Honeymoon Detour: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

wizarding world of harry potter universal orlando
Hogwarts Castle at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.

First, before we dive into the world of Harry Potter, I highly suggest you have this playing while you read.

Now that you’re in the proper magical mood, let’s discuss the ultimate honeymoon detour or day trip for anyone heading to Florida: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.

As any superfan knows, the new Diagon Alley section of the park will open July 8, 2014 and looks to be absolutely spectacular. The Escape from Gringotts ride in particular seems like it will be epic (and worth the inevitable long wait).

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A sneak peek at Diagon Alley. Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.

Awhile back I was able to make a couple trips to the original part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hogsmeade. That alone is worth a visit for any muggles in Florida, it’s also an easy day trip during a Walt Disney World honeymoon.

What can you expect on a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

First, if you’re going anytime in summer 2014 there will be crowds. When I visited about a month or two after the original part opened it was packed. As in, smashed-in-like-sardines, waited-an-hour-for-butterbeer packed. I can only assume it will be the same this time around. It’ll still be a fun experience, but prepare yourself for long waits and if you can go a few months after Diagon Alley opens you may be in for a calmer day.

Second, you have to try a butterbeer (or five) while you’re there. It comes in two types, frozen and non, personally I prefer the non-frozen. There’s a rumor that Diagon Alley will have butterbeer ice cream, which also sounds delicious. You can get a mug at stands throughout the World, or in the Three Broomsticks pub. You can also get beer (not of the butter variety) in the Three Broomsticks and it makes for a nice shady retreat from the crowds.

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You can never have too much butterbeer.
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Covering our ears from the Mandrakes.

Third, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. It’s a mix of roller coaster and simulator ride (similar to Star Tours at Disney World) and is so much fun and a bit scary, even for adults. It’s also one of those rides where you don’t really mind if there’s a long line because you spend your time winding through Hogwarts, including the greenhouse (watch out for those Mandrakes!) and past Dumbledore’s office.

Quick tip: You have to leave all bags and purses in a locker, but keep your phone or a small camera in your pocket if you can because you will definitely want to take pictures while you’re in line. Just make sure you secure your phone or camera carefully before you board the ride because it flips you all over the place.

Fourth, the other rides in Hogsmeade are not really the same incredible experience. The Dragon Challenge is a fun roller coaster, but looks like they took an existing coaster and just dressed it up a bit (which I’m pretty certain is exactly what happened). The Flight of the Hippogriff ride is a fun little coaster for kids (adults will have to squeeze into the seats) but mainly it’s worth checking out to see Hagrid’s hut.

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Hagrid’s Hut. Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.

Fifth, beyond the Hogwart’s castle ride Hogsmeade is really all about the shopping. There are multiple stores where you can pick up a wand, some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and any other Harry Potter souvenir you can dream up. Take your time browsing as there are plenty of fun surprises hidden in the stores. Then, after July 8, 2014 you’ll be able to hop on the Hogwart’s Express and check out Diagon Alley, which looks to be massive compared to quaint Hogsmeade.

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Shopping in Hogsmeade. Top photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.

Do you have a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter planned? Let us know in the comments!

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An artist’s rendering of Diagon Alley. Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.

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