Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley

When visiting Universal Studios and/or Islands of Adventure, of course you want to be sure to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Diagon Alley. Here are a few tips from me about when you visit. 

1.  Stay inside Universal Studios to get some great benefits! Some offer the Express Pass for free and all Universal Resorts allow you to get inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the public! 

2. Some packages offer a full breakfast or you can simply purchase your own.(Most meals inside the park average at $15 per person) If they offer it with your package, you will make reservations. I suggest between 9 and 10. That way you get into Harry Potter World early and do a few things you want to do without standing in long lines and then have breakfast.  (Above and Below: We ate at The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley and at HP World we ate at the Three Broomsticks. Both places offered a British Breakfast or American Breakfasts. You could choose from juice, coffee, Butter Beer or Pumpkin Juice. 
If you like Cream Soda, you will LOVE Butter Beer! They offer it in the restaurants hot or cold but in the kiosks around the parks you can also get it frozen (and its best this way) or Butter Beer Ice Cream. For an added souvenirs, at the kiosks you can choose to pay more to get it in a souvenir cup. Also, the Pumpkin Juice was amazing (and I am not a pumpkin flavor fan) It tasted like a Pumpkin Cider.
3. Make sure to stop at all the Photo Ops and take photos. Especially with the Knight Bus and the talking head!
4. Pay attention to the website about the size of back pack you can/should bring. We all carried a back back with Power Aid bottles. We brought bottles that we could refill with water at various water fountains around the park and we also had Power Aid packets that we could add to the water. MAKE SURE YOU DON'T GET DEHYDRATED! 

They checked our bags before going in but they didn't pay attention to the size. We quickly realized that many rides do not allow bags, wallets, keys or anything. They do offer lockers that are free for one hour but they are small and you want to make sure your bag fits into the lockers. 

5. You must ride the ride inside Gringotts Bank, which is at Diagon Alley ( you will check your bags) Even if you don't like roller coasters, most of the ride is 3D and tricks your mind into thinking you are on a coaster. If you close your eyes a minute you will realize you aren't moving that much. This is also true of The Forbidden Journey inside the Castle at HP World. ... Don't forget to walk down the Alley! (see below) it was dark and very cold (nice treat on a HOT day) and visit the shops down there!
6. Below is the Weasleys Store. My kids really enjoyed that! Make sure you stand in line to visit Olivanders Wand Shop. Its a short presentation (maybe 10 minutes) He will choose one or two people in the room to match a want to them. Two of my children were lucky enough to be picked! We watched boxes move off the shelf and bells ring all over the room when they attempted to use the "wrong wand for them" (photos are not allowed in there!) 

You can purchase an interactive wand after the presentation that will make magic things happen at certain places around the park. (Those wants are about $50) Quite a few people were also wearing cloaks that look just like the ones in the movie. You can purchase those for $109
7. Be assured by day 3 you will all be exhausted ! This was my youngest at breakfast on the third day.
8. If you have the park to park pass you can ride the Hogwarts Express from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Diagon Alley for free. Its well worth riding both ways! We expected a train ride only but it was an experience!
We sat inside a cabin that looked just like the movies and the window was basically a computer screen that looked like a window. You saw the scenes moving by as if you were actually on the Hogwarts Express complete with Hagrid flying by on a motorcycle etc...
On the side where the door is you saw shadows of people walking by and hear the voices of Harry, Hermoine and others. You saw them look into your cabin and shadows of chocolate frogs that got loose!
9. We had the Express Pass for one day. (the second day we were there) and it was well worth it! We made a list the night before of the things we wanted to do inside Universal and Islands of Adventure. (The Express Pass does not include HP rides. That's why we got there one hour early and did the main rides there first.) We did all the big rides we wanted to very quickly with the Express Pass while others waited in line for a long time. Some rides, people waited up to three hours to ride!
10. Download the Universal App (and there are several) they will show you the wait times of the rides and even give you directions on how to get there!
Our favorite rides in the parks were.....  All the Harry Potter Rides, The Mummy, The Hulk (I didn't ride that one but my husband and daughter did! They also road the Rocket! No way was I riding that!   Transformers was neat but a rough ride and that one hurt my back. We had soooo much fun! 

Harry Potter Worlds were the best part! 

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