The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter spans across two theme parks at the Universal Studios Orlando Resort in Florida; Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure.
This leaves many Harry Potter fans questioning as to whether or not it’s possible to experience everything the Wizard World of Harry Potter has to offer in just one day.
We’ve found that you can experience everything inside both Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade & Diagon Alley) in one day. However, doesn’t leave much time for other attractions within the Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure parks.
As such, we would recommend you purchase a two-day, two-park ticket to ensure that you maximise your visit.
If you don’t have two days available, consider adding an Express Pass to your park ticket either by purchasing one online or in the parks on your arrival or by staying at an on-site premier hotel which offers them complimentary for guests.
What Park Is Harry Potter World In?
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split across both parks at the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Inside Universal Studios you’ll find Diagon Alley complete with Gringotts Bank and Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour.
Meanwhile, over in Islands of Adventure, you’ll find Hogsmede complete with the Leaky Cauldron, the Hogwarts Castle and Ollivanders wand shop.
Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are connected by the entertainment district of CityWalk.
However, if you have a park-to-park ticket I highly recommend hopping on the Hogwarts Express between the two instead.
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Can You Do Both Harry Potter Parks In One Day?
We’ve visited Universal Studios in Orlando several times over the past decade throughout various different times of the year.
During these visits, we’ve always found that you could experience both Harry Potter parks in one day given the wait times for all of the Harry Potter rides and experiences inside each of the parks.
However, this will likely see you arrive at the park at ‘rope drop’ and stay until closing. Especially during peak times of the year when crowd levels are higher.
It’s also unlikely this will leave you with much time to explore other areas of the Universal Studios Resort including Jurassic Park inside Islands of Adventure or Springfield, home of The Simpsons at Universal Studios.
Therefore if you have more days available we recommend allocating two to three days for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure and adding on an additional day if you’re looking to visit the resort’s premier water park, Volcano Bay.
Which Park Ticket You Need For The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
Given that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split across the two parks at the Universal Studios Resort you’ll need a two-park ticket to visit all of it.
If you’re coming to Universal Studios for one day, and want to visit both Hogsmede inside Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley inside Universal Studios this will be a one-day, two-park ticket.
However, if you’re able to spend longer at Universal Studios this may be a two-day, two-park ticket.
If you want to ride The Hogwarts Express or move between parks on the same day then it’s essential you purchase a park-to-park ticket.
Without a park-to-park ticket, you will be limited to one park per day and be unable to ride The Hogwarts Express.
You can upgrade your base tickets to a park-to-park ticket at Guest Services inside the park during your visit should it be required.
When it comes to purchasing your park tickets we recommend using AttractionTix if you’re based in the UK.
This company consistently offers the best prices and has incredible customer service to help you navigate the different ticket options available.
Alternatively, if you’re based in the US or Canada we recommend buying your Universal Studios tickets from Get Your Guide who provide you with the ability to cancel up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
How To Do Harry Potter World In One Day
Given that we’ve had the pleasure of visiting Universal Studios and as a result The Wizarding World of Harry Potter a number of times we feel as though we’ve got the itinerary down when it comes to experiencing everything both Diagon Alley and Hogsmede have to offer in just one day.
As such we’ve gone ahead and put together an itinerary for our one day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter below.
You’ll begin your morning by arriving at the park entrance 30 minutes before the park is scheduled to open.
If you’re staying on-site this means arriving 30 minutes before the park offering early entry for resort guests opens.
However, if you’re staying off-site and therefore have a general admission ticket this means arriving at Islands of Adventure 30 minutes before it opens to the general public.
I recommend starting at Islands of Adventure, home to Hogsmede wherever possible since this park has the ride with the highest standby wait time – Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
The wait time for this ride is often between 100 and 210 minutes depending on the time of year and the time of day and since the queue can not be skipped with an Express Pass everyone who wants to go on this ride is forced to wait together.
The height requirement for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is 48". You'll want to make sure everyone who wants to go on this ride meets this height requirement to avoid disappointment and prevent you from queuing for hours without the ability to go on.
If you do not want to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure it’s still important you arrive at the park for ‘rope drop’ since the standby wait times, and photo ops will be the best you’ll experience all day.
If you’re inside Islands of Adventure during the first hour and a half after the park has opened I recommend going on;
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – If you want to go on this ride during your trip then going straight to this ride should be your priority when arriving at the park.
Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey – Situated inside Hogwarts Castle the Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey ride isn’t a rollercoaster and instead, is a motion simulation ride that often sees standby wait times of between 40 minutes and 75 minutes later in the day.
Flight Of The Hippogriff – Given its lower height requirement of 36″ this ride is a popular one among families with smaller children.
Ollivanders – If you want the best chance of being picked in the Ollivander’s wand show then it’s best to go in the morning since the audience tends to be smaller because others are busy queuing for rides.
However, if you’re inside Universal Studios during the first hour and a half after the park opens I recommend going on;
Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts – Aside from the Hogwarts Express this is the only Harry Potter ride inside Universal Studios Florida.
However, depending on the crowd levels inside Diagon Alley when you arrive it may be worth getting the iconic photo standing in front of the Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon atop Gringotts first.
This is also a great time to go on the Hogwarts Express between parks. That's because most people wait until they have finished experiencing everything inside one area of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area before getting the Hogwarts Express over to the other. As such you'll find wait times at the middle of the day (around 2pm) are the worst.
As we get closer to lunchtime you’ll notice the crowd levels in the park increase, along with the standby wait times for rides.
By lunchtime, you’ve hopefully experienced Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and either Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey or Flight Of The Hippogriff if you’ve been in Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.
Alternatively, if you’ve been hanging out in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios you’ve hopefully been on Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts and been inside Gringotts Bank where you’ve had the opportunity to purchase bank notes that can be spent inside the parks.
By which point you’re no doubt famished and ready to dine on British cuisine with a Harry Potter twist.
In which case I recommend heading to the Three Broomsticks inside Islands of Adventure or the Leaky Cauldron inside Universal Studios.
Both restaurants serve a breakfast menu and then a lunch and dinner menu with the lunch and dinner menu focusing on traditional British dishes including; shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and beef pasties.
If you're looking for pizzas, hot dogs, Mexican etc. you'll find at in other resturants across both parks outside of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area.
Don’t forget to grab a delicious Butterbeer from one of the carts to enjoy after lunch. Most carts offer the drink in either a cold or a frozen format at a cost of $8.50 plus tax.
The afternoon is often the busiest time inside the parks and as such is a great time to skip the rides and do some shopping and exploring.
If you’ve purchased a Harry Potter wand then consider heading to some of the interactive areas marked on the map to see what spells you can cast.
If not consider heading to Ollivanders inside Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and watching the five-minute interactive show before choosing a wand of your very own.
Alternatively, consider heading to Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions to purchase a Hogwarts robe.
Robes are available in both children’s and adult sizes and cost $139 plus tax. These robes can also be embroidered while you wait for an additional $20 plus tax.
The afternoon is also a great time to catch the popular Triwizard Spirit Rally & Frog Choir performance.
These shows take place on the open-air stage opposite the Hogwarts Castle inside Islands of Adventure once an hour between 10am and 7pm with each show lasting 10 minutes.
Just before dinner consider heading on the Hogwarts Express if you haven’t already.
While one trip on the Hogwarts Express may be okay for many it is worth noting that the shows differ between journeys with one show being on the Kings Cross Station to Hogsmede Station and another being on the return journey from Hogsmede back to Kings Cross.
As such if you’re a huge Harry Potter fan it could be worth going on twice where possible.
Going on the Hogwarts Express just before dinner also provides you with a great chance to have dinner at the alternative restaurant to where you had lunch.
So, if you had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron inside Universal Studios consider taking the Hogwarts Express over to Islands of Adventure to dine at The Three Broomsticks for dinner instead.
While the menus offer the same cuisine (British) items on the menu alongside the decor does vary.
After dinner, you’ll not only notice the Florida heat has subsided but so too have the crowds.
While the crowd levels inside the park won’t be what you experienced at rope drop in the morning they will likely offer better standby wait times for the remaining rides inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that you haven’t yet been on.
By the early evening, you should have experienced everything at both Harry Potter Worlds inside Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, Florida.
As a result, this can be a great time to head out into the rest of the park and explore some of the other rides and areas before the sunsets.
However, if you’re a big fan of Harry Potter try and avoid leaving the parks too early as you’ll miss out on the incredible Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle performance.
This five-minute performance repeats multiple times throughout the evening and see’s lights projected onto the Hogwarts Castle inside Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure alongside music celebrating the four houses of Hogwarts.
Given that the projections onto the Hogwarts Castle can only be done at dark the exact times in which the show takes place do vary.
However, based on our experience we’ve found that the shows typically start between 6.45pm and 7.15pm (8.15pm during Daylights Savings change) and repeat every 20 minutes until the park closes.
Things To Keep In Mind When Visiting The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter For Just One Day
There are a couple of things that will make your one day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter inside Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, Florida either significantly easier or significantly harder.
These are things you’ll want to keep in mind when it comes to both booking and planning your trip.
The Time Of Year You’re Visiting
Depending on the time of year you’re visiting the crowd levels inside the park may vary.
The best time to visit Universal Studios Orlando for lower crowd levels is between January and May (excluding Spring Break) and September (although watch out for the hurricanes).
Alternatively, if you can’t afford to be flexible as to the time of year in which you visit the park then try to avoid Fridays through to Sundays and instead visit between Monday and Thursday.
While smaller crowd levels often mean you’ll spend less time waiting for the park’s most popular rides, we’ve still gone during peak-crowd levels and had a fantastic time!
If you want to maximise your time at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter then consider staying on-site in one of the Universal Studios Resort hotels.
These hotels are within close proximity to the parks and provide complimentary transport to CityWalk – the gateway to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
However, that’s not all since hotel resort guests also get complimentary access to one Wizarding World of Harry Potter park an hour before the general public.
During our most recent trip this meant us getting into Islands of Adventure and subsequently, Hogsmede at 8am instead of 9am.
This meant we only waited an hour for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure instead of the 210 minutes the ride was later in the day.
Who You’re Travelling With
Depending on the height, health and preferences of your party you may want to adjust your time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
I suggest measuring smaller children in advance of your trip to assess which rides they will and will not be able to go on during your trip.
This not only prevents disappointment on the day but also stops you from waiting in line for rides they are not eligible for.
Queuing for rides is going to be a significant part of your day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter inside Universal Studios.
As such if those you are travelling with are not eligible for select rides then you may find yourself with a number of free hours inside the park to explore other areas.
If you’re looking to maximise your day at the Universal Studios Resort then I highly recommend paying for a Universal Express Pass.
The Universal Express Pass is an additional ticket on top of your traditional park ticket and allow you to skip to the front of the line on all the rides except Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Pteranodon Flyers at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
The price of an Express Pass varies based on a number of factors including;
- Whether you’d like the pass for one park or two
- The time of year you’re travelling
- Whether you’d like the ability to use the pass on the same ride multiple times
- Whether you’d like the pass to only be eligible after 4pm
While Express Passes generally cost upwards of $180 plus tax per person, they are complimentary for hotel guests staying in a premier resort hotel.
As such during peak travel periods when the cost of an Express Pass is high, it can often be more cost-effective to stay in one of these hotels than it can purchase the Express Pass outright.
Arriving For Rope Drop
Whether you’re staying on-site at a Universal Studios resort hotel and as such get early entry into the park, or simple have a general admission ticket you’ve hopefully seen from the itinerary the benefits to arriving at the park before it opens.
The first hour and a half after the park open is the quietest and as such provides the lowest wait times and the best photo opportunities.
As such ensuring you’re arriving at the park gates at least 30 minutes before the park opens is likely to make or break your trip, especially if you’re only visiting for one day!
Universal Orlando Travel Planning Guide
🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Orlando?
If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Orlando tickets. Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Orlando theme park tickets from AttractionTix. I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing Orlando theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
If you’re travelling to Universal Orlando for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.
However, if a trip to Universal Orlando isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Orlando, as the resort has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points. However, if Universal Orlando makes up the majority of your vacation, then you may want to stay on-site.
Staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort comes with several perks. Including complimentary transport from the hotel to the Universal Orlando theme parks. In some cases, you can even walk from your hotel straight to the theme park gates.
However, if a trip to Universal Orlando only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Orlando.
🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Orlando?
If you’re spending the majority of your vacation at Universal Orlando, it’s a good idea to stay at a Universal Orlando hotel. Staying onsite at Universal Orlando comes with several perks, including;
- Early park admission
- Complimentary transport
- Complimentary Universal Express Passes (selected hotels only)
- Walking distance of the Universal theme parks (selected hotels only)
While staying onsite at Universal Orlando is great value for money, it can still be out of budget for many. Thankfully, there are several budget-friendly hotels close to Universal Orlando to choose from.
Meanwhile, if Universal Orlando only makes up part of your Orlando vacation, then you may want to stay elsewhere. Kissimmee, International Drive and Lake Buena Vista are all within a 40-minute drive of Universal Orlando.