What it feels like to be around in a place you just dreamed of for your whole life? What if you could capture anything you’ve read about for million times? In this post, I want to share what I am feeling and write as not only an architect but also a lover of the magic world masterpiece that J.K. Rowling has created. To begin with, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Florida was incredibly amazing that could sweep me off my feet, and this post is going to be revolved around their design and their story details that came into real life.
First, this theme park is divided into two parts at Universal Studios and Universal’s Island of Adventure. The former displays Diagon Alley and London King’s Cross railway station, which connected the visitor to another one with Hogwarts Express while the latter consists of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts castle. I personally cannot decide which one is my preference, noted that both parks have breathtaking rides that cannot describe into words.
Universal Studios Orlando (Diagon Alley and King’s Cross)
In this park, we can see London street view which begins with the Knight Bus display. There is also Stan Shunpike, the conductor and helper of the Knight Bus, who will give his best smile to welcome the visitors to magical London.
Here is the picture inside the Knight Bus where Harry escaped from Dursley’s house in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Universal Studios made my dream came true by creating the real-life size of this bus! I remember how Harry introduced to an escaped prisoner that turned out his godfather here. The beds, trunks, and veils represent coziness inside the bus and atmosphere that J.K. Rowling has created in some parts of the Prisoner of Azkaban book.
You also can see the facades of Grimmauld Place street, where number 12 is the headquarter of the Order of the Phoenix. It used to be Black’s house that Harry inherited from Sirius. In the 5th film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Mad-Eye opened the pathway to enter this house by tapping his walking stick. Also, this home is protected by Fidellius charm that increases the secure level of detection. Hint: knock the door if you want to see Kreacher is seeking through the window.
If you see your left side, there is King’s Cross Station that connects from Universal Studios to Universal’s Island of Adventure. Also, if you want to jump on the Hogwarts Express, you have to buy a park-to-park ticket (link will be attached below this post), which enables you to visit both parks anytime.
After walking down through the London area, you can enter the Diagon Alley from the back side of the station, and commence your journey from this point.
What is Diagon Alley without enchanting window displays of magical objects to sell and dazzling wizards wearing a non-muggle costume? Here are some shots from the Harry Potter’s story details that will evoke your memory of the Boy Who Lived.
This is it! Gringotts Bank with the famous fire-breathing dragon. I had to wait for five minutes for the dragon released its stunning fire. Inside this building, there is a Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride, which was wicked for a Potterhead. I gave 9/10 for this mind-blowing ride. With its thrilling 3D/4D roller coaster, we can see how Harry, Ron, and Hermione broke the bank and escaped with a dragon. Also, we also can see Bellatrix and Voldemort tried to curse the riders, which was badass for a fan like me.
Wesleys’ Wizard Wheezes
The famous joke’s shop in Diagon Alley by Fred and George Weasley was captured my heart at its first. I remember Harry gave his Triwizard winner’s prize to the twins to open this shop.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
Remember when Harry was staying at Leaky Cauldron during the summer holiday in 1993? He spent a lot of his time to do his History homework in this ice cream shop. While working his homework outside, Mr. Fortesque gave Harry free ice cream for certain times. In this park, I had to wait for five minutes queue to get in this shop. My preference was butterbeer soft ice cream, which was incredibly delicious.
This store sells magical animals that are enchanting. My favorite scene in this shop is when Ron asked the cure for his rat, Scabbers, and Hermione bought a cat, Crookshanks, for her birthday.
The Leaky Cauldron
The oldest pub on Charing Cross Road, London that became Harry’s Knight Bus destination. He also spent nights at this inn where he sooner met his best friends, Ron and Hermione to spend the rest of the summer holiday in 1993 together. Universal Studios create this place as a restaurant for the visitors and sell unique menus resemble what in the books had told.
Ollivander’s Wand Shop
This is the place where you can buy the wand from Harry Potter’s cast. Also, you can choose the perfect wand for you by answering some psychological questions.
In this park, you can buy the interactive wand, which you can do some tricks to do magical things at some spots.
Madam Malkin’s Robe for All Occasions
The place where Harry and friends usually bought their school robe before started their school year. If you look carefully on their window displays, there is Hermione’s epic Yule Ball costume, which is my favorite gown from the entire movies.
Flourish and Blotts
“They bought Harry’s school books in a shop called Flourish and Blotts where the shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in leather; books the size of postage stamps in covers of silk; books full of peculiar symbols and a few books with nothing in them at all.“—Harry Potter’s first time at Flourish and Blotts
My favorite part is the details about Gilderoy Lockhart’s book collection that remind me about his fraud.
Eternelles, Elixir of Refreshment
This food cart sells variety beverages of magical worlds such as gillywater (mineral water), pumpkin juice, and some combination of potion.
Slug and Jiggers Apothecary
This store sells potions and ingredients in Diagon Alley.
Twilfitt and Tatting’s
Madam Malkin: “I think this left sleeve could come up a little bit more, dear, let me just…“
Draco Malfoy: “Ouch! Watch where you’re putting your pins, woman! Mother, I don’t think I want these anymore.“
Narcissa Malfoy: “You’re right, Draco. Now I know the kind of scum that shops here… We’ll do better at Twilfitt and Tattings.”
Madam Malkin: “Well, really?”
— Draco and Narcissa Malfoy leave Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions.
He was a skilled metal-charmer who lived in Godric’s Hollow sometime during the Middle Ages. Born to a witch mother and a Muggle father, he invented the Golden Snitch as a replacement for the endangered Golden Snidget, combining his interest in science, magic, and sports. – harrypotter.wikia.com
Eeyelops Owl Emporium
This store sells anything for owl’s necessities.
Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop
This shop sells magical sweets like Cauldron Cakes, Liquorice Wands, and Pumpkin Pasties.
Quality Quidditch Supplies
I remember the first time Harry saw Nimbus 2000 in his first year as a Hogwarts student. Quidditch is a famous sport in the wizarding world. In the third book, Sirius found his way back to meet Harry and gave him his very first present, Firebolt, to Harry as a godfather. Firebolt is the fastest broomstick that became official broomstick for Quidditch World Cup 1994.
Remember Rita Skeeter? She was a writer for this newspaper and I remember when she was trying to exaggerate news about Harry and his friends during the Triwizard Tournament. I personally prefer The Quibbler, due to their reputation for calling Harry a liar.
“There is only one wizarding newspaper in Britain, discounting such small circulation publications such as The Quibbler. The Daily Prophet, whose headquarters are in Diagon Alley, is delivered by owl on a daily basis to nearly every wizarding household in Britain.“—Description of the newspaper
Knocturn Alley is known as the dark arts shopping area. There are several shops but the most famous one is Borgin and Burkes, where Tom Marvolo Riddle worked before he became Lord Voldemort.
The Hogwarts Express Journey
Pack everything you need to go to Hogwarts this year. Clothes, robes, a wand, and a magical pet.
“Platform nine and three-quarters is the train platform from which students board the Hogwarts Express, the scarlet steam engine that brings students to and from Hogwarts. It can be accessed by walking straight through the apparently solid barrier between platforms nine and ten.“—Description of the platform’s purpose and the means of entry.
Universal’s Island of Adventure (Hogsmeade)
Welcome to Hogsmeade! The biggest non-muggle village in the entire Britain. I extremely love this place because J.K. Rowling described every beautiful thing that I ever dreamed about in here. The first thing I can remember about this place is when it was introduced in the third book. It described where Harry had to get his permission to enter Hogsmeade during his school year. Turns out that he finally sneaked in using his cloak of invisibility through Honeydukes cellar. In Universal’s Island of Adventure, we can enjoy everything that we can dream about as written in the book. First, I want to start with several shops that located in this area.
This place is every kid in the world could ask for. Candies, chocolates, patties, Okay, I want to evoke your memory with the lines that J.K Rowling has written in the Prisoner of Azkaban book about this delicious sweet shop.
“There were shelves upon shelves of the most succulent-looking sweets imaginable. Creamy chunks of nougat, shimmering pink squares of coconut ice, fat, honey-coloured toffees; hundreds of different kinds of chocolate in neat rows; there was a large barrel of Every Flavour Beans, and another of Fizzing Whizzbees, the levitating sherbet balls that Ron had mentioned; along yet another wall were ‘Special Effects’ sweets: Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum (which filled a room with bluebell-coloured bubbles that refused to pop for days), the strange, splintery Toothflossing Stringmints, tiny black Pepper Imps (‘breathe fire for your friends!’), Ice Mice (‘hear your teeth chatter and squeak!’), peppermint creams shaped like toads (‘hop realistically in the stomach!’) , fragile sugar-spun quills and exploding bonbons.“
The Three Broomsticks
This pub and inn is the place where my favorite scene set in the Prisoner of Azkaban. During Christmas holiday in 1993, Harry, Ron, and Hermione spent an afternoon in here. They were drinking butterbeer while some teachers got into the bar and talked about who Sirius Black was.
Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop
The only thing I can remember about this shop is when Cho and Harry had a date in the Order of the Phoenix book and turned out to be a disaster.
Journey from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts
In the 5th book (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) Harry realized that something pulled the carriage while nobody could see it except Luna Lovegood. It called Thestral, a kind of creature that can be seen if the person has already witnessed death.
Finally, we arrived at where it all begins. I personally could not speak anything when I saw the castle. This is what my dream about since I was 9 years old. I thought that all of the people in this park felt the same.
“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” – J.K. Rowling
This is home for our beloved magical creature caretaker. When I see this place in the movie, I feel that Hagrid is always there, and he is the perfect person to share every problem.
“Welcome to me home, Harry. It’s small, but still roomier than yer cupboard under the stairs, eh?“—Rubeus Hagrid welcome Harry Potter to his hut.
The Triwizard Tournament (Performances from Durmstrang Institute and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic)
That’s all I can share about unforgettable 3 days in my life. The feeling when you see everything you can imagine of what you are reading is the best thing in the world. These parks evoked my childhood memory of waiting for every single movie and book to be released and going back to read the books and watch the movies over again.
After all this time?
Magical Journey Itinerary
Day 1: Universal Studios (Diagon Alley and King’s Cross). I think this is the best option to spend day 1 here because it will resemble what Harry went through in his school year. Pack the stuff, buy school requirements, and take the train from platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station.
Day 2: Universal’s Island of Adventure (Hogsmeade and Hogwarts) You can enjoy this park like a truly Hogwarts student. If you want to return to Diagon Alley, you have to buy Park-to-Park ticket to take the Hogwarts Express.
Day 3: This is optional. I personally spend my third day to repeat my favorite ride (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts) and enjoy the restaurants that serve typical wizards’ delicacies.