If you’ve always wanted to spend a day immersed in Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, and Hogsmeade from the magical world of Harry Potter, you can! Universal Studios in both LA and Orlando have parts of their parks dedicated to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and while we’ve been to the LA park several times, we recently spent my birthday weekend in Orlando exploring their extended version of the Harry Potter part of the park. If you’re headed to Orlando, here’s how to spend 1 day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.
Stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Not only is this resort conveniently located for exploring Universal Studios in Orlando, but you also get early access to the parks and express passes for the rides just by staying here. The hotel also has a free water taxi that runs all day and night to take you back and forth to the parks.
And while the price point on the hotel can seem high, when you factor in these extra perks, it actually makes a huge difference and we enjoyed our stay there.
Start in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios
While many people head straight for Hagrid’s ride in the Islands of Adventure side of the parks for early admission (this ride doesn’t take Express passes), we opted to start on the Universal Studios side in Diagon Alley and it was worth it. We arrived right before they opened the gates at 8am and headed straight to the back of the park where you enter Diagon Alley. It was quiet and calm and we had the whole place to ourselves for a little while before the crowds and we got some great photos before it had people blocking every view. We also got right on the Gringotts ride before it got crazy later.
Ride the Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure
This truly is the easiest way to get between parks. Jump on the Hogwarts Express in Universal Studios and exit in Hosgmeade in the other park. When you get off the train you’ll be able to explore Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, where the rest of the Harry Potter themed rides are.
Enjoy the treats in the Wizarding World
Don’t leave the parks without enjoying some treats like breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron or a Butterbeer while you wander around!
Take a break in the afternoon
The parks got really crowded mid-day, plus as the weather got warmer and more humid, we opted to go back to our hotel in the afternoon and take a break. Another reason to stay at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel is that it was a quick 5 minute water taxi ride back to the hotel and easy on and off.
Go back to the Park as the sun is setting
Universal Studios closed early the day we went for Halloween Horror nights, but Islands of Adventure was open until 9pm so we opted to grab dinner at the hotel and then head back to the park to see everything lit up at night. We arrived back in the Hogsmeade area around 6pm just as the sun was starting to set and wandered around and rode a few more rides as everything got dark and the spaces lit up against the night sky.