Field Trip Friday—The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

December 09, 2022

Welcome to Hogwarts 

Every now and then, you have to leave the real world behind and have a little fun. That’s what I did on Tuesday with my friend Mary. Ever since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal Studios Florida, we’ve wanted to go check it out. But we’re Muggles with jobs and responsibilities and busy schedules, so this was easier desired than done. Finally, Mary took the initiative and chose a week she could make work, and after some back-and-forth, we found a day we were both free. If there’s one life lesson that keeps slapping me in the face, it’s “If you want to do something, don’t wait—there may come a time when you won’t be able to do it and you’ll live with regret.”

So off to Harry Potter World we went.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is actually split into two parts—one section, Diagon Alley, in Universal Studios Florida and one section, Hogsmeade, in Islands of Adventure. Pause here to admire the marketing genius of Universal Resorts: if you want to see the entirety of Harry Potter World, you have to buy a Park-to-Park ticket. Fortunately, they also offer ticket deals for Florida residents, and while the entrance fee was not cheap, it was doable. I also think if you’re a Harry Potter fan, it’s worth it to spring for the entire experience.

Diagon Alley

Hidden behind the London waterfront, is Diagon Alley.  Before you even enter the area, you can see the the Knight Bus (which in the books, picks up stranded witches and wizards), and 12 Grimmauld Place, the ancestral home of Sirius Black’s family, and the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. I missed this, but apparently house elf Kreacher looks out of an upstairs window every few minutes.

Once you enter Diagon Alley, you’ll find in adorable detail many of the locations made famous in the books and movies, including Gringotts Bank (topped by a fire-breathing dragon, see below), Ollivander’s wand shop (“Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 BC”), and the Leaky Cauldron (a restaurant). In one shop, you can trade U.S. currency for Gringotts bank notes, which you can use to buy things in the Wizarding World as well as a few select places in Universal Orlando.

We strolled through Knockturn Alley, the “seedy underbelly” of the wizarding world—dark and spooky, anchored by the shop Borgin and Burkes—just the place to go if you want to get out of the hot Florida sun while you search for objects of magical properties.

Before leaving Diagon Alley, we rode Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (fun) and, yes, we drank a butterbeer.

All aboard the Hogwarts Express

To get from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade, we boarded the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross Station. From Platform 9 ¾, of course. The short train ride left us on the outskirts of Hogsmeade, which, amazingly in sunny Florida, retained snow-capped roofs.

Hogsmeade nestles up against Hogwarts Castle, where we walked through the passageways of the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry before joining Harry and his friends for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a “scenic dark ride” where, among other things, you follow Harry through a Quidditch game and escape from the Whomping Willow.  

In Hogsmeade, we also braved Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which was a true roller coaster, and left us screaming and laughing…and staggering a little since it was a bit more exciting than we were expecting!

To recover, we went to sweet shop Honeydukes, where I bought a chocolate frog and some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

My friend and I had a fantastic time exploring Harry’s world, and there were so many things to see and do that I would be happy to go back. I loved seeing kids and even some adults dressed in Hogwarts’ robes—it was so fun to feel immersed in a magical world for just a day.

Harry Potter magic

I have really fond memories of reading the Harry Potter books to our son and later, going to see the movies as a family. For me, forgive the pun, the series has been magical. As the series progressed and our son grew up, eventually I was reading the books just for myself! In fact, I preordered the last in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and read it over the course of a day or two when it was released because I didn’t want anyone to tell me how it ended. The first and last time I’ve ever done that.

Hope you’ve enjoyed a peek into the magical world of Harry Potter—and that the next time an opportunity for some silly fun comes your way, you take it!

When was the last time you had a fun and silly everyday adventure?

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  1. Kathy this looks like you had a really fun experience. So glad you were able to go and enjoy yourself. Hope your weekend is wonderful as well. Hugs!

    1. It was great fun, Debbie. A nice treat for the holiday season.