A sunny morning in January seemed like the perfect day to visit Universal Studios and for this blogger, it was her first trip there! Walking up to the gates you will first walk through bag security and then to the ticket booth to purchase your pass into a fun and exciting day. Something to keep in mind if you are planning on visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you will need to purchase two tickets to be able to enter both sides of Universal.
You need two because Harry Potter is split right down the middle, dividing the park into two sides. One side offers Diagon Alley and the other, Hogsmeade Village where Hogwarts Castle is. If only seeing one side of The Wizarding Wolrd is ok with you then you can pick which side by knowing that Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios while Hogsmeade Village is at Islands of Adventure. But if you want to experience the full world of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter then I highly suggest buying both tickets.
On the side of Universal Studios, you have access to Diagon Alley and Kings Cross Station. We decided to enter the King’s Cross Station and board the Hogwarts Express, first thing. And what a start because after a short line and waiting period you are then standing on Platform 9 3/4! The Hogwarts Express isn’t just something fun to experience but it is, in fact, a ride! So sit back and enjoy the ride!
To build the excitement of seeing the Hogwarts Castle, I highly suggest walking through Hogsmeade! Here you can get sweets at Honeydukes, purchase at jumper at Gladrags Wizardwear, grab a butterbeer at The Hog’s Head and any magical equipment that you may have forgotten at home at Dervish and Banges. My favorite purchases are below!
Something that is a must for me and to many who visit the park, is getting our hands on some butterbeer! The positive bit of visiting the park around the Holidays is that they carry three kinds of butterbeers for you to try. All three are the original flavor but come in the option of hot, frozen or traditional. Because we couldn’t decide, we purchased all three! The traditional butterbeer was fizzy to me, almost like a pop or soda. The frozen butterbeer reminded me of a root beer float. And lastly, the hot butterbeer was oh so cozy and very much my favorite of the three.
After drinking like a wizard or witch, you’re more than ready to finally see the Hogwarts castle! And man did we enjoy seeing it! The castle was true to the Hogwarts dreams that all of us Harry Potter fans hold. There were wrought iron fences to keep out muggles, towering hog statues snarling their tusks in your direction, peak after peak holding secrets- a true picture of nostalgia. Best part, however, was that the castle wasn’t just something to look at- it was something you could fully experience, yes even you Muggle!
Walking up the cobbled walkway towards the castle you’re soon entering the one and only Hogwarts. Once inside the school you are now waiting inline to ride the Forbidden Journey Castle Tour. But unlike other waiting line, you are surrounded by a dark, moody atmosphere with moving portraits, lit lanterns and sculptures and props inspired by the films. Some say that there are actual props from the movies in various parts of the park.
Depending on how busy the park is and on your schedule for the day, you can plan accordingly for more rides or more wanderings. Because the day we visited was busy, we decided to head to Diagon Alley to explore the areas we had missed. Here you can make a withdrawal from Gringotts, find what wand calls to you at Ollivander’s, learn some tricks and a laugh at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes or buy your school robes at Madam Malkin’s Robes for all occasions
Speaking of Gringotts, this is an attraction that everyone looks forward to. The bank holds a indoor roller coaster that goes deep down into the mines but also exhibits the sinister stares of the dragon perched on top of the bank. But the bank is felt from any street in Diagon Alley. There is a rumbling deep down under the ground, snarls and smoke until the dragon lets out a roar of fire. The fire is so hot that you can actually feel the heat being breathed down upon you!
Like every other tourist I always tend to get myself a little something. My souvenir from Harry Potter World was a chocolate frog to take home and enjoy with my Maraduer’s Map mug. Not only was the frog cute but it was also solid chocolate- and that doesn’t hurt. I got it too because I was curious who I would receive on the card inside. Turned out that I got Helga Hufflepuff aka my Hogwarts house!
Like so many who grew up with a new Harry Potter book coming out each year, the thought of being fully submerged into that world was the ideal world. Whenever Universal announced their new addition of Harry Potter attractions to their park, I instantly added it to list of my must go places.
My biggest take away is that when you go that you choose a time where the park isn’t typically busy. We went at the beginning of January after the holidays were over and also whenever the schools were still on Christmas break. Aka the park was crazy packed! At points it was completely impossible to move around the mass amounts of people. This can end up being very difficult if you have little ones or are planning to go in a big group. So I highly suggest that you do your research of when is the best time of year to go for yourself and your fellow companions!
Next week on the blog we will continue with our amusement park fun and head on to all things Disney at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Please subscribe to get instant access to new blog posts and updates!