Over Labor Day weekend, my family and I had the fun opportunity to visit Universal Orlando with the Family Forward group. This was our second time to Universal in Orlando. We had such an amazing time in 2012, we had to do it again. This time around we invited my cute mom to join us. She’s a big Harry Potter fan, so it was fun to have her experience everything with us. They had just opened up Diagon Alley only one month before our visit, so it was fun to see all the new changes.
Because I love a good list, I thought it would be fun to share my top 10 favorites from Diagon Alley, in case you’ve been thinking about visiting Harry Potter World and you need a little nudge to plan that trip sooner than later.
1. Escape from Gringotts: the ride – This is the big attraction for Diagon Alley that opened up this Summer along with Diagon Alley. If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, this ride is a must! It’s a blast! Even while you wait in the line, there’s lots to see and experience while the line moves towards the ride.
Here’s a short 15 second video of our first night in Diagon Alley:
2. Ollivander’s Wand Shop – If you’re bringing little “wizards” along with you on this trip, it’s a great idea to head to Ollivander’s wand shop at the very beginning of your visit, so that you can use the interactive wand throughout Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley and Hogsmeade. The best part of the wand shop experience is that you don’t choose the wand, the wand chooses YOU! Here’s our girl when her wand chose her.
3. Interactive Wand stations – once you have an interactive wand, enjoy exploring all around Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley and Hogsmeade (located in Universal’s Island of Adventures) Your little “wizards” can make magic happen at each little station. All throughout these areas there’s plaques on the ground with a spell and with the map and instructions on how to wave the wand to make the magic appear. Wizards are able to turn on water fountains, make things move and float, and make things come to life. Our kids loved doing this! We spent a good chunk of time on our last day there going from spot to spot casting spells with our wands.
4. Hogwarts Express – We loved traveling on the Hogwarts Express to see both Harry Potter areas in both of the parks at Universal. It’s a different experience when you ride it each way, so make sure to ride it both ways while you’re there. It really is neat to see everything once inside your booth on the train. Both looking out the window of the train and looking through the glass into the hallway, you really feel like you’re experiencing it all. You’ll need a ticket for both parks to travel between them.
5. Frozen Butterbeer – this was our favorite thing last time we visited and it still was this time. You can get butter beer in different ways: the drink, ice cream or frozen; and frozen is the best! I shared a copycat recipe for frozen Butterbeer that comes pretty close, but the one in the park is the best!
6. Knockturn Alley – we almost missed this small alley at Diagon Alley, be sure to take your interactive wands in and have fun casting spells!
7. Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor – tons of neat flavors to try inside. I loved the clotted cream ice cream. You’ll have to sample each one!
8. Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes – lots of fun to see inside this quirky shop. Just like Fred and George Weasley would want it.
9. The Fire Breathing Dragon – Just outside the Gringotts ride is the fire breathing dragon. Every 15 minutes or so, he breaths fire! You can feel the heat from above. You do have a little bit of warning a minute or two before the fire comes out to cover your ears…he’s loud!
10. King’s Cross Station – As you wait to board the Hogwarts Express, going from London to Hogsmeade, you’ll have fun catching the train at Platform 9 ¾ …be sure to take a little video of your family as they disappear into the column. 😉
If you get the chance to go, I highly recommend it! It’s such a neat experience, especially if you’re a “Potter Head”.
Looking for more reasons to visit Universal Orlando?
Here’s a bunch of our favorites from our first visit, including the new Despicable Me ride. We loved staying on property with Loews hotels both times we visited the parks.
A big thank you to Family Forward for such a fun time to enjoy family while getting to know other moms in social media.
Have you visited Universal in Orlando? If so, I’d love to hear your favorites!