The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is Universal’s newest attraction and by far its biggest draw.

The Wizarding World is designed to be a scale replica of Hogsmeade. Since the quaint town only shows up in winter time in the films, the buildings here are snow-topped as well. Another key point in the realism of the area is size. This means small streets and minuscule shops in keeping with the theme. Combined with the throngs of sweaty tourists hell-bent on stepping into a 3-dimensional version of J.K. Rowling’s brilliant creation and you can get into some uncomfortable situations.

The best way to visit the Wizarding World is with a plan. If the souvenirs you’re after are among the more common items, such as character wands, robes, scarves, ties and Quidditch supplies, you’re better off snagging them at some of the main souvenir shops near the front of the park instead of in the tiny boutiques in the WWoHP.

If you’re after a wand of your own, know that you have two choices. Ollivanders will give you a bit of a show, but you’ll also have to wait in line to get in. You can go in through another entrance to find and purchase your wand without the fanfare. Personal wands are determined by your birthday.

As you stroll the streets, try to get close enough to the buildings to look at the shop windows. A quick glance won’t do these masterpieces justice. You can spot magical seamstress’s tools floating about a dress, screeching Mandrakes and more just behind the glass.

You should make an effort to squeeze through at least a few of the shops to get the whole experience. If you have a large party, set a meetup spot outside so you don’t have to try too hard to keep together while you navigate the narrow aisles in the shops. Parents should leave strollers outside or you may really need a little magic of your own to get out. Honeydukes and Zonko’s Joke Shop have the most unique offerings. Be sure to go through the door at the front of Zonko’s for a startling surprise.

As you approach Hogwart’s Castle at the far end of Hogsmeade you’ll notice a large alcove off to the right that seems surprisingly large compared to the small scale of the rest of the street. Keep an eye on this corner as you can catch the Frog Choir or the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students performing here.

Make sure you don’t leave the WWoHP without a stop in the restrooms. Listen closely and you’ll hear moaning Myrtle sharing her woes with the guests here.

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