Oh. Em. Goodness. I don’t really know where to start with this one and I’m literally smiling and getting all giddy just thinking about this post. For my Christmas gift this year, my husband really hit it out of the park and took me to Universal Studios– more specifically, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (Side note: Not sure how he’ll ever manage to beat this gift. He set the bar too high now. His problem.)
Now, if you know me, you know how much of a Harry Potter nerd I am, and if you don’t know me, well the cat’s out of the bag. Harry Potter has held a special place in my heart since I was 10 years old when I read the first book for the very first time. (signal nostalgic music and flashback to a little tomboy in her ADIDAS swishy outfit, sitting in her room for hours on end reading Harry Potter.) Yup, that’s where it all started.
Since that moment, I was hooked so you can imagine my elation when I finally made it to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this year. As soon as I found out we were going, I started my research. I read blog after blog to get all the “insider” tips and tricks. I knew we only had one full day there so I had to plan out every magical moment.
I made a game plan that’s basically a compilation of everything I read, so I guess you could call it the “The Ultimate One-Day Plan to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” I go into pretty serious detail below, but if you’re lazy and just not into all the magical details, and don’t feel like reading about all the super fun I had then there’s a simplified list at the end of this post. (Muggles- ‘eye roll’)
The Ultimate One-Day Plan to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Obviously, I barely slept the night before, just like a little kid on Christmas morning- er- or me on Christmas morning. But lack of sleep had zero chance of dampening my spirits; neither did some damp weather. Stupid drizzle.
We got to Universal Studios right when it opened, and we went right to the Wizarding World. Sorry, Indiana Jones and Shrek. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Diagon Alley First!
Now you have two options, go to Diagon Alley first, or go to Hogsmeade. I recommend Diagon Alley first, but do what you want, I’m only an expert. As you walk around you’ll notice what looks like the muggle town of London. You’ll see the infamous Kings Cross Station (I’ll come back to this later) and you’ll see quaint homes lined up in a row. You’ll also see Stan the driver of the Night bus- go have a chat; he is just as sassy as he was in the movie.
Some secret magical fun
Now, in muggle London, there are two secret magical things to be on the lookout for. One is Kreacher the house elf. If you’re looking closely at the townhomes, you can see Kreacher in the second story window of 12 Grimmauld Place. He pops out from behind the window every few minutes so you have to look carefully.
The other magical fun is in the red phone booth. This is an entrance to the ministry of magic and if you go inside and dial “MAGIC,” you actually get to talk to the Ministry of Magic. Woo!
Ollivander’s Wand Shop
Okay, now for the real deal. You walk through the brick wall… And voila! You’re in DIAGON ALLEY! I actually started to tear up at this point, because I was in such awe of the details that the creators included. They really outdid themselves and it’s as if you’re in the movie. Now once you catch your breath, you hurry on your way to your first stop, Ollivander’s Wand Shop. There is usually a line but if you go there first thing, you should be in and out before you can say “wingardium leviosa.”
This part was seriously cool. They take you into the shop in groups and they go through the whole wand process. After all, the wand chooses the wizard. Seriously though, it’s really cool and if you’re lucky enough you’ll be the chosen one.
After the process, you end up in the shop where you can purchase a wand. Now, if you’re going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you buy a wand. I’m not sure why this is even an option. Any real witch or wizard would agree. Now there are two types of wands, interactive and regular. If you’re getting a wand, obviously you get an interactive one. TRUST ME. It’s worth it.
Once your wand finds you and you pay for it, you have to go try out your wand. Open the map it came with and find a spot around Diagon Alley. The map tells you how to move your wand and which spell to say, and it is one of the coolest feelings to really make some magic happen.
Escape from Gringotts
After you get a few spells under your belt, move on to the coolest ride there, Escape from Gringotts.This line can get pretty long later in the day so that’s why we did it next. Now, they have free lockers there that you have to put all your things in so as much as you hate to depart from your new wand, it’ll be kept safe until you’re done the ride. As you walk through the bank you’ll have flashbacks to the movie and it’s quite mesmerizing. This was our favorite ride, we did it twice, no big deal.
The Leaky Cauldron, that’s in London
Once you’ve escaped from Gringotts, hopefully in one piece, it’s time for a snack and some famous butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron. It was my first real butterbeer, and I have to say HOLY MOLY, it’s delicious. Think cream soda meets caramel creams. Yup. As you sip your butter beer, you’ll feel like you’re right there with Ron and Hermione and that’s because they actually have pieces from the movie set there!. (Catch a picture of the infamous WANTED poster for Sirius Black.)
Explore some more!
Next up, explore, explore, explore. You have to check out Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes for some practical jokes, and try on a robe at Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions so the mirror can tell you how you look. (Don’t worry she’s usually pretty nice, at least she was to me.)
Catch a show
Alright, I was a little skeptical about this but I’m so so glad we got to see this. Throughout the day, I believe it’s on the hour, there are short performances of the Tales of Beedle the Bard. (If you check the schedule online it will usually keep you updated.) Anyway, while we were there, we ended up seeing two performances, my favorite being The Tale of the Three Brothers. It was amazing and I highly recommend trying to see this one!
Now for you naughty witches and wizards, be sure to check out Knockturn Alley. There you’ll find Borgin and Burkes and the vanishing cabinet. (If you listen closely you can hear a bird chirping in there. Creepy.) Also, if you want a little extra magic, place your spell map under the black light, and the shapes of the spells that are written in invisible ink will appear. Sneaky, sneaky.
Time to get to the Platform
Once you’re done galavanting around Diagon Alley, head to Kings Cross to platform 9 ¾ . (If you ask an attendant they’ll tell you there’s no such thing.) Remember to walk right through the wall between platforms 9 and 10 and don’t hesitate! Seriously though, have someone in your group stay back a little when you’re almost there because there’s a super cool photo opportunity to walk through the platform.
Now the train is just another fantastic experience. You’ll hear the trolley lady come by and may even get a visit from the dementors. Watch out! (Also, try to take the train both ways because there are different surroundings for each way. It’s dope.)
Once you step off the train in Hogsmeade you’ll need another minute to catch your breath because the castle is just, “ Holy Cow.” At Hogsmeade, you have a little wiggle room to do your own thing but basically, I’d get the ride out of the way.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Head over to this ride. CAUTION: if you get motion sickness easily, you may want to skip this one. It’s fun, but afterward, quite a few people said they felt a little woozy.
The Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head Tavern
Once you’ve kept your lunch down and completed the forbidden journey, you have to check out The Three Broomsticks for some traditional English fare. Then head to The Hog’s Head Tavern for a pint of their special beer made especially for the Wizarding World. Mm. ( There’s also more butterbeer for you underage wizards.)
Okay, this is pretty cool. If you go here you can actually send letters or postcards from here that’ll be stamped by the Owl Post in Hogsmeade. WHATTTT.
One of the last stops before our day was done was at Honeydukes. We picked up a classic Chocolate Frog, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans for the ride home.
So there you have it. If you only have one day at the Wizarding World, it can be done and it can be done more than one way.–but my way is the best. Just sayin.
The Lazy Muggle’s Guide for One Day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Diagon Alley
- Ollivander’s Wand Shop
- Play with your wand
- Escape from Gringotts
- The Leaky Cauldron
- Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
- Madam Malkin’s Robes
- Catch a show of Tales of Beedle the Bard
- Knockturn Alley
- Catch the train on platform 9 ¾ to Hogsmead
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Three Broomsticks
- Hogs Head
- Owl Post