If only we could wave a magic wand and apparate to the wizarding world right now… It’s a tough time to try and plan travel, but that’s no reason to stay home in your imagination. (Unlike the Dursleys, I definitely approve of imagination.) Wait, I have an idea – let’s take a virtual trip to the Wizarding World!
First, take a quick look at these maps of Diagon Alley (left) and Hogsmeade (right). Throughout the rest of this virtual trip to the Wizarding World, we’ll go to each of these 14 stops, which help you experience some of the best things to do at the Wizarding World in Orlando:
Note: these are modified maps from Universal Studios and the map graphics are © Universal Studios
Next, here’s how it’s going to work: this post will take you through each number on the map, including photos and videos. I recommend starting the playlist on repeat (more on that in the next paragraph), then pausing the music each time you start a video. (You can leave the music on in the background if it doesn’t bug you.) You can then restart the music as you read and browse until the next video.
Before you start your own virtual trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, hit play on this Spotify playlist. These are the five songs you hear when you’re visiting the Wizarding World in real life, so we want to evoke the same auditory experience while you’re taking the virtual tour too!
Ready to begin? Grab your wand (if you have one – if not, we’ll cover that), refill your Butterbeer (if you have a mug; here’s a great Butterbeer recipe you can make at home), and let’s begin this virtual trip to the Wizarding World!
Step 1. Enter Diagon Alley
Arrive at Universal Studios Orlando and make your way to the London waterfront. This is a snapshot of London’s top sights – including Grimmauld Place and the Knight Bus. When you’re ready, head through the gateway into Diagon Alley:
As you look around, you keep an eye out for the details: from the crooked construction to the signs outside every shop – which honestly each look like their own work of art
Walk around and notice where the shops are located – you can even swing into Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes or Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour if you have a few extra galleons in your pocket.
Step 2. Head to Ollivanders for a Wand
When you pass Ollivander’s wand shop, be sure to swing in – the shop keeper is waiting for you:
As your perfect wand slips into your hand, you can feel the warm tingle of magic up your arm. You can now ready to pay for the wand and make your way out of the shop to see how well your wand works!
Step 3. Try Your Hand at Magic
Around Diagon Alley, you spot little metal plaques in the ground. Consulting your Maraunders Map, you can see that each one corresponds to a specific magic spell. Step up to the plaque, point your wand at the corresponding shop window, and try the wand movement. Remember: swish and flick!
As you practice, you get better and better – so seek out all 16 of the plaques around Diagon Alley as you continue to explore.
Step 4. Ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Now that you’ve mastered magic, it’s time for the ultimate challenge: to try and break into Gringotts vault and make it out alive! Head to the bank and enter the marble lobby… but you’re not surprised at all that the passageways beyond are dark and torchlit.
Stepping back onto the street, breathe a sigh of relief – but don’t relax in case the dragon overhead is about to breathe fire.
You make your way underneath the Ukranian Ironbelly while she’s calm and turn down Knockturn Alley to escape the crowds in the rest of Diagon Alley…
Step 5. Discover Knockturn Alley
All noise and almost all light disappears as you pass into creepy, dark Knockturn Alley. It’s okay to admit it: we’re all a little bit interested in the Dark Arts, and this is the place to learn more about them:
If you still haven’t spent your extra galleons on Butterbeer, buy a Dark object in Borgin & Burke’s… or maybe not. Remember: they’re a lot more sinister than they seem!
Once you exit Knockturn Alley, make a few right turns and follow the crowds of witches and wizards to Platform 9¾ – it’s time to catch the train to Hogsmeade Station and Hogwarts!
Step 6. Catch the Hogwarts Express
As you enter the train station, pass through the magical barrier between Platforms 9 and 10. Make sure you leave someone a few paces back to get a perfect photo as you disappear through the gateway. You suddenly appear on Platform 9¾, and see a red train belching steam across the platform – it’s the Hogwarts Express!
Board the train, find an empty compartment, and get ready for a great ride:
When the Hogwarts Express staff tell you, disembark the train and make your way out of the station into Hogsmeade town.
Step 7. Explore Hogsmeade
As you step through the stone archway into Hogsmeade town, the snow-covered roofs and crooked chimneys of Hogsmeade’s residences come into view. The streets of town bustle with fellow witches and wizards as you wander the streets:
You make your way there after perusing Hogsmeade’s shop windows. The colorful storefronts are full of magic, so you pull out your wand a few times to try new spells.
The turrets and towers of Hogwarts Castle come into view as you walk up the high street, so you make your way in that direction.
Step 8. Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Passing through the open entrance gates and under the gaze of the two winged boars that flank the path, take in the awe-inspiring view of Hogwarts Castle in all its glory. It feels like coming home, doesn’t it?
There are no thestral-drawn carriages to bring you to the front doors, but luckily it’s not a long walk and – miracle of miracles! – there’s no line of people waiting to enter the castle.
Once you enter the castle, you make your way through some of the castle’s famous rooms: the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and Dumbledore’s Study, among others:
What a ride! Disembark your broom and step into Filch’s Emporium, where you can snag some confiscated magical goodies for your own collection. Then it’s time to exit the castle back into the bright, sunny day. (There’s no grey British weather here!)
Step 9. Ride Flight of the Hippogriff
Exploring the Hogwarts grounds, you notice Hagrid’s Hut isn’t far and make the short walk there. Hagrid isn’t home… but maybe you’ll cross paths with him later.
Instead, you find Buckbeak, and climb aboard his back for an epic ride around he Hogwarts grounds:
After two rides, your knees are a little wobbly… but the rush of adrenaline is definitely worth it. But where’s Hagrid? You definitely want to say hi to him before the end of the day.
Step 10. Watch the Frog Choir Performance
As you walk back toward Hogsmeade, you notice a small space where a few Hogwarts students are practicing something… Wait, you know what this is! It’s the Frog Choir!
Well that was way better than watching the Gobstones club…
Step 11. Ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Continuing into town, you notice a path on the left… “I wonder where this leads?,” you muse. And then you start to hear Hagrid’s voice, calling you over.
Walking down the path, you notice Hagrid’s motorbike and climb abroad. Suddenly, it magically jumps to life and takes off with you on it:
Like usual, any time spent with Hagrid is thrilling and a little terrifying… now it’s time to relax and refuel after a full day of adventure. You follow the path back to Hogsmeade and look for a place to find a good Butterbeer.
Step 12. Tuck into the Three Broomsticks
A warm glow spills out onto the darkening street. You peer toward the building’s entrance and notice what hangs above the door: three broomsticks… It’s the Three Broomsticks! You duck in, grateful for a place to sit and rest your feet for a few minutes.
The bartender takes your order and a few minutes later, they arrive at your table with a tray of food and drink. You’ve ordered British classics including fish and chips and bangers and mash – plus a glass of pumpkin juice and a highly-anticipated mug of Butterbeer.
You tuck into your meal, wolfing down the food and washing it down with the delicious drinks. After finishing, you sit back, stretch out your legs, and relax for a few minutes. The background noise of other pub-goers enjoying the evening washes over you, and you feel satisfied and happy. But the night’s not over yet!
Step 13. Watch the Students of Beauxbatons & Durmstrang Perform
After clearing your table, you step back out onto the cool streets of Hogsmeade town. Music drifts down the high street, so you follow it back toward Hogwarts. There you notice more students… but these ones aren’t wearing the black robes that Hogwarts students do. These are Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students – putting on a performance for the wizards and witches in town!
As the performance winds down, you start to look around. Maybe it’s time to return to the Three Broomsticks and book a room for the night. Then, suddenly, light spills out from the doors and windows of Hogwarts Castle, and you turn in a mix of awe and fear – is it the Dark Mark? Or something more magical?
Step 14. Enjoy the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle
Suddenly you realize: it’s a light show! The students of Hogwarts are using their wands to put on an incredible performance – it definitely exceeds the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students’ a few minutes ago. You walk onto a nearby wooden bridge across a creek to enjoy the show:
When the music winds down, you sadly realize the day has finally come to an end. Putting your wand carefully into an inside robe of your pockets, you join the witches and wizards winding back down the Hogsmeade high street toward and head back to your place to stay for the night.
As you lay down for the night, your mind is full of spells and your dreams have a golden tinge of magic…
Did you enjoy this virtual trip to the Wizarding World? I’d love your feedback in the comments.
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