The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located within 5 of the 6 Universal Studios parks, in Hollywood, Orlando, Osaka, and Beijing. For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Orlando. If you are looking for information about Universal Studios in Osaka or Universal Studios in Beijing you can check out their linked webpages.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios in Hollywood includes Hogsmeade. The park includes two rides and three shows, as well as numerous Wizarding World shops, the ability to cast spells with interactive wands, and both Three Broomsticks and the Hogshead Bar. The two rides are Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is located inside Hogwarts castle. And, Flight of the Hippogriff is a rollercoaster designed for children.
The three shows in Hogsmeade at Universal Studios Hollywood are Ollivanders, the Frog Choir, and the Triwizard Tournament.
Ollivanders tends to have a long wait, so unless it is your first time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or you have a child in your party around the age where they would just be going to Hogwarts (about 11), it is usually best to pass on this particular show. The Frog Choir and Triwizard Tournament are performed on the stage outside at random times throughout the day.
Universal Studios Hollywood Tickets
You can obtain tickets on Universal Studios Hollywood’s webpage or from a licensed travel agent (get your free quote here!). There are several different types of passes available. A California resident day pass starts at $104/person, depending on how crowded the park is anticipated to be on your chosen date. A California Resident day pass with express starts at $179/person. General admission for non-residents starts at $109/person and express starts at $189/person. Unlike with Orlando, there is one price for the ticket/express–express passes are not an add on cost.
2-day general admission starts at $149/person, and the VIP Tour starts at $349/person. If you would like more information about what is included in the VIP tour, check out this blog series.
Universal Studios Hollywood Season Passes
There are also four types of season passes. The CA Neighbor pass is the most economical option at $149, which lasts for 9 months from the first visit. There is no payment plan for the CA Neighbor pass.
- Invitations to special events
- Discounts on family and friends general passes
- Sweepstakes opportunities
- Discounted Halloween Horror passes
- And 10-15% discounts at participating City Walk vendors
- More than 175 blackout dates
- Fewer weekends available
- Fewer perks
Silver Annual Pass
The next tier of passes is the Silver Annual Pass. These passes are currently $184 for a year. And, there is a monthly payment plan of $6/month after an initial downpayment. The pass auto-renews on a month to month basis after the initial year is up. There are over 275 dates available for return after your initial visit, including more than 50 weekend days. The pass is also valid for one year as opposed to only 9 months. Perks are the same as with the CA Neighbor pass.
Gold Annual Pass
The Gold Annual pass is $259 for one year and has the option for monthly payments of $11/month after an initial downpayment. There are over 325 days available for return visits, including more than 75 weekend days. You get additional perks with this pass as well:
- 15% discount on park food, drink, and merchandise
- Free general parking until 6 pm
- Invitation to special events
- Discounts for family and friends general entry
- Sweepstakes opportunities
- Discounted Halloween Horror Nights tickets
- 10-15% discounts at participating City Walk vendors
Platinum Annual Pass
Finally, the Platinum Annual Pass is $479 for a year, with an offered payment plan of $21/month after the initial downpayment. There are no blackout dates, a 15% in-park food, drink, and merchandise discount, and Universal Express access after 3 PM. You get free Halloween Horror night passes on select nights, invitations to special events, and discounts on general admission for friends and family. As well as, sweepstakes opportunities, and 10-15% discounts at participating City Walk vendors.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is spread out over two different lands at Universal Studios in Orlando–Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. Hogsmeade includes four rides: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Flight of the Hippogriff, Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure, and the Hogwarts Express.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff are the same as in Hollywood, but Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure and the Hogwarts Express are additions.
Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure is a high speed rollercoaster with two seats per row: the motorbike and the side car. I was lucky enough to ride on both when I was at Universal Orlando in November of last year. And, the motorbike is slightly more fun than the side car. Just a note that the side car is designed for children, so larger riders cannot ride in it. Children should ride the side car rather than the motorbike. It is also important to note that there is no express lane for Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure, so if it is important to you to ride this, it is recommended that you go early to avoid the crowds. There is also a single rider line that can help reduce wait time, but expect to wait a little while no matter what for this one.
Hogwarts Express travels between the two parks and has two different storylines depending on which direction you are traveling in. The trip from Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure to Diagon Alley in Universal Studios is generally considered the better of the two stories. Having ridden both of them, I agree with this assessment–the trip from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley is definitely the better of the two. This is another ride that fills up fast, and wait lines are long even with an express pass, so it is recommended to ride this one early as well.
Diagon Alley has two rides: Hogwarts Express and Escape From Gringotts. Escape From Gringotts is similar to Forbidden Journey, only it takes you through Gringotts when the Golden Trio is there to find Helga Hufflepuff’s cup in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault. This was probably one of my favorites of the Harry Potter rides. It is important to note that some larger riders may have difficulty fitting in the seats. It is recommended for women who wear size 16 clothing or larger and men with larger waistlines to check the test seats before going on the ride.
Like with Universal Studios in Hollywood, both parks have Ollivanders, the Frog Choir, the Triwizard Tournament, and spell casting. There is also Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade and the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. It is highly recommended that you make a reservation if you would like to eat here (or anywhere in the park generally), especially during busier times of the year. There were longer waits at times for food than there was for some rides.
Universal Studios Orlando Tickets
One day general admission tickets to either park start at $109/person. It is important to note that this is the price for one park only. If you would like to ride the Hogwarts Express, you will need to purchase a two park ticket for $164/adult. Children’s two park tickets start at $159. There are two different express pass add-ons–a limited express pass, which allows you to go through the express line one time for included rides and an unlimited express pass, which allows you to go through the express line as many times as you want.
You can add on a photo package for $69.99 per card and a group VIP experience that starts at $229. Private VIP tours are available as well. When I went on my private VIP experience just before Thanksgiving, it cost a little over $4,000 for up to four or five people. It is important to note that these are all add-ons–you must also purchase a general admission pass for each person to be able to get into the park(s). You can also purchase for up to five days, which is recommended if you are planning to go for more than one day as there are discounts when you purchase them together.
There are annual passes available as well, starting at $380.74/person. You can purchase tickets to Universal Orlando via their website or through a licensed travel agent (set up an appointment for a free quote!)