You know the wait time is enormous these days at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, so if you want to go, we have some tips to make sure you don’t spend half the day in the park waiting for this one ride, though we have to say, it’s worth the wait.
First: Stay on property. This will get you in the parks an hour before everyone else. The Express Pass won’t currently work for the Harry Potter rides, so getting into the park early is helpful.
Go straight to Universal Studios Florida and walk past everything else–go directly to the Gringotts Bank ride. You can stop and check everything else out later. And trust me, you’ll want to. When you step off the ‘streets of London’ into Diagon Alley, you’re going to be blown away by all the wonderful Wizarding World attractions. But the ride you want to take most is Harry Potter’s Escape from Gringotts Bank. The entrance is right under the massive dragon perched on top of the bank. The guards at the gate will tell you how long the wait is. If it’s under two hours, do a happy dance. If it’s longer, you might want to consider getting in the single rider line. It’s quicker.
Then, once in line, go ahead and make friends with the people in front of you and behind you, because standing next to them for the next few hours, you can’t help but start talking to each other.
Don’t worry if you get hungry or thirsty…there’s a food stand while you wait in line. And if you have to go to the restroom, it’s ok if you come out of line and leave the attraction for the restroom—just be sure to get one of the yellow tickets from the guards at the bank so that they will let you back in line and everyone else will know you’re not skipping them.
This ride is going to blow you away. Promise. My children still say the first Harry Potter ride—in Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure—is their favorite, but I like this better.
The Hogwarts Express is also pretty amazing. You can’t help but feel like you’re one of the students headed to Hogwarts when you climb aboard. You’ll catch different scenes as you travel from London to Hogwarts (or from Hogwarts to London if you’re catching the train back to Diagon Alley). You are literally going between parks on this ride and are required to have the park to park admission to board. But when you get off on etiher side, you’ll be able to enjoy a Butterbeer and other attractions that your kids will love (oh admit it, you’ll love them, too).
If you are a real Harry Potter fan, plan to spend half the day in Diagon Alley, if not longer. The shops sell all kinds of great Harry Potter memorabilia, including school capes (or robes, depending on what you call them, but these are high quality and cost about $115) that match whichever school you would be part of if you were a character in the book (do yourself and take the quiz on Pottermore.com to find out before you go…you’ll feel like instant family with others wearing your school colors in the park).
Have lunch at the Leaky Cauldron (the food was actually really delicious) and get an ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlor.
Splurge on a wand—and get the interactive one that they now offer. There will be spots around both Harry Potter Worlds where you’ll be able to use them to make it rain on people, or light up monuments and more.
Inside Diagon Alley, you’ll find amazing treats, from the fire-breathing dragon on top of Gringotts (it’s still for about 15 minutes, then you’ll hear a roar and then see the fire a few seconds later), to the snake speaking Parseltongue outside the Magical Menagerie (you have to stand in an exact spot and listen carefully).
You can bring muggle money to Gringotts Bank and the Goblin will transfer it to Wizarding money which can be used anywhere in Diagon Alley.
Even off Diagon Alley, on the streets of London, you’ll find more fun, including the double decker Knight bus that was famous in the Harry Potter stories. The conductor and Dre Head will even talk to you if they’re around.
Kreacher the House Elf can also be spotted peeking out of the window at 12 Grimmauld Place (look in the upper right window), and true fans will spot the billboard at the entrance to the train station and recognize it’s resemblance to that you also see in the movie.
We were able to jump on the Hogwarts Express about 20 minutes before the park closed one night and had absolutely no wait. Then, we ran over to ride ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’…again, with no wait at all. If you still have any energy left that late, I highly recommending trying to ride then. That same logic won’t work in Diagon Alley, though, because they close the line down sooner, taking the long wait into account with the closing of the park.
Of course, there’s plenty more to see in the parks, but this should help the biggest Harry Potter fans make the most of their day.
If you want to know how to save money and still be a VIP at the parks, read this.