Wizarding World of Harry Potter vs Galaxy’s Edge – Which Themed Area Is Best?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando Resort and Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort are two of the most popular themed areas at either theme park.

Having been to both themed areas multiple times over the past couple of years, we’ve found a number of similarities and key differences between these two iconic lands.

So we figured ‘what the heck‘ let’s see how the two stack up against each other across a variety of different things to help you decide which themed area, and subsequently theme park might be right for you.

Theming

Both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are exceptional testaments to how immersive a theme park can be.

The theming of both lands will make you feel as though you’ve been transported into each respective franchise.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is tucked away in a back corner of the park and can be accessed through two entrances.

One is a tunnel from the Grand Avenue area of the park, and the other is a pathway from Toy Story Land.

With both entrances, the rest of the theme park falls away as the otherworldly spires of Batuu come into view.

The Black Spire Outpost of the far-flung planet Batuu is where travellers will find themselves when they visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Batuu is a completely original new land that is not mentioned in any of the Star Wars films.

However, guests will see plenty of familiar touches as they roam the land. 

Seeing Han Solo’s famous Millennium Falcon ship and having encounters with roaming characters like Rey, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, and Stormtroopers are just a few of the things that await guests in Batuu.

One thing you won’t see is characters from the first two Star Wars trilogies: think Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Yoda, or Obi-Wan Kenobi.

That’s because the theming of Batuu is set in a timeline parallel to the most recent trilogy of films.

Cast Members in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are also very committed to the theming of the land. Don’t be surprised if one asks you what planet you’re from, or lets you know the total of your purchase in “credits” instead of dollars.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you’ll experience similar immersive theming.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando consists of two separate lands: Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

These lands are located in two different theme parks, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios respectively.

To visit both parks on the same day, you’ll need a park-to-park ticket for Universal Orlando, which also grants you access to ride the Hogwarts Express train between the two lands.

Unlike Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley will be very familiar to Harry Potter fans because both lands stick closely to the books and movies.

In the snow-covered village of Hogsmeade, familiar places like Ollivander’s wand shop and the Honeydukes candy store come to life. Guests can also visit Hogwarts and experience a magical adventure with familiar characters.

Diagon Alley, the newer of the two parks in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, continues the impressive theming.

Here, guests can take a wild ride on an escape from Gringotts Bank, enjoy a meal at the Leaky Cauldron, or discover the Dark Arts in Knockturn Alley.

Rides

Both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter have a number of rides for you to choose from.

However, given that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split across two theme parks it’s no surprise that the number of rides here is higher.

To go on any ride inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge you need to be above 38″. However, selected rides inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are suitable for smaller children, such as the Hogwarts Express which has no height requirement at all.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

There are two rides in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is one of the most ambitious theme park attractions ever created. This thrilling ride takes guests on an immersive journey as members of the Resistance escaping from the evil First Order.

Guests must be at least 40 inches to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. 

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is the other ride in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This is another exciting ride that allows guests to pilot Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon ship themselves.

Guests must be at least 38 inches to ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

When it comes to wait times, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance regularly experiences some of the longest waits in the park, with average waits of over 100 minutes. 

However, guests can purchase an Individual Lightning Lane (priced between $15 and $22 depending on demand) to bypass the standby line. 

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run experiences much lower wait times (45 minutes or less).

The attraction also has a Single Rider line, which typically moves even faster and is a good option for solo visitors or guests who don’t mind if they are separated from the rest of their party. 

This ride is also eligible in Genie+, a paid service that allows guests to book reservations for faster access to many rides at Disney World. Genie+ costs between $15 and $22 per day.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

There are four rides at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

At Hogsmeade, the land in the Islands of Adventure theme park, there are three rides:

  • Flight of the Hippogriff: A family-friendly outdoor rollercoaster with a minimum height requirement of 39 inches.

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: An exciting thrill ride inside Hogwarts Castle with a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure: A high-speed, thrilling outdoor rollercoaster with a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

At Diagon Alley, the land in the Universal Studios theme park, there is just one ride:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts: A thrill ride inside Gringotts Bank with a minimum height requirement of 42 inches.

Additionally, guests can ride the Hogwarts Express train between the land, which requires a park-to-park ticket.

Wait times for rides vary, with the average wait for most rides at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter being between 60 and 100 minutes. Flight of the Hippogriff typically has the shortest waits, rarely exceeding 45 minutes.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts all have Single Rider lines that can move faster than the regular standby lines.

Universal’s Express Pass also allows you to skip the line for most of these attractions, except for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

Right now, the best way to avoid a long wait for this attraction is to stay at an on-site Universal hotel and get early entry into the park so you can avoid a long wait time.

Food & Drink

Both The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge do a fantastic job of offering a variety of highly themed food and drink options.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in particular excels with the drinks, as even the traditional bottles of Coca-Cola or Sprite have been specially bottled for this themed land.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Weary travellers in need of refreshments will find several options in the galactic outpost of Batuu.

Docking Bay 7 is a quick-service restaurant in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The backstory is that it’s a hanger bay for bringing provisions into Black Spire Outpost. 

Some of the most popular items on Docking Bay 7’s inventive menu are the Endorian Fried Chicken Tip Yip and the Felucian Kefta and Hummus Garden Spread (great for vegetarians and vegans.)

Ronto Roasters is another quick-service restaurant in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Styled as an exotic meat stall, Ronto Roasters is most popular for its pork and sausage Ronto Wrap.

They also have a delicious vegetarian wrap, and several breakfast wraps. If you’re looking for a quick, filling bite to eat and a meal under $15, Ronto Roasters is a good place to stop. Just note that all the seating is outdoors, so this is not the best option for lunch on an extremely hot day.

When it comes to snacks, Kat Saka’s Kettle offers creative popcorn snacks, while Milk Stand is where you can find the ever-popular Blue Milk and Green Milk. While a glass of one of these colourful milk concoctions will set you back $8.49 ($15 if you add alcohol) it’s one of the must-try items at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Finally, Oga’s Cantina is a bustling bar and lounge that serves up out-of-this-world drinks like The Outer Rim and Jedi Mind Trick. This is a place that evokes the atmosphere of Mos Eisley Cantina from the Star Wars films, making it a popular stop. In addition to drinks, Oga’s Cantina has a small bar food menu.

The only restaurant at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that accepts reservations is Oga’s Cantina. It’s a very popular reservation, so you’ll want to book as far in advance as you can.

For Docking Bay 7 and Ronto Roasters, you can utilise Mobile Ordering in the My Disney Experience app to order your food ahead so it will be waiting for you when you arrive.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there are two quick-service restaurants.

The Leaky Cauldron is in Diagon Alley, and fans will recognize this restaurant as being very similar to the one in the Harry Potter books and films. This pub serves as a gateway from everyday London to the wizards-only Diagon Alley.

In the theme park version of The Leaky Cauldron, you can enjoy typical British fare like fish and chips and bangers and mash with most entrees between $15 and $20.

Over in Hogsmeade, The Three Broomsticks is another quick-service restaurant based on the pub that was a popular gathering place for Hogwarts students in the Harry Potter books and films.

This restaurant has a similar menu and pricing to The Leaky Cauldron, with menu items like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.

Since both restaurants in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are quick-service, they do not accept reservations.

As for snacks and other refreshments, you can’t miss Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley or Butterbeer, which is sold at several locations in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

Butterbeer is a delicious, frothy nonalcoholic beverage that is a must-try at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. A glass will cost you $7.99 and you can choose whether you want it hot, cold, or frozen.

Activities

When it comes to activities both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter have a range of things you can do.

We personally feel that the experiences and activities inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are more unique and special, however, they also come with an incredibly hefty price tag!

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own lightsaber, you can build one in Savi’s Workshop at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

At $249.99 per person, this experience doesn’t come cheap, but for diehard fans, it’s a one-of-a-kind activity.

Note that when you’re bringing your hand-crafted lightsaber home with you, TSA requirements allow you to keep it in checked or carry-on luggage.

Another special experience at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is building your own droid at Droid Depot. This is $119.99, and you’ll come away with your own custom-built droid.

Both of these activities are highly in demand and should be reserved in advance.

For a fun free activity at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, download the Play Disney Parks app before your visit so you can create your own adventure with the Star Wars: Datapad feature.

This adds a new layer of interactivity to the land as you join a secret mission that will take you around Black Spire Outpost.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, purchasing your own wand from Ollivander’s is one of the top experiences at the parks. There’s a location of Ollivander’s in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

Standard wands cost $55, while interactive wands are priced at $63 and allow you to unlock secret spell-casting spots around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

A fun free activity at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is exchanging your U.S. dollars for Gringotts notes at the Gringotts Money Exchange in Diagon Alley.

These can be used to pay for food and merchandise throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and other select locations around Universal Orlando.

Any unused currency can be converted back into U.S. dollars at Guest Services before you go.

There are several other hidden spots around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Outside Diagon Alley, you can knock on the door of 12 Grimmauld Place and spot the house elf Kreacher peering out the window at you.

Behind an unassuming corner in Diagon Alley, you can find yourself in the mysterious Knockturn Alley, where followers of the Dark Arts go shopping.

Entertainment

When it comes to entertainment both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter offer something special.

However, it’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that offers more interactive entertainment experiences including shows and performances in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade throughout the day.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

In Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there’s a small performance every hour on the First Order TIE ship where Kylo Ren and several Stormtroopers speak and interact with the crowd. 

If you’re lucky, you may be able to catch Chewbacca and Rey walking around Black Spire Outpost. The same goes for Stormtroopers, who can often be seen patrolling the land and interacting with guests.

Beyond these brief encounters, there are no scheduled shows or performances in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In Diagon Alley, the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts puts on two alternating puppet shows throughout the day. The Tale of the Three Brothers and The Fountain of Fair Fortune are the two puppet shows you can catch, and each lasts around 10 minutes.

Fans of Harry Potter will be familiar with The Tale of Three Brothers from Beedle the Bard, because it plays a role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

On the same stage in Diagon Alley, you can catch performances from Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees throughout the day.

Over in Hogsmeade, there are also several performances throughout the day. Don’t miss the entertaining Frog Choir, or the displays put on by the boys of Durmstrang Institute and the girls of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic.

If you’ve read or seen Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, you’ll recognize these other schools for witches and wizards from their participation in the Triwizard Tournament.

Character Meet and Greets

There are no official character meet and greets in either Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, it’s possible to have character encounters in both places, and maybe snap a quick photo with them.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

While roaming Black Spire Outpost, you might catch a glimpse of Chewbacca or Rey on the run from the First Order. You can also catch Kylo Ren stalking around, flanked by Stormtroopers. 

For an official meet and greet opportunity, head to Star Wars Launch Bay, which is located inside Hollywood Studios but outside of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

This attraction features a meet and greet and photo op with select Star Wars characters, including Darth Vader.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you sadly won’t see any Harry Potter characters like Harry himself, pals Ron and Hermione, Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore, or lovable Hagrid wandering around the park.

However, you can interact with several characters, including the bus driver of the Knight Bus outside Diagon Alley (and his talking shrunken head companion) and the conductor of the Hogwarts Express in Hogsmeade.

Space & Crowd Levels

Both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are incredibly popular areas within their respected theme parks.

As such it’s important to consider the crowd levels in the themed area and the theme park as a whole during your visit.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is newer than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, having opened in 2019, so crowds have yet to fully die down.

It’s also worth noting that to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll need a Park Pass reservation at Hollywood Studios. Park Pass reservations can fill up, especially around busy holidays, so be sure to book your Park Pass reservation as soon as you purchase your tickets.

The land of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is very large, covering 14 acres at the back of Hollywood Studios, so there’s plenty of space and different themed areas to absorb the crowds.

However, with only two rides and two restaurants in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, things can get very crowded, especially from the late morning to late afternoon period.

This is when wait times for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run will peak.

There’s also a mealtime rush for Docking Bay 7 and Ronto Roasters, which is when using the Mobile Ordering feature of the My Disney Experience app will save you a ton of time.

The best time to experience this land with lower crowds is first thing in the morning or later in the evening after the sun sets.

Even if you’ve already experienced everything in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, it’s worth returning to stroll around at night and enjoy the ambience.

When it comes to shopping, there are several market stalls in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge selling souvenirs, such as Black Spire Outfitters and Toydarian Toymaker.

Some of this merchandise is exclusive to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, while other items can be found in the larger main stores, like the giant Disney Store at Disney Springs.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter consists of two separate lands across two parks, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Both lands are fairly sizable and have lots of nooks and crannies to explore.

Keep in mind that if you want to use the Hogwarts Express to visit both lands on the same day, you’ll need a park-to-park ticket for Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

With just one quick-service restaurant in each land, things can get very crowded, especially during peak lunch and dinner hours.

If you want to have a calmer dining experience, try going at off hours (think 11 AM for an early lunch or a mid-afternoon meal around 3:30 PM.)

There are also some congestion points near the shops in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade that can get very crowded.

If you want to visit a popular shop like Ollivander’s to buy a wand, try going early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid big crowds.

Many of the souvenirs available at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter can also be found at the larger Universal Stores at the entrances of both parks and Universal CityWalk.

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