One sunny day in September last year, we went to Orlando, Florida for the Surf Expo for Lagu. Of course, a visit to Orlando meant a chance to go to my very own happy place. Nope, it’s not Disneyland (although I love this place too) but for my inner wizard soul it only meant one thing – the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! ❤ Yahoooooooooo! Oh I was so excited for this that I immediately booked us the 2-day ticket pass as soon as our flights to the US were confirmed. This was my birthday month so it was the best place to celebrate my birthday in advance! So off we went and allotted a day for each theme park — Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios Florida while Hogsmeade is in Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. The best thing about getting a 2-day pass is riding the Hogwarts Express connecting both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade!!! Oh this was one of my most favorite parts! Just writing about this experience and sorting through our photos is making me so giddy! This is definitely a place to see for all Harry Potter fans like me! So bear with me if ever this post gets lengthy. 😀 But for this particular entry, I’ll just be sharing about our date in Diagon Alley. 🙂 We started out early that morning as summer in Orlando is peak season and it gets really packed. So of course me, the excited kid, wanted to be there as soon as it opened. So at 9AM we were there and there was already a line going in the area of Harry Potter (since this was the main attraction) but the good thing about it is the whole theme park wasn’t packed yet and you can still take good photos without a crowd.
Of course before you can get to Diagon Alley, you must first travel to London. And seeing the marks and icons of my favorite city was just enough to excite me even more before reaching our main destination. I love that they put Kings Cross, Leicester Square, the red phone booths and other areas from the book such as Grimmauld Place!
Getting inside Diagon Alley is such a treat in your eyes that you wouldn’t know where to go first! Everything from the book or movie has just come alive right there in front of you! I was like a child with wandering eyes and an excited thumping heart!
But before exploring the shops and the whole of Diagon Alley, we went straight to Gringgots for the anticipated ride. I got tips from the internet before we left for the US that its best to go straight to the rides as soon as the park is opened because it gets really really packed and it will take you hours for just the line. We arrived at around 9 but the park was already filled with people and there was already a long line for the “Escape from Gringgots” ride. I’m not fond of roller coaster rides (yes I’m a scaredy-cat!) but my being a fan of Harry Potter just pushed me to try and experience the rides especially the featured ones with 3D to get the best experience of the park. It took us about an hour to line up. That’s already fast considering others’ longer experience. Good thing our energy and excitement level was still pretty high. And they made the lining up experience entertaining too. You’ll get to see the goblins, the grand interiors of the Gringgots bank, the dark dungeons going down before you actually start the ride. It was really really cool and the ride was scary but interactive so it felt like you’re really part of the movie!
It was so hot when we got out of Gringgots and we were starving. And there’s no better way to have brunch in Diagon Alley than in Leaky Cauldron of course! And with Butterbeer too! It’s just really like out of the book!
We went around the shops such as Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes where you’ll see strange treats and concoctions in funky packaging that are famous from the book too like the every flavored beans, puking pastilles, etc. And we went to Gregorovitch for some wands too!
One of my favorite part of our day in Diagon Alley is riding the Hogwarts Express. They tried to incorporate as much magic and special effects as possible and it’s for a big fan like me, I was pretty ecstatic! I loved the part that you can actually go through the wall of Platform 9 3/4 like a real witch or wizard. It was pretty cool. That was one of the highlights of my Harry Potter experience in Universal haha. I highly recommend taking the Hogwarts Express to all those visiting Universal for Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. And riding the Hogwarts Express shows you clips from the book and the movie on the windows of the train about the part when dementors came and Harry fainted. You hear Harry, Hermione and Ron talking and you can actually see shadows of the dementors coming in. I loved that they made it interactive!
Overall, my Diagon Alley experience was really fun! I’d love to come and visit again. You can actually visit both parks Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade in one day and go back and forth with the Hogwarts Express using your 2-day pass. But it will get tiring. Also, each theme park (Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Islands of Adventure have other attractions too so it’s best to allot a day each to go to the other parks too aside from Harry Potter. Between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, I had fun in both but I think there’s more to do and more to see in Diagon Alley since it’s bigger. Hogsmeade I think is for kids and families while Diagon Alley is more for teens and adults. But I really really loved both! Watch out for my next post which will be about Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade! 🙂
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