The whole reason for the Orlando trip this year was to go to the Wizarding World at Universal Studios. The experience was magical!! I did extensive research prior to going and I’m glad I did. There was so much we would have missed if we hadn’t read about it prior.
Unlike the other parts of the universal parks, the wizarding world is built to be quite submersive (said with an MxR accent). As a result, a lot of the features and attractions are somewhat hidden. Sure the rides are easy to find, but if you ask me, the best stuff wasn’t the rides. So here’s some of the stuff you may miss if you’re not a potterhead.
Magic: Real Magic, you can purchase interactive wands from several places in the park. They are kind of pricy ($50), but totally worth it. There is a map that comes with the wand and on it are marked locations in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley where you can do real magic. The act is strangely satisfying, and definitely reccomended. There are also 2 secret locations in Diagon Alley, these are not marked and very hard to find so I’ll tell you where they are. One in front of the parchment shop, the spell is “aparecium” and the wand movement is a triangle. The other is at the apothecary and the spell is “ascendio” with the spell movement being a lower case “b” (this spell is used in other locations, so the spell movement is diagrammed on your map).
Owl Post: You can actually send postcards from Hogsmeade!! Outside of Dervish and Banges, in Hogsmeade) there is a vendor. That vendor can stamp your postcards to mail there OR stamp them for you to mail later. We did the latter. The vendor was also willing to stamp “anything that isn’t human flesh”. So we even saw her stamping passports (not sure if that’s legal…). There’s also Postcard sets of both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Don’t forget to grab both!!
Moving Photos: Next to Madame Malkin’s is a small place where you can play dressup in robes (without buying them) and take moving photos. The photos (well videos) themselves were quite pricey but you have no obligation to buy, so play dressup and take selfies.
Hogwarts Express: This isn’t so hidden. But I was nervous that taking the Hogwarts express from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley would reduce the magic from that first exposure to Diagon Alley. It does not. The Hogwarts express is situated outside the main gate of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, so it doesn’t matter which you experience first, you’ll get the magic twice.
Kreacher and 12 Grimmauld Place: Just past the Diagon Alley entrance is a wall designed to look like the order of the Phoenix. A great place for pictures and if you aren’t looking for it, you’l miss Kreacher peaking out of the upstairs window.
Knight Bus: You can’t miss the Knight Bus. Its huge and purple. But circle around to the back and there’s a spot where you can board the bus to take pictures!!
Time Turner Necklaces: If (like me) you are dying to get a time turner necklace. They are very pricy ($50). But for $17 you can get a really nice time turner keychain. All you need to do is remove the keyring and put it on a chain and you’ve got an awesome cosplay necklace.
The Staff: This isn’t a secret either, but the staff was such an amazing and surprising benefit to being there. You can ask them all kinds of questions and they’ll answer cheerfully, helpfully, and fully in character. But my favorite bits were that I was greeted at “Slytherin” everywhere (noted by my slytherin sweater), and one day I wore my Time Turner necklace ($4.99 from B&N) and I was warned by no less that 4 employees that “messing with time is dangerous” and “don’t go back further than an hour”. Which was consistent with the newest Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which had only recently been released.
Merchandise: Being a potterhead, Harry Potter merchandise is not something I’m lacking in. However, I was excited about shopping for new things in the Wizarding World. Everything they sold was quite authentic, but it didn’t have that excitied HP flare that I get at other vendors. So my advice is get one or two small things at the park (postcards, patches, wands, etc.) but save your big merch hauls for Hot Topic, FYE, and Barnes and Nobles. It’ll save you a lot of money, and give you a lot more options.
Moaning Myrtle: Its a tiny thing, but you can hear moaning myrtle in the bathrooms in Hogsmeade.
All in all there were so many wonderful things about the Wizarding World. Always the most crowded area (it feels so natural, especially in Diagon Alley). We went there 3 of the 4 days we were at the parks. The transition between parks was so seamless, too (the park to park pass was worth it). We loved every bit of this experience and hope to return soon.