It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you love Harry Potter you need to check out the gorgeously detailed theme park of Harry Potter World in Orlando. It looks exactly like Hogsmeade in the movies. And it also helps that J.K. Rowling was there to supervise construction.
Obviously because there are a lot of Potterheads, the park is incredibly crowded, but when I was just there with my friends crowds started to thin at about 5 or 6 so lines were relatively short. So it’s better to go obscenely early in the morning or in the evening when things are cooler.
The park is open till about 11 so you have plenty of time to check things out while you’re not in the scalding heat. I recommend getting an express pass. When I was there my friends and I bypassed a giant line to get to the Dueling Dragons ride so that we only had to wait about 20 minutes to get on. When I say giant line, I mean the line was going down from the tall hill the ride was on to pretty much where the Hogwarts Express is stationed outside. Not to mention the inside of the caverns leading to the ride is a long path of twists and turns. So yeah, get an express pass so you don’t have to wait 2+ hours for a ride.
It’s a long walk to get to the Hogsmeade itself because it’s way at the back of the park and you have to go through pretty much all the attractions to get there. But man, it’s so worth it.
There are 3 rides in Harry Potter World. Dueling Dragons is two coasters, a Hungarian Horntail (blue) and a Chinese Fireball (red). The Chinese Fireball is a lot faster and the ride doesn’t have many loops while the Hungarian Horntail is slower but has lots of loops and turns.
The hotel you stay at may sell tickets in the lobby and you can get them for a little bit cheaper and a good bundle price versus right at the door. We got 20% Merchandise discount tickets at the big Universal store that’s near the entrance of the park so we decided to hold off shopping in the actual stores in Hogsmeade except for Honeydukes (because we wanted lots of candy!)
There’s a really short ride called Flight of the Hippogriff. It’s usually a short line, I don’t recommend waiting more than 20 minutes for it. If you’re tall, getting on it might be a mistake too. The only highlight I thought was the nice view of Hogwarts you get.
The final ride is in the Hogwarts Castle itself and lets out to a Filch’s Emporium which is the biggest gift shop in Harry Potter World and has lots of things exclusive to that shop such as a replica of the Marauder’s Map. Of course, most of the stuff you can buy in the stores you can buy online and you can also ship things back for $10. There are plenty of options for getting your souvenirs so that shouldn’t be a big concern for anyone.
DO NOT BRING A BAG IT WILL SLOW YOU DOWN AND IT WILL SUCK. There are lockers, but they can add up to be a lot more expensive than you initially expected.
If you’re not intending to go on any rides or you desperately want to take pictures, get a slim camera and put it in your pocket or set aside a day or time for shopping and pictures.
You have to try the butterbeer. There is a frozen slushie and just a cold kind. Personally, I liked the frozen kind better because the taste wasn’t as overpowering but it was still delicious. The food in the Three Broomsticks is traditional English food like shepherd’s pie, corn, and rosemary chicken. I suggest going there at least once for the ambiance. They also have drinks that aren’t offered in other areas of the park like pear cider. There is also the Hog’s Head Tavern for those who want some real beer.
All in all, spending an entire day in Hogwarts seems like it’s an easy thing to do, but after a few hours of rides and eating the only other thing there is to do is go shop. At least make sure to look at the inside of the shops, not necessarily buy anything but experience it.
If you’ve been to Disney before and have kids with you that are a little bit too old, Universal is seriously the place to be. There is more fun to be had for a wider range of people. There are lots of outlet stores and nice restaurants at the entrance of Universal that stay open pretty late
You can call 1-888-877-5999 to talk to a live agent 24/7 or visit Charter Bus R Us to get a free quote.