Harry Potter World ~ Avoid Lines and Insider Tips


Wondering what to expect at Harry Potter World in Universal Orlando Resort?  Boy do I have the scoop for you! {snicker}  Here are important insider secrets to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter insideUniversal Islands of Adventurein Orlando, Florida.  You’ll find strategies on how to avoid the lines, get free printables to help you plan your trip, and several videos that you can share with your family to help build the anticipation!

To give you an idea of what to expect throughout the park, I’m going to give you my insider secrets in ‘map order’ of  the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which is actually inspired by the books not the Harry Potter movie series.  This way you can get a better feeling of what you’ll experience while at the park.  But first, let’s cut to the chase and give you insider strategies on how to avoid the long lines!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the most popular ride at the park and lines can last up to 75 minutes!  Ride this ride at 8am or after 4pm.

How to Avoid the Long Lines

When is the best time to visit to avoid the long lines? It is generally recommended to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter later in the day – mid to late afternoon. It’s also important to note that reservations are not available for OllivanderÂ’s in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter {to watch the wand-choosing ceremony} and lines fluctuate based on time of year and weather.

Other strategies for avoiding long lines are outlined in my Guide to Universal Islands of Adventuresuch as:

  • September is generally a good time of year to visit. The parks will be busier around holidays and school break times.
  • Get express ride access and SKIP THE REGULAR LINES at each of your favorite participating rides and attractions in both theme parks. These are FREE for each person in your family if you stay at one of the three Universal Orlando Resort hotels.  ItÂ’s just one of the many hidden values, you can see all of my Top 5 Perks of a Hotel Key in my quick video here.
  • If your kids are too small or unwilling to go on a particular ride you want to experience, please take advantage of our child swap program.
  • There is a special express line for “single riders”.  Therefore, if you are willing to ride by yourself {rather than a group} you’ll be able to move ahead of the line and get on the ride faster.
  • A good strategy is to start in the back of the park and make your way to the front.  ItÂ’s best to hit Harry Potter World either at 8am {if you have early park admission by staying at an on-site hotel} or after 4pm when the park clears out a bit.
  • Late afternoon tends to be a quieter time in the park, but again that can change from day to day.

Harry Potter World is Amazing!

Hogsmeade Station

Hogsmeade Station

The theme-park features a full-size Potter village of Hogsmeade and its incredible!  Everything looks so real as you’re transformed into the world of Harry Potter.  There are two entrances, if you enter through the main gate, you will be welcomed with rolling steam and a whistle signal of the arrival of Hogwarts Express into Hogsmeade Station.

You know I LOVE free printables! So here are several planning guides and fact sheets to get the most out of your trip. These printables have some really cool insight to the resort and will make planning your trip so much easier. Don’t forget to print them out and take them with you on your tip!

 Print Free Files:

  1. Download
  2. Download
  3. Download
  4. Download
  5. Universal Studios Vacation Count Down Calendar
  6. Download {free printable of this article}

Also be sure to check out the Universal Orlando Resort interactive planning map online – you can use this map to pre-plan most of your trip, and it is great for the kids to help them explore prior to arriving at the resort.

Zonko's Joke Shop

{photo: Universal}

Zonko’s Joke Shop

To the left is ZonkoÂ’s which in the book, it’s a favorite place for Hogwarts students to shop.  It carries a collection of tricks and jokes, including Extendable Ears, Hiccough Sweets, and Sneakoscopes.  My family spent quite some time checking out all the zany toys and things to buy.  My boys favorite where the extendable ears and the chattering teeth.  Be sure to check out the window displays as well. You’ll find some familiar creatures there to greet you.


{photo: Universal}


Connected to Zonko’s is Honeydukes a candy store full of treats like Fizzing Whizzbees and Cauldron Cakes.  The Chocolate Frogs where my absolute favorite but my boys preferred the Every-Flavour Beans.  For a fabulous photo op, be sure to grab a large Honey Dukes lolli-pop and take a fun picture while in the store. {like this one}  I wish I had done that with my boys while we were there.


Be sure to try the Pumpkin Juice and Butterbeer!

Three Broomsticks Restaurant

Next up you’ll visit the Three Broomsticks restaurant and inside is the HogÂ’s Head pub. There you’ll dine on traditional British fare and drinks including Butterbeer and pumpkin juice.  My family had dinner there and oh my goodness it’s SO yummy!  It’s delicious comfort food and perfect for the entire family.

When is the best time to eat at the Three Broomsticks at Harry Potter World? Wait times are always different at different times of the year. Generally most restaurants will be busy right at lunch and right at dinner, try eating off hours (2-5 pm generally) for a quieter experience.

What is Butterbeer?

When and Where is the best place to get butterbeer the lines can get really long? Hogs Head Pub {inside the Three Broom Sticks} is a perfect place to get Butterbeer — swing in and grab a frozen or regular Butterbeer right at the bar.  {frozen is my favorite!}

What is Butterbeer? Butterbeer is the drink of choice for younger wizards.  At the park is is a “cream soda” like drink with a creamy froth on top. It was somewhat thick, really sweet, and then it gets salty as you swallowed it like butterscotch.  It comes cold or frozen.  I prefer it frozen!  I case youÂ’re wondering, it is a non-alcoholic drink and perfect treat for kiddos on a hot day.  {wink}


harry potter restroom

{photo credit}

Haunted By Myrtle?

Just to show you how Universal put every detail into the Wizarding World, you’ll even find the ghost Myrtle talking inside the restrooms. Remember she’s the ghost wo who haunts the second floor girls’ bathroom.  {or “public conveniences” as it’s referred to in Britain.}  She’s hysterical!

The attention to detail in this place is outstanding!  It’s also the cleanest public facility I’ve used.  Throughout the park I was really  impressed with the care and work that they put into making this an experience not just ride after ride. {love it!}

The Owlery

Across from the Three Broomsticks is The Owlery, where owls roost and await their next delivery. What’s so cool is that the Owl Post sends letters with a certified Hogsmeade postmark!  You can send your child a letter and have it waiting for him/her when you get home.  How cool would that be! {snicker}  The Owl post also sells official stamps from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  I swear Universal thought of everything!

Inside, I counted four different kinds of Owls that you can purchase.  There is even one as a puppet with a swiveling head. {my personal favorite} Why did I count them you ask?  Well, because my little guy took great care in picking out his owl. {snicker}

The Owl Post is also a nice place to take a rest or wait while your family is making their purchases, choosing a wand, or buying souvenirs.

OllivanderÂ’s Wand Shop

{Insiders Tips for Ollivanders Wand-Choosing Ceremony}

OllivanderÂ’s Wand Shop

Inside OllivanderÂ’s Wand Shop you can choose your very own magical wand, purchase souvenirs, as well as watch the wand-choosing ceremony. It’s also important to note that reservations are not available for OllivanderÂ’s to watch the wand-choosing ceremony and lines fluctuate based on time of year and weather.  Since the wait lines can get extremely long, and there’s not a ceremony schedule posted for guests, it’s best to go to Ollivanders first thing in the morning or the last thing in the evening.    You’ll find the line at the back of the shop where it’s roped off.

Around 20 people go in at a time and the room is very small so be prepared for it to be tight.  While inside only one child will be picked to participate in the wand-choosing ceremony {usually one in front and the most enthusiastic}.  So it’s good to warn your kiddos ahead of time that they might not get to actively participate – just watch.

After the ceremony, you can purchase Hero Wands (replica wands of those owned by Harry and his friends) and collectible wand sets and “practice” wands for younger wizards. These hero wands are $29.95 each. Also, we have some Harry Potter merchandise available online.

Dragon Challenge roller coaster

Photo: The Dragon Challenge

Dragon Challenge

The first attraction is the Dragon Challenge which features a twin high-speed roller coaster based on the Triwizard Tournament.  What’st he Triwizard Tournament you ask?  Well, its a magical contest held between the three largest wizarding schools of Europe in the Harry Potter book series.  Below is a fun little video on one of the performances that you’ll see while at the park, the Triwizard Spirit Rally.

Video:  Triwizard Spirit Rally Performance



Photo: Flight of the Hippogriff

Flight of the Hippogriff

The next attraction is the Flight of the Hippogriff. What is a Hippogriff?  It’s a magical creature which has the head of a giant eagle and the body of a horse.  Be sure to listen when you pass by Hagrid’s hut and follow his instructions as you learn the proper way to approach a Hippogriff. {remember to bow}  You’ll pass the Hippogriff right at the beginning of the ride as you ascend upwards.  Below you can Watch a video of the Flight of the Hippogriff Roller Coaster Ride.  To get an idea of how fun this ride really is. My 5 year old rode it and loved the ride!  It’s a shorter ride so it’s perfect for younger kids who don’t mind a fun and little jolting roller coaster.

Video:   Flight of the Hippogriff Roller Coaster Ride

Inside Hogwarts Castle at Universal

{photo credit}

Inside Hogwarts Castle

I was blown away at the realistic interpretation of inside Hogwarts Castle.  The special effects are amazing and so life-like!  The ghosts in the pictures talk to you and the technology is so incredible my 10 year old said, “Those aren’t real people, right Mom?”  {giggle}  I swear you’ll be impressed.  You’ll be welcomed by several of your favorite characters in the books and be entertained while you waint in line for the ride.  Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is inside Hogwarts Castle and the most popular ride at the park  and lines can last up to 75 minutes!  Ride this ride at 8am or after 4pm.

In case you’re dying to know what it’s like inside, here’s a fun Hogwarts Castle walk-through Video Tour.  The video is a little long, but you’ll get a true feeling of what to expect when you arrive.

Hogwarts Castle walk-through Video Tour

Forbidden Journey Ride

Located inside Hogwarts castle,Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a thrilling new state-of-the-art attraction that uses entirely new technology to bring the magic, characters and stories of Harry Potter to life in ways never before experienced.  My husband was seriously blow-away at how technologically advanced and entertaining this ride really is!  In my opinion, it’s perfect for roller coaster enthusiasts who are 10 years and older.

FilchÂ’s Emporium

FilchÂ’s Emporium

Before exiting back into Hogsmeade you’ll head on into FilchÂ’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods.  It is full of Ministry of Magic and magical creatures merchandise like Omnioculars and even remote control Golden Snitches.

Universal Islands of Adventure

Now I’m dying to go back!  {snicker}  My goodness you’re family is just going to LOVE Harry Potter world and all of the magical things it has to offer.  It’s really a place where memories are made which will endure a lifetime.  A huge thanks to Universal Orlando Resort for putting the fun back into a family vacation!   If you have any questions that I didn’t cover, feel free to leave a comment and if I don’t know, I’ll find it out for you.

Are you still wanting more? Then check out these amazing video recaps – they’re so much fun and worth a few minutes to get your family geared up for their vacation!

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  1. Is there a discount if we go after 4pm?…an evening price? What time do they close? We were thinking about going in Sept when most kids are back in school. We homeschool so we are flexible. Thanks.

  2. Harry Potter World looks so much fun! I’ve been planning to go there soon with my family too, and this guide is going to be really helpful! Thank you so much!

  3. Thanks for the great tips. My family is going there in late August so now I know what to expect.