Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips

If you know me for a moment, you know that I love all things panda bears, the color yellow, and Harry Potter! I am such a nerd, a proud nerd! I thought it would be fun to showcase my family vacation down to Universal Studios. Which of course included a trip (all day) to Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

I will start out by saying that I am by no means an expert on Universal Studios and the Harry Potter experience. My tips are just things that I found out the two days I was down there. Some of which I wish I had known before arriving. I thought because of that reason I would share it with you all. Mostly though I am going to showcase the magical greatness of the whole experience.

Tickets and T-Shirts

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips
Me and the family on the Hogwarts Express (it seemed to be 8 per car. If your party is smaller, you probably will have to share)

To experience both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, you will need to purchase the park-to-park tickets. You can only board the Hogwarts Express with park-to-park. I personally suggest that be the way you go. The Hogwarts Express is an experience all its own! The 2nd day that we went, we took my 3 year old nephew. It was so amazing that he not only thought it was all real, but is now so obsessed with Harry Potter!

I am not about to tell you how many days you need to go in order to experience everything you want to. However with 9 people (ages 50ish down to 3) we were able to experience everything we wanted from the Harry Potter experience in one day. That is arriving when they open and leaving around 3pm. We are also huge Harry Potter fans. We wanted to see everything; and I feel like we did.

You might also notice that we are all wearing matching shirts. With having a big party (especially with 4 kids) it made it easier to spot each other in the crowds when we broke off from each other. Our shirts were ordered online and have quotes from the books. We did have to go back and add quotation marks and our names for copyright purposes. I am telling you though. It made it so much easier! Plus it seemed a lot of people loved our shirts. Especially my husbands:

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips
Yep. That is what he wore around thousands of people. :-) If you didn't know it is Lockhart who says this in the books.

The Earlier the Better!

Probably the most consistent tip you will see reading anyone's tips and tricks for visiting any part of Universal, is to get there early! I am talking right when they open. If you have the chance to get the early access, do it! I cannot stress getting their early enough. Most people don't want to get up at the crack of dawn on vacation. It pays off if you do though! I believe we were able to do all we wanted to because for the first few hours it was not crowded at all.

It allowed Jerr and my Mom to hop right on the Gringotts ride. It allowed my sister, Pop, the boys, and myself to walk right into Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour without a single person in line before us. When we went back later in the day there was a line out the door! It also allowed us to not wait one bit to get into Olivander's. We also walked right up to 'ol Stan Shunpike, and got to spend a bit of time talking to him and the shrunken head.

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips

It also helps to eat lunch early. I am talking 11am at the latest. We ate at the Three Broomsticks, and waited in line maybe 10 minutes, and that is pushing it. When we came back out 45ish minutes later the line was also backed out the door with a 45 minute to an hour wait. This allowed us to go to King's Crossing, go through platform 9 3/4 and hop the Hogwarts express with only having to wait for the train to make it back.

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips
If you can, have someone stand back and take your photo/video walking through platform 9 3/4. My parents took ours. I ran back through and took theirs.

When we road the H.E back from Hogsmead to Diagon Alley (2 hours at the max) in order to leave, the line to get on was zig zagged through the entire Kings Crossing. I am not sure how long of a wait it was, but it looked like at least an hour. Us eating earlier allowed us to walk right through.

The Ride Lines

The last thing I am going to leave you with today is about the ride's lines. I do not know about the Hippogriff roller coaster. We did not end up riding that. However for Gringotts and The Forbidden Journey, you need to get in the lines for them. Even if you do not ride the rides themselves. (The Forbidden Journey, made my son and myself slightly ill afterwards. It is a lot of spinning and tumping you upside down, all while giving you the sensation of flying on a broom). For both of these rides, they provide a place you can exit out before getting on the ride. They also do what is called a Child Swap. If you have children, read up on that!

The reason you need to get in the lines for these rides is because they are not like any other line you have been in. You are fully immersed in the Harry Potter World. You will miss out on so much if you don't do this. Here are a few things you can see in each one of these rides.

Escape from Gringotts

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips

When you walk in, you will need to put all your belongings in a locker. You then walk into Gringotts and all it's splendor! You will see the big grand hall with it's large chandelier, and goblins! You will see a vault, magical newspapers (which seemed SO real guys), ride the crazy elevator, and interact with Bill Weasley.
Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips

This is such a tiny glimpse into what you can see all while just standing in line to ride the ride. The ride it's self is a 4-D ride. It drops you down at the very start like a roller coaster. The rest is having things jump out at you, being shaken and spun around, and a bit of water splashed on you. You will see Nagini, Voldemort, Bill, the dragon, Bellatrix, and a few more on this ride. It is 4 people per row.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips
Welcome to Hogwarts folks! The Forbidden Journey is inside Hogwarts. I didn't know the name of it until I was writing this post. I kept calling it the Hogwarts Ride. That is because you are in Hogwarts!

You walk in and get to see the suits of armor and the entrance to Dumbledore's office (which Isaiah yelled "pickle juice candy" at it hoping it would open. lol). You will see the house points (sigh. Ravenclaw was losing), talking portraits, the founding members talking portraits, the Fat Lady, and the trio in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Right down to the skeleton on the ceiling!

All of this and and a crazy amount of more to be seen. All while just waiting in line. It is also dark and cool in there. Which at the end of June in Florida might be one of the best things about it. lol.

There is a place right before the ride starts to get out if you don't want to ride it. Like I mentioned before, it did make myself and the kiddo ill. I would still have done it knowing that going in. For the simple fact of feeling even more immersed in the Magical World of Harry Potter. Staying and riding the ride also allowed me to see the ceiling with the floating candles. Lovely! Unfortunately I do not have a photo of that. You have to jump on pretty quick.

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips

No Wizard Soda

Before I go I have one more tip. They are not playing around when they are trying to give you the full feeling of being in the wizarding world. There is no soda apparently there. I did not have an issue with this. I fully loved pumpkin juice and butter beer. I know that some people will not really enjoy that the entire time they are there. My sister an Pop didn't. My suggestion is outside the Harry Potter experience, grab one of these:

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips
This is a Coca-Cola Freestyle cup. I suggest if you plan on eating in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade and you don't care for pumpkin juice, butterbeer, or water to grab one of these.

The Coca-Cola Freestyle cup is a re-fillable cup. You can even get icees! You pay one fee up front. I think it was $15 a cup. There are 18 Coca-Cola Freestyle locations inside the parks and over 100 drinks. You get to fill up free of charge.

There was a 10-15ish minute time limit. We only ran into that problem when we first got it. My sister had one cup for 3 boys. They drained it quick.

Most of the eateries and little stands can also fill them up free of charge. There is a chip in the bottom of it that the machines read.

We did not figure this out until the 2nd day. Besides the getting everywhere early, this was the thing I wish people would have told me before going in. We spend a small fortune in drinks just to stay hydrated. That was after we ran through our bottle waters we brought in. It is crazy hot/humid. Especially in the summer and if you are not used to our southern weather!

And with that folks is pretty much my tips for visiting Harry Potter World (as we called it) at Universal Studios. I will be back soon with another post with lots and lots more photos. More of a catalog of what all you can see there.

I will leave you with a photo of my beautiful sister who has a birthday today and is the person who introduced us to Harry Potter 20 years ago. I love you sissy!

Harry Potter - Universal Studios (FL) Tips


Like I mentioned at the very start of this post. I am not an expert in Orlando Florida trips. I promise you that. I have been once, and for only two days in the parks. These are just a few tips that I did know before going that turned out to be spot-on. Or that I wish I had known before going. 

If you plan on going, I hope these help! If they do, let me know. Link me up to your experience, photos, videos, digital scrapbooking, and/or traditional scrapbooking layouts! 

I am not feeding you a line when I say that I would love to see them! Nothing like reliving that fun experience. Especially through someone else's eyes! 

Check back later this week for some new digital scrapbooking releases! 
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