Growing up with the Harry Potter books made me almost feel like I knew Harry and the gang. Not gonna lie, on my 11th birthday, I was lightweight hoping that I would get a letter in the mail saying that I had been selected to go to Hogwarts. It must’ve gotten lost in the mail or something but that didn’t diminish my love for Harry Potter. Sharon and I even watched all of the movies last summer in a multi-day marathon while noshing on seaweed crackers and drinking lemon green tea from yellow cartons. So when my friends decided to visit me in Florida, I knew that Harry Potter World was a must. Here are 7 tips for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Studios :
1. Scheduling your Day Wisely
2. Share a Butterbeer (and pumpkin juice) with a Friend
Sharing is caring applies in the case of butterbeers. These beverages are super sweet and among the four of us, two butterbeers were more than enough. If anything, one would’ve been enough and would’ve still allowed us to get that picture.
Same goes for the pumpkin juice. It was spiced like pumpkin pie and pretty sweet. We were pretty stoked pre-pumpkin juice as pictured above, but after a couple of sips, all the sugar starts giving you pre-diabetic feelings.
3. Get a wand!!!
There are two types of wands, normal and interactive. My friend Ringo sprung for the interactive one and it comes with a map, showing you areas where you can perform spells and watch magic happen. So off we went, running around and waving the wand, making flowers bloom in shop windows or conjuring water from dry fountains. We met a wizard named Dev who gave us some secret tips on where we could use the wand in unmarked areas too.
- The interactive wands come at a hefty price of $45. Technically, their return policy allows you to return the wand if you’re displeased with the product. So, if by the end of the day, you realize that your interactive wand will not perform outside the park, you can hypothetically decide to return it.
- While there are multiple places to purchase your wand, a family we met on the Hogwarts Express recommended visiting Ollivander’s because they have “shows” where they have the “wand choose you.” We didn’t do this, but it could be cool to take kids to (or you know, yourself).
My friends will probably be the first to tell you that patience is not one of my strengths. Waiting in lines usually means going on my phone and catching up on social media or reading the news. But waiting in line for “Escape from Gringotts” was awesome due to the special 3-D scenes that accompany your wait, the recreation of Gringott’s entrance with goblins doing their accounting work, and the special “lift” you have to take to get to the ride. And that’s all before you even get to the ride. The ride itself was crazy, actually scary, and Harry, Hermione, Ron are all there along for the ride (pun anyone?) as well. Bellatrix, Voldemort, Bill Weasley guest star in the ride too.
5. The Kid’s Menu is Delicious
The food at HP World isn’t bad (there’s probably some sort of magic involved) as you can tell by Felix’s eager expression above and if you’re traveling on a budget, go for the kid’s menu!! The portion size is still decent (yay America) and there’s options like fish n chips and mac n cheese. My friends and I (all 24+) all ordered from this without shame. For 3 cents more, you can also get an extra drink on a “children’s dining card,” that you can redeem from any of the theme park restaurants or cafes.
6. Be prepared for the rain!
In one of my previous posts, I talked about how in Florida, it can be sunny one moment and rainy the next. My friends and I got trapped in a huge downpour, which we used to our advantage to Instagram some HP World pics. There are some people braving it without an umbrella or poncho (which was us), which is cool and all until you get sick (which I did). Save yourself the hassle and just bring a poncho with you.
7. Friendship is the realest magic
Things are about to get real cheesy right now so grab some bread. While the rides, walking through Knockturn Alley, wands, Wizard’s brew (a stout beer) were all great, it wouldn’t have been the same if my friends weren’t there to share the experience. Who else would’ve recreated the naenae?
Extra props to the random girl who started dancing with Felix! While some activities might be fun to do alone, I highly, highly recommend coming to HP World with a couple of friends. New to the area and not sure how to do it? I’m sure there’s some other fresh transplants who want to check out HP World too, maybe you can post in a FB group, start a Meetup, or hit up some coworkers. Either way, you MUST come to HP World! We got rained out and ended up having to leave early but I still thought it was worth it.
There has to be more to Florida than just Harry Potter World right? Right…(disclaimer: HP World was probably my favorite place in all of Florida), it just depends on what you’re looking for. Check out what you can do in Southern Florida, as well as the Keys and Miami.