I’ve just returned from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I soaked in as much as possible in 2.5 days so I could deliver you some tips and tricks to get the most out of your visit.
Early and Late: If you haven’t already booked your trip - consider booking a Harry Potter package through Universal’s website. If you stay at one of their three on-site hotels (Loew’s Portofino Bay, Loew’s Royal Pacific or the Hard Rock Hotel) you’ll get early admission to the park. They say it’s one hour early, or 8 AM, but we arrived at 7:30 and were allowed into the park. The next day, we arrived at 7:45 and it was a ten minute wait - but they were still allowing people into the park early. This was a huge benefit to us. We were able to get into Ollivander’s and ride all four rides before park opening at 9 AM. And they really do stick to that 9 AM opening time, because the masses didn’t start crowding in until about 9:15, this is especially true because the WWoHP park is located at the back corner of the park, so it’s about a 8-10 minute walk.
As for late, try heading back to the park at 7 PM. Both nights the line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was down to a 20-30 minute wait after 7 PM. The Flight of the Hippogriff was less than 5 minutes and the Hungarian Horntail and Chinese Fireball coasters were only 10-15 minute waits. Another great part about heading back later in the evening? Everything seems so different once the sun goes down! The attention to detail on Hogwarts is incredible - nearly every window has light coming from it and Hogsmeade has a totally different feel in the dark.
Listen closely: At peak hours the WWoHP can be crazy noisy, but you are going to want to listen closely everywhere you go - or you’ll miss some truly fantastic details. Be sure to head to the bathrooms, yes, both men and women - because you’ll find our favorite whiny ghost has a complaint or two to get off her chest. Just outside, listen closely for mandrakes. Across the way, just outside the back door to Dervish and Banges, you’ll hear a custom Howler just for visitors of the Wizarding World. Don’t overlook the staff at the park either, because they are completely in character. While wandering Filch’s Emporium, I was called a “muggle” by two staff - it was delightful!
Look up: It might seem ridiculously silly, but everywhere you go - be sure to look up. In several parts of the Wizarding World there are light projections on the walls depicting shadowy scenes from the books and movies. In several different spots in the Three Broomsticks, you’ll find some particularly funny magical moments. In addition, there is a seating area near the entry to Hogsmeade, beneath the clock tower, where you’ll find some wonderful winged messengers.
Chow down: As I mentioned before, there are some serious perks to booking a vacation package through Universal and one of my favorites was the free breakfast at the Three Broomsticks. They have American food too, so if you aren’t into English food, don’t worry, they’ve got bacon. But don’t miss the pear cider - it’s delicious. The chocolate frogs are probably one of the most purchased souvenirs at the Wizarding World, but the frogs themselves really don’t taste great. If you’re looking for something delicious and positively Rowling-esque, head to Honeydukes and check out the fresh treats instead. The cauldron cakes and pumpkin pasties are both reasonably priced options - so you’re getting the best of both worlds. Oh, AND ROCK CAKES!
I had read a lot about the Wizarding World before I left and was a little worried that I wouldn’t be wowed, but let me tell you - it far exceeded my expectations. Just like everything Rowling is involved in, it’s so precise, so magical and so much fun. Plus, there are now reports that the park may be expanding in the next 2-3 years and I have complete faith that Universal and the designers that worked on the project can continue the awesome work they’ve done so far. Plus, who wouldn’t love to take a walk through the Burrow? Maybe even stay there?