Are you a Potterhead dreaming of discovering the world of Harry Potter in the USA? We’ve got you covered!
There is not only one but two wizarding worlds of Harry Potter! One is in Florida, the other one in California. They are both, part of the Universal Studios and are perfect for all the Gryffindors, Slytherins, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws out there!
If you’ve been to the Harry Potter Studios in London, you will discover a whole new universe in the States. In London, you get to see how the Harry Potter movies were made and many filming sets and props.
In Edinburgh, you discover the story behind the books.
In America, you get to go to a Harry Potter theme park!
In this article, you will discover everything you need to know about the wizarding world of Harry Potter in Florida and California!
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If you’re still hoping for your Hogwarts letter to come, so you can fully immerse yourself in the world of magic, then a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando is a must! It’s the closest I’ve ever felt like a real witch. Standing at the brick wall waiting to enter Diagon Alley sent chills down my back.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is actually two separate ‘parks’ within the Universal Studio park in Florida.
Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios Florida while Hogsmeade, the wizarding town, is located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The two parks are connected by the Hogwarts Express (which we’ll talk about later).
Start your entrance into the magical world similar to Harry’s – at Diagon Alley.
You’ll find the brick wall unmarked and unremarkable – that is, until you start walking through and hearing the bricks ‘move’. Any aspiring witch or wizard will be in awe, just like Harry was, upon first seeing Gringotts or Ollivander’s. The wands at Ollivander’s are as close to magical as you can get. You can use them throughout both parks at various stations that track the wands’ movements to make magic happen.
For braver witches and wizards, a visit to Knockturn Alley is everything you’d expect it to be – moving Wanted pictures on the wall and dark objects in Bourgin and Burke’s. Pop into The Leaky Cauldron for a traditional British lunch.
Diagon Alley is the perfect place to get all your shopping done. Get your sweets from Sugarplum’s Sweet Shops, adopt a furry friend at the Magical Menagerie, get your house pride gear at Quality Quidditch Supplies, and of course stock up on pranks and gifts at Weasley’s Wizardly Wheezes. Exchange cash for Gringotts bills and talk to the head Goblin at Gringotts before going on the only ride in Diagon Alley is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
Once you’ve completed your shopping, it’s time to head to King Cross Station to ride the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. You’ll need the park-hopper pass to get between the two parks but it’s worth it! While it’s a little disorienting seeing the snow-covered roofs in the warm Florida sun but it wouldn’t be Hogsmeade without it.
There are more rides in Hogsmeade than in Diagon Alley so be ready! Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is an interactive journey on your own broomstick with some of your favourite characters from the series. The Flight of the Hippogriff is as fast as Buckbeak. While waiting in line, you can spot Buckbeak’s nest and Hagrid’s cottage!
Of course, no trip to Hogsmeade is complete without a stop at Zonko’s Joke Shop and Honeydukes (are you brave enough to try Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans?). There are plenty of other shops here as well to stock up on magical goodies.
The Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head is perfect for a sit-down meal, while Neeps is great for snacks including fresh fruit. Use your wand around town to embrace all Hogsmeade has to offer. There are also a number of performances in Hogsmeade that you may be able to catch including the Frog Choir or the Triwizard Spirit Rally! At night you can see a light show on Hogwarts as well.
Once you’re done at Hogsmeade, I would suggest taking the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley as it’s a very different experience!
While we may not receive our Hogwarts letter any time soon, we can still take a break from the Muggle world by visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando (or until it’s safe to travel again, re-reading the books for the 369th time).
When it comes to theme parks, it’s always better to book your tickets in advance.
You can do so on the Universal Studios website or via a ticketing website such as this one. Don’t forget to get the 2-parks tickets as you will want to travel between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
The easiest thing to do would be booking in one of the Universal Studios resorts. This way you are close to the park and won’t be wasting any time in transportation. You can see availabilities and prices here.
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Florida is not the only american state that offers an amazing wizarding experience. California is also home to its own Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Located within Universal Studios Hollywood, this one is a bit smaller but well worth a visit too!
Universal Studios Hollywood is located in Universal City, a faction of Los Angeles.
The easiest way to get to the park is to rent a car and drive in. This provides you with the flexibility of being able to arrive and leave as you please.
However, it is also easily accessible by public transportation if staying in the Los Angeles area, it just takes a bit of time. You will need to hop on the Metro Red Line towards North Hollywood. The metro costs $1.75 each way. After about 45 minutes from Union Station, get off at the Universal City/Studio City stop. From the metro station, you can opt to walk or wait for the free shuttle that comes every 10-15 minutes.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Los Angeles contains two rides and an interactive show.
The main attraction is located in the Hogwarts Castle at the back of the land.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey takes witches and wizards on a tour of the Hogwarts Castle while waiting in line and then soaring over Hogwarts.
The Flight of the Hippogryph is a small roller coaster where you soar on a Hippogryph through Hagrid’s Pumpkin Patch. Another attraction, Ollivander’s Wand Fitting Experience, allows guests to enter Ollivander’s shop. One lucky guest will be chosen for a wand fitting where they get to try out different wands to see which one chooses them.
Make sure to head to the Harry Potter area right when you arrive or visit at the end of the day. During the middle of the day, it is usually quite congested and crowded. To get on The Forbidden Journey without too long of a wait, head straight there when the park opens. You can also opt to get in the single rider line which is usually pretty short and moves quickly. Single riders fill any open spots in the cars if a group does not fill them all. Although you will most likely be separated from your party, it is a good alternative if the line is over an hour long.
If you are a huge Harry Potter fan, I recommend buying an interactive wand. Throughout the land, there are over ten stations where you learn a spell. Once the spell is cast correctly, magic happens.
Make sure to grab a meal at the Three Broomsticks. This tavern is the perfect place to rest your feet. For breakfast, I recommend the English Breakfast. If you have a large group, grab the feast for lunch, which comes with salad, chicken, ribs, and sides to feed at least four people. Note that no Muggle drinks (sodas) are served here, but the pumpkin juice and ciders are delicious. Also, the Three Broomsticks gets very busy after 12 pm, so make sure to get there before then.
Later in the day, grab a drink at the Hog’s Head bar. Visitors can try firewhiskey or my personal favourite, a firewhiskey cider! Ask for a pumpkin back to go along with your firewhiskey. Another must-have when visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is Butterbeer. This comes in three styles: iced, cold, and hot. It is available at the Three Broomsticks, the Hog’s Head, or from several carts throughout the land. I recommend getting it along with a meal so you do not have to stand in line twice.
A trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Los Angeles is not complete without stopping at Honeydukes before leaving. Start your collection of Chocolate Frog cards or grab some Fizzing Whizzbees.
Did you know there is also a Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Japan? It is part of Universal Studios Japan in Osaka and makes for a fantastic stop for Harry Potter lovers.
If you want to make sure to go to the Wizarding World of HP, you should book your tickets in advance.
Tickets are available on the Universal Studios website and via a ticketing agency such as this one.
If you wish to stay near the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can book a hotel within walking distance of the park. You can see the complete list, availability and latest prices here.
Universal Studios are not the only Harry Potter thing you can do in the USA!
If you are a true Potterhead, you will know that there is also a Harry Potter theatre play!
As expected, it started in London but it’s also been running on Broadway since 2018.
If you are visiting the big apple, going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Lyric Theatre in New-York is a must-do!
But that’s not all! You will also find the biggest Harry Potter store in the world in New York City! Perfect to get your wands and other Harry Potter accessories!
If you want to know more about Harry Potter in NYC, you can check this article! There will be everything you need to know about HP things to do in the big apple!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is one of the most popular plays in the world. It is possible to book on-site but it’s a bit of a risky business. It took me 6 months to get tickets when I went to see it in London (and yet I live in the UK so I was pretty flexible!).
I would highly recommend booking your tickets way in advance, especially if you want the cheap ones!
You can check availability and prices here.
Pro tip: There are usually a lot of separate seats available. If you really want to see the play and are not too fussed about sitting next to your friends, you can look for individual tickets. It will give you way more options!
So, are you ready to jump on your broomstick and explore the world of Harry Potter in the USA? It’s going to be so much fun!
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