It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that Harry Potter is the best selling book series of all time. It’s impossible for me to believe that someone out there doesn’t like Harry Potter. And if so, it’s probably because they’ve never seen a movie or read a book! Universal Studios transformed JK Rowling’s tales from paper to the big screen, and now to real life.
A few years before the opening of Diagon Alley, Universal Studios opened Hogsmeade, in the connecting park of Islands of Adventures. Although Hogsmeade has more rides, I think Diagon Alley has a more authentic Harry Potter World experience. The entrance to Diagon Alley is somewhat hidden, and if I didn’t know about it, I definitely would have walked right past it. Across from the giant double decker Knight Bus, is a brick wall, where you’ll most likely see people walking in and out. Follow them!
1. Look in Every Window, Open Every Door
Entering Diagon Alley is like entering the movie set. Everything is picture perfect, and the Harry Potter theme song constantly playing in the background creates the perfect atmosphere. You must look into every window, enter every open door, and try as many unique treats as you can to get the full experience!
2. Butterbeer! & Other Harry Potter Inspired Drinks
If you’ve visited Hogsmeade in IOA, you’ve most likely had the butterbeer. In Diagon Alley, you can find this drink here too, but also in ice cream form! At the Hopping Pot you can find delicious Harry Potter inspired drinks, such as, Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice, Fishy Green Ale, and Tongue Tying Lemon Squash. In the Carkitt Market covered shopping area you can find a concession booth with mixable potions for you to concoct yourself!
3. Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Shop
The ice cream in Florean Fortescue’s is insanely creative. You can of course find soft served butterbeer, but also crazy flavors like chocolate chili, earl grey & lavender, and strawberry & peanut butter. I went with the salted caramel blondie, with actual chunks of blondie in it- OMG, I wish I had some right now.
4. Catch the Dragon Breathing Fire
Every ten minute- on the dot- the dragon on top of Gringott’s Bank will blow fire! Right before it breathes fire, it will begin to growl. Get your cameras ready when you hear that!
5. Ride the Escape from Gringott’s
This is a motion based 3D roller coaster, but if you’re a baby like me and don’t ride rollercoasters- or you’re an actual baby- tell the staff at the entry that you’d like to take the bank tour! This will give you access to everything up until it’s time to board the ride.
6. Ask the Goblin a Question in the Money Exchange
Ask this goblin anything, and he should be able to respond. He particularly likes to talk about the dragon, and will say something if you snap a photo of him.
7. Cast Spells with Your Wand Around Diagon Alley
Let a wand choose you at Ollivander’s- then take it for a test drive. You can find interactive sites on your map, but there are a few hidden ones, too! My personal favorite is making the umbrella rain near Flimflam’s Lanterns.
8. Rep Your House
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, odds are you have HP gear already! In the park you can buy robes, scarves, t-shirts, quidditch gear, and so much more! Rep you’re house colors while on Diagon Alley! #Gryffindor
9. Knockturn Alley
Knockturn alley is where you can find dark magic. There are shrunken heads, potions, and more spell casting sites down this permanently nighttime alley.
10. Ride the Hogwarts Express!
If you decide to purchase a 2-park pass to IOA and Universal Studios, this will give you access to the Hogwarts Express on Platform 9 3/4! Climb aboard the train that will take you to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts!
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