Diagon Alley in a Nutshell
Age Range Appeal: big kids to adults depending on areas visited and what you’re looking for
Diagon Alley Tips
- It gets crowded and very, very hot (we had unseasonably warm weather around 90 in March when we were there). Bring plenty of water!
- We found there were less places to simply sit and rest than other areas of Universal and other parks we’ve been to and what areas there were filled quickly and stayed filled. Plan to take breaks outside Diagon Alley if you’re visiting with little guys.
- The parent-swap option at Universal is amazing! Since our youngest was too small to go on many rides and our oldest gets motion sickness and didn’t want to go on many, Dad and I were able to make good use of the parent-swap option. It’s fantastic because one adult stays with the little guys who wait in a nice cool room while the other gets plugged in as a single on a ride, then you swap and the other parent waits while the other parent rides. It really didn’t add much time onto our total time there and we were able to skip a large portion of the line as a result because we were technically “singles”.
- You cannot bring bags on many of the Harry Potter rides. You may not realize how much of a pain this is, but if you’re NOT doing the parent-swap, you have to check your bags/handbags/backpacks into a locker at the beginning of the ride. It adds time as these areas are very crowded and it adds a little cost. If you are doing the parent-swap, you can keep your bags with the waiting parent and do not have to check them in.
- The lines get really hot during warmer months. Some parks make good use of large fans along the majority of the stretches of lines for rides. We found that our waits for some of the rides were outside and not super cool, so make sure you bring plenty of extra sunscreen, hats, water, etc.
- Over-budget for merchandise purchasing. I cannot stress enough how easy it is to spend a good amount at Diagon Alley and Hogsmead. Odds are, if you’re visiting one or both you and/or your family are total Potter fans. The merchandise there blows all of the merchandise you’ve seen at Barnes & Nobles, Toys R Us and anywhere online out of the water! Quality is generally great, attention to detail is stellar and there are volumes of variety. Trust me, you will feel compelled to buy some goodies and since price tags are on par with park prices, you’ll want to make sure you have enough budgeted.
- If you plan to buy robes budget even more. The robes were easily the highest ticketed item we purchased during our Diagon Alley trip, even compared to the price of the actual park tickets. They range in price, but we paid over $100 a piece and our kids are 7 and 9. Since we travel to Orlando around both of their birthdays these were parts of their birthday gifts.
- Butterbeer lines get long at carts. If you plan to try it, we found it much easier to order it with our meals as we waited about 15 minutes in line when we got frozen ones from a cart. You can also upgrade at the restaurants to include a souvenir mug (which is adorable and not badly priced), but we weren’t given this option at the carts. The carts also sold water, pumpkin juice, etc.
- Family pictures are available at rides for purchase. Like many parks, Universal takes pictures of visitors before some rides and on others. You have the option at automated kiosks to purchase them. I actually thought the way they did them at the Harry Potter rides was pretty neat as they actually allowed us to pose at one of them! I’m the type that hates candid photos of myself, so it was a nice change of pace. The candids on rides of the kids were hilarious though. From what we remember, prices were what you’d expect for the photos at a major park.
- Stores are small. For the most part, stores are very small and cramped so if you have little ones that are claustrophobic or struggle with tightly packed crowds and stimulation, you may want to have someone check the store before going inside.
- Strollers could be problematic in stores and even in the main parts of Diagon Alley during super busy periods. We didn’t see a lot of families with little ones in strollers (compared to Disney where the majority of families we see tend to have a stroller or two in tow) and we don’t have anyone still in a stroller, but given how tight Diagon Alley can be when busy, you may want to look into “wearing” little guys that can’t walk the park.
- Movie characters on the rides are done with holograms not actors. We actually really appreciated the fact that Universal (due to J.K. Rowling) didn’t try to plug in look-alike actors to pretend to be main characters from the movies. I read ahead of time she felt it would break up the authenticity of the experience and I agree with her. Holograms of the real actors interacting on rides and in different parts of Hogwarts were very well done in our opinions.
- We don’t have a favorite Wizarding World of Harry Potter side, try to do both if you can! We’ve talked about it and really feel like you get a more complete experience if you visit both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. While there is a little crossover between the two (2 Olivander’s for example), they are so different in look and feel and they both offer different rides and shops. If you can only do one, read through our posts and determine which your family would most likely prefer based on your personal opinions.
Diagon Alley Universal Studios Florida Experience & Ride Reviews
I’m sorry some of these pictures are narrow. Our camera randomly died at the beginning of our day and we had to take the majority of our shots with our camera phones. We wanted to make sure we were still able to give you an inside peak!
|I swear we all heard the film score begin the second we passed through this hole in the brick wall! It is very surreal and magical to see the books come to life like this.|
|Quality Quidditch Supplies is a fantastic store if you’re a fan of this wizard-only sport. Merchandise ranged from team scarves and cats to shirts, backpacks and even quidditch gear!|
|There were so many things to see! Legitimate corridors and alley ways twist and turn throughout Diagon Alley. To the right you can see Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, which I’ll show you a bit more in depth below.|
|How fun are these wizards and witches waiting to great us? And there’s Gringotts in the distance with its menacing dragon guard!|
|Home of the Daily Prophet! Give this writer a job, will ya?
I’m sure the paper could do with one less Rita Skeeter article, don’t you think?
This was not a shop you could go in, but the exterior was so fun to see.
|Ollivanders in Diagon Alley is split into 2 halves. One half is the shop (shown above) where you can buy wands and the other half is where you can partake in the wand choosing experience/show.|
|So many wands, so little time!|
|She had our oldest try out several wands, which all did funny, bizarre things because they weren’t “right” for him. Here the wand keeper is silencing some bells our son set off when he flicked one of the wands.|
|She told our oldest he might be a special case and needed a very special wand–loved this! She went and got a “special” one out for him and told him to flick it just so.|
|This time, with the right wand in hand, wind rushed up, light shown down on him in a beam and music played from the movie. It was seriously magical and he completely believed it was really happening. It was very well done!|
Interactive Wands: We had researched the wands ahead of time as we’d heard there were different kinds. The interactive wands are a bit more expensive, but they interact with specific storefront displays when you do specific spells. Essentially, there are little things on the tips of the wand that interact with sensors strategically hidden in these displays. Interactive wands come with maps that tell you where the displays, marked with large medallions on the ground, are located in both halves of the park. We found that at the time we visited wands ranged from around $30-$50 for interactive and regular wands.
Interactive Displays: If you’re thinking about budgeting the money for the interactive wands you’re probably wondering whether or not they’re worth it. We know people who have purchased the non-interactives and been fine while we purchased the interactive wands and enjoyed what they added to our trip. I think if you’re the type that wants to really experience as much as you can while visiting Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they’re worth it. However, if you/your kids aren’t going to have the patience to wait for a turn to use the displays (there were short lines at most when we were there) and try to get some of the finicky ones to work (some sensors worked better off the bat than others) then you may want to opt for a non-interactive wand.
Our kids had a total blast learning new “spells” all over the parks and watching them do special things in the window displays. To this day our kids think they really were performing the spells, though our youngest (who also hyper-analyzes everything) began thinking it over the other day.
If you want to keep this fun little fantasy going once they leave the parks, we told our kids that the Ministry of Magic does not allow underage wizards to use their wands outside of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (sound familiar?) and they completely accepted it. They’re looking forward to going back with their wands and performing more magic!
|This is the map that came with each of the wands we purchased. A lovely girl in the shop explained how the map worked for finding spots where the little guys could try their hands at different spells.|
|So many wands were available and a bunch were on display as well. We loved looking at all the different designs!|
|One of the craziest thing about Diagon Alley is that its built in such a way that you literally feel as though you’re in a cramped city. if you look up there are buildings towering over you. It’s incredible!|
|Gringotts is a very sophisticated, wealthy looking bank on the inside with its crystal chandeliers and marble pillars! Unfortunately, lighting is dim so good shots are hard to snap while on the move, but you get the idea.|
|Gringotts employs quite a few goblins to keep tabs on customer accounts. They were very hard at work when we passed through.|
|The head goblin was also very busy at his high desk. The articulation of this guy was incredible–he looked so real!|
|This was the massive chandelier in the center of the bank’s lobby. Again, attention to detail was amazing right down to the Grecian pillars!|
|Before getting on the ride we got to watch a really neat hologram interaction between one of the Weasley twins and a goblin. This built up to boarding the actual ride.|
|As you can see, these holograms were really, really well done! From here we moved to the actual ride where we weren’t allowed to take pics or video. The ride is killer and we strongly recommend checking it out!|
|Like most of the stores it is quite small and fills up fast, but it’s a really cute stop.|
|Could it be Nagini? This extremely large snake watched you closely as you passed by–beware!|
|This is Borgin and Burkes’ storefront from the street, however, you could also access it from Knockturn Alley, which we’ll show you below.|
|The Fountain of Fair Fortune|
|This is the other side of Borgin and Burkes. This was too scary for our little guys, so we didn’t venture in to view dark magic objects and whatnot.|
|Shrunken heads, anyone?
Again, too scary for our little guys.
|This was one of the interactive wand spots. The kids did a spell that made this skeleton move around. Again, kind of scary for some little guys so use your judgement before visiting Knockturn Alley.|
|Flourish & Blotts was another really neat store with a facade that looked very real. It was too bad you couldn’t go in, but getting a peak from outside was still exciting.|
|Here we are back at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes! This was a fun stop for us. They had everything from jokes to candies. It was a bit cramped, but worth a trip in in our opinions.|
|The store is crammed with goodies from floor to ceiling. A lot of the wizards that work here do little demonstrations with different items.|
|How about bringing home a magical little pet?|
|Of all the candies sold in Wizarding World of Harry Potter the chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans had the most movie-like packaging. Super, super cute!|
|Some of the adult wizard clothing was absolutely beautiful! Harry Potter wedding, anyone?|
|We had a great time looking at some of these outfits, which were so like the costumes used in the movies.|
|If you’ve ever dreamed of being head girl … now is your chance! They had a number other badge pins for each house including ones for prefects.|
|I grabbed this pin as a souvenir. Super cute!|
|Here’s our littlest wizard all ready to head off to school! Our youngest is wearing one of the absolute smallest sizes (I can’t remember if there was a size on the rack smaller than his). He weighed about 39lbs and was around 47 or 48 inches tall.|
|Robes were really great quality in our opinions. They’re heavy, the stitching seemed good and they even had built-in wand pockets! The ones we purchased came with Gryffindor badges, but they had all of the house robes available.|