Keep in mind that these two Harry Potter “worlds” are in different Universal Studios parks (way to capitalize, guys). Hogsmeade is located in Islands of Adventure whereas Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios. So in order to ride the Hogwarts Express to travel between the two, you MUST buy the park-to-park pass.
Where do I go to board? Why, King’s Cross station of course!
Seeing it made me miss the real King’s Cross in London so badly. That’s where you get to do stuff like this:
(Read and see more in Snapshots: London post!)
It dawned on me when riding the Express the second time (yep we did it twice, once each way) that the station inside looked similar to the one in London! A quick comparison:
Be prepared to wait a while…you’re not the only one who wants to ride. But once the train pulls up, it’s pretty magical.
Once on the train, we shared a compartment with a bunch of strangers. The little compartments looked pretty authentic, similar to the ones in the movies. What I wasn’t expecting was how dark it was! Why do parks do that?! So we can’t see what we’re sitting on (everyone else’s butt sweat)? Flash photography was also not allowed…so here’s a version of our best self(ie).
Having a DSLR in this case sure helped 🙂
What’s also interesting is that there are no windows. I mean, there is one, but you cannot see what’s outside because a screen is in its place. It plays clips of the Harry Potter landscape, so that it looks like we’re pulling out of London and up to Hogwarts. On the one hand, that’s understandable cause it gives us a more “authentic” Harry Potter experience. But on the other hand, it would’ve been cool to see what the outside between the 2 parks looked like!
Alas, we have arrived:
Wandering around Hogsmeade made me realize how much smaller it was than Diagon Alley. I questioned how we spent so much time here the first time I visited. We spent what, 5, 6 hours? But then again, I’ll probably ask myself the same question about Diagon Alley the next time I’m back. Man, we burnt through so much time in that place… #noregrets
Of course everyone wants that iconic picture of Hogwarts Castle.
Best-kept secret at Harry Potter world: the balcony behind Three Broomsticks is the best place to get that perfect shot. Also, it’s less crowded (because once again, it’s the best-kept secret) so you can choose whatever spot you want to take pictures. Now I feel like I’ve shot myself in the foot, because I bet the next time I return to HP world this balcony will be jam-packed. -_-
Here’s what I learned: chat up the people who work at the park. They’re the “locals” in this place and know all the hidden gems! So then maybe that cute muggle who works behind the counter at Sugarplum’s will share tips like this with you. 😉
Now on to the goodies – shopping!
Don’t get to close to this book in Dervish and Banges:
Spend more time in a candy store (as if one in Diagon Alley isn’t enough), Honeydukes:
A few more “shops” that aren’t really shops:
Didn’t get a picture-perfect shot with the Hogwarts Express earlier? No problem – you can do it (somewhat) here:
Now the real question is – where IRL can I find nice, cute British(?) boys who will take pictures with me?
More photo ops:
Food & Drink
We dined at Three Broomsticks the first time I visited:
As I mentioned in my other Harry Potter post, food in these places are pretty average. Since I already had it once, I didn’t feel the need to have it again.
Butterbeer isn’t hard to find!
I wonder if one place is “better” than others to get butterbeer though? Like, would one place give you more froth on the top, the frozen butterbeer consistency is better, etc. Share your thoughts in the comments!
While shopping was the forte at Diagon Alley, rides took center stage in Hogsmeade. There are 3 different rides to try:
By far the most popular ride in Hogsmeade is the one inside Hogwarts castle, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Be prepared to wait in line for this one, folks! But our wait was waaaay better than that of my first time when I came during Christmas. That was a mistake. A random week in March was the way to go.
The ride itself was 4D, as in the seats moved and we were sprayed with water, but had no 3D visual component. So no I have no idea what “D” to call that. Overall it was pretty cool as it simulated flying on a broom during quidditch! I’d still rate the Gringotts ride in Diagon Alley higher though because that one had great 3D visuals.
Another ride is Dragon Challenge, which are two intertwining roller coasters. At the end you’ll come across a fork in the line and choose which coaster to ride! We rode both back-to-back and here’s what we found:
- Red coaster is faster. Like, it knocked the wind out of me and my heart felt like it was being pushed to the back of the seat. In a good way though?
- Blue coaster is slower but has more corkscrews. So if you like twists and turns, this one is for you.
Final ride in the park: Flight of the Hippogriff.
This one was supposedly the “kiddie ride,” but I’m in Harry Potter World and I will ride all of the rides, dammit!
Except the wait time was 45+ minutes. I noticed that there was a quick pass line…I didn’t know you could use quick passes in HP world! Maybe it was only ineligible for the Forbidden Forest ride. The ride itself was short and sweet and probably not worth the 45 min wait, so I’d look into investing in a pass next time.
Pro tips for visiting Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:
- Get an awesome view of Hogwarts Castle from the balcony behind Three Broomsticks.
- Consider buying a Quick Pass, especially if you come during the holidays.
- The videos that play in the Hogwarts Express are different, depending on which way you go!
Have you ever been to Hogsmeade? Or any other Harry Potter-themed park (I just learned that they have one in JAPAN)? Share your experience in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Read about the other half: Step into Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter