I tried to read Harry Potter in college. I just didn’t get it. Granted, I only tried the first book, but I’m not so good with fantasy. The flying owls and that just didn’t work for me. I haven’t tired again, and maybe I will when the oldest gets a little older.
But, and a big but, that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the Harry Potter experience. Because we totally enjoyed it with pretty much zero context. (But, I may have called a goblin an elf a time or two!)
1. Hogwarts™ Express
We started our journey in Universal’s Islands of Adventure® where we rode the train, the Hogwarts™ Express, between Hogsmeade™ and London to arrive at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Diagon Alley™. (FYI, you will need a Park-to-Park admission ticket or an annual pass as you are going from one park to the other).
It’s not just any old train. It has some amazing features including an animated “window” and “moving” people around the cabin. I get very disoriented and a little nauseous on most closed in rides, but this was actually quite fun! The girls enjoyed looking and listening for the next thing they would see. (no pictures were allowed once the train ride started).
2. Location transformation
We arrived! Diagon Alley is hidden behind a brink entrance. You can’t see any of it from the outside. You enter and everything changes and feels old world. It was phenomenal at night under the Florida sky.
The windows of the stores are animated and I noticed people carrying wands that allowed magic to happen behind them. They spared no expense and left nothing to the imagination.
3. Butter Beer
Have a frozen butter beer. Icy, cold and super sweet. It was the perfect dessert for the evening. I had no idea what it was when I ordered it, but everybody said it was a must, so I did! It didn’t disappoint. I hear a close second is the butter beer ice cream.
4. Fire breathing dragon
And that fire is hot! Like you check the back of your neck and make sure your hair isn’t singed hot!
5. ESCAPE FROM GRINGOTTS™ aka a multi-dimensional experience ride
It’s a goblin run bank. And, the goblins, they actually talk and move and are amazing to watch.
And you go deeper and hear of the trouble that you are about to find (with some amazing holograms?) that make it feel like you are right there.
You grab your special glasses and board the ride. I screamed out loud several times, and jumped from a snake attack and rocks being thrown at me. It is high interactive and you are right in the middle of the action. I had no context for what was happening and it was great.
6. Put your kids in jail
No. Not really. Kid swap is available on this ride. So, we could all go through the line together and then adults could switch off with the kids that aren’t tall enough to ride. Don’t forget to ask for a certificate so you can jump the line when you visit again and they are tall enough.
So, if you are worried that Diagon Alley might not be your thing, think again. It is a great experience for all ages of people. Our 5 and 7 year old were tall enough for the ride and even though the 7 year old decided not to ride, she had a great experience within the area, too.