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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips & Tricks

I wrote a "Tips & Tricks" guide for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on my older, more embarrassing blog two years ago. Today, because I want so badly to be there, I'm sharing that post with you. Enjoy!

Other posts about Harry Potter :: a guide to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Warner Brothers's Leavesden Studios outside of London // a few Potter landmarks if you visit Oxford, where many scenes from the movies were filmed and which acted as an inspiration for much of Hogwarts // a pilgrimage to The Elephant House, where rumor has it JK Rowling first began writing Harry Potter // a glimpse at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, where Jo finished the books // Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, where Harry searched for Horcruxes.

Plus! Wanting desperately to visit the Diagon Alley expansion in Orlando, as well as the soon-to-be-opened LA edition! 

Without further ado, my favorite place on Earth:


Tips & Tricks for Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before the park opens and head straight to HP World. Granted, I was there during the holiday season which is admittedly the most hectic time. But still. Have your tickets ready and be ready to surge right into the park upon opening.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and layers! Florida is a land of ever-changing climate! Also, the lines are all pretty crazy and with all the walking and standing, you will need feet-forgiving shoes.
harry potter world, wizarding world of harry potter, orlando, florida, islands of adventure, universal studios

  • DO NOT miss out on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or else your trip counts for nothing. This is the main attraction. It is awesome. It is amazing. Enough said. I would recommend heading here first as the line tends to get longer as the day goes on.
  • For items like keychains, T-shirts, hats, patches, etc-- Filch's Emporium is the place to go. Brave all the shoving and pushing.
  • For more specialty items like wands, candy, diaries, owls, etc.-- try Honeyduke's, Zonko's, Ollivander's, and Dervish & Banges where the crowd is controlled.
  • If you aren't interested in the Ollivander's Wand Experience (which, in my opinion... you should be interested in), skip the long line and buy your wands and specialty items at the street vendors.

  • Try Butterbeer. No matter what. Please.
  • Here's a little something my teacher recommends- LOOK UP! Wherever you go, keep your eyes glued to the sky or ceiling. Apparently, you miss a lot of things if you aren't looking up. Shop windows, in the castle, etc.
  • The Owlery is located in Hogsmeade. I did not know this. It is located across from The Three Broomsticks in a shaded area with a lot of picnic tables. Go under the shaded area and look up. There will be owls. And owl poop. Enjoy.
  • Go to the restroom next to the Three Broomsticks/Hog's Head and you will get to hear Moaning Myrtle. It's quite pleasant.
{ while waiting in the 60-120 minute line, you get to check out the greenhouses! }

The main attraction is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is part-tour and part-ride. While waiting in line, you get to tour parts of the castle like the greenhouses, the dungeons, Dumbledore's office, see the portraits, etc. Then, you are sort of catapulted into the ride section. Best five minutes of my LIFE, y'all. That ride is mindblowing and worth every single second of the wait time.
{ the talking and moving portraits and paintings }

I went into this park expecting a lot because I am a most avid and diehard Potter fanatic. And I can say honestly that I was completely mindblown and awestruck by HP World. Of course, there are nitpicky little things that I was a bit ticked off by, but for the most part, this place was absolutely amazing. My favorite aspect about the park was all the minute details that really add up to so, so much. These portraits actually looked like real paintings-- the texture, the frames, the colors, the gradients and not like characters in a moving screen. They do actually travel into each other's frames, but different ones each time so it's not some synchronized technology thing. So cool!
If there are only two things that you have time to do at HP World (God forbid that happens), go on the Forbidden Journey tour/ride and try Butterbeer. I don't know how I've lived without this frothy goodness in my life, oh my goodness. It's beyond amazing. There are two kinds- frozen and regular. Both will make you speechless. My sister describes the stuff like "cream soda, but more butterscotch-y, but a lot better." Amen to that.

  • Look into all the store windows! You will get to see cool things like Bludgers struggling to get out of a case, a jumping Chocolate Frog, books by Gilderoy Lockhart, and much much more!
  • The workers will be herding you along in the castle, but they give you the option to let people behind you bypass you so you can pause and take pictures. Do that. Seriously, take a long time touring the castle because there are so many details you won't notice if you're rushing through it. You go through the dungeons, Potions classroom, Dumbledore's office, etc. etc. etc. You can see the portraits of the Four Founders (notice what they are holding ;)), listen to the paintings, etc. Take in all the little things!
{ fish & chips for lunch at The Three Broomsticks }
{ really amazing view of Hogsmeade from the Toon Land/main entrance }

  • Don't be afraid to be your true, HP-loving self. I was screaming 'Expecto Patronum!' when the dementors were all up in my business and I was conversing very normally with Harry and Hermione during the ride. And I bowed very deeply to Buckbeak. Please tell me I'm not the only person who would do that.
  • Enter through the Toon Lagoon entrance. You will get the whole effect of the music, the best view, the Hogwarts Express, etc.
  • Don't forget about the other sections of Islands of Adventure! If you have time in the evening or if you are forced to get a return ticket, there's always Seuss Landing, Jurassic Park, the Lost Continent, Toon Lagoon, Marvel Superheros, and a few others.
{ very sweet Frog Choir performance put on by Hogwarts students }
{ charming performances by Beauxbaton and Durmstrang students }
{ inside of Ollivander's }
{ real-life snapping, growling Monster Book of Monsters in Dervish & Banges }
{ by the Owlery-- these plush toys look SO real... their heads turn and everything! }
{ inside of Honeyduke's/Zonko's-- very quaint, very realistic }
{ Hagrid's hut }

Hagrid's hut is in this complex which includes the hut, the enormous pumpkins, and Buckbeak the Hippogriff. It is surrounded by the Flight of the Hippogriff, which is the family-friendly ride. You can hear Fang barking as you wait in line!
Someone in line behind me commented, "that's a big chicken!" What a dingbat. Such blasphemy.
{ a Marauder's Map on display at Filch's Emporium }
I think the moment I exited the gates was perhaps the saddest moment of my life. I was enamored with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is saying a lot because seriously, my expectations were way up high. 

*For reference, I visited for New Year's 2011. Thus, if you have since visited the Orlando park, I'd love it if you could comment w/ your own thoughts, tips, and tricks!

Yes, I have a wand.
And the Marauder's Map.
And mugs, and a Gryffindor journal, and a feather quill, and a scarf.
And I'll be back for more.

Again, more Harry Potter goodness :: a guide to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Warner Brothers's Leavesden Studios outside of London // a few Potter landmarks if you visit Oxford, where many scenes from the movies were filmed and which acted as an inspiration for much of Hogwarts // a pilgrimage to The Elephant House, where rumor has it JK Rowling first began writing Harry Potter // a glimpse at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, where Jo finished the books // Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, where Harry searched for Horcruxes.


  1. Now I really, really, really want to go more so than I already had!

  2. OK I want to go here!! Maybe one day!!:-) Love your pictures!!

    Jayme @ Her Late Night Cravings

  3. Ugh I need to go to Harry Potter world! I remember when it first opened, I told myself I would go that year but that never happened...
    Maybe this year I should trying going when I have my fall break (:

  4. I can't even tell you how fast my heart is beating from reading about Harry Potter World. I'm going to Disney at Christmas and HAVE to make a trip here. Ahhhh....So exciting. And so awesome that they're having one built in CA!! I'm pinning this for future reference!

  5. OMG, I am sending a link to this post to a friend of mine, she loves everything Harry Potter.

  6. this is so awesome! I learned so much. :] and you should DEFINITELY DEFINITELY DEFINITELY go to the studio tour in london. it was probably one of my top three things I did in europe - and I was there a while!

  7. Awesome ! I'm not a huge fan but I still want to go there !

  8. completely envious of you right now. lol. So fun! If you have a moment, I'd love if you'd check out my latest photo diary. :) xo

  9. thanks for stopping by, come see me on Inside Me Beautiful photos compliments.good day dear.


    i am DYING and i mean that in the LITERAL sense DYINNNNG to go to harry potter world! i love love your pics!!

  11. I cannot express in words how much I love the Harry Potter world in Orlando. It is pretty much one of my favorite places in the whole world as well. They did such an amazing job recreating the same restaurants and shops that we all grew up to love. Oh and the castle!! WAO!!!! I wish I could live there :)

  12. Hahaha this is a hilarious post..but I love it!
    And OMG they're building one in Los Angeles?!?! This is news to me!!! Aah!!

    <3 Kelly | The Patch Diaries

  13. Last year ( exactly one year ago ) my hubby and I went to Orlando to Universal Studio . . . I'd won a trip to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter . . . and being 63 at the time, was not thought of a your typical HP fan, but I had SUCH a blast there. Went early ( resort guests get thru the gates one hour before the public ) and went straight to the "Forbidden Journey " We did take our time going through the castle and saw all of the marvelous details, but the bit I liked the best was seeing the House Elves in the Three Broomsticks while we had breakfast after our ride. . . went there all three days we were at the resort and saw more each time . . . and they were just starting the expansion over in the 'Studio' park where the new "London/Diagon Alley" section is being built - and will be sure and go back and see that, too.

  14. Excellent blog - we were there in spring 2011 and absolutely LOVED it; add to go straight to Forbidden Journey in the morning, and then try and make it back an hour or so before closing (at least in spring) and try for another ride or two. I am 47 and want to go back so bad - our whole family enjoyed The Land and even if you're not (!!!!) an HP fan, do the ride, it's AWESOME!!!

  15. Great post!!! Butterbeer really is one of the best things in the world.

  16. I'm 45 and I realllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly want to GO!! Thank you for the information!

  17. This looks better than I ever imagined! Love all your pictures - I could almost feel like I'm there!

  18. I just got back and it was A M A Z I N G - I have to go back and stay longer than 2 days - I need a full 7 days maybe more - to see and touch and listen and see and ride and oh and ah -- it was A M A Z I N G and everything I hoped it would be

  19. Oh, I do want to add 2 things; first, nice pics and blog and 2 - a MUST for the parks aside from comfy shoes -- bring as very little as possible as nobody tells you this - that you have to put your purses, cameras in a LOCKER at every ride - these lockers are crowded and if you go over the allotted FREE time you have pay $3 or $4.00 - well, if your purse is inside the locker how can you pay, right? ugh -- So, trust me when I tell you this -- use a fanny pack (small one) - and take pics with your phone (you have in your pocket with a charger-go to the HardRock to recharge; only one I could find) or take a small camera that fits in your fanny pack with your id and cash. Go straight for the rides - very long lines at times - do NOT purchase souvenirs until you leave, or else, guess what - you'll have to put it in a locker. The men just waited impatiently for us females to place our purses, cameras and their souvenirs in a locker. Then the crowds to get back to the locker for your stuff (memorize your locker number) ok - sorry for the long post - but not one website mentions this lil tidbit - which after just 2 rides gets a lil annoying - but you're in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley so you really can't get upset - it was M A R V E L O U S

  20. Thank you for this post! Your photos made me lose my chill. It's completely gone. I'm going to the WWoHP next week and I should probably just call in sick to work tomorrow (day before Thanksgiving, so after that I can check out of reality). I may as well stay at home and re-watch all the HP movies and live in that world until I can be in Orlando. Real world be damned!! Thanks for the amazing pics and tips!

  21. I want to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter so bad!! Thanks for this awesome tips :D


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xx Caroline