Tips to Master the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal, Orlando, Florida

hogwarts-main gingy

Check wait times for rides and restaurants from a mobile phone.

Download the Universal Studios Official Resort app to a mobile phone to check park hours, directions, notifications, special offers, and your location on the park map. Save rides, restaurants, and events as favorites to quickly check wait times. 

The Leaky Cauldron
The Leaky Cauldron, Diagon Alley

Make Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts your first line of the day.

We began monitoring the opening of Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts in the Universal Studios app upon entering the park. As soon as the crowd began to move inside, we joined the line and only had a 25 minute wait. Checking the app later in the day wait times were as long as 70 minutes. 

Gringotts Bank Diagon Alley

Be at the park at when it opens. Most days opening time is 9:00am.

We arrived around 8:45am and were among the first rush of visitors into Universal Studios. The park was significantly more crowded in the afternoon. There were also more adults later in the day creating longer lines for alcoholic beverages. 

Us at Diagon Alley

Climb aboard the Hogwarts Express from both King’s Cross Station and Hogsmeade Station for the full experience.

A Park to Park Admission Pass is required to ride the Hogwarts Express. The views out the train window are different in each direction. Waiting in line at King’s Cross Station in Universal Studios, there is a quick optical illusion where people slightly ahead of us in line entered Platform 9 3/4. Nearing the stacks of luggage, have your camera ready.

Hogwarts Express Train

Kings Cross Luggage Diagon Alley

Skip the Butterbeer (unless you love butterscotch) and order a Dragon Scale or Wizard Brew.

Florida Beer Company brews 2 beers exclusively for Hogsmead in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios: Dragon Scale, an Amber Lager, and Wizard Brew, an American Stout. 

Mug of Butterbeer
The Fountain of Fair Fortune, Diagon Alley
The Hopping Pot Universal
Hidden in the corner of the Carkitt Market is The Hopping Pot in Diagon Alley.

All bags are required to be placed in a locker before riding.

There is a separate line for lockers, increasing wait times for rides. If it’s possible, avoid bringing a bag into the park to bypass the locker line, including cross-body bags, drawstring bags, and small shoulder bags. This was another time Mitch’s cargo pocket shorts saved the day. 

Shops in Diagon Alley Universal

Globus Mundi Travel Diagon Alley
Globus Mundi Travel Agents

The Dragon in Diagon Alley breathes fire every 10 minutes.

The burst of flames only lasts about 5 seconds, so it is easy to miss, but you won’t miss the dragon’s echoing roar or blast of heat accompanying the fire. Wait 10 minutes and have your camera ready for the next fire show. 

Dragon Breathing Fire Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley Universal Studios Orlando

Even Universal Studios can’t escape the dark magic. 

Looking for the restrooms in Diagon Alley, we walked down a dark alleyway to find Knockturn Alley. Skeletons, potions, and death eaters can be found throughout Potions for all Afflictions, Borgin and Burkes, and Markus Scarrs Indelible Tattoos. 

Potions in Knockturn Alley

In our opinion, Diagon Alley is more impressive than Hogsmeade.

The snow capped buildings and Hogwarts castle are authentic, but Diagon Alley has a lot more to do. Closed signs hang in the windows of most Hogsmeade storefronts, unlike Diagon Alley, where visitors can enter Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Gringotts Money Exchange (ask the Gringotts Goblin if he is a house elf), Quidditch Supplies, Scribbulus, and many more. If only one park is in your time frame and budget, we recommend Universal Studios over Island of Adventure.

Hogsmead Island of Adventure Orlando
Hog’s Head can be found among the snow dusted buildings in Hogsmeade.

Hogwarts Castle Hogsmeade

Inside the Hogwarts Castle Hogsmeade
The line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey winds among the halls of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The entrance to Diagon Alley is awesome.

Strolling down the streets of London, we walk by a record store, Wyndham’s, a train station, a telephone booth…but where is Diagon Alley? Following a steady stream of people behind an unmarked, brick wall, we emerge into the Wizarding World. 

Streets of London Universal
Dial MAGIC (62442) from the telephone booth outside of King’s Cross to speak with the Ministry of Magic.

Entrance to Diagon alley Universal

The Knight Bus

Park Re-Entry is permitted. 

Re-entry to the parks is permitted while your ticket is valid. During entry to the first park your fingerprint is scanned and associated with your ticket. From that point forward, both fingerprint and ticket are scanned upon re-entry or when accessing a new park on a park to park pass.

Quidditch Shop Diagon Alley
Shop for Quidditch supplies in Diagon Alley.
Owl Post Hogsmeade
Owl Post in Hogsmead

March 2019

Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

The Traveling Gingerbread is a place for us to share budget travel tips for people with full time jobs, fun facts, itineraries, and where to find the best craft beer. We have been traveling together since 2013. Living and working full-time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. We cram each adventure with activities, tours, experiences, and local breweries. We can't walk by an Irish pub without stopping in for a pint of Guinness. In 2019, we brewed our first beer and were hooked, although, we have no intentions of brewing more than small batches. We'll continue our self appointed roles of professional testers and creating craft beer trails.

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