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Like most 20-something year olds, I love Harry Potter. I love the magic and adventure of the books and movies, and I especially love that the Wizarding World has become so popular that I really can immerse myself in it.
Thanks to Pottermore, I know my Hogwarts House:
What kind of wand I would have:
And my Ilvermorny House:
For several years, Pottermore was the best way to immerse myself in the Wizarding World. But that’s all changed now. Now there is Harry Potter World.
Image via Flickr by Diana Kelly
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter initially opened Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 2010 and was expanded to Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida in 2014, but rumors of a Harry Potter theme park had been swirling since the early 2000s, when I was still in high school. By the time the park opened, I was ready for it.
Getting there was more of a problem. I was a broke college kid in Wisconsin. Flying to Florida and spending thousands of dollars on a hotel, theme park tickets, souvenirs, and more wasn’t with in my budget.
I’ve spent the years I’ve been dreaming of visiting Harry Potter World coming up with a plan for the perfect trip.
My birthday is a few months away and I would love to spend it in Harry Potter World.
The two parks at Univeral Orlando Resort are the original Wizarding World, the biggest, and from what I’ve heard, the best, so obviously I’m going there. In addition to Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, Universal Orlando Resort also has a third park, Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park, so even if I get bored with Harry Potter World, there’s still plenty to experience.
If you want the full Wizarding World experience, you may want to make Gringott’s Money Exchange your first stop in Diagon Alley. Here you can exchange your muggle money for Gringott’s bank notes that can be spent in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade as well as a few other places throughout Universal Orlando.
Getting a wand will be my first priority once I land in Orlando. It is possible to order your wand beforehand so you can already have it when you arrive, but I want to get the full experience. I’m heading straight to Ollivanders to get an interactive wand so I can cast spells.
Pottermore told me I would have a wand made of cypress wood, but Harry Potter World doesn’t have a cypress wood wand (not even a replica of Remus Lupin’s wand). I’ll have to settle for either a Holly wand, because that is me, or a Vine wand, because that is the wood corresponding with my birthday.
In addition to the Ollivanders in Diagon Alley, there is a smaller one in Hogsmeade. One commenter on the Hogsmeade Ollivanders page on Universal Orlando’s website says that the wand-choosing ceremony is slightly different in Hogsmeade than in Diagon Alley, so it may be worth it to go see both.
Another option for getting your wand that may be less crowded than Ollivanders is Wands by Gregorovitch. The now-defunct forums at the Orlando Informer suggest that you may be missing out on a branded wand box and bag by making your purchase from Gregorovitch instead of Ollivander, but the posts are from 2014, so things may have changed now.
Image via Flickr by Theme Park Tourist
Once I have my wand, it’s time for a ride. The only real ride in Diagon Alley is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. According to the Orlando Informer, Escape from Gringotts is all special effects and hardly any roller coaster, which is disappointing. I think it will still be worth a ride to experience a different kind of theme park ride, though.
After escaping from Gringotts, it will be time for more shopping! Luckily, one thing that Harry Potter World is not lacking is places to buy souvenirs.
Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment is the gift shop for Escape from Gringotts, so that’s an easy place to start. Even though they’re pretty much just paperweights, I kind of want a divination ball or a prophecy orb.
Since I’m a writer, I’m really looking forward to visiting Scribbulus. I adore notebooks, journals, and pens, so I’m excited to see what I can pick up here.
Being a wizard means looking the part, so of course I’m going to go to Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions and Borgin & Burkes for all my clothes and accessories. At Madam Malkin’s you can even buy Hermione’s Yule Ball dress!
I don’t really like sports, but everybody needs some quidditch gear, so I’ll stop by Quality Quidditch Supplies to get a golden snitch. There are a few options for your snitch, but I like this flappy one that sits on a pedestal.
You can also get a pygmy puff at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, along with a lot of other magical toys and candies. The Skiving Snackboxes don’t really make you sick and the UO Fan Guide says they’re not super high quality candy and they cost $39.95, which is kind of expensive, but I still want one.
I’m saving Sugarplum’s Sweetshop for last, since I have a weakness for candy and I know I’ll overspend there. I’m going to get the Peppermint Toads and Chocolate Frogs and maybe even some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, but what I really, really want from Sugarplum’s is a Sugar Plum Apple, which the UO Fan Guide says is the shop’s signature snack.
Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees and a puppet show of The Tales of Beedle the Bard are performed throughout the day on a stage in the Carkitt Market section of Diagon Alley. Neither is performed at a regular interval, but I found a schedule of Universal’s live performances so you’ll know when to head over to the stage. Certain performances also have an ASL interpreter.
It’s going to be hot and humid in Florida during my birthday, but there are plenty of places in Diagon Alley to get a drink or some food and cool down. Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment, The Fountain of Fair Fortune, and The Hopping Pot all offer a variety of magical drinks. You can also get cornish pasties or butterbeer ice cream at The Hopping Pot.
The only real place to eat in Diagon Alley is the Leaky Cauldron. They have a breakfast menu as well as lunch and dinner food. A lot of it is traditional British food, but there are a few things that are more familiar to Americans, especially on the breakfast menu (pancakes!).
For dessert, Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour offers pretty much any flavor of ice cream you could want. They have my favorite flavors, banana and pistachio, but I’ll probably try something more unusual while I’m there. Chocolate chili or clotted cream could be interesting flavors to try.
Once I’ve seen and done everything there is to see and do in Diagon Alley, I’m going straight to King’s Cross Station to board the Hogwarts Express for Hogsmeade. To ride the Hogwarts Express, you need a Park-To-Park Ticket since Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios Florida and Hogmeade is in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
At the other end of the Hogwarts Express is Hogsmeade Station. Theme Park Tourist says that the ride from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade is different than the ride from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley, so I’m definitely going to be riding the Hogwarts Express in each direction at least once.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is supposed to be the best ride in Harry Potter World, so I’m heading straight there. Like pretty much everything else in Harry Potter World, even just waiting in line is part of the experience. You get to explore several different rooms in Hogwarts Castle before you get to the end to board the ride. The Orlando Informer says the ride itself is super scary and well-worth the wait in line. Since you go every which way except upside-down, you may want to stay away if you’re prone to motion sickness.
There are a few gift shops in Hogsmeade, but not nearly as many as Diagon Alley. Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods and Dervish and Banges are the places to go for anything you forgot to get in Diagon Alley. Dervish and Banges also sells The Monster Book of Monsters if you want a souvenir that will take off a few fingers.
I’ll probably be out of chocolate frogs by the time I get to Hogsmeade because I have no self-control. Luckily, Honeydukes sells pretty much the same things as Sugarplum’s Sweetshop, so I can easily get more of every candy.
The Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head are the only places in Hogsmeade to get food or drinks. The Three Broomsticks has a breakfast menu and a lunch and dinner menu. The breakfast menu is very similar to the one at the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley, with a few differences. The lunch and dinner menu is much less British than at the Leaky Cauldron, which I find a lot more appealing. If you need another drink once you’re done eating, just head to the back of the Three Broomsticks, where you’ll find the Hog’s Head bar.
No vacation is complete until you’ve sent postcards to friends and family. At the Owl Post, you can mail your postcards and letters complete with a special Hogsmeade postmark. I’m definitely going to be sending a postcard to my friend Steven, even though he is a filthy Gryffindor.
Like Celestina Warbeck and The Tales of Beedle the Bard in Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade has a few live performances that happen at irregular times. The Frog Choir and the Triwizard Spirit Rally perform at various times throughout the day and certain performances have ASL interpreters, so be sure to check the schedule to make sure you don’t miss either one.
Another show that doesn’t happen every day is The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, a light show that I’ve only heard is spectacular. The schedule looks like it does happen most nights, but not every single one, so I’m definitely going to be planning a day around seeing it.
What a Hufflepuff Wears
My phone is the most important part of me, so obviously I have to make sure it looks good. This minimalist Hufflepuff phone case is so cute and doesn’t have a design that will be ruined by a popsocket, making it the perfect case for any Hufflepuff.
I got a popsocket a few months ago and now I can’t live my life without one. This Hufflepuff popsocket is absolutely adorable and I need it to survive my trip to Harry Potter World without losing my phone.
If you know anything about me, you know that I love to be comfortable on a plane. I still love to look cute, though, even when traveling. This raglan tshirt looks so comfortable and cozy, I can’t wait to fall asleep in it on the plane ride! I’m not usually a leggings-as-pants kind of girl, but I’ll make an exception for a plane. This shirt will be so cute with some plain black leggings and a pair of slip on shoes.
Speaking of shoes…
These Converse sneakers are my absolute favorite shoes ever. These are kids shoes, but I have tiny feet, so they’re perfect for me. If you wear anything below a women’s size 8, you can probably fit into children’s sizes too. I love this particular style of Converse because the laces are elastic and the backs are velcro, so they’re easy to take on and off quickly at airport security. In fact, I never even use the velcro, they’re so easy to slide on and off. They’re easy to run in too, if you’re late for a connecting flight.
A jacket is a must-have on a plane, and this Quidditch jacket is absolutely the one to bring on a Harry Potter World trip. Pockets are important on any trip to keep your ID, boarding pass, phone, and headphones handy so you don’t have to dig through your backpack all the time. Since the rest of my plane outfit is devoid of pockets, this jacket will be my savior.
Like the one above, this raglan tshirt looks super comfortable. Even though it’s a 3/4 sleeve shirt, the thin, burnout fabric won’t heat me up in the Florida sun. Throw on some shorts and the Converse above and I’ll be ready for a long day exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
I don’t usually like short-sleeve tshirts, but this one is actually really cute. It looks super comfortable and I love the fit of it.
This Hufflepuff bracelet set set is absolutely adorable. Wearing all of the bracelets at once can get a little bulky, but it would look great with the short-sleeve tshirt above.
It also comes in Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin colors.
Chokers are my jam right now, so I was super excited to see this one with interchangeable House pendants. It will look amazing with an LBD for a night out at Bice Ristorante.
This A-line cocktail dresswill be super cute to wear out on my birthday, especially with the choker above. I’m so excited to be able to dress up and celebrate my birthday at Harry Potter World!
Spending almost a week at exploring all three Universal Orlando Resort theme parks will cost me $1,100.38, not including airfare, most meals, and most souvenirs.
Universal’s Aventura Hotel
Universal’s Aventura Hotel has views of all three Univeral parks, so there’s the potential to get a room overlooking Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley. It opens in August 2018, so I will be one of the first people to stay in the hotel.
The hotel has shuttles to all three parks and there are also walking paths connecting the hotel to the parks if you don’t feel like waiting for a shuttle.
3-Park Unlimited Ticket
The 3-Park Unlimited Ticket includes admission to all three parks for my entire stay as well as admission to a few venues on Universal CityWalk.
Early Park Admission
Early Park Admission gets me into Harry Potter World and Volcano Bay an hour before the park officially opens.
These are Google’s flight results at the beginning of May. The flight will probably not end up being more than $300. Hopefully I’ll be able to book a direct flight and not have to deal with a layover.
Unfortunately, since the Aventura Hotel won’t be open until August, there isn’t any information about the prices at the various hotel restaurants. I’m going to try not to spend more than $50 a day on food.
My wand will cost $50 since I’m getting the interactive one. I’m going to try not to spend more than $200 on souvenirs (and candy!) in Harry Potter World. This will be hard since everything is so cool and so expensive, but bringing a small bag instead of a giant suitcase should help since I won’t be able to pack everything to take home.
The Total Cost
The trip package will cost me $1,100.38, the flight will be at most $300 (hopefully), the food will be around $300, and I shouldn’t let myself spend more than $200 on souvenirs. That makes the total estimated cost for my trip . I’ll round up a little bit and say that the whole trip should cost me around $2,000.