Leaving Diagon Alley for Harry Potter Hogsmeade – Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express is a separate attraction only valid for customers with an annual pass or a park-to-park ticket. It was about a 45 minute wait, with a snack and drink station in the middle. This park will never miss a chance to squeeze move money out of you. You board in a very realistic looking train station, with a cabin holding up to 8. They play out a short train scene with holograms of dementors and the movie characters outside, with a short thematic screened in the window inside. Very enjoyable experience, and I assume it is the same for when you are coming from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley.
This seemed smaller than Diagon Alley, and by comparison had less to explore, since some places (wands, food/drink, merchandise) were the same in both parks. The main enjoyment was the Dragon Challenge roller coaster.
Again, you are required to lock up your valuables and bags in free lockers, and the line for the lockers was longer than the actual line for the ride. I am sure during the high season it gets much busier, but we got in pretty quickly. There is a blue and a red roller coaster, and it was definitely a wonderful thrill.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™
This 3D ride was very similar to the others – where things were screened in front of you. Combined with the seat movement, it feels like a very real life Quidditch game.
Yes, this park also has an Olivanders, with its separate wand experience. We did not feel the need to check it out, as we had done so previously LINK. Also, they had at least one wand cart – because selling wands is almost as profitable as selling food or drink. Parents who come here should be expected to shell out for at least this basic piece of Harry Potter memorabilia. Note that the wands always come with a fold out map of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade –showing where to use the want to interact with the environment. We had more fun doing so, but again, there were many issues. Some locations were not working properly, or they did not have any associates around to guide us. That was a frustrating experience – for the price I paid, I expect everything to work properly.
This park also had restaurants and eateries serving butterbeer, as well as several carts doing the same. Again, a high margin, high volume product, is simply magical.
Various stores sold clothing, robes, other memorabilia, stationery, Quidditch gear, or Harry Potter snacks and foods. It was one big Harry Potter themed shopping mall. For example, one store sold a ten pack of stamps, roughly $5 worth, for $15. It’s a nice touch to have Harry Potter stamps, but paying three times as much? I cannot justify it, although I am sure others can.
The Remainder of Universal Studios Orlando, Islands of Adventure
The only other ride we did in Islands of Adventure was a Spider-Man ride, where in a cart (called the “Scoop”) we are again subjected to 3D screens and movement. Pretty standard, although a very enjoyable experience. It was based on the tv show of old – very 80s/90s.
However, upon reaching the end, we were stuck on the ride for about 15-20 minutes. A very unfortunate time especially if someone in our cart needed to use the restroom. Upon leaving they gave us a one-time fast pass for any qualifying ride. I went to guest relations and expressed my concerns, but they told me that they compensate “time for time” and only was willing to give me four more fast-passes. As we were leaving then (after nearly 12 hours in the park!) it did not matter much to us.
Additionally, the Hulk roller-coaster came recommended, but it was too late to wait an hour for the ride.
Hogsmeade, the Harry Potter section of this park seemed much smaller, and if I had to do it over I would spend the whole day in Universal Studios Orlando and Diagon Alley, rather than half my day in Islands of Adventure and Hogsmeade. It just does not seem worth it, and I would rather be able to more thoroughly explore one park.
Featured image from pixabay of Hogsmeade. A map of the Islands of Adventure park is here.
What do you think of my musings on Universal Studios Orlando Islands of Adventure, and Harry Potter World – Hogsmeade? Let me know in the comments, or reach me directly at TheHotelion@gmail.com! Like my posts? See more here, on TravelUpdate! Follow me on Facebook (The Hotelion) or on Twitter and Instagram: @TheHotelion