Review: Diagon Alley in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando’s Universal Studios
By Dave Shute
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in two different areas of Universal Orlando. Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios, and Hogsmeade is in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
This page is an overview of Diagon Alley. Attractions here include
REVIEW: DIAGON ALLEY AT THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
Diagon Alley includes
- A touch of “Muggle” London, well done and fun, where you’ll also find the station for the Hogwarts Express (shared with Hogsmeade)
- The richly themed area of Diagon Alley itself, with one ride and one other attraction
The rides are the all-new Hogwarts Express and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Also worth special note is the charming attraction Ollivanders, where the wand chooses the wizard (there’s another version of Ollivanders in Hogsmeade).
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is the best new ride I’ve been on since Expedition Everest opened at the Animal Kingdom. It’s scary, but anyone who can take Disney World’s scariest rides–e.g. Tower of Terror–will love it.
- The Hogwarts Express requires that you have a “park to park” ticket (extra $) but is an easy way to get back and forth between the two Wizarding Worlds, and is moderately fun in itself. True Harry Potter fans need to ride it.
- Diagon Alley itself is quite well-done. It doesn’t have the charm of Hogsmeade, but is much more richly detailed, and doesn’t suffer from off-theme elements–such as the massive roller coasters that flank one side of Hogsmeade.
The upshot: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley is absolutely worth a visit if you are going to Universal Orlando anyway, and/or are huge Harry Potter fans. If you are, the best way to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is to stay at a Universal resort hotel. This will allow you to take advantage of its resort hotel early entry program, saving you hours of waiting in line.
If, however, you are a first time visitor to Walt Disney World, and following one of this site’s Disney World itineraries, I can’t recommend taking time out of already over-packed days to see the Wizarding World, unless your children simply will give you no peace otherwise.
Instead, save the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for another trip.
MORE ON DIAGON ALLEY AT THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
Diagon Alley is at the far right end of Universal Studios. It is hidden behind “London.”
London has fun stuff–be sure to check out the Knight Bus–but do so after you are done with Diagon Alley proper. The lines will be building while you are fooling around, you know…
Once you are in Diagon Alley, you’ll find a number of small blocks, each worth exploring for deep Harry Potter fans.
Shops and dining you’ll find here include The Leaky Cauldron, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Borgin and Burkes, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, and Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour–and Ollivanders, of course, where you can watch the wand choose the wizard.
Not to be missed is the creepy Knockturn Alley…
In one sense, Diagon Alley is just one and a half new rides (half because the Express is shared with Hogsmeade. In another sense, it’s the most deeply themed and detailed theme park area ever built.
If you are a real fan of Harry Potter, you could spend hours here. If you aren’t, it’s still fun–especially Escape from Gringotts and Ollivanders–but you may find the rest of the setting simply a spur to thoughts of the positives of gentrification.
You can find much more detail on Diagon Alley here.
If you are a Universal hotel guest, and have a park-to-park pass, here’s the way to work both parts of the Wizarding World:
- Be at the turnstiles for whichever park has early open by 45 minutes before early open is expected to start (if both are open early, which will be uncommon my recommended weeks, then pick Universal Studios/Diagon Alley).
- At open, get back to the Wizarding World and ride (depending on which park you are in) Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
- See the Wand choosing the Wizard at the Ollivanders in either Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade
- Get in line for the Hogwarts Express, and ride it to the other park. You’ll get there just about when day guests do. See whichever of Forbidden Journey or Gringotts you missed first thing
- Relax, and see all the other rides and wonderful detailing in both Wizarding Worlds.