Not gonna lie, I cried the first time I stepped into Hogsmeade and then later, in Diagon Alley.
It feels SO REAL!
And for good reason, the Creative Team at Universal did an incredible job of designing the Wizarding World or Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando to feel real! There’s Shows, Authentic Eats, Great Rides, Fun Merch and an immersive experience that can’t be beat.
But if you only have one day, it can feel overwhelming to fit it all in! Truth is, you can’t fit it all in, but you can do most, and you can do your bucket list.
Let’s dive into the details for making this trip extra magical!
Plan your day in advance
- Watch youtube videos
- Download the Universal Orlando App and look at wait times
- Create a Bucket List
- Pack Appropriately (either really light, or get a locker)
- Triple Check park opening and closing times
- Eat at ‘off times’ to take advantage of lower wait times
Need a Hand with Planning? Connect with a Travel Advisor to help plan your vacation!
Start at the park that opens first
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split into two parks. Islands of Adventure has Hogsmeade, which opened in 2010. Diagon Allery is located in Universal Studios and opened in 2014 (and rumor has it a third option is opening at the new Epic Universe Location in Orlando in the next few years).
Since the world is split between two parks, the hours are different. Some parks may close early for events, or open earlier than the other. Be sure to check your times before you come as you only have one day to get it right.
Part of making a Stress Free Universal Orlando Vacation is knowing what expect and having those tricks up your sleeve to make the most of your trip.
Portable Phone chargers are great to bring with you to a full day at the parks. I really like this one from amazon because theme parks don’t have the best wifi and it sucks your battery (even with the new iphones and galaxy’s because we have both and it theme parks kill my phone!)
Get pictures in the morning and in the evening
After you’ve rope-dropped a the rides in your first park, stop to take pictures!
If you want those perfect family photos, take them in the morning before you get on all the rides, spill drinks on your clothes and get all humid and sweaty from the Florida Weather.
Then grab those merch and food pictures in the evening. Crowds tend to not be as heavy, and you can get that perfect golden hour hue.
There are a number of hacks we’ve learned taking our kids to the Universal Orlando parks, but here are the top hacks we’d recommend.
Have a Can’t Miss Wizarding World List
This was mentioned above in planning your day ahead but it needs repeating. If you only have one day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter it is essential that you have a bucket list. Not only does the bucket list help you prepare for your trip, but it also makes your trip more enjoyable.
You’ll have greater satisfaction leaving at the end of the night knowing you did your bucket list and fit in a few extra items, instead of leaving the park after missing the *one* thing you wanted to do.
Be Really Flexible
If you only have one day, you’ve got to be extra flexible and really roll with your options. You might have your heart set on something, only to see that it is a two hour wait.
You’ll need to decide if you can skip it, or try something else and come back later to see if the wait time has gone down. This is a big reason you need a ‘cant miss list’ so you can prioritize options that are most important to you!
Consider what you bring into the parks
If you have someone who can hold items for you while you do rides, pack snacks and water bottles and ponchos.
If you don’t have someone and will have to use the lockers for the rides, consider a very small fanny pack with a on/off clip that you can take on the ride (no large water bottles or anything else in your hands- including no wands). You can take a collapsible bottle that fits in your fanny bag or cross body bag with you.
Do your shopping at the Ride Exits
There are the main shops inside each of the Wizarding Areas, and those always get packed quickly. Like wall to wall people and you have to browse slowly.
I’d recommend shopping at the shops that are stationed once you exit the rides as those tend to have less of a crowd. Or you can wait to shop the store in CityWalk. It’s large, and right on the corner, so you can’t miss it!
Protip: The Shop in Knockturn Alley normally doesn’t get too crowded.
Enjoy your Wizarding World Day
While your day won’t be absolutely perfect (it’s either gonna rain, a ride is going to go down, or you’ll get flat tired by a stroller), it while be one full of memories. Have Fun!