Hi, Bianca here. I’m a Gryffindor! I come from a house of many famous witches and wizards, including Hermione Granger and Albus Dumbledore. I had a chance to visit the USA’s motherland of Hogwarts experience a few weeks ago while on a business trip in Orlando, Florida.
See my trip to the Harry Potter World, Orlando
A lot of people who first meet me think I am a Hufflepuff. No, I don’t think that’s a bad thing — I’m generally a nice and friendly person to all strangers and acquaintances. Those that know me tend to think I am a Ravenclaw. I am pretty witty and calculative with ever most decisions in life. Well, J.K. Rowling and Pottermore knew me best and I was placed in Gryffindor. I took the test twice just to make sure. Crimson and Gold pride!
I took the Ilvermorny test and I got Pukwudgie. An attendant at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London said that was the equivalent to Gryffindor, but the description sounds awfully like a Hufflepuff.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood
When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Hollywood, California I was literally bursting with joy. Not joking, I tore a button off my shirt out of excitement. It took me a few months to actually make my way to Universal Studios Hollywood. After Jay and I got engaged we went with our new family to visit Hogwarts.
It was magical. I spent most of the day wandering the shops in Hogsmeade only to be interrupted by everyone else’s need to explore the rest of Universal Studios. Four of us stayed behind to eat lunch at the Three Broomsticks. We shared the great feast which is supposed to be an ode to the great feast the students get on the first day back at school. The chicken was amazing! And I hate western cooked chicken. I can trust Asians and Mexicans to make good chicken. But regular ol’ roasted chicken tends to turn me off. Not this time. If you are a Harry Potter fan, it’s a must have.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando
After experiencing Harry Potter land in Hollywood, then the studio tour in London, I didn’t think it could get anymore magical. Then, I stepped foot into Hogwarts and Hogsmeade in Harry Potter World, Orlando. The same wonderful magic I felt in Hollywood came back. Orlando’s Universal Studios has not one Harry Potter park, but two! Yes, for the same price as Hollywood you can get a park hopper and visit both Hogsmeade AND Diagon Alley.
Diagon Alley is a Harry Potter geek’s dream. All the stores you read about in book are right in front of you. Diagon Alley is kind of hard to find when you walk onto Island’s of Adventure. You have to walk through an unmarked building in order to reveal the gaping brick wall that leads you to Diagon Alley. *insert heart emoji here*
What you will find in Diagon Alley
- Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
- Gringotts bank.
- Olivander’s wand shop.
- Eeylops Owl Emporium.
- Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour.
- Flourish & Blotts.
- Gambol and Japes.
- Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
- Knockturn Alley. 3.6.1 Borgin & Burkes.
- The Leaky Cauldron.
- Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions.
Ride the Hogwarts Express with a park-to-park ticket
My coworker and I got to Universal at opening and didn’t leave until closing time. We spent the whole trip going between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. We didnt care for any of the other themed parks. The best part about going between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley is that you get to ride the Hogwarts Express!
Only when you buy the park-to-park ticket can you get on the train. Out of all of the rides we waited in line for at the park, the Hogwarts Express had the longest line! It’s a story in itself as you go to and from the parks. Be sure to keep your eye on your cabin door too. You’ll get a glimpse into what it’s like to ride the train with our favorite trio of heroes.
Tips for visiting Harry Potter World
- Buy a park-to-park ticket, the extra $50 is well worth it.
- Get in line for the Forbidden Journey early! (the one in Hollywood is 3D, but not the one in Orlando).
- Skip the line at Gringotts and opt for single riders (the front car is prime).
- If you get motion sickness easy, then the Dragon Challenge roller coaster might not be for you.
- You can take a school tour through Hogwarts and appreciate the detail in each room if the ride is too much for you.
- Buy an interactive wand. It’s $20 more but worth the fun you can have around the park.
Shopping in Diagon Alley
When you are a plus size woman, buying clothes can be a struggle. When you are thrown into a scene from your favorite book and given a chance to shop in the stores that your childhood book hero did, you jump on it. Diagon Alley offers graphic t-shirts from the book series and more authentic garb. By authentic garb, I mean wizard robes and hats. As you walk around the park you will notice a handful of witches and wizards wearing their school robes. You can be one of them too, if you are willing to shell out $120.
I convinced myself it was a good idea to get a robe because Florida’s taxes are less than California’s. I saved myself a whole $2. Savvy shopper, if I do say so myself. In term of sizing, the robes go all the way up to a 3XL. After spending 30 minutes trying on the large and extra large, I settled on and XL. I wanted the front to stay closed when I was still, but these damn boobs make it hard to find things that fit how I like.
Things I purchased in Diagon Alley:
- Wizarding money from Gringotts bank.
- Gryffindor school robes from Madame Malkin’s.
- A willow wand from Olivander’s.
- Deathly Hallows t-shirt in Nocturn Alley.
Total damage was about $250
Which Wizarding World of Harry Potter is better?
When stacking up the pros and cons of both locations, the Orlando park runs circles around the Hollywood park. Note that I refer to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando as “Harry Potter World.” In an interesting observation from a coworker, he noticed we referred to Hollywood’s Harry Potter park as “Harry Potter land” in relation to Disneyland. Where in Orlando, they call it “Harry Potter World” in relation to Disney World.
Have you been to both parks? Which one did you like better?