With summer upon us, many Harry Potter fans are gearing up for a visit to the Orlando theme park area the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Going on it’s third year, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not only helping Universal see a dramatic increase in attendance and profits, but also gives the millions of Potterheads a chance to visit Hogwarts, Honeydukes, and Hogsmead.
The early bird gets the worm. The earlier you get to the popular attractions, such as the Forbidden Journey and the Olivanders Wand Experience, the less time you will have to spend standing in the blazing heat. In the images above, the one on the left was taken minutes after opening, and the one on the right was taken during mid-afternoon. (Tip: The Three Broomsticks opens for lunch early, at 10:30AM, and stays open until the park closes at 10PM, though, closing hours can vary month to month.)
During peak hours, this will happen. If you do find yourself in such a line, use the time to catch your breath and plan the rest of your day. Some lines will put you in direct view of the castle or other eye-catching photo ops. If you’re looking to go on a ride, but also wish to find some shade, consider going on Dragon Challenge. The entire wait is in a cool tunnel-system which can get you out of the sun for a few minutes.
There are a lot of tiny details the designers of the park included to create an authentic feel. As you eat, look up towards the rafters where you’ll see shadows and hear the sounds of various Three Broomstick guests and objects moving on their own. After you’re finished eating, head out the back way to the outdoor seating area of the Three Broomsticks for an unobstructed and different view of Hogwarts castle – also a great photo opportunity.
The ride is fast and ridiculously fun for roller-coaster enthusiasts, but we don’t know anyone who could handle eating a full meal, and then hopping on the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire-inspired ride. You may find yourself being taken to the hospital wing.
If you buy chocolate at 10AM and lug it around till 4PM in the blazing Florida heat, we don’t think your Chocolate Frog will resemble anything more than a melted mess when you try to open it. Buy the sweets later in the day to ensure they keep their form.
When the WWoHP first opened, Harry Potter merchandise was sold exclusively in that area of the park, making those stores the busiest places from open till close. Now, the selling of HP merch has expanded to stores throughout both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, and even the Orlando Airport has a section. For authenticity sake, the stores in the WWoHP are extremely small and thus, cramped, making browsing and purchasing extremely difficult and time-consuming. If you see something you want to buy, but the line at the register looks as long as the line for the ride, try going to a different store or revisiting that store at a later time.
Taking the single-rider lane may seem silly if you’re with friends and family, however it significantly shortens the wait and you take a different route than the rest of the park attendees. You won’t really be speaking to others during the ride anyways, especially during the Forbidden Journey. Applicable to rides beyond those in the Wizarding World, such as Rip Ride Rockit in Universal Studios, the single-rider lane is always a viable option.
Buy a Butterbeer (frozen or liquid – or both) and enjoy the atmosphere the Wizarding World has created. Piped in music plays the movie’s soundtracks on a loop, and there’s incredible detail and animation everywhere you look. Be sure to look in the store-front windows for magical bits and pieces, go on the Flight of the Hippogriff to see Buckbeak and Hagrid’s Hut while you wait in line, and be sure to take a picture in front of the iconic Hogwarts Express with the conductor.
If you’ve been lucky enough to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, what are your do’s and don’ts for our readers who will be heading there this summer?