Hogsmeade in a Nutshell
Age Range Appeal: big kids to adults depending on areas visited and what you’re looking for
- 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 Hogsmeade 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 waits with the little guys who aren’t waiting 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.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a fast-paced ride well-worth going on. If you have a child that struggles with motion sickness (who is tall enough to ride on this ride) you may want to think twice. Our older guy gets motion sickness and was extremely nauseous after this ride.
- 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.
Hogsmeade Universal Studios Florida Experience & Ride Review
|The only thing that would have made this trip better–getting to ride in one of these! Little details like this scattered around make these parks really exceptional.|
|This was such an exciting view–look at those snow-covered buildings!|
|The snow on the roofs was super believable–at least in these New Englanders’ opinions. You can see Honeydukes to the left and a butterbeer cart straight ahead. We loved the view of all the rooftops against the sky, it was just so real!|
|This is the Dragon Challenge roller coaster. We didn’t go on it as Dad and the boys don’t like roller coasters, but they have all said they’d try it next time. I’m holding them to it! It looked fun.|
|The Frog Choir was really impressive. They sang “Double Trouble” complete with giant frogs croaking some heavy bass.|
|Of all the things we saw at Hogsmeade, the first glance at Hogwarts was definitely the most exciting to us!|
|Hogwarts is technically scaled way down in size (though still large) and houses the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. You get a really great view of Hogwarts while waiting in the outdoor portion of the line.|
|The day we were at Hogsmeade the line was fairly long, but thankfully we didn’t spend too much time outside because it was incredibly warm and there were no fans pointed on the line.|
|The view of Hogwarts as you got closer to the entrance was pretty awesome!|
We wanted to take pictures of the inside of Hogwarts as there’s actually a lot to see, but the lighting was so incredibly dim nothing came out super well. The line for the ride snakes all the way through Hogwarts and you get to see everything from Dumbledore’s phoenix to Ron, Hermione and Harry’s holograms having a chat.
The ride itself has roller coast-style harnesses that come down over the front of your body. This ride really moves, simulating your adventure riding a broom through some pretty dangerous situations. It is awesome!
Keep in mind you must be at least 48 inches and if you have a child that get motion sickness or who isn’t comfortable with fast-paced rides and loud noises, this probably isn’t the right ride for them. Our oldest got off this ride feeling very nauseous, but enjoyed it aside from that.
|Honeydukes mini-haul! The boys grabbed the Fudge Flies and Peppermint Toads. They were okay, but the chocolate was your stereotypical slightly waxy chocolate. Not awful, but nothing special aside from the shapes and packaging.|