After our first taste of how incredible the Wizarding World of Harry Potter really is, we couldn’t wait to get back and see the rest of it. We survived two days of weekend training, 9am to 5pm, relentlessly endured in a massive, windowless conference room solely because we knew when it was over we could go back to Harry Potter world.
We had started our first visit in Islands of Adventure where Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are located, ending it with a ride on the Hogwarts express to Kings Cross Station (you have to have a 2-park pass for this as the train takes you between the two parks) and left the park through the Universal Studios exit.
We decided on our second day that we would start in Diagon Alley with a plan to eventually go through the barrier at Platform 9 3/4 and ride the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade because we heard that the ride is different in each direction. We walked through Universal to the back of the park where you enter Diagon Alley. We had thought we were in heaven on our first day in Hogsmeade… then we entered Diagon Alley. So many shops we grew up dreaming about visiting, all right here in one place! Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is one of the first shops you come to when you enter the alley. Extendable Ears, Skiving Snackboxes, U-No-Poo, and a muggle joke section bring this store to life. The dragon on top of Gringotts breathes fire every 10 minutes! In addition to taking the ride down into the depths of Gringotts to visit your vault, you can exchange your muggle money into wizards notes that can actually be spent in the Harry Potter sections of the park. I skipped the ride because I was pretty sure it would make me sick, but my husband tells me that the walking section takes you through an incredible Gringotts lobby filled with goblins hard at work. Ollivanders does a demonstration of the wand choosing the wizard. You can buy your own Hogwarts robes in Madam Malkins. On the stage you can see Celestina Warbeck sing and an acting troupe perform stories from The Tales of Beedle the Bard. And you can choose from a variety of magical flavors of ice cream in Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. At the end of Diagon Alley, you can turn off into a dark and gloomy passage that takes you into Knockturn Alley. Here you will find all manner of dark wizards items. A visit to Borgin and Burkes is a must for anyone looking for souveniers of the darker side of the story. Outside of Diagon Alley is London where you can find Grimmauld Place and the Knight Bus! Stan often stands in front of the Knight Bus for a chat. You can skip the line for pictures at the front of the bus by going to the back corner where there is another spot for pictures and you can see inside the Knight Bus. We visited the rest of the park outside of Harry Potter World to end our 2nd day. Our third day we walked straight through the park to Kings Cross and went through the barrier onto Platform 9 3/4 to ride the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade. It is definitely worth riding the train in both directions!
I will say that the way we visited the parks felt backwards. I would definitely recommend starting in Universal Studtios to visit Diagon Alley, followed by Kings Cross and through the barrier onto Platform 9 3/4, then taking the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade the way that Harry arrived for the first time. Our second visit to Hogsmeade was so that we could see the shows and go on the Flight of the Hippogriff as it had been closed during our first day. The Toad Choir was awesome! The TriWizard Rally was fun with performances from Beauxbaton and Durmstrang. The Flight of the Hippogriff let us see Hagrid’s cabin while waiting in line! Also it was a fun, small, family friendly roller coaster that I could ride without getting sick. While my husband was riding the Dragon Challenge, I did a walk through. They put so much into the details of the ride while you’re waiting in line that I had missed because I don’t do most of the rides. They added me to a tour group that was celebrating someone’s birthday, so I was able to take pictures of the inside of the ride which doesn’t normally happen as they make you put EVERYTHING in a locker for anything that goes really fast or turns you upside down. The TriWizard Tournament Cup displayed used to be the real one that had been used in the movie. Unfortunately, someone in line climbed up onto the 6 foot pedestal and broke the cup, so a replica has been displayed now instead. We ended with a drink in The Hogs Head. They have two types of beer, Dragon Scale and Wizard’s Brew as well as Fire Whiskey. We then VERY sadly left the park 😦 Believe me when I tell you I didn’t even scratch the surface of what you’ll see (the surprise details were some of the best parts). I would live in the wizarding world if they let me. We can’t wait to go back!