to rebook or get a refund based on company policies.
How to Get to Diagon Alley
To leave the muggle world behind, briefly park your broomsticks and head to the closest airport. There are two airports closest to Hogwarts that make getting there a breeze: Orlando International Airport (MCO), and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB).MCO is a short 10 mile drive to downtown Orlando, while SFB is 29 miles from the city center. Airlines such as Allegiant, Flair, and Swoop all offer cheap round-trip flights into SFB, but it’s smart to compare the difference between flight prices into MCO before booking — taxis and Ubers from SFB can cost anywhere from $50-60 one way.
Renting a car isn’t necessary to get around Orlando or to-and-from Universal Studios Resort parks. Many premier hotels in the area offer free shuttle service, and there is a designated Uber pick-up and drop-off location at the top of the parking garage. In fact, it’s much cheaper to Uber there than to drive and park!
Maximize Your Wizarding World Experience
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter spans across two separate parks: Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, and Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. I will cover the latter in a separate blog post. Based on the Harry Potter books and films, these two magical lands are connected via the Hogwarts Express train.
Both parks offer different experiences but include plenty of shops, rides, restaurants. The exact park you choose to experience first doesn’t matter much, especially if you have the 2-Park-2-Day Pass with Universal Express Unlimited. The ticket will significantly cut down on time spent in line. This will leave you with plenty of opportunities to experience most (or all) rides and restaurants.
Tips for Visiting Diagon Alley
We chose to start our journey at Universal Studios Florida’s Diagon Alley. After all, you can’t get to Hogwarts without acquiring your wand from Ollivander’s first!To find the Diagon Alley entrance, turn left out of King’s Cross station and go past the red phone booth. You’ll find a brick wall on your left with an opening at both ends. This is it!
You’ll most-likely notice the Ukranian ironbelly fire-breathing dragon on top of Gringtott’s Bank first. In fact, you’ll probably hear it’s low belly-breathing growls first. If you hang around long enough, you’re sure to get a show — he breaths fire every 15 minutes!
Once entering, to your right will be Carkitt Market. Here, you can shop at Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop for love potions and Fizzing Whizzbees. There is alsoWands by Gregorovitch (a smaller and less-crowded version of Ollivander’s).
Dining options in Carkitt Market include The Hopping Pot (try the Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice or the Fishy Green Ale!) and street vendors that sell beverages and snacks.
Don’t pass up a walk-through Gringott’s Money Exchange. This is where youtrade your measly muggle money for wizarding bank notes! These can be used throughout the park to make purchases or as take-home souvenirs.
Escape from Gringott’s/Gringotts Bank
As you continue to make your way through Carkitt Market, you’ll pass Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment. Step inside and search for mugs and butterbeer apparel. Don’t forget to look up to witness a spectacular astronomical display!
Continue straight ahead for the entrance to the immersive ride, Escape from Gringott’s. There will be no spoilers here, but this rollercoaster ride is a must if visiting Diagon Alley. Use your Express Unlimited Pass to skip the regular line and enjoy the experience along the way!
Everything from the decor to the sounds make you feel like you’re in the middle of The Deathly Hallows movie. Tip: Check weight and height limits and qualifications prior to joining the line.
Ollivander’s Wand Shop
Directly across from Gringott’s, you’ll find a shop necessary for all aspiring wizards: Ollivander’s Wand Shop. Here, you can watch a “wand chooses the wizard” ceremony where you might get a free wand! If not, you can always choose from dozens of wand styles in the store. Some of their wands are interactive and can be used throughout the park. Wands also come in non-interactive versions for $55.
Tip: The “wand chooses the wizard” experience does not accept the Express Pass. Expect to wait in line longer than usual. The shop itself can be accessed without waiting in line.
Diagon Alley’s North Side
Exit Ollivander’s and walk towards the fire breathing dragon. To your left you will find a treasure trove of shops, interactive decor, and dining experiences!Enter the Magical Menagerie store — this is where Harry finds his beloved owl bestie, Hedwig. Here, you can find your very own Hedwig. You can also choose from an array of different whimsical animals and trinkets.
Across from Magical Menagerie is Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlor.If you see a long line, don’t walk away. Waiting in line is worth it, especially for the Butterbeer ice cream! Next-door, you can enjoy hot or cold Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice at The Fountain of Fair Fortune.As you exit Florean Fortescue’s, look up at the black umbrella above the restroom area! Take out your interactive wand and try your hand at one of the most popular spells: Metelojinx. A flick and a swoosh should make the umbrella rain and burst sounds of thunder.
This one is for the lovers of the Dark Arts. Knockturn Alley can be easily missed if you don’t know where to look — after all, it’s not well lit!Across from the Public Conveniences, you’ll find a small sign and an opening in the brick. Walk through the darkness to find the most unusual apparel at Borgin and Burkes.Choose from Death Eater masks, Slytherin costume replicas, jewelry, and other oddities.
Tip: You can use your hidden spell map from Ollivander’s to unlock hidden experiences!At Borgin and Burkes, you can activate a trio of shrunken heads that sing as a chorus. There are 5 interactive experiences in total in Knockturn Alley. You can also look for the brass medallion marking each location.
The Leaky Cauldron
If you continue through Knockturn Alley from the back way, you will exit it near the main entrance that you started. This is where you will find one of the post popular watering holes in all of the Wizarding World: The Leaky Cauldron!
You’ll enjoy traditional British fare like fish n’ chips, bangers & mash, and Guinness stew. Look up to enjoy the beautiful cathedral ceilings that mirrors the famed pub from the movies. There’s even a life-sized giant cauldron next to the bar counter!
Order the Fisherman’s Pie, the Fish & Chips, and a glass of Fishy Green Ale(mint and blueberry boba tea).Tip: The outdoor sign for The Leaky Cauldron really does leak! If you look up, you will notice water dripping from a crack in the cauldron.
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
Don’t leave Diagon Alley without stopping at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes store. You actually can’t miss it! It’s the colorful bright read facade is right across the street from The Leaky Cauldron! Inside this novelty joke shop owned by Fred and George Weasley, you’ll find just about anything to up the ante for prime magical mischief.
Fun Finds Beyond Diagon Alley
Kreacher The House Elf
Before boarding the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade, take a left upon exiting Diagon Alley. Walk a couple dozen yards to 12 Grimmauld Place and look up to the window above the number 12 door. The House Elf, Kreacher, creepily pulls the curtains back and peers out every couple of minutes!
The Knight Bus Driver and the Shrunken Head
On the way back to Kings Cross Station, you’ll find the triple decker Knight Bus in all of its purple glory. Stop and have a conversation with the bus driver and the shrunken head. The bus is one of only two actual props used in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie!
Know Before You Go
- Kings Cross Station is the lifeline that transports Potterheads between the two magical lands (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure). Use your Express Unlimited pass to skip the regular line. In the late afternoon, the line to board Hogwarts Express can be more than an hour-and-a-half compared to 20 minutes with the fast pass.
- To maximize the experience, buy some Harry Potter gear before you arrive at the park! While buying a unique souvenir at the park is a must, you can find many costumes, accessories, and even themed snacks on Amazon or through small businesses. It’s a vibe to dress up as your favorite character or with colors from your Hogwarts House (Gryffindor, here!)
- Ride the Hogwarts Express in both directions. No spoil alerts, but you will have a different experience in your train car on each journey!
- Enjoy butterbeer in all shapes and forms! It’s sold at all themed restaurants and at many street vendors throughout the park. From ice cream to butterbeer potted cream, eat it whenever you can and as much as you can.
- Visit the park during the holiday season. Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is truly something special! From daily shows to seasonal drinks, decor, and menu items, it’s one of the most festive places to experience the holidays. The celebration lasts from November 12 to January 1.
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