Complete Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

The Harry Potter worlds at Universal Orlando make you feel like you’re an incoming student at Hogwarts who is seeing the town, castle, and shops for the very first time. Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will leave you with a sense of déjà vu — buildings, pubs, and streets are identical to what they were in the movies, making you feel like you’ve been there before.

Hogwarts Castle at Wizarding World of Harry Potter

These highly-themed areas rank at the very top of our list of the best destinations for Harry Potter fans because they fully immerse you in the books and movies we all love. So read on for our complete guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. We’ll take you through each of the Universal Orlando Harry Potter worlds — their rides, experiences, dining, and more — so you can plan ahead and make your vacation as special as possible.

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In This Article:

  • Where is Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Rides in Hogsmeade

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Going to the Harry Potter worlds/lands at Universal is the highlight of our family visit to the resort almost every time we go. And that’s really saying something considering we plan to visit Universal a few times each year! As a family, we’ve read all the books together and seen the movies. There is something so magical about the story and Universal found a way to bring that magic to life in a way that you must see to believe.

Where is Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

The Harry Potter themed worlds are located within Universal’s major theme parks — Harry Potter is not a separate theme park at Universal, and it’s not part of Disney World .

Universal has two main theme parks: Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios . A third park, Epic Universe , is under construction and due to open sometime in 2025. Each of these parks has a Harry Potter component.

  • Hogsmeade — Islands of Adventure
  • Diagon Alley — Universal Studios Florida
  • Ministry of Magic — Epic Universe ( opening 2025 )

Each experience is different, so I don’t recommend limiting yourself to just one when you go to Universal Orlando. Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have a huge variety of rides, experiences, and food to enjoy, so I am going to make sure I cover it all so you can plan your trip with as much knowledge as possible.

Let’s begin with the original Harry Potter themed land, Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure!

Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Hogsmeade

Hogsmeade is my favorite of the two Harry Potter worlds currently open at Universal. Between the sweeping views of Hogwarts castle, the world-famous rides , and the Three Broomsticks, this world has it all.

Hogsmeade was built in 2010 and was the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter developed in Universal Orlando. The resort worked hand in hand with J.K. Rowling and filmmakers to make sure that the world of Harry Potter came to life in the most realistic way possible.

Wizarding World Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Signs

The original development of the park was a pioneering move in the realm of creating immersive environments, and you can definitely understand why when you walk around the Hogsmeade and try the rides. The world is centered around Hogwarts castle, which still takes my breath away every time I walk into the park.

The park combines adventure, excitement, and magic in a surreal, immersive experience. If you haven’t been before, you might think that to enjoy Hogsmeade you’ll have to take some time away from the thrill rides of Islands of Adventure. Thankfully that’s not the case!

Hogsmeade has some amazing rides for you and your family to try when you visit — so to my dads out there, make sure you don’t drink too much butterbeer right at the start!

Hogsmeade has great rides spread out throughout the land, and it even has one of the most highly-rated roller coasters in the world. The Harry Potter rides here are:

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

  • Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure

Flight of the Hippogriff

Hogwarts express.

These rides combine the unbelievable surroundings of the castle and town of Hogsmeade, life-like interactions and visuals, and great storytelling to curate an interactive theme park experience that you will never forget.

This ride is not a typical roller coaster. A combination of a twisting/turning track, along with robot arm mounted vehicles, makes you feel like you are completely immersed in the Harry Potter Universe. Forbidden Journey has incredibly high-quality special effects that really help seal the illusion.

On the ride you flash around Hogwarts and you get to see a bit of every part of the castle grounds. Last time my son and I were on it, I remember seeing the Whomping Willow, flying directly through a Quidditch match, zooming through the forbidden forest, and more.

You get to see all the parts of the castle grounds that you will remember from the movie. I’ve heard the ride called a “Harry Potter highlight reel,” and I don’t disagree!

In terms of roller coaster thrill, this ride is definitely in between Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and the Flight of the Hippogriff, but I’d still say that this ride is great for kids of all ages as long as they meet the height requirement .

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

The ride is a journey from start to finish. The story starts while you are waiting in line, where you can see bits of Hagrid’s work as he has cared for hundreds of magical creatures throughout the years. There are writings on the walls from past Hogwarts students and even parts of Hagrid’s nursery to be seen.

Once you get closer to the start of the ride, you can begin to hear the sound of a motorbike revving. I have ridden tons of roller coasters in my life, but that sound gets my heart pumping every time with excitement as I wait for the ride to begin.

After you sit down on your motorbike/sidecar and ride begins, you are fired out of the landing bay. Immediately you start flying through the sky, passing the rooftops of Hogsmeade, zooming around parts of the castle, past a lake, and then toward the Forbidden Forest. You really feel like you’re on Hagrid’s motorbike!

It truly is a must-try when you’re in Universal Orlando. One thing to keep in mind is that this ride often has the longest lines in Hogsmeade, and sometimes even in all of Islands of Adventure. So plan ahead when you want to visit to come during a busier time because the ride is excluded from Universal’s Express Pass because of its popularity!

After Hagrid’s, the Flight of the Hippogriff is a way to take a calmer flight around the grounds of Hogwarts. The ride is definitely on the shorter side and isn’t as fast as Hagrid’s, so it’s a great ride for younger kids !

In the line for the ride you can see an interpretation of Hagrid’s home, including the pumpkin patch, his hut, and more. As the name hints, the ride is supposed to mimic flying on a hippogriff’s back around Hogwarts castle. Just like when Harry rode Buckbeak in the Prisoner of Azkaban , you will be soaring through the grounds, in between buildings, and enjoying some of the amazing views.

There are a few really fun drops and turns, but I do have to admit that the ride is a little short and sweet for my liking.

Again, while this isn’t the most thrilling ride in the park, it still has some great views and is particularly good for kids.

You will remember from the Harry Potter books that the Hogwarts Express is the train that takes the students to and from Hogwarts. And thanks to the magic of Universal, you and your family can ride it! The Hogwarts Express is a unique attraction in that it is both a themed entertainment ride and a practical form of transportation.

Hogwarts Express serves as a way to get between the Harry Potter areas in Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. It’s really the best way to connect between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Because the attraction takes you from one theme park to another, you must have the Park-to-Park pass to ride it. I absolutely recommend getting this pass — not only for the chance to ride the Hogwarts Express, but also because it gives significantly more mobility for your day in Universal at only a slightly higher price point.

We love to dedicate a whole day to just Harry Potter and we always get the Park-to-Park pass to do that. We normally start the day in Hogsmeade and then hop on the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley in the afternoon.

The Hogwarts Express itself is a special ride, and while on the surface it may appear a bit simple, it’s one of my favorite rides at Universal .

When you board the train in Hogsmeade, you will be traveling toward London’s Kings Cross station. The train journey itself uses life-like visual effects that tell a story around your car as you move. You’ll see some impressive scenery and a few Harry Potter characters through the (video) windows of the train. Meanwhile, shadows of others walking in the train’s corridors will pass by the frosted glass windows of your compartment. The train cars are practically identical to how they were portrayed in the movies, so you’re going to feel as if you just stepped into the movies and novels that you’ve loved for decades.

Tip: Make sure to ride the train in both directions — it’s a different experience each way!

Ollivanders Wand Shop

Wand boxes stacked to the ceiling at Ollivanders

Getting your own wand is a truly magical experience that makes you feel like you’re an incoming first year student at Hogwarts. When my family and I went to Ollivanders , my wife and I didn’t get wands but Ben went through the entire experience, smiling ear to ear the whole time.

Small groups are ushered into the shop and one lucky witch or wizard is selected by the Wandkeeper to participate in an interactive presentation. Of course, pairing the wand with the wizard can be tricky — it doesn’t always go quite right the first or second time.

Luckily, the Wandkeeper is an expert and everything always seems to work out in the end. (Frugal wizards will be pleased to learn that you’re not obligated to purchase the wand, even if you’re chosen to participate).

Everyone then makes their way into a separate sales area to view their own wand options in a more traditional “retail” environment.

Note: if you’ll allow me to step “outside of the magic” for just a moment here — there are Ollivanders wand shops in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. While Ollivanders at Hogsmeade is probably the most intimate and movie-accurate of the Ollivanders experiences, it’s not necessarily the most practical due to the cramped size of the shop. If you’re going with a larger group, are visiting during peak season, or are simply interested in shopping for a wand, I’d suggest opting for the experience at Diagon Alley / Universal Studios instead. You’ll likely have less of a wait (if any), and a bit more breathing room.

The Frog Choir is a great way to take a break from the rides and enjoy a good show. The performance lasts about 10 minutes, so it won’t take up too much of your time while you’re in the park. I’ve seen the show a few times, and I’ll admit that once you have stood and watched it once or twice, that’s usually enough (though I don’t mind sort of bopping along as I pass by).

You’ll get to hear some great songs inspired by Harry Potter, performed in a catchy a cappella style. The highlight of the performance is Something Wicked This Way Comes , as featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban .

It’s a great way to see a moment from the Harry Potter books brought to life. Although, the show itself is tough to compare to any of the world class rides that are right next door.

I’d say that the Frog Choir is particularly good for kids who will find the extra magic in the experience by thinking back to seeing the choir’s performance in the Harry Potter movies.

This show happens several times a day in Hogsmeade, so check the app or ask a Team Member when you should stop by!

Triwizard Spirit Rally

The Triwizard Spirit Rally alternates throughout the day with the Frog Choir, so if you stick around by the stage in Hogsmeade you can see one show after the other! Like the Frog Choir, this is a quick show — a bit under ten minutes — that will put a smile on your face. The show features the different schools that visited Hogwarts for the Triwizard tournament in the Goblet of Fire .

You will get to see the Beauxbatons students spinning and dancing as the Durmstrang students show off their martial arts staff skills, just like in the movie when the schools enter the Great Hall for the first time.

I prefer this show to the Frog choir just because there is a bit more action, and my kids agree!

Because these shows alternate several times a day on the same stage, I wouldn’t worry about planning ahead to see them. You will likely just pass by them at some point while you are in the park!

Nighttime Show

Spectacular lighting effects on Hogwarts Castle

Depending on the time of year, you might be able to catch a nighttime projection and fireworks show at Hogwarts Castle.

  • Hogwarts Always (starting June 14, 2024) — Experience all the iconic moments of a year at Hogwarts including the Sorting Ceremony, House Cup, and more, capped off by one of four different endings saluting each Hogwarts house.
  • Nighttime Lights — Originally started as a part of the Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter program, the show lights up Hogwarts castle with brilliant displays on its walls along with lights in the sky.
  • Dark Arts — Autumn (around the same time as Halloween Horror Nights across the way at the studios park) marks the arrival of a more sinister nighttime show, complete with Dementors, Death Eaters, and You-Know-Who.

Unfortunately, the schedule for these shows can be a bit tough to track down very far in advance, but they always occur after dark at Hogwarts Castle. Keep an eye on the Universal website when it gets close to your vacation date, because they will start to update show times a few days in advance of when they occur.

There are two main places to dine in Hogsmeade: the Hog’s Head or the Three Broomsticks. If these names sound familiar, it’s because both of these taverns are faithful recreations from the Harry Potter books!

Three Broomsticks

The Three Broomsticks is my favorite place to eat during my Harry Potter themed day. I remember the tavern very clearly from the movies, so it was a surreal experience to walk into a building I had never been in before, but felt like I had been there dozens of times. Once I was in, I could order a Butterbeer just like Harry, Ron, and Hermione did when they were students at Hogwarts.

Guests eating inside of Three Broomsticks, with dark pub décor

Image © Universal

One of the main reasons I love coming to the Three Broomsticks is it saves our family a bit of money, while giving us a great experience at the same time. Feeding a family of four at Universal can get expensive and the Three Broomsticks is definitely more cost-effective than the average restaurant in Universal Orlando.

One thing that really surprised me when I went is that Butterbeer is actually good!

A plastic cup of Butterbeer

The flavor of this non-alcoholic drink is really hard to describe — Universal says it’s “reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch” — but my kids and I both loved it. The tavern also has some great salads, pies, desserts, and more so you and your family can have a full lunch or dinner here after some rides.

Hog’s Head

Hog’s Head is in the back of the Three Broomsticks, and it is definitely more of a bar than a restaurant. Although it’s technically a bar, it’s still very family friendly. Parents could grab a beer or a glass of wine while the kids enjoy some classic drinks from Harry Potter such as Pumpkin Juice or Butterbeer.

Between drinks, snacks, and meals, there is plenty available to spend your entire day in Hogsmeade, or in both Harry Potter worlds with a park-to-park pass (which is what I would recommend).

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Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida

A fire-breathing dragon perches atop Gringott's Bank in Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley opened in 2014 at Universal Studios Florida, just a few years after Hogsmeade had opened at Islands of Adventure. Diagon Alley expands the Harry Potter experience at Universal Orlando Resort by adding locations such as Gringotts, the Leaky Cauldron, and Knockturn Alley.

To reach Diagon Alley, you’ll first head to the London section of Universal Studios, passing by well known Wizarding World landmarks such as King’s Cross Station and 12 Grimmauld Place. From there, look for the opening in the giant brick wall and head inside. Diagon Alley is well-hidden from mere Muggles — you’ll have to really look for it!

The nondescript entrance to Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley has fewer rides than Hogsmeade, but the quality certainly makes up for the lower quantity!

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a thrill ride that incorporates surreal special effects, amazing designs, and a killer roller coaster to make one of the best rides in the park .

My daughter Ava was too young to ride this one the last time I was in Diagon Alley, so I went with Ben to give it a try. It was his first time on Escape From Gringotts and I think he was more impressed with this ride than any other in the park. He saw the Harry Potter films recently so he clearly remembered the scene when Harry, Ron, and Hermione try to steal the Sword of Gryffindor from Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault.

Like many of the other rides in Universal, the experience for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts really begins while you are still in line. When you are waiting in line, you are standing in an exact replica of the Gringotts main hall. And when I say exact, I really mean exact! The lobby is identical to what you see in the movie when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are walking down the line of goblins to the main teller so they can try to bluff their way into the vaults.

Goblins hard at work at Gringotts

The grand hallway is filled with animated goblins counting coins, taking notes, and suspiciously starting you down as you walk along — and they are just the first of many life-like animations you will see along the way. Once you get to the end of the hallway, the head teller will sometimes talk to you and instruct you where to go next as you make your way to the start of the ride. They might even “pull you aside” and have you take a security ID photo using a retro film camera.

Once the ride is about to start you put on your 3D goggles and take a seat in the carriages which are reminiscent of those in the film. Right at the start of the ride you have some quick turns and big drops, and then all of a sudden the ride will stop and you will be met with a super high definition screen.

As you continue on with the ride you will see real-life holograms of Ron, Hermione, and Harry as you all run from the dragon together. Its really hard to appreciate just how similar it is to what we have all seen on the screen without trying it yourself. This is a must try if you are going to the Harry Potter worlds throughout Universal.

As mentioned earlier in this article, the Hogwarts Express travels back and forth between Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.

Here on the Diagon Alley side, you’ll actually need to make your way back out of the brick walls and onto the streets of “London” to enter King’s Cross station. There, you’ll be able to spot fellow travelers actually walking through the brick wall (thanks to a clever Pepper’s Ghost illusion) to reach Platform 9¾.

Guests pass through the brick wall to reach Platform 9 3/4

You’ll pass through too, and then hop aboard the train.

On your journey to Hogwarts, you’ll spot soaring owls and perhaps a flying motorbike just outside the “window” of your train. As the streets of London give way to the countryside, you’ll truly feel that you’re on your way to your first year at Hogwarts. Just watch out for Dementors!

The scenery on this journey is different from the trip going the other direction, so make sure to ride the train both ways!

And remember — you’ll need a Park-to-Park pass because you’re traveling between theme parks. It’s a worthy purchase because it lets you try Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Flight of the Hippogriff, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and more — all in the same day! Also keep in mind, the rides in the Harry Potter world are only a small part of the total experience of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, and there is so much more to enjoy while you are there!

Diagon Alley may be a bit short on rides, but it’s certainly not lacking for experiences. There’s so much to see and do in the way of live entertainment and interactive activities, that this is a fantastic place to simply while away a few hours. Heck, I could spend all day in here and never really get bored! The fire-breathing dragon alone is worth starting at for quite some time!

Knockturn Alley

This sketchy side street is where dirty deeds get done in the Wizarding World. It’s always nighttime inside this covered (and air-conditioned!) walkway, so it’s a huge relief from the blazing Florida heat .

Stop in at Borgin and Burkes to marvel at the oddities assembled there, and perhaps make your own Dark Arts purchase. If you’re buying an interactive wand , you’ll also find some spell locations here. Some of them are even “secret” spells, but they’ll show up in glow-in-the-dark ink on your wand map. And you can always be on the lookout for medallions embedded in the ground, showing you the correct wand maneuvers.

An emblem embedded in the ground, showing the wand movements necessary to activate special effects

Knockturn Alley is well-hidden. The primary entrance is a tunnel alongside a towering stack of cauldrons just to the right of the Leaky Cauldron restaurant. Another entrance is located to the left of Diagon Alley’s restrooms, directly underneath a giant window full of chandeliers.


Just like in Hogsmeade, you can walk into Ollivanders at Diagon Alley to get a personalized wand from the Master Wand Craftsman himself. The overall feel of this shop is the same as in Hogsmeade so I won’t rehash all of the details again (if you missed the section on Ollivanders, scroll up and you can read more about it under the Hogsmeade Experiences section). This location does, however, have a higher capacity than the Hogsmeade version, and I find it is a bit more leisurely of an experience, especially if you really want to take the time to “shop” for your wand.

You might remember the Knight Bus as the slim, double decker bus that Harry rides, speeding through London traffic and bending time along the way. Located just outside Diagon Alley on the streets of London, the Knight Bus here is just a prop. So while you won’t get to ride it, it’s still cool to peek inside and perhaps take a photo. You will get to see the little shrunken head hanging at the front of the bus, the cots, and even a chandelier. While it’s definitely not the main attraction in the park, it’s another cool way that Universal brings the magic of Harry Potter to life!

Gringotts Money Exchange

While you are in Gringotts you can actually interact with the Goblins, and this is something my youngest, Ava, was able to get involved in. You can exchange real money for Gringotts money when you speak with the bank tellers.

An animatronic goblin oversees transactions

For all the parents out there, I know that the idea of trading real money for fake money is not the most exciting concept. But thankfully, the Gringotts money can be used for purchases all throughout Diagon Alley! So, you can take your Galleons and purchase a wand, some Hogwarts merchandise, candy, and more.

Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees

Like in Hogsmeade, you can see two shows while in Diagon Alley. The first is a singing production that performs wizard-themed songs. Celestina Warbeck doesn’t actually “appear” in the original books, but she’s certainly mentioned a few times throughout. Universal claims that this group is Molly Weasley’s favorite band, so there you go!

You will get to hear performances of “never-before-heard” songs such as ‘A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love’, ‘You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me’, and ‘You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart’. The performance really adds to the atmosphere of Diagon Alley and is a great way to take a break from the rides and shops.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is where Harry and his friends first learn about the Deathly Hallows in the book series. In Diagon Alley, you will have a chance to watch these stories performed live on a stage in Universal Studios. The actors use props, puppets, and great sets to bring the story to life. This event is great for kids of all ages, and like the singing performance, is a great way to relax for a bit in between rides and other experiences.

Leaky Cauldron

Jaimie and I love to grab food at the Leaky Cauldron when we’re in Diagon Alley, and it is definitely our favorite place to eat in the park.

DIners at long tables underneath a large gabled ceiling

This restaurant in Diagon Alley may look run down and old (as it was designed to be), but the food is great. You can get food here all day, and generally it’s good pub food that you would expect to be able to get in any bar in London. For example, last time I went I ordered a Beef, Lamb & Guinness Stew and a Butterbeer. The Leaky Cauldron is also reasonably priced so you won’t have to spend too many Galleons to visit!

Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour

An ice cream concoction in a souvenir glass

Wizard and Muggle worlds combine with Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, where you can get a classic scoop or soft-served swirl of ice cream. Flavors range from the mundane to some great Harry Potter themed flavors. Depending on the menu-of-the-moment, you might find flavors such as:

  • Granny Smith
  • Earl Grey and Lavender
  • Chocolate Chili
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding
  • Salted Caramel Blondie
  • Chocolate and Raspberry
  • Orange Marmalade

Get it in a waffle cone or opt for the souvenir glass. You can also get refreshments like Pumpkin juice, teas, ciders, and more.

Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment

One great thing about Diagon Alley is that you will have no shortage of dining experiences. Eternelle’s is a small beverage stand where you can purchase a variety of ‘potions’ and ‘elixirs’. While these drinks look like potions, they still taste great and they make you feel like you are in Snape’s potion class drinking something mysterious that was just made for you. A few of the elixirs you can try may include:

  • Fire Protection Potion
  • Babbling Beverage
  • Draught of Peace
  • Elixir to Induce Euphoria

The Fountain of Fair Fortune

The Fountain of Fair Fortune was named after one of the tales in the Tales of Beedle the Bard. Here you can get drinks like Frozen Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, Butterbeer, Gillywater, and more. There’s also an extremely limited snack menu (mainly bags of chips and some soft-serve ice cream).

The Hopping Pot

Like the Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Hopping Pot is a quick service location with beverages and snacks. You can get all the same drinks as the Fountain of Fair Fortune and more, including Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice, Peachtree Fizzing Tea, Fishy Green Ale, and more. The snack menu is also a bit more robust than Fountain of Fair Fortune’s, with the addition of several “pasties” (hand pies) such as Shepherd’s Pie, beef, or chicken.

Accio Vacation! Start Planning Your Trip Today

Concept art of a large round entrance portal, with a giant golden hand holding a wand overhead.

Universal’s Epic Universe is Universal’s third major theme park, currently under construction and scheduled to open sometime in the 2025. We’re still awaiting most of the major details about the park, but we do know for certain that it will be home to a third Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

This section of the park will include nods to the 1920s Paris setting of the Fantastic Beasts books/films, along with elements of the Ministry of Magic. Universal hasn’t officially released any ride details, but it’s widely believed that you’ll go on an immersive adventure within the walls of the Ministry of Magic .

It’s a safe bet there will also be plenty of live entertainment (possibly a dedicated stage show), tempting food, and of course shopping to be found.

Is it worth delaying your trip to Universal to wait for Epic Universe to open? Probably not. There are already two amazing Harry Potter Worlds at Universal — you can enjoy them right away and save Epic Universe a later visit!

Want a Heads Up When Epic Universe is Ready To Book?

Universal Orlando’s Harry Potter worlds are some of my favorite parts of the entire resort. Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are unique and fun experiences, and these two areas alone are worth a trip to Universal Orlando. And I can’t wait to see how the new addition at Epic Universe turns out!

People have varying opinions about which Harry Potter World is their favorite, but I always say that when you visit you need to see both. Getting the Park-to-Park pass ensures that you can see all the best sights, rides, and experiences in both parks, and it allows you to ride the Hogwarts Express which is one of my favorite parts of the resort.

Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, you must visit these themed areas when you are in Universal. Although, if you haven’t seen any of the movies yet, I’d recommend watching a few before you go because it will make the visit that much more special!

Ready to book your trip? You don’t need a flying Ford Anglia, a handful of Floo Powder, or the Hogwarts Express — all you need is  The Vacationeer !

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Contact a Vacationeer today for your free consultation !

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Plan Your Visit to a Harry Potter™ Studio Tour

Warner bros harry potter™ studio | visitor information at a glance.

Visit Harry Potter Studio

  • What are the Harry Potter™ Studio opening hours?
  • The studio tour opens at 9:30am; The first tour begins at 10:00am; The final tour begins at 4:00pm; The studio tour closes at 8:00pm; The last bus back to Watford Junction departs at 8:00pm.
  • Timings are susceptible to weekly and monthly changes. Check the Studio's calendar while planning your visit.
  • Where is Harry Potter™ Studio located? Harry Potter™ Studio is located at Leavesden, Watford, about 20 miles northwest of central London.  Find on map
  • How many visitors does Harry Potter™ Studio see every year? The Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London welcomes approximately 2 million visitors in a year.
  • Are parking facilities available in Warner Bros. Studios? Parking is free of charge. The car park is a short walk away from the entrance to the Studio Tour. When entering the car park, make sure you have your booking confirmation ready to show the Car Parking team. Priority Parking is located next to the Studio Tour entrance and is available to purchase online with your Studio Tour tickets for an additional amount. Priority Parking is only available to pre-book online and cannot be purchased on the day.

What are the Warner Bros Harry Potter™ Studio tour opening times?

Autumn (Till September):

  • Harry Potter Studio London opens at 8.30 am and closes at 10 pm.
  • Tours begin at 9 am.
  • The schedule provides longer hours due to longer days and more sunlight.

Late Autumn/Beginning of Winter (October Onwards):

  • Harry Potter Studio London opens at 9.30 am and closes at 8 pm.
  • Tours begin at 10 am.
  • The change in schedule reflects the shift in seasons and daylight hours.

General Information:

  • The Harry Potter Studio London opening hours may vary, so it's essential to check the official website for the latest information.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter hours of operation remain consistent throughout the year.

Key Points:

  • Autumn hours: 8.30 am to 10 pm, with tours starting at 9 am.
  • Late Autumn/Winter hours: 9.30 am to 8 pm, with tours starting at 10 am.

Additional Details:

  • Check the Harry Potter™ Studio Tours calendar for any changes in schedule.
  • Be aware that the first bus and last bus times also vary depending on the season.

Best time to visit Warner Bros Harry Potter™ Studio tours

November to May : This is the off-season during which there will be comparatively fewer crowds.

Another highly recommended experience is visiting during Christmas , owing to the magical decoration and atmosphere.

Due to its popularity, the Harry Potter™ Studio Tour is always bustling with fans. However, since their intake capacity is limited, you would be able to comfortably explore.

What is the Harry Potter™ Studio tour duration?

Typically, a Harry Potter™ Studio tour takes about 3 to 7 hours, depending on the kind of experience you have purchased your tickets for. If you choose to attend an experience, shop or dine, your time at the studios would increase accordingly.

Where is Warner Bros Harry Potter™ Studios located?

Address:  Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR. 

Harry Potter™ Studio is a walk-through exhibition located at Leavesden Studios in Watford. It is just about 20 miles northwest of central London.  Find on map

Closest landmark:   Watford Junction

Getting to Warner Bros Harry Potter™ Studios in London

Train: The nearest train station to the studio tour is Watford Junction . It is just a 20-minute train journey to the studio tour from London Euston and a 1-hour long journey from Birmingham New Street. Take the train to Watford Junction (£4.00) and then hop aboard the shuttle service (£3.00 for a return journey) to the studio. Oyster cards are valid between the stations.

Bus: Shuttle buses operated by Mullany’s Coaches run regularly from Watford Junction to the studio. An average journey should take about 15 minutes; a bus is available every 20 minutes from 09:20 AM every day. The last bus is generally scheduled between 06:00 PM and 08:00 PM. Please note that you would need to display your booking confirmation to access the shuttle transfers.

Transfer options from central London with Golden Tours (preferred partners of Warner Bros. Studios) are also available.

  • From the North:
  • Exit M1 at Junction 6a onto M25 (Heathrow), then take A41 towards London (NW & C).
  • Keep left at Hunton Bridge roundabout, then left for A405 (St Albans). Follow signs to Studio Tour.
  • From London:
  • Exit M1 at Junction 5 onto A41 (North Watford) for 3 miles.
  • At Hunton Bridge Roundabout, take 4th exit onto A41. Keep left and take first exit, then first exit again at roundabout to Studio Tour.

Car Parks: Free car parking is available on-site at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. The car park is a short walk away from the entrance to the Studio Tour. When entering the car park, make sure you have your booking confirmation ready to show the Car Parking team. Priority Parking next to the entrance can be pre-booked online for an additional amount.

Book Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour

Know before you go to warner bros harry potter™ studio tour.

There is only one main entrance to the Warner Bros. Studios - The Making of Harry Potter London. All visitors, regardless of their arrival method (car, shuttle bus, etc.), must enter through this single point.

This entrance is located at Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Watford, WD25 8LS, United Kingdom .

Visit Harry Potter Studio

The following facilities are available at Harry Potter™ Studios:

  • Cash Machine
  • Parent and Baby Rooms
  • Food and Drinks

Warner Bros. Studios - The Making of Harry Potter London is generally wheelchair accessible, with some exceptions :

  • The majority of the tour is accessible , with ramps and wide pathways throughout the studios.
  • However, there are  a few areas that may be difficult to navigate for wheelchair users , such as: Diagon Alley's cobbled street, The Great Hall's slate floor, The Forbidden Forest's spongy surface, Privet Drive's narrow doorway,
  • The Knight Bus and Hogwarts Express : These have limited accessibility due to their original set designs.

Additional accessibility features:

  • Accessible toilets  are located throughout the studio tour.
  • A  Changing Places  facility with a hoist, height-adjustable changing bench, shower, toilet, and washbasin is available in the lobby. However, visitors are required to bring their own slings for the hoist.
  • Wheelchair loan  is available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Staff are happy to assist  visitors with any accessibility needs.
  • All paying disabled visitors can avail one free carer ticket. The carer must provide assistance to the visitor as well as present the proof of entitlement at the ticket window.
  • Fully trained assistance dogs are welcome to the studio tour and water bowls are also available upon request.
  • Most of the Studio area is wheelchair accessible. Both electric, as well as manual wheelchairs, are allowed in the studio but prior notice needs to be given.
  • Handheld digital guides and audio-visual guides are also available for visually impaired or blind visitors.
  • For visitors who are hard of hearing, iPads are available to view media with subtitles throughout the attractions.
  • A sensory room can be used by visitors with autism and other needs who require a calming environment during their visit.
  • Hidden Disability Sunflower Lanyards are also provided to visitors with hidden disabilities so that the studio staff are discreetly alerted to provide support and assistance.
  • Shirts and shoes are required  to be worn at all times.
  • Clothing with offensive or inappropriate messages or images  might be refused entry.
  • Respectful behavior  is expected towards other visitors and staff.
  • Food and beverages  are not allowed inside the studios, except for bottled water. Food can be enjoyed in designated eating areas outside the tour.
  • Smoking is strictly prohibited  throughout the studios and car park.
  • Large bags and backpacks  are discouraged due to limited space within the tour areas. Lockers are available for a small fee if needed.
  • Tripods and professional photography equipment  are not permitted.
  • Following instructions from staff  regarding safety and tour guidelines is essential.

Visit Harry Potter Studio

Harry Potter™ Studio Shops has a wide range of merchandise from house robes to character collectables and souvenirs. Here are a list of things you can find:

  • Clothing collection
  • Trunk Station
  • Character collection
  • Hogwarts Houses Collection
  • Sweet Trolley
  • Toys and Stationery
  • Bags and Books

Visit Harry Potter Studio

Harry Potter™ Studio has many themed restaurants and cafés serving iconic Harry Potter delicacies.

  • The Chocolate Frog Café - iconic wizarding confectionery serving treats, sweets, ice creams and cakes.
  • The Hub Café - Serves sandwiches to grab-and-go, bakery items, and hot and cold Starbucks beverages.
  • The Food Hall - Serves sandwiches, baked goodies and beverages in a refectory-style setting
  • The Backlot Café - offers indoor and outdoor seating with views of popular sets. You can also enjoy the famous Butterbeer here.

Visit Harry Potter Studio

  • Budget stays - The King's Lodge Hotel (2 km), Premium Inn Watford North Hotel (3 km), Holiday Inn Hemel Hempstead M1, Jct. 8, an IHG Hotel (8km)
  • Comfort stays - Hilton London Watford (5 km), The Film Studio Appartement (2 km), Holiday Inn London - Watford Junction, an IHG Hotel (4 km)
  • Luxury stays - The Grove (3 km), Red Cherry House (3 km)
  • Download the Harry Potter Fan Club App: This app unlocks exclusive content through "Enchanted Keys" hidden throughout the tour, offering behind-the-scenes insights and interactive experiences.
  • Pick up an Activity Passport: These free booklets are perfect for keeping children entertained. They include puzzles, trivia, and a Golden Snitch hunt, adding an interactive element to your exploration.
  • Invest in a green screen experience: Take a picture or video riding a broomstick "flying" over Hogwarts, just like the cast did during filming. This souvenir captures a truly unique moment.
  • Visit Diagon Alley at night: During special events, the studios offer extended evening tours where Diagon Alley is illuminated with twinkling lights, creating a magical atmosphere.
  • Participate in seasonal events: The studio tour often hosts themed events throughout the year, such as "Hogwarts After Dark" or special exhibitions. These offer unique experiences and photo opportunities.
  • Explore the Backlot: If time permits, venture outside to the Backlot area, where you can see sets used for iconic outdoor scenes like the Hogwarts Express bridge and the Forbidden Forest.
  • Whippendell Woods:  Immerse yourself in nature with a visit to Whippendell Woods, located near the studios. This serene woodland offers picturesque walking trails, providing a peaceful retreat from the bustle of city life.
  • Cassiobury Park:  Just a short drive away, Cassiobury Park is a vast public park with beautiful green spaces, a canal, and woodland areas. Ideal for a leisurely stroll, picnics, or even a boat ride along the Grand Union Canal.
  • Watford Museum:  Delve into local history at Watford Museum, situated close to the studios. The museum showcases the town's cultural heritage through engaging exhibits, artefacts, and interactive displays.

Frequently asked questions about visiting Warner Bros Harry Potter™ Studio tour

The Harry Potter™ Studios are located about 20 miles (32 km) from London at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR.

Yes. You can avail free parking services outside the Harry Potter™ Studios by simply displaying your ticket. Priority parking is also available for visitors next to the studio entrance; however, you would have to book and pay for your spot in advance.

The Harry Potter™ Studio opening times are as follows: The studio tour opens at 9:30am; The first tour begins at 10:00am; The final tour begins at 4:00pm; The studio tour closes at 8:00pm; The last bus back to Watford Junction departs at 8:00pm. For opening hours in 2024, please refer to the Harry Potter™ Studio Tours calendar .

The Harry Potter™ Studio is closed on March 30, November 7 to 11, and December 25 and 26.

If you're looking for lesser crowds, November to March is the best time to go for a Harry Potter™ Studio tour. However, if you're looking for a magical experience, you can go for a tour during the Christmas season and witness the magical festivities first-hand.

While you can take a bus and/or train to reach the Harry Potter™ Studios in London, the best commute option is to opt for a return transfer as part of your tour. This way you don't have to plan to commute back and forth to London.

Yes, most of the Harry Potter™ Studios are wheelchair-accessible. Although, some locations might be difficult to navigate like Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Bridge. Electric and manual wheelchairs are allowed in the studio, but prior notice needs to be given.

You can skip long waiting lines at Harry Potter™ Studio Tours by choosing guided tours , arriving early during visiting hours , scheduling your tours on weekdays when the crowds are lesser and booking a priority parking bay in advance.

Yes, Harry Potter™ Studio has 4 wonderful Harry Potter -themed cafés where you can enjoy bakery goods, sandwiches, sweets and desserts as well as the famous Butterbeer.

It typically takes 3 to 7 hours to completely tour Harry Potter™ Studios. The duration also depends on the experiences you choose to do. Visiting studio shops , cafés and events might increase the length of your tour.

Absolutely. Harry Potter™ Studio Tours are a dream come true for any Harry Potter fan. You get to experience the magic of the wizarding world firsthand and make memories for a lifetime.

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The Complete Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog was originally published in February of 2019 and then underwent extensive updates and editing in the fall of 2020 to remain current and relevant.

Many people have been waiting their entire lives to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter . After reading the books and watching the films, actually stepping foot into the stories is a phenomenal experience.

There are two unique lands to explore at Universal Orlando Resort – Hogsmeade, located in Universal Islands of Adventure , and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida . Each land has unique attractions, experiences, food, merchandise and more, all of which is inspired by the Harry Potter films and books. Whether you’re a big fan, or this is your first taste of the Wizarding World, there’s so much to do and see! You’re going to want to plan on a few days to experience it all along with reading this guide where we’ve listed out each and every activity you can enjoy during your trip to the theme parks.

Choose from the links below to head straight to that section:


Attractions, hagrid’s magical creatures motorbike adventure.

Location: Hogsmeade

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Fly deep into the Forbidden Forest, beyond the grounds of Hogwarts castle as you join Hagrid on a thrilling roller coaster ride to discover magical creatures you’ve never faced before.

Pro Tip: Make sure you know if you want to ride the sidecar or motorbike first.  

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Soar above the castle grounds as you join Harry Potter and his friends on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, while encountering an array of magical creatures.

Pro Tip: Take your time in the queue for this one so you can appreciate all the details of the Hogwarts corridors , including Dumbledore’s office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, and more.

Flight of the Hippogriff

Flight of the Hippogriff

Bow to Buckbeak as you board this family-friendly roller coaster that spirals and dives around the pumpkin patch, and then swoops past Hagrid’s hut.

Pro Tip: This ride is great for little witches and wizards who might be a bit spooked by Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

Hogwarts Express: Hogsmeade Station

Board the famous train and head toward King’s Cross Station in London. (You’ll need a park-to-park ticket for this one.)

Pro Tip: The experience is completely different on the way back from King’s Cross Station to Hogsmeade (see below), so you’ll want to ride it twice. Learn more about riding the Hogwarts Express .  

Hogwarts Express: King’s Cross Station

Location: London Outside of Diagon Alley

Hogwarts Express in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Enter King’s Cross Station and walk straight through a solid brick wall onto Platform 9 ¾ to board the Hogwarts Express. Remember, you’ll need a park-to-park ticket to board the train in either direction.

Pro Tip: If you want to journey in Harry Potter’s footsteps, do some shopping in Diagon Alley and then hop on the Hogwarts Express toward Hogsmeade to start your next term!  

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Location: Diagon Alley

Take a journey aboard this mind-blowing, multi-dimensional ride through the cavernous passageways of Gringotts bank. You may even find yourself coming face-to-face with Harry Potter’s biggest foes!

Pro Tip: For those looking for a more intense ride, ask the attendant if they can accommodate you toward the back of the ride vehicle. However, all seats offer a thrilling adventure!


See a wand choose a wizard at ollivanders.

Location: Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley

Ollivanders in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Step inside this iconic shop and watch an Ollivanders wandkeeper go through the process of pairing a witch or wizard with just the right wand.

Pro Tip: Play your cards right and you might be the lucky witch or wizard chosen. (Note: The person chosen has the option whether or not to purchase their wand.)

Cast Spells With Your Interactive Wand

Interactive Wands in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Look for medallions on the ground throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley for opportunities to practice your magic. Simply follow the spell directions at your feet and look out for amazing surprises.

Pro Tip: You’ll need an interactive wand for this one, and inside the box is a map telling you where all the spells are located. Check out our guide on all of the interactive wands you can get and how to use them .

Meet the Hogwarts Express Conductor

Hogwarts Train Conductor in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Oftentimes you can find this jolly gentleman next to Hogsmeade Station welcoming you to Hogsmeade.

Pro Tip: Take a photo with him to remember your Hogwarts Express journey.

Send a Letter Through Owl Post

Here, you can mail a letter complete with a special wizarding world postmark.

Pro Tip: This is a great way to let your friends and family know you’re thinking about them during your trip in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Meet the Knight Bus Conductor

Knight Bus Conductor in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

On the London embankment, you’ll find this three-storied bus and its amiable driver.

Pro Tip: You can also chat up the shrunken head hanging over the steering wheel.

Exchange Your Muggle Money at the Gringotts Money Exchange

Have a conversation with the goblin behind the counter before trading your U.S. currency for Gringotts bank notes in $10 or $20 denominations.

Pro Tip: The bank notes can be used for purchases within Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and at select locations throughout the theme parks.

Check Out Dark Magic in Knockturn Alley

Knockturn Alley in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

Inside Knockturn Alley, you can get a taste of the dark magic in the wizarding world. Visit Borgin and Burkes for gruesome trinkets, and use your interactive wand on some secret spells that are only visible in the darkness.

Pro Tip: Try and keep your eyes peeled for all kinds of subtle, hidden details like singing shrunken heads and a wanted poster for Bellatrix Lestrange.

SEASONAL: Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Diagon Alley, London, and Hogsmeade are transformed with festive décor and brilliant lighting during the holidays. Not only do the shows incorporate some favorite holiday tunes, but look out for special treats and drinks! The atmosphere is simply brimming with excitement.

Pro Tip: Plan some time to take in all the detail of the beautiful decorations.

Get Your Moving Photograph at Shutterbutton’s

Create a portrait of yourself that actually moves and purchase a collectible photo album in commemoration of your trip.

Pro Tip: Borrow props and costumes or bring your own. Explore more of the experience.


You simply can’t come to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and not try Butterbeer! This concoction is reminiscent of butterscotch and shortbread. Find it at many of the restaurants listed below and various snack stands throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.  

Pro Tip: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has several ways to enjoy that delicious Butterbeer flavor , so prepare your taste buds in advance.

Three Broomsticks

Great Feast from Three Broomsticks

This cozy, snow-capped inn offers tasty British fare including Fish and Chips, Shepherd’s Pie, Cornish Pasties, Turkey Legs, and Fresh Vegetables. View a breakfast menu and a lunch and dinner menu .  

Highly Recommend: The Great Feast – A platter of scrumptious food for four, featuring fresh garden salad tossed with a signature vinaigrette dressing, rotisserie smoked chicken, spareribs, corn on the cob, and roast potatoes.

This pub in the back of the Three Broomsticks is the perfect place for a Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice, along with domestic and imported beers, the pub’s exclusive Hog’s Head Brew, Gillywater (bottled water), specialty drinks, wine, spirits, and mixed drinks.

Pro Tip: Pay attention to the stuffed hog’s head over the bar — it just might snarl at you.

Leaky Cauldron

Leaky Cauldron in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

A small, grubby-looking pub and inn where you’ll find foods like Bangers and Mash, Fisherman’s Pie, Toad in the Hole, Ploughman’s Platter, and more. View a breakfast menu and a lunch and dinner menu .

Highly Recommend: Ploughman’s Platter – A selection of English cheese, crusty bread, field green salad, roasted tomatoes, cornichon pickles, apple beet salad, branston pickle and scotch eggs. Perfect for sharing!

Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour

Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour

In this ice-cream parlour, witches, wizards and Muggles of every age can indulge in scoop and soft-serve ice-creams with fantastic flavors like Butterbeer, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Chocolate and Raspberry, and more.

Pro Tip: Keep an open mind…some unusual flavors may surprisingly delight you! Our recommendation is to try the Chocolate Chili or the Earl Grey and Lavender for something different.

The Hopping Pot

Nestled within Diagon Alley, you can cool off with a variety of delicious drinks at this walk-up counter like Butterbeer, Tongue Tying Lemon Squash, Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice, Fishy Green Ale, and more.

Pro Tip: This is a great place to grab a snack while watching a show in Carkitt Market.

The Fountain of Fair Fortune

Fountain of Fair Fortune

Named for one of the fables in The Tales of Beedle the Bard , this location serves a variety of beers, like the exclusive Wizard’s Brew, Dragonscale, and a handful of non-alcoholic beverages.  

Pro Tip: You can also get Butterbeer ice cream here.

Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment

Here, you can try a variety of colorful elixirs. All you need to do is choose your elixir, pour it into Gilly Water, and watch it transform into a tasty beverage. You can pick from Fire Protection Potion, Babbling Beverage, Draught of Peace, and Elixir to Induce Euphoria.

Pro Tip: Not only are they delicious, but they’re a fun gift to bring home for your Muggle friends.

London Taxi Cart

Location: London outside of Diagon Alley

Jacket Potato from London

Before hopping aboard the Hogwarts Express or wandering into Diagon Alley, stop by this cart for a Jacket Potato snack. Choose from Loaded, Broccoli and Cheddar, Bean and Cheese, or Shepherd’s Pie toppings.

Pro Tip: After getting your potato, check out the buildings behind you. You may see a familiar face peeking out the windows.



In search of the most essential wizarding item? Look through the thousands of boxes filled with wands waiting to choose their wizard.

Pro Tip: There are many variations of wands in addition to character wands, and make sure to check out the interactive options.

Dervish and Banges

This shop offers it all from brooms, Hogwarts clothing, journals, and stationery to magical items like the flying Golden Snitch and Quidditch supplies like Quaffles.

Pro Tip: Discover your Hogwarts house before arriving so that you’ll know which product will best show your house pride.

Honeydukes Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The shelves of this legendary sweet shop are lined with all manner of colourful treats including Acid Pops, Cauldron Cakes, Fizzing Whizzbees, Chocolate Frogs, and Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans.

Pro Tip: Every Chocolate Frog comes with a wizard trading card, so look out so you can collect them all!  

Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods

Peruse items taken from students who got on the wrong side of the school’s resident caretaker, Argus Filch. You’ll find Hogwarts t-shirts, shoulder bags, caps, scarves, house crest banners, and stationery.

Pro Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the Marauder’s Map and watch as inhabitants move about Hogwarts castle.

Here, you’ll find correspondence materials like stationery, quills, seals, and ink. This is also where you can send a letter with a special Hogsmeade postmark.

Pro Tip: Just like Harry Potter found Hedwig, you can even pick out your very own owl plush to take home.

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

Weasleys' Wizard Wheezus

This colourful emporium is the novelty joke shop run by identically ingenious prankster twins Fred and George Weasley. Shop for all manner of mischief such as magical jokes, tricks, and toys. Check out our 9 must-haves!

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the dazzling display of never-ending fireworks exploding on the ceiling and a few other fun finds you may recognize from the films.

Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions

Madam Malkin's Robes for Every Occasion

Build your wizarding wardrobe at this cheerfully appointed shop. You can buy authentic replicas of Hermione’s Yule Ball gown. You’ll also find Hogwarts uniforms, ties, scarves, hats, and cardigans as well as jewelry.

Pro Tip: Model your potential purchase in front of the mirror and it just might talk back to you.

Magical Menagerie

Purchase a variety of plush toys including Crookshanks, Fang, Buckbeak, Fluffy, and Scabbers. Also available are Cornish pixies, ferrets, Pygmy Puffs, and an assortment of owls, including Pigwidgeon and Hedwig.

Pro Tip: Try out your Parseltongue when you peek in at the snake in the window from outside the store.

Borgin and Burkes

Borgin and Burkes In Diagon Alley

This dark and dusty Knockturn Alley shop is infamous for shady patrons. As you walk among the dimly lit shelves and displays teeming with malevolent relics, you’ll find Death Eater masks, skulls, apparel, accessories, jewelry, and collectibles.

Pro Tip: Look (and listen) for the Vanishing Cabinet just like the one Draco Malfoy once used to sneak Death Eaters into Hogwarts.

Quality Quidditch Supplies

This is the destination for everything you need to play the most popular sport in the wizarding world, including Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles, and more.

Pro Tip: You can even pledge your allegiance to professional teams like the Holyhead Harpies or the Chudley Cannons, Ireland or Bulgaria.

Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop

Sugarplum's Sweetshop in Diagon Alley

Discover a wealth of wizarding treats. Every nook is stocked with tasty temptations like Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, Acid Pops, Exploding Bonbons, Pink Coconut Ice and more.

Pro Tip: Feed Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans to unsuspecting friends and family and brace yourself as they just might end up with a flavor like earthworm or earwax.

Find all the authentic writing supplies a witch or wizard could need including ink and inkwells, feather quills, parchment, journals, stationery sets, seals, bookmarks, and backpacks.

Pro Tip: Everything here is perfect for back-to-school or your office.

Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment

Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment in Diagon Alley

Browse a variety of apparel and accessories from your Hogwarts house, as well as a variety of fun Butterbeer-themed items.

Pro Tip: You can have packages delivered to the front of the park or your Universal Orlando hotel room so that you don’t have to carry them all day in the theme parks.

Wands by Gregorovitch

This long-time rival to Ollivanders also creates some exceptional wands. Here, you can choose from a wide assortment of Harry Potter character wand replicas.

Pro Tip: Boxes with gold labels are interactive and will help you practice magic in the theme parks.

Globus Mundi

Globus Mundi In Diagon Alley

Globus Mundi is a travel agency of the wizarding world. Stop into their shop over by Carkitt Market where you can get all your travel essentials for your next magical journey like luggage tags, wallets, sweatshirts, and more.

Pro Tip: Look around the shop and you’ll see a gorgeous wall of ticking clocks representing different time zones and some of the coolest posters and maps from around the world.

Hogwarts Frog Choir

Frog Choir Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hear the vocal stylings of this small choir of Hogwarts students, accompanied by the smooth bass rumbles of their giant throaty frogs.

Pro Tip: Look in your park map or on the official Universal Orlando Mobile App for times.

Triwizard Spirit Rally

Triwizard Spirit Rally in Hogsmeade

Cheer on the colourful procession of students from the legendary wizarding schools of Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang as they lead the excitement for the Triwizard Tournament.

Pro Tip: Stick around after the show for a potential meet-and-greet opportunity.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Tales of Beedle the Bard

Watch as adept players perform a trunk show using stylized scenic pieces, props, and puppetry. See them retell two famous tales of Beedle the Bard, a 15th-century author of wizarding fairytales, including The Fountain of Fair Fortune and The Tale of the Three Brothers .

Pro Tip: This stage is right near The Hopping Pot in Carkitt Market (see above), so grab a snack and enjoy!  

Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees

Celestina Warbeck in Diagon Alley

Sway and groove to the dulcet tones of wizarding world sensation, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. The swinging show features never-before-heard songs including “A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love,” “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart,” and “You Charmed The Heart Right Out Of Me.”  

Pro Tip: Visit during the holidays and enjoy four hits from Celestina’s chart-topping holiday album, including “My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas.”


Call the ministry of magic.

Magic Telephone Booth in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Try entering the telephone booth in London and dialing 62442 (`MAGIC`) to see what you get connected to.  

See 12 Grimmauld Place

Keep an eye out for the Black family`s loyal house-elf, Kreacher – you might just see him.

Watch Out for The Monster Book of Monsters

The Monster Book of Monsters

A Book with Bite! Stop inside Dervish and Banges to view this beastly required reading for Hogwarts students taking the Care of Magical Creatures class. It’s caged for a reason.

Discover the Heavily Jeweled Shell of a Fire Crab

Fire Crabs are one of the magical creatures that Hagrid used to create Blast-Ended Skrewts. You may be able to catch a glimpse of one of these creatures’ massive jeweled shells in the queue of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

Be sure to keep an eye out for all the hidden gems inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.

So much to see and do! Where to first? Tell us in the comments below.

To have the ultimate Harry Potter experience, book our exclusive The Wizarding World of Harry Potter vacation package .

Universal Destinations & Experiences

Never miss a thrill. Subscribe now to get email updates from Universal Parks & Resorts.

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Kelsey Shea Weinrich

Kelsey is a Content Representative at Universal Orlando Resort. She considers The Mummy (1999) a perfect movie and doesn’t tolerate Hufflepuff slander.

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You should go to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and to Flight of the Hippogriff also.

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My husband and I want to plan a trip to Hogwarts’s. What motel accommodations are available?

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Take a look at our on-site hotels here:

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Hi My family and I will be visiting during Halloween, are there any special attractions. We want to spend the entire day at the Harry Potter Wizarding World. Also, How do I purchase tickets in advance and how much are they. Looking forward to the attractions. Sounds amazing.

Hi Theresa!

We do have Halloween Horror Nights beginning September 6th – November 2nd, 2019. To purchase regular park tickets, please visit our website at . We currently have a Halloween Horror Nights special under Deals & Specials on the page as well.

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Planning to come Feb 20 and maybe 21st, 2021. Two adults, may only do one park. Will you also be having Mardi Gras Parades?

Hi Madison! There will not be a Mardi Gras parade this year, however a fleet of spectacular Pirate Treasure themed floats will be on display throughout Universal Studios Florida along with a collection of Universal’s classic Mardi Gras floats!

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I’m bringing my daughter for her birthday. We have the flights and clerk hotel but I’m totally confused about how and where to buy tickets. She loves Harry Potter….I figure two parks in two days…. is that the best way to do it?

Hi Theodora! We’re so excited you’ll be celebrating with us! You can purchase tickets and look at all of our options online here:

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Hi, afternoon~ if we are going in May, is there any sorting hat experience in either dragon alley or Hogsmeade? thank you

Hi Amanda, we do not offer this type of experience at either of our parks. We apologize for any disappointment this may cause.

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Hello, my daughter and I (61/38 you don’t have to be a child, to have fun), will be visiting this weekend (November 10-12 2023) and we can’t wait to get started. There is so much to see and do and, we’ll do our best to get thru it all. Thanks for all the work you do in describing the parks, especially the “Pro Tips”. We’ll come back and let you know, how everything went on our trip. Harry Potter and all the other rides, shops and food, here we come!!! Is it very busy at this time of year and if so, should we purchase the express pass? (I have a bit of a mobility issue) Thank you in advance, for your responses. See you soon!

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Hi Dianne. We are so excited to hear about your upcoming visit and can’t wait to welcome you! While you are here, we definitely recommend stopping by Mythos Restaurant for a delicious dining experience. Additionally, while crowd patterns can be hard to predict, holidays and school breaks are typically our peak attendance seasons. Our Universal Express Pass options are designed to give our Guests an enhanced theme park experience as a limited number of passes are sold in order to minimize the wait time in the express queues. We can’t wait for your visit!

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My adult children and I are coming on February 2 for the day. Will it be busy? Do we need the express pass? what tickets will we need to enjoy both Harry Potter parks and a ride on the Hogwarts Express? We are huge Harry Potter fans and are looking forward to this!

Hi Linda! We’re happy to learn about your visit! While attendance does fluctuate throughout the year, historically, we find it that February is a very pleasant time to be at the parks! Additionally, Universal Express Passes are a great way to enhance your visit, however, it is not required in order to enjoy our attractions. Lastly, a Park-To-Park ticket will be required for all Guests that are looking to ride the Hogwarts Express. You can find more information about tickets by visiting this page.

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Are there any activities suitable for toddlers in the Harry Potter world? I’m planning a visit with my 3yo daughter, she is really into wizards and magic themed but she doesn’t know Harry Potter yet, I wonder if it’s too early and she’ll get bored or if it’s a great start for a new fan.

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Hi, my girlfriend and I are visiting in June for the first time! My girlfriend is a huge Harry Potter fan and I want to give her the best experience except due to other arrangements we are only able to visit the park for one day. which park would be the best to visit?

Hey, Hunter! We can’t wait to see you! Each park features an immersive land including attractions, entertainment, dining, and shopping. For the full experience we recommend Park-to-Park Admission for the day if possible. However, if you are only able to choose one we encourage you to explore our interactive website to make the most informed decision. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Guest Services at (407) 224-4233 if you have any further questions!

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What's Hot?

A Guide to Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour London

By: Author Laura

Posted on Published: 11th August 2020  - Last updated: 12th January 2024

Categories London , Film , Filming Locations , Travel , UK

Ready to learn all about Harry Potter World in London? Get ready for a mammoth of a post. Warner Bros Studio Tour in Leavesden aka Harry Potter World London has quickly become a must-visit destination for Harry Potter fans.

First things first, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way. There is no London Harry Potter Universal Studios, there is only the Warner Bros Studio Tour. If you’re looking for Universal Studios, London, then I’m afraid you will be disappointed!

When people think of a Harry Potter London theme park, they are also thinking of the Harry Potter Studio Tour.

Ok so now I’ve told you what Harry Potter world is not. What does it involve then?

The London Harry Potter Studio Tour invites you into the real studios where they made all the Harry Potter films and they’ve refashioned all our favourite props, costumes and sets into a glorious exhibition. It’s a Harry Potter experience like no other!

Keep on reading to find out why the Harry Potter Studio Tour London is a must for Potterheads…

Booking Harry Potter Tour Tickets

It appears that the initial rush to buy tickets is now over; however, I still recommend that you buy your Harry Potter Studio tickets about a month in advance if you want to get the perfect time for you. If you’re only available at the weekends then you definitely need to think about booking in advance because they weekend slots book up fast .

The booking itself is very simple. All you have to do is select the date and time you want to go on the tour, enter the number of each type of ticket you want and then checkout. There is also the option to add on some extras to your package.

You can pre-book a ‘Souvenir Guidebook’ and a ‘Digital Guide’, both of which supposedly enhance your experience. I opted for the ‘Souvenir Guidebook’, but not the ‘Digital Guide’, but in hindsight, I should have selected both.

The Souvenir Guidebook is a really nice booklet with glossy pages and big pictures. It is very well presented and serves as a lovely reminder of the things you’ve seen on your trip.

You don’t need to pre-order this book as it is also on sale at the gift shop at the Studios for exactly the same price. It is a bit pricey at £9.95, but for Potterheads it is well worth it.

As far as I could tell (from jealously peering over people’s shoulders), the Digital Guide was basically a device that looked a lot like an iPod touch that had extra snippets of information and videos on it. This costs around £4.95, though you do not get to keep it so it’s not entirely necessary.

Ticket Prices

Standard Adult: £43 Child: £35 (Under 4 years old: Free)

Opening Hours

8:30am – 10pm every day

However, there are often private events at the Studios so please do double-check for your selected day. 

Purchase your Harry Potter Studio Tickets directly here.

Ultimate Guide to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour London! A visit to the Harry Potter studios is a must for any Harry Potter fan. There you will find the real life Harry Potter filming locations and you can go on a self-guided tour around the London studios. Expect lots of magical installations as well as the chance to try some butterbeer! #whatshotblog #harrypotter #harrypotterbooks #harrypotterfan #warnerbros #traveltips

How to Get to the Harry Potter Studios London

The Harry Potter Studio Tour, aka Harry Potter World in London, is located at Leavesden Studios in Watford. Fortunately, I actually live quite close to this so it didn’t take me long at all to reach there and with the help of a SatNav, it’s fairly easy to locate.

One problem I did encounter once I was a couple of minutes away from the Studios, was that the signs on the motorway were incredibly confusing. There was one pointing to ‘Warner Bros. Tour’ and one to ‘Leavesden Studios’.

As far as I knew, Warner Bros. Studio Tour was located at Leavesden Studios so I got very confused as to why the signs were pointing in different directions.

I decided to follow the sign that pointed towards ‘Warner Bros Tour’, though this actually led me in a pretty big circle which was unnecessary, so I’d suggest following the sign to ‘Leavesden Studios’, which I assume will take you on a shorter route.

I highly recommend that when you see these signs coming up, you simply look out your window to spot the Studio and follow the road that leads to it (you won’t miss it, there are absolutely huge Harry Potter posters all over the buildings).

You will need to show your ticket in order to gain entrance and then you will be directed to a parking space (parking is free!). The car park is huge so I wouldn’t worry about not finding a space, though my tour was the last tour of the day so the Studios were probably slightly less packed.

By Public Transport

The closest train station to the Harry Potter Studios is Watford Junction. You can very easily get a train here from London Euston. Once you get to Watford, there’s a shuttle bus service right outside the station that takes you to and from the studios.

This costs £2.50 for a return and £2 for single. You won’t miss the buses – they’re designed to look like the Knight Bus! 

NB You should arrive at least 20 minutes before your scheduled ticket time so do factor this in when making travel arrangements. 

Find out more about getting to the studios here.

Potions Classroom - Harry Potter Land London

The Harry Potter Experience

What to see at the harry potter studios.

The tour starts from the very second you hand your ticket over and join the queue. Whilst you’re awaiting entry you will pass Harry’s cupboard under the stairs – toy soldiers included – and many quotes from various people lining the walls to get you excited.

First, you are led into a dark room with lots of screens and you are shown a quick film about Potter’s history. My emotional rollercoaster started here as I was filled with fond, childhood memories.

You can imagine my shock then, when I revisited the tour in 2019 to find that they had updated this video. And I was in one of the clips. I am in one of the clips!

It’s a video of me waving enthusiastically on the side of the red carpet in Trafalgar Square for the eighth and final Harry Potter film. I skipped school that day and slept on the pavement the evening before to get that top spot and it was totally worth it.

After this brief introduction, you are led into another room with a bigger screen, much like a cinema, and played another video. (This is usually the bit where I cry. Yes,  already .) It’s a super short film that goes through the crucial bits of all eight Harry Potter films.  

There are interviews with the cast, the crew, the directors, the author herself and lots of behind the scenes footage. When the film is over, a grand set of doors is magically revealed and the Great Hall lies in wait.

Everybody gasps at this point.

The Great Hall is incredibly detailed and there are lots of costumes on display here, including Harry’s very first uniform. There is a speaker for this part of the tour who gives an introduction to the tour and tells you all the interesting facts about the Great Hall – like the fact that the floor is made out of real paving stones.

The Great Hall is modelled on the dining hall at Christ Church college in Oxford (where I studied!). Check out my Harry Potter tour of Oxford for more information on visiting the real  life Great Hall! 

Gryffindor Common Room - Harry Potter World in London

After this, the tour is self-guided and you are left to explore the rest of the tour in your own time. Some parts of the tour display props and costumes and others are the real sets.

There is a spectacular show of the vehicles and bigger props used in the films and they are shown (moving) hanging from the ceiling next to a large screen. On here they show you exactly how this prop was used in the film and how special effects were used to make it realistic.

This video shows you the extraordinary number of special effects that went into making these films. They even showed you how in one scene, Daniel Radcliffe was filmed walking on a treadmill in front of a green screen, but on film, this was magically transformed into Harry walking through the snow at Godric’s Hollow. It is absolutely incredible to see the transition from what was actually filmed and what we see on screen.

In this section, some of the things you can see include The Burrow, the Gryffindor Common Room, Snape’s classrooms, the Boy’s Dormitory, Dumbledore’s Office, Umbridge’s Office, the Ministry of Magic, the fireplaces at the Ministry, Hagrid’s Hut, the Griffin Stairwell, the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, Gringott’s Vault Door, the Forbidden Forest and some others.

Hogwarts Express at Harry Potter World in London

They’ve even recreated Platform 9 3/4 so you can see The Hogwarts Express in all its glory on the train track and even have a little walk through it! There are also lots of different photos points of the trolley going through the wall to access Platform 9 3/4 so you can pretend like you’re off to Hogwarts yourself. 

You then get the chance to experience the magic of riding the Hogwarts Express as they’ve created a Hogwarts Express simulation where you can have your photo taken inside a replica carriage. After your photo is taken, you’ll go a little adventure with lots of effects so it feels like you’re actually on a moving train.

You sit in one of the carriages and see the world float by outside the window and it’s lovely until the dementors show up! This is all filmed and there is a voice-over telling you what to do to make this part all the more fun.

Throughout this space, there are displays of props including the Philosopher’s Stone, the Triwizard Cup, the golden snitch, the Goblet of Fire, the time turner and more.

There is also a fantastic costume display to accompany each set and you can see clothes from all of the movies and see how the characters have grown!

Small potions at Harry Potter Studios London

Lastly, there is a stunning display of all the graphic designs and posters used for things like The Daily Prophet, the Quibbler, sweet packages etc.

When you’ve finished looking around the first building, about half way through the tour, the tour continues outside. Here you’ll find the Knightbus, Godric’s Hollow, the Ford Anglia, Hagrid’s Bike, chess pieces from the Philosopher’s Stone, Hogwart’s Bridge and of course, Number 4 Privet Drive.

This part of the tour is great because you can actually get up close and touch all of these things. You can sit on Hagrid’s bike, get inside the Ford Anglia, stand in the Knight Bus and knock on the door of number 4 Privet Drive. This outside area presents another great photo opportunity so don’t think that the weather doesn’t matter when picking which day to book your tour!

Letters floating at Harry Potter World in London

Possibly the most exciting thing about this section of the tour is the opportunity to buy Butterbeer . A lot of people don’t like this concoction but personally, I love it. It’s really sweet and fizzy with a thick layer of sweet cream on top – exactly as I’d imagined.

Each cup costs around £2.95, and although it isn’t large, it’s definitely worth it! It even leaves you with that white moustache on your upper lip that is so often talked about. Now, they ever have butterbeer ice cream and you can buy a plastic Butterbeer tankard to keep.

The second part of the studio tour is a lot more about what went into making the films rather than the sets and props. Here you will find an amazing array of every single creature featured in the films and how they were made.

You will be disappointed to hear that in fact only the head of the basilisk was made. You can see each and every one goblin/house elf mask – they do look pretty grim – and how each of these were made and fitted the actors.

Mandrakes at Harry Potter World in London

After the ‘Creature Shop’, you are lead to another breathtaking part of the tour – Diagon Alley. I did not expect Diagon Alley to be, well, a real Alley! Each and every shop is properly decorated with detail with shop displays and it looks like a real street!

All the shops from the film are here, though it is a lot more compact, and you feel as if you could actually just go shopping for a new owl or a new set of robes!

The very last room of the tour is the most spectacular of them all. It had been a highly emotional visit for me so when I rounded the corner to see the 1:24 model of Hogwarts Castle, I was completely overwhelmed.

It was the most beautiful and amazing creation I had ever seen and I was blown away by the detail that went into it. Everything was perfectly handcrafted to scale and real gravel and plants were used to for the landscaping.

There are more than 300 fibre optic lights installed and these stimulate torches and lanterns to give the illusion of students walking down the hallways. It is the crown jewel of the Harry Potter art department – which isn’t surprising given that it took a team of 86 people to construct the first version.

Footage of this model was combined with special effects to create the incredibly realistic views of Hogwarts exterior which I had always believed to be comprised of real castles. This was a phenomenal end to the tour and was definitely the most memorable moment for me.

Hogwarts London - Harry Potter world in London

What to do at the Harry Potter Studios

There is an absolutely fantastic photo opportunity to be had during the Studio Tour where you are given the chance to ride a broomstick. Using CGI and green screen effects, they make it look like you are actually flying and it is absolutely incredible.

Firstly, you are given a set of Hogwarts robes from your chosen house, and then you wait in line for your turn. There are a total of three broomsticks there so the waiting time isn’t too long.

When I joined the queue, it said that the waiting time ‘from this point onwards’ was 45 minutes, and I wasn’t too fussed about this because I was determined to get on that broom, but thankfully, it didn’t take nearly as long as that.

When it is your turn, a staff member talks you through everything. You make yourself comfortable on the broom, and then the magic begins.

Now, this isn’t just any photo opportunity, because before your photo is taken, you get the chance to see yourself fly over London and Hogwarts. There is a small screen in front of you so it looks like you’re actually moving and the broom itself isn’t fixed so you can swerve from side to side and bob up and down.

The member of staff attending to you will make sure you get the most out of your experience by giving you a few things to do whilst on your broom. When your ‘flying’ experience is over, there are a few quick snaps and then it’s off to the counter to collect your photos.

There are four different photos to choose from: hovering over Hogwarts, flying in front of some buses in London, flying along the Thames and flying along the water surrounding Hogwarts – the favourite of most people seems to be the one hovering above Hogwarts. 

There is also the opportunity to have your photo taken inside the Ford Anglia and you can watch yourself ‘driving’ it through the air. This photo is great for families as you take the photo with as many people as you can fit into the frame.

If you’re feeling particularly evil on the day of your visit, you could also choose to have your photo taken as a prisoner in Azkaban and it’ll be printed onto a WANTED poster. 

These photos aren’t exactly cheap, but they are definitely worth it. It’s £14 for one photo, which comes in a lovely, glossy, paper frame (just like the sort you’d get at a theme park – but better, obviously). Alternatively, there are lots of digital options so you can get two photos and a DVD/USB for £40. 

Diagon Alley at Harry Potter World in London

The Harry Potter Tour Gift Shop

Words cannot even begin to describe my excitement upon entering the Harry Potter Studio Tour gift shop. So I was always one of those children that spent the entire day out pushing and pulling my parents through the exhibitions just to get to the gift shop, but I guarantee that you will be blown away by it.

There is a huge range of Potter products on offer, but I won’t deceive you, they don’t come cheap. If I had it my way I would’ve bought EVERYTHING in the shop, though of course, my mother did not allow this and so I opted for a Potter t-shirt (£32.95) and Hogwarts scarf (£24.95).

It is a very large shop and products range from sweets to keyrings to clothing to stuffed toys to wall paintings to jewellery to uniform to notepads to magnets to books to wands to replica costumes – and more!

It is literally my favourite shop in the whole entire world and if I could I would go there every day I would. Unfortunately, you can only get to gift shop after you’ve shown your ticket proving that you’re actually there for the Tour (sad face). The queue in the gift shop is enormously long at times so I recommend you keep wandering around until it’s less busy.

Harry Potter gifts to buy in London

I could say more, but I think that I’ve waffled on for long enough! The Warner Bros Harry Potter Tour is essential for all Harry Potter fans, and even those who aren’t massive Potterheads will definitely enjoy a day out at Leavesden.

Not only does it provide an incredible insight into a worldwide Phenomenon but you get to witness first hand the immense amount of detail that went into making these films.

You can see the sets the cast walked on, the costumes they wore and the props they used. There is a lot of behind the scenes footage and information so don’t think that this is just a display of what you’ve already seen or read online – because it’s so much more.

All along the tour, there is the Harry Potter soundtrack playing in the background enhancing the atmosphere and making everything feel that much better. Do bear in mind that whilst the Tour is absolutely incredible, there will inevitably be a sense of disappointment as you finally realise that the magic isn’t real and Hogwarts doesn’t exist.

On a side note, as I was casually scrolling down my Facebook news feed after I’d returned home, I discovered a photo of Matt Lewis (Neville Longbottom) from the very same day. WHY DID I NOT SEE HIM?! WHY. Ok, outburst over.

But seriously, why.

If you’ve visited the Harry Potter Studios yourself, leave a comment telling me your favourite part!  

Like this post? Check out my other Harry Potter blog posts!  Guide to Harry Potter in London Guide to Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood The Cauldron: Harry Potter Cocktail Experience in London Hogwarts in the Snow at Harry Potter Studio Tour Guide to Harry Potter in Lacock Harry Potter Filming Locations in Oxford Godric’s Hollow Filming Location Why the Prisoner of Azkaban is the Best in the Series What’s in my Backpack: Hogwarts Edition

Pin now, read again later!

Ultimate Guide to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour London #whatshotblog #harrypotter #london #studiotour

Editor of What’s Hot?

[This post was originally published when the Harry Potter Studio Tour first opened in 2012 but has been updated in 2020.]

Wednesday 2nd of August 2023

Thanks for writing this awesome article!!! I've thought the entire tour is held indoors, so hope it doesn't rain during the outdoor portion of our tour in early Oct.

For the bloom and Ford Anglia photos, do we pay upfront before joining the queue or can we take the photos first, see how they turn out before deciding to pay for them??


Wednesday 3rd of May 2023

I just read your blog post about the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour in London and I have to say that it was a fantastic read! As a big Harry Potter fan myself, I could really relate to your excitement and enthusiasm for the tour.

I loved the way you described your experience, from the moment you arrived at the studios to the different sets and exhibits you saw along the way. Your attention to detail and vivid descriptions really helped to transport me to the world of Harry Potter.

I also appreciated the practical advice you provided for visitors, such as the importance of booking tickets in advance and wearing comfortable shoes. It's clear that you are not only a fan of the series, but also an experienced traveler who knows how to make the most of a visit to a new place.

Overall, I thought your blog post was a great resource for anyone planning a trip to the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour, as well as for those who simply want to learn more about the magic behind the movies. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Ultimate Guide for fun things to do in London with kids - Home Travel Guide

Thursday 27th of January 2022

[…] The Harry Potter Studio Tour is based in Watford, just outside of London. If your children are Harry Potter fans, this place is an absolute dream. The vast majority of scenes from the 8 Harry Potter films were shot in these studios and you can now wander around these sets and learn all about how they made the magic come to life. What’s particularly great for children is that there are lots of elements to really immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter – you can ride a broomstick, sit in an old Ford Anglia, drink butterbeer (non-alcoholic, of course!), meet Buckbeak in the Forbidden Forest, walk down Diagon Alley, and more! […]

Friday 23rd of April 2021

How much time, from early arrival to departure, do you recommend I plan to spend there? Flying broom, prisoner of Azkaban photos, butter beer and gift shop time included?

Wednesday 9th of January 2019

I have to visit that it looks really cool and fun!!

Thursday 10th of January 2019

Honestly one of my all time favourite places!

From Butterbeer to magic wands: Everything you need to know about Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Andrea M. Rotondo

Editor's Note

A visit to Universal Orlando to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter had been on my wish list for a while. Suspension of disbelief takes place here every day. Visitors don wizarding robes, grab interactive wands and — at least for a day or two — pretend that they are following in the footsteps of Hermione, Ron and Harry, truly inhabiting the magical world of "Harry Potter."

There are families racing from ride to ride in Hogwarts-style robes and Harry Potter-style glasses. We witnessed the engagement of two fans right in front of Hogwarts Castle. We might even have wondered for a minute or two what it would be like to be able to cast spells and brew potions.

If this sounds like your cup of frozen Butterbeer, here's what you need to know to make the trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando a success.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more travel news, reviews and tips.

The dragon atop Gringotts breathes fire several times a day. (Photo by Andrea M. Rotondo/The Points Guy.)

When to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

There is no bad time to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, just times of the year when it may be more crowded or pretty darn hot. Don't overly stress over the choice of dates. Just check expected crowd levels at calendars like the ones from Undercover Tourist and and then use some strategies — like skip-the-line passes, VIP tours and early starts — to evade crowds if you need to (more on that later).

Related: Choosing the best Universal Orlando hotel for your trip

No. It doesn't really snow in Orlando but it does in Hogsmeade. (Photo by Leonard Hospidor.)

How to see more of The Wizarding World in less time

I won't lie to you. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter gets very crowded.

We visited Universal at what is a slower time of year and the attractions in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley were still jammed. If you want to see as much of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as possible in the shortest amount of time, there are some strategies you probably need to employ.

First, you can use Universal's Express Pass . This is a skip-the-line pass that works on most attractions at Universal's two theme parks. This includes within The Wizarding World, with the exception of Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

harry potter world school trip

There are three ways to get an Express Pass. The easiest way is to book one of Universal's on-site Premier hotels. If you stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel , Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort , you'll get a free Express Pass Unlimited to use throughout your visit. If you have a Premier-level Universal annual pass , you're entitled to Express Pass access beginning at 4 p.m.

Otherwise, you can purchase Express Passes:

  • Universal Express: Prices start at $79.99 per person per day for one park and $89.99 for two parks and go up to almost double that amount. This pass lets you skip the regular line one time per participating ride at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks.
  • Universal Express Unlimited: Prices start at $109.99 per person per day for one park and $119.99 for two parks, though prices vary quite a bit from day to day. An Unlimited pass lets you skip the regular lines at participating rides as many times as you want at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Be aware that the list of participating rides and attractions is subject to change, so check with Universal Orlando's website before you purchase an Express Pass to make sure the rides you're most interested in are included.

The best strategy to ensure you do as much as possible within the World of Harry Potter, short of a VIP tour, is to rope-drop Hagrid's at the park's opening and then use your Express Pass for all the other attractions.

harry potter world school trip

Speaking of VIP tours, there are two to choose from. You can book a small-group or private VIP experience at Universal. The price, while not cheap, packages together walk-on ride access during the tour, Express Passes and a dinner credit to use after the tour ends.

The small-group VIP tour starts at less than $200 per person while the private tour costs a few thousand dollars for the day. These tours will get you on rides like Hargrids that otherwise don't have short-cut access.

Related: How to get the most out of 1 day at Universal Orlando

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley

If you are staying at any of the on-site Universal hotels , you can get into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour earlier than general admission.

Which park opens early varies by day and sometimes both parks open early. The front desk agent should give you this information at check-in or you can check the Universal Orlando website for the most up-to-date information.

No matter which park is opening early, plan to arrive at the front gates at least 15 - 30 minutes before the Early Park Admission opening time. It's the only way to beat the crowds and make the most of your extra time.

harry potter world school trip

Only certain attractions open during Early Park Admission, but this typically includes all of the Wizarding World attractions. The ones you will most likely want to knock out are Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios Florida.

For Hagrid's, head to Islands of Adventure, take a right after passing through Port of Entry and head toward Seuss Landing. Universal team members will be on hand to scan your hotel keycard and allow you to go deeper into the park. Continue through Seuss Landing to The Lost Continent and you should see team members directing you toward the start of the line for Hagrid's.

harry potter world school trip

If Escape from Gringotts is first on your list, walk straight through Production Central and turn right when you reach the New York section of the park (in front of the Revenge of the Mummy attraction). Continue on until you see a replica of King's Cross Station on your left.

Be careful not to overshoot and walk past the somewhat hidden entrance to Diagon Alley. When you see an opening in a brick wall, you know you've found it.

Walk through the opening in this brick wall to enter Diagon Alley. (Photo by Leonard Hospidor.)

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Once you've entered Diagon Alley, walk straight to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts indoor steel roller coaster ride. You can't miss it; it's the building with the fire-breathing dragon perched on the roof.

Tip: Find any wizard or witch working in Diagon Alley and ask when the dragon will breathe fire next. The schedule is sporadic so asking is your best bet. Also, when you hear a low growl, that's your signal that this Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon is about to spew some fire.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley. Photo by Leonard Hospidor.)

There are free and paid lockers to the right of the line so you can stash your belongings before the ride.

Children must be 42 inches to ride; be sure your party meets that requirement so you don't get to the head of the line only to be turned away. There is also a "child swap" room where parents can take turns alternating riding or waiting with kiddos not tall enough (or ready) to ride.

There is also a test seat in front of the building where you can confirm whether or not the seating configuration will work for your body style.

Wait times can get long for this ride, but it does have an Express Pass line throughout most of the day. There's also a lot to look at while in line since you'll snake through the Gringotts bank lobby and see a multitude of goblins at work. The four chandeliers that hang inside the bank's lobby are made up of 62,000 individual crystals.

There is a photo opportunity in the line as you pass through Gringotts "security." You can purchase the photo after the ride if you'd like (this photo has been unavailable since the park reopened after a brief closure due to COVID-19).

This attraction was once The Wizarding World's flagship attraction, but it's been eclipsed by Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (both of which can be found in Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure). What's neat about Escape from Gringotts is the motion-based 3D projections that make you feel as if you're interacting with characters like Bill Weasley and the goblin Blordak.

Related: TPG's complete guide to Universal Orlando


After exiting the Gringotts ride, you're just across from Ollivanders, so get in line to see the show that depicts how a wand chooses its wizard, if this type of show appeals to you.

It's a very personal process. One lucky guest is picked from the audience and the wizard in residence facilitates the wand choosing. After the show, you're escorted next door to the wand shop where they'll box up the wand for you to take home … assuming you want to spend the $50 or so for the wand, which is optional. You can also forgo the wand that was chosen for you and pick out a replica of your favorite wizard's wand.

You can see the "wand picks the wizard" show at Ollivanders in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. (Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.)

If you weren't lucky enough to be chosen for the show, you can pick out and purchase your own wand.

Go for an interactive wand that helps you make magic — literally — at many locations in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Standard, non-interactive wands are also available if you are looking to save a little cash or your kids are too young to know the difference.

harry potter world school trip

Assuming you've purchased an interactive wand, look for brass medallions set into the pavement in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. These are the spots where you can cast spells and make magic. A map that plots each spot where you can cast spells is included with your wand purchase (including a few unmarked "secret wand spots"). Spells are categorized as easy, medium or hard. You also can order an interactive wand in advance of your trip or pick one up in the hotel gift shop at most on-site hotels.

Note that there is an identical Ollivanders wand experience at Hogsmeade, so feel free to skip the experience here if you'd prefer to see the show there later in your visit.

harry potter world school trip

Dine at the Leaky Cauldron

If you didn't eat breakfast before heading to Diagon Alley, now may be the right time to grab a table at the atmospheric Leaky Cauldron. Breakfast is pricey, but where else can you dine among witches and wizards? Breakfast plates for adults all ring in at $17.99 and include a small beverage (yes, you can have Butterbeer for breakfast).

harry potter world school trip

  • Traditional Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, sausage links, black pudding, English bacon, baked beans, grilled tomato, sauteed mushrooms and breakfast potatoes.
  • American Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, potatoes, crisp bacon, sausage link and a croissant.
  • Pancake Breakfast: Three buttermilk pancakes, crisp bacon, sausage link and a croissant.
  • Egg, Leek and Mushroom Pasty: Pastry-wrapped scrambled eggs, mushrooms and leeks served with potatoes and fruit.
  • Apple Oatmeal Flan with Yogurt & Fruit.

The kids breakfast plate — traditional, pancake or American — is $12.99. Pumpkin juice will set you back $4.99.

harry potter world school trip

If you're not a breakfast eater, leave this stop for lunchtime instead where you can order things like fish 'n' chips ($16.99), a ploughman's lunch (cheese, chutney, bread, pickles and Scotch egg) for two ($21.99), bangers and mash ($13.99) or a beef, lamb and Guinness stew ($15.99). Kids entrees include things like mac 'n' cheese and fish 'n' chips for $7.29. Desserts — sticky toffee pudding, Butterbeer potted cream or chocolate potted cream — shouldn't be missed.

Take in a 'Harry Potter'-themed show

While you're finishing breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron, take a look at the Universal Orlando app and find out when the shows in Diagon Alley will take place.

During our trip, we saw two shows here, including "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" — complete with puppets — and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. There's seating around the stage if you arrive early enough, or there's always plenty of standing room.

Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees

Gringotts Money Exchange

After the show, walk toward the Gringotts ride and you'll come upon the Gringotts Money Exchange. Go inside and don't be fooled. This isn't just a bank. Sure, there is a human clerk assisting with money exchanges here, but there is also a Gringotts goblin behind a teller's desk. Talk to him and he will interact with you. It's a neat experience — especially for curious kids.

The goblin at the Gringotts Money Exchange may frighten young children. (Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.)

Knockturn Alley

Knockturn Alley is dark, seedy and so well hidden that you might miss it. There are two entrances — one next to the Leaky Cauldron and one next to the Fountain of Fair Fortune.

harry potter world school trip

The enclosed space is dark and a cool break from the heat. There are also five neat spots where you can use your interactive wand to cast spells. There's also a shop, Borgin and Burkes, that's oozing plenty of dark magic and a few benches where you can rest a bit before continuing your exploration of Diagon Alley right outside.

Explore Knockturn Alley. It's dark and cool! (Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.)

Explore the shops of Diagon Alley

Once you've tried casting spells in Knockturn Alley, go back out into the bright Orlando sun to finish exploring Diagon Alley.

Diagon Alley (Photo by Andrea M. Rotondo/The Points Guy.)

Visit all the shops, and be on the lookout for a few "magic moments." Among them is a snake speaking Parseltongue in the window of the Magical Menagerie and a talking mirror in Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. Be forewarned, she isn't always complimentary of your wardrobe choices.

Related: Unlock more magic: 16 Universal Orlando secrets to know before your next trip

Pick up some souvenirs on Diagon Alley. (Photo by Andrea M. Rotondo/The Points Guy.)

And maybe get an ice cream at Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour, or a Butterbeer at The Fountain of Fair Fortune or The Hopping Pot.

The Hopping Pot is a nice spot to grab a drink and rest for a bit. (Photo by Andrea M. Rotondo/The Points Guy.)

One word of caution: Harry Potter souvenirs are pretty expensive. You may want to set a budget with your kids before exploring the shops or explain to them why you won't be purchasing certain items. Robes — with the emblem of your house stitched on them — will set you back $125. A Gryffindor Quidditch robe replica is $150, while Hermione Granger's Yule Ball Gown in youth sizes is $99.95. Yowza. No wonder many parents bring robes from home.

Check out the Knight Bus and 12 Grimmauld Place

Once you've seen everything on Diagon Alley, leave this part of The Wizarding World through the opening in the brick wall. Directly across you'll see the Knight Bus. Here you can meet the conductor and the shrunken head that hangs at the front of the bus. Kids and adults love interacting with these two. Sit by the fountain to listen in.

harry potter world school trip

Then, look across the way and you'll see a replica of a London street. Upon closer inspection, you'll see 12 Grimmauld Place, the home of Sirius Black (Harry Potter's godfather). He gifted the property to the Order of the Phoenix, which used it as a headquarters. Look up toward the second floor and you may catch a glimpse of Kreacher, the Black family house-elf, peering at you from the window.

Hogwarts Express – King's Cross Station

When you've thoroughly explored Diagon Alley and the streets of Harry Potter's London, it's time to make your way to King's Cross Station, where you'll board the Hogwarts Express and ride the train to Hogsmeade. Remember: You can only ride the Hogwarts Express if you have a Park-to-Park ticket. If you've got one-day, one-park tickets, there is no way to experience this attraction.

Hogwarts Express. (Photo by Andrea M. Rotondo/The Points Guy.)

The wait queue is convincing and it appears as if you are waiting for a train in London. Pay attention to everything as you near the train platform. A neat mirror trick makes it look like you burst through a brick wall to reappear unharmed on Platform 9 3/4. The train whistle builds excitement, and when you see steam escaping from the locomotive, you'll know you're almost ready to board.

Eight passengers are loaded onto each car and it truly looks as if you're departing London on your way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The ride's spectacle takes place on the train windows. Be prepared to see some Dementors on the four-minute trip to Hogsmeade. The show is slightly different on the return trip, so be sure you ride it both ways.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade

You'll find Hogsmeade inside the Islands of Adventure theme park. Here, you can visit both the town of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

harry potter world school trip

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

If you have your heart set on riding this thrill coaster, get in line as soon as you arrive in Hogsmeade. Wait times can get intense and the attraction does not accept Universal Express.

Should you miss riding at park opening, then rather than walking to the back of the park where Hagrid's is located, you can check wait times in the Universal Orlando app. You can even set wait time alerts and receive a push notification on your phone when the wait time drops below your designated limit.

harry potter world school trip

This is by far the fastest ride in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It reaches speeds up to 50 mph and includes both spikes into the air and fast drops. You need to be at least 48 inches tall to experience it. You'll either ride Hagrid's motorcycle or get in the sidecar.

Either spot will make your heart pound, but I think the ride in the sidecar is a bit easier for anyone that might be nervous.

Hogwarts Castle

While we'll talk about the ride that takes place inside Hogwarts Castle next, I wanted to mention the castle itself first.

You can see Hogwarts from many distant points in Islands of Adventure. It looks magical from afar but even more impressive as you stand beneath its turrets. There is a bridge with wonderful views of the castle as you leave Jurassic Park and enter Hogsmeade. This is where you can grab that quintessential photo of the castle -- don't miss it.

harry potter world school trip

We visited during the holiday season and were treated to "The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle." As the sky gets dark, the castle is lit up with projections that include scenes from the books, faux fireworks, lasers and more. It is one of those experiences where your jaw will drop and you'll feel like magic is happening. If you're visiting during the holidays, it's worth it to stick around after dark to see this unique show.

On select nights during other times of the year, Universal shows "The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle," a similar show, but without the holiday music and wintry scenes.

Christmas at Hogwarts Castle

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was my favorite ride in all of Universal and the queue itself is filled with interesting scenes from the books.

When we visited, we zipped right through the line with our Express Passes and were disappointed that we didn't see all the neat things leading up to the ride. We decided to ride a second time and went through the normal wait line. We didn't wait that long (maybe 25 minutes) but we were able to take our time to inspect things like Professor Sprout's herbology greenhouse and Dumbledore's office with his talking portrait and the Mirror of Erised.

There are a lot of details to take in as you wait in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. (Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.)

I was a little worried that I might not be able to ride this attraction since I'm heavyset. Universal's park guide notes that certain body types might not comfortably fit in the seat, which has a safety bar that comes over your head and shoulders to lock into place at your waistline.

For that reason, there is a pair of seats in front of Hogwarts Castle at the entrance for this ride. If you're not sure the seat will work for you, you can try it out before getting in line. If your waist is larger than 40 inches, you might not be able to ride.

There is another set of test seats about halfway through the queue and I did see two people turned away after an attendant tested them. If there's any doubt that you may not fit comfortably in the seat, try it out before waiting in line.

On this ride, you "ride a broomstick" in and around Hogwarts Castle. The attraction is a "robocoaster," where a robotic arm holds your seat above a track and you pivot in a multitude of directions. It makes you feel as if you're flying through the air and, if you are prone to motion sickness, may make you feel like you need to relieve the contents of your stomach when you disembark.

The ride is dark at times, with encounters with dangers like Aragog the spider in the Forbidden Forest, the Whomping Willow and a gang of Dementors. But you'll also screech around the Quidditch field. You must be 48 inches or taller to ride Forbidden Journey. There are lockers to the right of the castle entrance to store your belongings. Trust us, you don't want anything on your head or in your pockets during this ride.

Flight of the Hippogriff

Flight of the Hippogriff, dubbed a "family-friendly coaster," is across from the lockers at Hogwarts Castle.

The twists, turns and drops reminded me of a slightly tamer Big Thunder Mountain Railroad from Disney World's Magic Kingdom. My husband is not a fan of roller coasters and didn't want to ride this one — even if it is just a "junior" coaster — so I went alone. Plenty of little kids were riding and loving it; children have to be just 36 inches tall or taller to ride.

This "junior" roller coaster is a hit with kids and adults. (Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.)

This ride is super quick, so I had to ride a few times to take it all in. The track is elevated so you get a nice view of Hogsmeade. The queue is neat, too, as you walk by Hagrid's Hut and on to an open area where you'll recognize the Care of Magical Creatures class site.

Related: 7 magical places every 'Harry Potter' fan should visit

Take a break and see a show

After enjoying the rides, it might be a good time to see one of the shows staged in Hogsmeade throughout the day.

When we visited, we saw the Frog Choir (a special version for the Christmas holiday) and the Triwizard Spirit Rally. The stage is small but we never had trouble getting a close-up spot as long as we arrived a few minutes before showtime. Check the paper guide given out at the park entrance or the Universal Orlando app for showtimes.

Triwizard Spirit Rally

If you didn't see the "wand picks a wizard" show at the Ollivanders location at Diagon Alley in Universal Studios, you can get in line to see it here. (See the Diagon Alley section above for a full description of the experience.) After the show, shop for a wand if you don't already have one. There are some neat spots in Hogsmeade where you can cast spells with it.

Dine out, enjoy a drink and go shopping

You can't truly say you've seen Hogsmeade until you've had a meal at the Three Broomsticks or grabbed a drink at the Hog's Head bar next door (serving Butterbeer, beer and spirits).

Hog's Head. (Photo by Leonard Hospidor.)

At Three Broomsticks, many families opt for The Great Feast, which includes a salad plus a combination of rotisserie smoked chicken, spareribs, corn on the cob and roast potatoes. (A platter for four is $69.99; additional servings are $17.99.)

You can also buy British favorites like fish 'n' chips, beef pasties, smoked turkey legs and shepherd's pie, and there are soups and salads on the menu at both lunch and dinner. Kids ages 9 and younger pick from fish 'n' chips, chicken fingers, chicken legs and mac 'n' cheese — each entree is $7.49.

Nonalcoholic Butterbeer (regular or frozen) is $7.99, while pumpkin juice and pumpkin fizz are $4.99. Two draught beers on tap are Hog's Head Brew and Dragon Scale (both $9.49).

Three Broomsticks also serves breakfast daily until 10:30 a.m.

harry potter world school trip

When you're ready to roll out of Three Broomsticks, get ready to do a bit of shopping. Honeydukes is a sweet shop filled with confections like Exploding Bonbons, Cauldron Cakes, Fizzing Whizzbees, Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs.

You can mail postcards or letters from the Owl Post, complete with an official Hogsmeade postmark. You can also purchase all kinds of writing implements (think quills and seals) as well as owl-themed souvenirs.

If you didn't ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you would have missed Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods since the ride empties into this shop. This is a terrific shop if you're looking for house crest banners, T-shirts, hats or scarves.

Get your Hogwarts uniforms and robes, Sneakoscopes, Quaffles and Golden Snitches at Dervish and Banges.

Hogwarts Express – Hogsmeade Station

When you're ready to leave this part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, walk through the arch toward Hogsmeade Station and get in line for the Hogwarts Express.

Hogsmeade (Photo by Leonard Hospidor.)

The train will take you back to "London" at Universal Studios. The experience is a bit different in each direction, so be sure to hop on — even if you rode the train from London to Hogsmeade earlier in the day.

Hogwarts Express - Hogsmeade Station

Related: Choose the best hotel at Universal Orlando

Buying the right ticket for Harry's world

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade is part of Islands of Adventure while The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley can be found at Universal Studios, this is important when it comes to choosing your ticket.

Splitting this land into two sections was a brilliant move on Universal's part since it means you need to purchase the upgraded Park-to-Park admission ticket if you wish to see both parts of Harry's world on the same day.

That also means holding a Park-to-Park ticket or a Universal annual pass are the only ways you can ride the Hogwarts Express train attraction between the two lands. The Hogwarts Express is more than just a mode of transportation — it's an attraction in and of itself. Leave time to take the train in both directions because the experience is different depending on which way you're headed.

You can use single-day one-park tickets to visit each land separately, but there's no way to use those tickets to board the Hogwarts Express.

Hogwarts Express (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy.)

You can buy Universal tickets for one, two, three, four or five days.

Universal's website sometimes offers special promotions for multiday passes that throw in extras like a skip-the-line Express Pass, discounted admission to the Volcano Bay water park or a free day at Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure.

The least expensive tickets let you explore one park per day. Unless that's the only option on the table, for Harry Potter you really want the Park-to-Park tickets that allow you to visit both theme parks on the same day. That gives you the ultimate in flexibility and access to the Hogwarts Express.

If you plan to visit the parks for more than just a few days, or you think you may visit Universal Orlando twice or more in 12 months, consider a Universal annual pass . I never dreamed I'd become a Universal annual pass holder, but when I planned our trip, I had my eye on a special promotion that gave you an extra day in the parks when you bought a two-day pass.

I thought that was a good deal — but when I looked at pricing for a Florida resident annual pass, I found out it was only $8 per ticket more than the special promotional pass. For just a few bucks more, I went for the annual pass; now we can go back to Universal and get free admission until the pass expires.

When buying Universal tickets, look at all the combinations and prices to determine which is the best deal for your family.

Where to buy Universal tickets

You can purchase your tickets directly from Universal. Alternatively, you can buy from well-respected third-party vendors like Undercover Tourist . This can be an especially good idea right after a ticket price hike. Often, Undercover Tourist will have some tickets left over at the lower price for a few days or weeks after a ticket price increase.

Additionally, ticket purchases from Undercover Tourist typically code as travel for the purposes of earning or redeeming credit card points. Bookmark that site and comparison shop whenever you are buying tickets for Universal or other theme parks like Walt Disney World.

Related: Best credit cards to use for Universal Studios

How to use points to buy Universal tickets

Savvy parkgoers might want to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou points to buy their Universal Orlando theme park admission. But, at least for now, this option may not be available when you search.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve , you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. Or, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card , you can redeem for travel through the portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.

Historically, Univeral Orlando tickets have often been available through the Chase travel portal at rates comparable to Universal's direct pricing. However, as of writing this article, we weren't able to find any Universal Orlando tickets bookable through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. So, although it's worth checking, don't get your hopes up.

If you've got a stash of Citi ThankYou points , you can use them through the Citi ThankYou travel portal to redeem for activities, including tickets to select attractions and theme parks. However, as of writing, we didn't find any options to redeem for Universal Orlando tickets. This may change though, so check out the Citi ThankYou portal to review your options.

Related: How to use points to save money at Universal Orlando

What credit card to use at Universal

There is no one answer to the question: Which credit card should I use at Universal Orlando? The answer depends on how and where you purchase your theme park tickets and how that credit card codes purchases.

Data points from many travelers tell us that tickets bought at an on-site Universal hotel and charged to the hotel room have coded as "travel," but tickets and VIP tours purchased directly from Universal have coded as "entertainment."

If you know your charge will code as travel, you'll do well to use any of the best credit cards for general travel purchases , including:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve — 3 points per dollar spent.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — 2 points per dollar spent.
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card — 2 points per dollar spent.

However, if you think your purchase will code as entertainment, you'll want to use one of the best cards for entertainment spending .

Related: Best credit cards for Disney and Universal vacations

Bottom line

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is an incredible place to visit for muggles and wizards alike.

The rides and attractions are fantastic. It's fun to watch the daily performances that all relate to an aspect of Harry's magical world, and you must raise a pint of Butterbeer (or one of the beers specially brewed for The Wizarding World) in one of the themed establishments across the land — from the Leaky Cauldron to the Three Broomsticks to the Hog's Head and other neat spots.

To get the most out of your visit, splurge on Park-to-Park tickets and pair that with an Express Pass (might as well throw in valet parking while you are at it). Only then will you be able to get in early and (with a little magic) skip the worst of the lines. The added expense is truly worth it. If you're a "Harry Potter" fan, this is a theme park you'll want to return to again and again.


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London Cultural School Trips & Tours

An exciting London cultural tour offers pupils the opportunity to cover many aspects of their curriculum in a short space of time. Almost 600 groups travel to London with NST every year.

By choosing NST, you’ll receive valuable advice and expertise on hundreds of visits, as well as excellent prices at top attractions, West End shows and pupil-friendly accommodation.

Prices start from £225 pp

Price Shown includes

  • 1 night's B&B accommodation
  • Executive coach transport from & to school & throughout your stay
  • Group travel insurance
  • 1 in 8 free place ratio

Price shown is based on 40 paying passengers departing from selected departure points and is subject to availability.

On-tour support

On-tour support includes...

  • Pre-booked meals at great group prices
  • Pre-booked and pre-paid London Underground tickets


Popular options in London

  • YHA London Thameside
  • Premier Inn London Hanger Lane
  • Royal National Hotel

Highlights of London Blue Badge Guided Tour

See the major sights of the city. An expert Blue Badge Guide will join you on your coach and bring the Capital to life for your group. Sights may include Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral.

The London Eye

A classroom with a moving view! Standing 135m tall on the South Bank of the River Thames, nothing says iconic like The London Eye.

Since 2000, this world-famous structure has taken over 75 million people on a journey into London’s skyline. Be inspired with our Skyline Workshops. At an additional cost, these enhanced in-pod experiences are delivered by our education hosts and include interactive activities and interesting facts on London's iconic skyline.

Developed in collaboration with education specialists, teachers can book either a KS2/KS3 version.

Thames River Cruise

Take in London’s best-loved sights on this enjoyable cruise. Your students will gain an insight into the many layers of history that have built up along the river, from the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge to the '' London Eye.

West End Shows

A West End show is a magical and unforgettable experience and a must for groups visiting the city! Catch a show at one of the capital's famous theatres with tickets to an array of award-winning plays and spectacular musicals, including the Lion King and Wicked! 

There are so many popular options to choose from and we can book any show for your group. Plus, our dedicated in-house theatre team and our links with the best ticket providers means we’ll be able to reserve your first choice tickets.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter

Step on to authentic sets, discover the magic behind spellbinding special effects and explore the behind-the-scenes secrets of the Harry Potter film series. Tread the original stone floor of the iconic Hogwarts Great Hall, encounter animatronic creatures and wander down Diagon Alley. Your Harry Potter World school trip is located at the Studios where all 8 films were produced.

45 minute workshops are also available, covering Art and Design, Business Studies, English and Drama, Film and Media and STEM subjects, as well as Primary.

Science Museum

The Science Museum is packed with awe-inspiring galleries, interactive resources and inspirational exhibitions. Your students can explore the hands-on galleries which cover a wide range of subject areas.

The museum also offers a great selection of curriculum-linked schools events and shows, and stunning 3D films in their IMAX Cinema.

Science Museum resources are also available and free to download.

New in 2022 - Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery:

Aimed at KS3 & KS4 levels, students will get to explore this gallery and get hands on with interactive exhibits which simulate job-related tasks. Students can experience what it's like to create visual effects on a film set, analyse blood samples in a lab, fix a fault on a wind turbine and plenty more.

Natural History Museum

On a Natural History Museum school trip , your students can explore the natural world and discover the amazing diversity of life that has evolved on our planet. Study a range of themes including climate change, evolution and the natural environment, helping to give your students an understanding of the impact that science has on their lives.

Exploring the human biology gallery, which covers memory and how our memory functions and an insight into the human body.

Stage School Theatre Workshop – Stage Combat

Your group will learn about the relationship between acting and fight choreography. Discover how fights are choreographed and hone your collaboration skills whilst creating your own combat.

Stage School Workshops are delivered by qualified teaching artists (so you can get involved too) and can be tailored to your chosen show, as well as your curriculum requirements.

Stage School Theatre Workshop – West End 101

A popular and versatile interactive workshop designed to enhance the participants’ night in the West End. In a fun and relaxed environment, students are taught skills and techniques used by professional actors inspired by the themes of the show they see. 

Wicked tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz. The spectacular production and incredible story inspires discussion about propaganda, tolerance, bullying and friendship. 

On show at: The Apollo Victoria Theatre  Times: Tuesday - Saturday evenings at 7.30pm, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2.30pm  Running time: 2hrs 45mins  School prices available: Tuesday - Thursday evenings, Wednesday matinees.

Educational packs and workshops available. For more information on the show's educational programme, for more information please contact us.

Stranger Things

Brand New for 2024   from the much loved Netflix TV series.

BEFORE THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN… Hawkins, 1959: a regular town with regular worries. Young Jim Hopper’s car won’t start, Bob Newby’s sister won’t take his radio show seriously and Joyce Maldonado just wants to graduate and get the hell out of town. When new student Henry Creel arrives, his family finds that a fresh start isn’t so easy… and the shadows of the past have a very long reach. Brought to life by a multi-award-winning creative team, who take theatrical storytelling and stagecraft to a whole new dimension, this gripping new adventure will take you right back to the beginning of the Stranger Things story – and may hold the key to the end.

Show at : Phoenix Theatre Times: Tuesday - Saturday 7pm, Friday & Saturday Matinees 1pm & Sunday 3pm Running time: Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes including an interval Age Recommendation: 12 and over. School prices available: Tuesday - Thursday evening and Friday matinee

Frozen the Musical

This brand new West End musical celebrates the extraordinary story of two sisters that melted hearts across the world. 

With ground-breaking sets and special effects, incredible costumes and innovative stagecraft combine to stunning effect in this magical experience that will delight your pupils and sweep you away to the world of Arendelle with all its heart, humour and powerful storytelling.

Your favourite songs from the film combine with a brand new score from Grammy® and Academy-Award®-winning 'Let It Go' songwriting duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The set design, special effects and costumes come together in a breathtaking wonderland experience, the likes of which you've come to expect from the producers of such other Disney stage productions as The Lion King and Aladdin.

On show at: London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane  School rate available

CLOSING - 8th September 2024

HADESTOWN takes you on an unforgettable journey to the underworld and back, intertwining two mythic love stories – that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone.

Show at   Lyric Theatre  Times   Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm Sunday 3pm Matinee Thursday & Saturday 2.30pm Running time   2hrs 25 mins School prices available   Tuesday – Thursday evenings and matinee Thursday and Saturday

My Neighbour Totoro

A landmark new adaption of Studio Ghibli's classic coming-of-age film, My Neighbour Totoro explores the magical world of childhood and the power of imagination. The story follows an extraordinary summer in the lives of two sisters as they are transported to a long-forgotten realm of sprite, spirits and natural wonder. A must-see for anime fans!

On show at:  Barbican Theatre Times: 21st November 2023 - 23rd March 2024. Evening performances Monday - Saturday at 7pm. Matinee performances Thursday & Saturday at 2pm. Running time:  To be confirmed.  

The world’s largest collection of decorative and applied arts. Some areas focus on the history of costume and are of particular interest to pupils studying textiles. The holdings of ceramics, glass, costumes, jewellery, furniture, sculpture, prints and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world.

Art Galleries

Appreciate works of art, both old and new, at the fantastic galleries on offer in the city.

The Tower of London

Help to develop pupils’ understanding on the nature of authority and attitudes to crime and punishment in the early modern period on their school trip to Tower of London . An ideal opportunity for a more in-depth study of Guy Fawkes and his  attempt to destroy the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

Imperial War Museum

After a major redevelopment, the museum features groundbreaking WWI Galleries which will present the story - how it started, why it continued and its global impact - through the lives of those who experienced it on both the front line and the home front. The Witness to War atrium displays iconic larger objects including a Harrier, Spitfire and V2 rocket suspended from above.

3D Printing Workshops

Take a 21st century approach to embedding technology learning in school, and introduce your students to the world of 3D printing where a solid object of virtually any shape can be created from a digital model. 

In our Introduction to 3D Printing workshop, students will get hands on with 3D computer modelling and see designs turned into real life on a 3D printer. All students will receive a certificate of attendance and will take away a 3D printed item too.

Other workshops include:

Understanding 2D and 3D Create 2D and 3D shapes through designing a house in Sketchup. Look at the difference between a 2D representation of the shape and the 3D model itself. What is a plan and how would an architect use 2D and 3D shapes to represent their project?

Natural Geometries  Create simple shapes like triangles, squares and arcs. And through learning simple ideas such as angles and rotation, turn these shapes into amazing nature-like structures such as snowflakes and shells.

For maths groups, we can also offer full day workshops at The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park combining a tour of Bletchley Park, a visit to Colossus (the first electronic computer) and a hands-on processing or 3D printing workshop.

The Royal Courts of Justice - Court In Session

Suitable for KS3-5, this exciting visit to the historic Royal Courts of Justice will have your group talking for weeks! You can choose from a wide range of quality learning experiences. 

This two-hour session takes place in a working court room and around the courts. 

Students will:

  • Be introduced to the Royal Courts of Justice and what happens there
  • Prepare and enact a trial based on an ex-offender’s experiences
  • Explore roles in a court room and meet a legal professional where possible
  • Discuss and debate real sentencing options

Jack the Ripper Walking Tour

Discover firsthand the historical context of Whitechapel in the late 19th century as well as in-depth historical knowledge on Jack the Ripper.

This informative evening activity led by expert guides provides an insight into the crimes including what they reveal about the history and social conditions in the East End of London at the time. The site is also near Cable Street so the study visit can include work on 20th century protest.

London Dungeons

The London Dungeon has been delighting audiences for over 40 years and brings together an amazing cast of theatrical actors, special effects, scenes and rides in an exciting walk-through experience that lets you see, hear and smell historic London and its perilous past. Get pupils thinking about spoken language and stage directions as they review script writing and explore the physical creation of a show as they look at the design process, including room layout, make-up and costume design and highlight the importance of historical accuracy in relation to topic, characters and set design. 

St Paul’s Cathedral - themed tours

At St Paul’s Cathedral, students can study an iconic Christian place of worship and learn about the beliefs and practices of the Church of England through a number of themed tours suitable for KS3-KS5, including: The World of Worship, The Bible: Is it Relevant in Today’s World?, The Big Issues, ‘Jesus’ Fact or Fiction for Today’s Society and Christianity Through Art & Design. General guided tours suitable for different age groups can also be provided.

Madame Tussauds

The world of the Media is a creative and inspiring one, where ideas combine with drama, excitement and humour to keep us entertained and engaged. A fully interactive experience, Madame Tussauds will inspire, enthuse and immerse pupils in celebrity culture and modern media as they walk among the stars!

Disney's The Lion King Education Workshops

Everyone from beginners to professionals can experience the thrill of the West End through these hands-on explorations of theatrical performances that are led by expert Disney teaching artists. Options include: 

Spotlight on Acting  - ages 9 +

Spotlight on Movement & Music -  ages 7 +

Spotlight on Singing  - ages 12 +

Spotlight on Dancing  - ages 14 +

The View from The Shard

The View from The Shard offers a unique education experience – it is the only place where students can see the entire city at once; both old and new! Two high speed kaleidoscopic lifts will transport your group to the viewing platforms on Level 69 and Level 72 where you can encourage your student’s fascination with the history of London and enjoy the unparalleled 360 degree views.

Educational visits can support learning across both the National and London Curriculum, including History, English, Maths, Geography, and Art and Design.

Harry Potter London Walking Tour

Take a Harry Potter Walking Tour into the magical world of wizardry in London! Learn about London’s rich muggle and wizarding history, amazing facts about the books and films and see many of the Harry Potter film locations used in London, including the Ministry of Magic and the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. The tour features familiar Harry Potter film locations as well as iconic London landmarks and attractions including St Paul’s Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern, Borough and Leadenhall Markets and Monument.

London Film Locations Walking Tour

This guided London film locations walking tour is action-packed with sites from Comic Book movies. You will follow on screen heroes such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Jack Ryan and the Thunderbirds as they fight to protect London and defeat the forces of evil.  You’ll see how London has been used by movie makers from all over the world to represent both the British capital – home to on screen heroes such as James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, but can also stand in for numerous other locations from across the globe including St Petersburg, Switzerland and even Gotham City!

Wicked Workshop

Official Wicked Workshops offer a programme of engaging sessions that offer outstanding,unique experiences and are tailored to meet the needs of your group. Choose from:  The Official Wicked Wellbeing Workshop, exploring practical and meaningful ways to enhance our physical and mental wellbeing.

The Official Wicked Anti-Bullying Workshop, developed in partnership with the Anti-Bullying Alliance, challenging us all to look beyond first impressions.

The Official Wicked Musical Theatre Workshop, a multi-layered workshop focusing on storytelling for musical theatre.

Creative Media Skills Institute Workshops

A specialised workshop at the Creative Media Skills Institute is a great way to introduce your group to a number of techniques and applications used in the media industry.

Choose from: Costume Breakdown, Drafting, FX Makeup, Prosthetics Makeup, Period Hair Styling, Intro into Film Directing, Intro into Set Dressing and Props Making.

Based in the heart of Pinewood Studios and surrounded by its original three stages, CMSI bring existing and working film crew directly off the set to lead their courses. After coming through studio security students will walk down Goldfinger Avenue and past the iconic 007 stage to reach the state of the art CMSI studio. Students will be introduced to Pinewood Studios, the media industry as a whole and will hear what working in the industry is really like and the many career opportunities available. Each workshop is run by an instructor who is a specialist in their field and includes a live demo and a practical session.

Walk Eat Talk Eat - 3 hour food & drink walking tour

Take a walking tour through the streets of London to share a great food experience. You will try modern and traditional dishes, British treats and food from far away. The tours centre around a few different food and drink stops where you may sit down and dine at the venue, pick up the food and taste it outside, or just walk and talk with the food.

ClueQuest - The Live Escape Room

The escape rooms at clueQuest provide an array of unique, cooperative and intuitive logic-based tasks. These are designed to ensure that no prior knowledge is required, making them perfect for all age groups. Which are nonetheless challenging and therefore make for a rewarding work-out of the following crucial soft-skills: Communication, teamwork, problem-solving, attitude and leadership.

Shakespeare’s Globe Guided Tour and Experience

Open all year round, the Globe guided tour gives you an opportunity to learn more about this unique building and its most famous playwright, Shakespeare. 

The new Globe Experience combines an interactive look at theatre-craft, the unique story of Shakespeare's Globe. Discover how the magic of stories are brought to life in a newly interpreted space beneath Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre! With help from experts, you’ll immerse yourself in the world of Shakespeare’s storytelling, from the creation of his works to the way they are interpreted today. Explore how different elements of stagecraft are combined to bring these stories to life in the beautiful and unique ‘Wooden O’ and candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Tate Modern

Britain’s spectacular museum of modern and contemporary international art. Themes include landscapes, environment, still life, action, and the body. The viewing level offers awe-inspiring 360ᵒ views of the London skyline from high above the River Thames, whilst The Tanks celebrate new art and showcase performances, interactive art and video installations.

National Gallery

An outstanding collection of Old Masters from the early Renaissance to 1900. A collection of Old Masters’ works from the early Renaissance onwards. The five floors and wings are arranged chronologically, making it easy for your pupils to track artistic progression. Examples include Giotto, Duccio, and many more.

National Theatre Backstage Tour

On our London theatre trips for schools, you students will get the opportunity to go backstage at Britain’s largest theatre complex to discover the secrets behind bringing productions to the stage. Your group will get exclusive access to unseen parts of the building, including the workshops where sets and props are created, on a tour led by an experienced and enthusiastic guide.

Wembley Tour

Visit the new stadium and take a 90-minute tour. See England’s changing rooms, the players’ warm-up zone, VIP reception area, the Royal Box, dugouts, the post-match interview area, press conference room, treatment rooms and the Bobby Moore Statue. You can even ‘Lift the Cup’!

Educational workshops are also available for Business Studies, English and History.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Tour

Step behind the scenes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on this immersive, self-guided experience and learn about how the stadium has been designed to create one of the best matchday experiences in the world. Gain exclusive access to First Team areas, as well as the custom-designed NFL facilities. Gain an insight into how the players prepare on a matchday and follow their journey by walking out of the first-team changing rooms, through the tunnel, and into the dugouts - you can almost hear the crowd!

Horizon 22 is London's highest free viewing platform. Located on Level 58, the viewing platform offers 300-degree views of London, showcasing its most iconic landmarks.

The Twist Museum

If you are a teacher who is looking for a fun and educational school field trip, then Twist Museum is the right place for you. Full of thoughtful, multisensory exhibits that explore the science of perception, optical illusion, and how much our brains are working to interpret the world.

Twist Museum is comprised of 65 unique exhibits, from how we interpret colour, light and sound to a whole room devoted to perspective and how we see objects in real space. The museum strives to capture a healthy balance between entertainment and play and education and learning, with pupils of all ages enjoying our multisensory exhibits.

Our Country's Good

In this brand new production, Timberlake Wertenbaker revisits her seminal play examining power and justice in the British justice system. Olivier award winning classic based on the extraordinary true story of Australia’s first penal colony. With deportation as punishment more relevant than ever before, Our Country’s Good takes on new meaning in 2024.

Dates:  5th September - 5th October 2024 Show at: Lyric Hammersmith Theatre Times: Monday - Wednesday 7.30pm, Matinees Wednesday 1.30pm & Saturday 2.30pm Running time: Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes Age Recommendation: 14 and over. School prices available: Monday - Wednesday evening 

A visceral and contemporary new production that speaks to a world we find ourselves living in now, asking why has Macbeth haunted our fears and nightmares for centuries, and what lesson this cautionary tale is still urgently trying to communicate to us? 

Dates:  28th February - 29th March 2025

Show at: Lyric Hammersmith Theatre Times: Monday - Wednesday 7.30pm, Matinees Wednesday 1.30pm & Saturday 2.30pm Running time : Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes including an interval Age Recommendation: 14 and over. School prices available: Monday - Wednesday evening

Content guidance: Murder, Infanticide, inference of child loss, stage blood, and violence against women.

This production contains strobe lighting and other strong lighting effects, as well as loud noises.

Activities & enrichment week trip ideas

Your pupils will have a week of learning about science, technology, engineering, and maths!

With many intriguing visits and hands-on workshops, this four-day trip to London will be both practical and fun.

• Visit the ArcelorMittal Orbit based in the grounds of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park .

• Spend a full day in the Science Museum :

The Interactive gallery

‘Engineer your future’ presents a series of interactive experiences based on key engineering skills used by real-life engineers.

The object gallery

‘Tomorrow’s World’ presents topical science and technology stories, from the most surprising, the biggest breakthroughs, to the headline-grabbing gadgets. Using displays and touch-screen interactives, gain insights into:

• Advances in modern science and technology.

• The way scientists work.

• Social and ethical implications of scientific and technological developments.

• Take part in a web development workshop .

• Have a fun afternoon in Madame Tussauds .

• See the city sights on a cruise up the River Thames .

• Take a ride on the London Eye .

Photography Week

Take your budding photographers out for a fun-filled four days in London, experiencing different types of shots.

Combine this with one-day back at school with a lesson on photo manipulation, followed by a presentation from your pupils of their pictures and what they’ve learnt during the week.

• Visit the Photography Centre at the Victoria & Albert Museum - The V&A has been collecting photographs since 1856, and it was one of the first museums to present photography exhibitions. The museum has now added the Royal Photographic Society collection to its holdings, which contains around 270,000 photographs, an extensive library, and 6,000 cameras and pieces of equipment associated with leading artists and photographic pioneers.

• Take part in a Lion King workshop with expert Disney Teaching Artists , perfect for your pupils to take some fun action shots of each other.

• Take a ride on the London Eye and practise cityscape and panoramic photography followed by a walking tour of London , capturing the urban environment - you never know what or who you’re going to come across on the streets of London, from street performers and street art to architectural landmarks and a plethora of impeccably designed buildings.

Task your pupils with colour and black and white imagery .

• See the city sights on a cruise up the River Thames .

• Spend some free time shopping in Covent Garden .

Theatre Week

Unlock your pupils’ inner thespian by taking them on an exciting trip through the world of theatre with four days in London – combine this with a day of in-school activity such as writing and performing their own small-scale show!

• Watch a West End Show of your choice.

• Take part in two practical workshops ;

We offer a range of expert-led workshops to suit your specific needs whether your focus is on theatre, performing arts, English and drama, literature and creative writing or dance.

• Take a backstage tour of The National Theatre and discover the secrets behind bringing productions to the stage. You’ll get exclusive access to unseen parts of the building, including the workshops where sets and props are created.

• Visit Shakespeare’s Globe exhibition & tour followed by a 30-minute live demonstration , options include:

• Stage Fighting

• Elizabethan Dressing

• Plus, experience a ‘stand in the yard’ outdoor evening performance

• Allow some free time shopping in Covent Garden and watch the street performers.

• A three-hour programme at London Film Academy – workshops and seminars will cover key areas of cinematography and storyboarding.

• A hands-on practical teaching session with City Academy for a workshop in filmmaking. Instruction on storyboarding, camera, lighting, and sound.

• Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter tour plus workshop, options include:

• Pitching

• Instructional Writing

• Script to Screen

• Costume Characterisation

• The Distressing Process

• Camera Choices

• BFI Imax - Get the pop-corn out and sit back and watch a recent release on Britain’s biggest screen or, enjoy a private morning viewing from a choice from their extensive library.

• London Film Locations Walking Tour  - You’ll see how London has been used by movie makers from all over the world to represent both the British capital – home to on screen heroes such as James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, but can also stand in for numerous other locations from across the globe including St Petersburg, Switzerland and even Gotham City!

• Shopping time in Covent Garden .

Evening activites

  • West End Show
  • Jack the Ripper walking tour
  • Imax cinema

Available from any location in the UK, our executive coaches are fitted with seatbelts, toilet facilities, air conditioning, DVD and reclining seats.

Rail is a convenient travel option for small groups, ideal for connections to Eurostar, major airports and travel to many city destinations.

Giving you full support throughout

Before your tour

  • Your own dedicated NST contact
  • Bespoke tour itineraries
  • Unrivalled local knowledge & expertise
  • Curriculum linked visit programmes
  • Great value for money - no hidden costs
  • Free group leader inspection visits
  • Risk assessment guidance
  • Safety assured, transport, accommodation and visits

Whilst you're away

  • Free educational resources
  • Group-friendly accommodation
  • Exceptional standards of coaching
  • On-tour support from our reps on the ground
  • Support & assistance from our specialists throughout your tour
  • 24/7 support just a call away
  • Extensive group travel insurance

On your return

  • Priority rebooking services
  • Rewarding your loyalty with our reward scheme
  • You say, we listen - we're committed to continuously improving our tours
  • School travel company of choice since 1967

harry potter world school trip

harry potter world school trip

Magical Escapes: 5 Harry Potter Theme Parks That'll Transport You To Hogwarts And Beyond!

F or every Potterhead out there, the ultimate dream has been to get a Hogwarts acceptance letter. However, for now, let's settle for getting to know the magic realm from a closer perspective.

From the enchanting Diagon Alley in Orlando to the mystical wonders of Beijing’s Wizarding World, here are the top 5 Harry Potter theme places around the globe to fuel your imagination:

The Unforgettable Enchantment Of Diagon Alley In Orlando, Florida 

Step onto the enchanting streets of  Diagon Alley , dine at the  Leaky Cauldron and choose a wand at the  Ollivanders  by going to the  Wizarding World of Harry Potter  in  Universal City , Orlando, Florida. 

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Flight Of Hippogriff At The Wizarding World In Beijing, China 

Harry Potter fans will get everything here, from a tour of Hogwarts castle to a visit to Hogsmeade and thrilling rides like the flight of Hippogriff.

Embark On The Reel To Real life Journey At Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London

Explore original sets, props, and costumes from the Harry Potter movies and also get the opportunity to engage in wand lessons (or duels). You can also take a broom ride. 

Discover The Wonders Of Gringotts Wizarding Bank, Florida 

Enter into the world of Gringotts, owned and operated by goblins, and plan an adventurous escape to Diagon Alley while evading he-who-must-not-be-named. 

Source: Universal Orlando Resort

The Mystical Marvels Of The Magical World At Universal Studios, Los Angeles, California

Have some Butterbeer with your friends, watch processions of students from  Beauxbatons  and  Durmstrang , and immerse yourself in the world of magical creatures, teenage heroes, and dark villains. 

Source: Universal Studios Hollywood

Image Via Shutterstock

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This article Magical Escapes: 5 Harry Potter Theme Parks That'll Transport You To Hogwarts And Beyond! originally appeared on .

Magical Escapes: 5 Harry Potter Theme Parks That'll Transport You To Hogwarts And Beyond!

Ready your wands: ‘Harry Potter: The Exhibition’ makes its New England debut this fall

Before the experience begins, visitors will be sorted into their harry potter ‘house’.

Visitors at "Harry Potter: The Exhibition."

The wizarding world is coming to New England this fall, as the US leg of the “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” tour makes its Greater Boston debut at CambridgeSide Sept. 13.

The behind-the-scenes exhibition gives muggles access to characters, props, stories, settings, beasts, and more set in the “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” worlds.

Before the experience begins, visitors will be sorted into their Harry Potter house, or group, and will pick a wand and a Patronus, a magical guardian summoned for protection from Dementors, mythical guardians of Azkaban, the wizard prison. Then, they’ll be guided through several interactive galleries where they’ll have the opportunity to collect points that go toward winning the “House Cup.”


“When you come into this experience, we allow [visitors] a moment to step inside that world,” said Tom Zaller, CEO of Imagine Exhibitions. “There are so many different ways of celebrating this amazing experience. We create an opportunity for people to better connect with something they love.”

Guests will travel through the Hogwarts Castle gallery, where the Whomping Willow, Dementors, and Marauder’s Map reside. The Hogwarts classroom gallery allows visitors to brew potions, predict the future, pot a mandrake, and defeat a boggart, a shape-shifting creature that takes the form of a person’s worst fear. Hagrid’s Hut and the Forbidden Forest gallery features an interactive Patronus charm experience and iconic creatures to be uncovered.

“Harry Potter: The Exhibition” first premiered in Philadelphia in 2022. It has since traveled the world, with residencies in major cities, including Atlanta, Barcelona, Paris, and Vienna. It’s currently showing in New York City and Macao, China, with additional tour dates to come in Sao Paulo and Munich.

“The [’Harry Potter’] brand has been around for a long time — it’s multigenerational,” Zaller said. “We’ll be here when school gets back in, and a lot of students who are the next generation of kids who’ve loved the books are now going to college, so it’s a good time to be in Boston.”

Tickets for the experience go on sale May 16 at .

Adri Pray can be reached at [email protected] . Follow her @adriprayy .

‘Harry Potter’ set at an HBCU? LaDarrion Williams wrote the book he always wanted to read

A bald man with a goatee and a tan turtleneck smiles at the camera.

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On the Shelf

Blood at the Root

By LaDarrion Williams Labyrinth Road: 432 pages, $21 If you buy books linked on our site, The Times may earn a commission from , whose fees support independent bookstores.

LaDarrion Williams’ dream-come-true tale sounds like a Hollywood rags-to-riches film, about a kid from a small town who packs up and moves to Los Angeles to make his fantasy a reality, struggles and suffers but defies the odds and then some.

In Williams’ case, success has finally arrived with “Blood at the Root,” his first novel in a three-book deal, a series that centers on a Black boy in a young-adult fantasy saga — the kind of fiction he wishes had existed when he was a kid.

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Williams grew up in Helena, Ala., a small town, but also a small world. And the world of publishing didn’t help much — he devoured the “Twilight,” “Harry Potter” and “Hunger Games” series but says, “I connected to the characters because it’s still a human experience, but I didn’t feel seen by those stories. And if somebody that looked like me was there, they were relegated to the side or killed to help propel the main white character’s story forward. Eventually, I fell out of love with reading.”

While attending a small Christian university in Tennessee, Williams double majored in writing and theater, but “there weren’t a lot of opportunities for people like me there — I was a 6-foot 3-inch, 250-pound Black kid and the only role I got was as a slave in ‘Big River.’”

Frustrated, he dropped out and returned home. But working at a Taco Bell drive-thru left him lost and depressed. Williams wanted to write plays or screenplays with strong Black roles, but there were no classes or other guidance at home. He knew he couldn’t afford a school like UCLA, so he looked up the syllabus for a writing class, bought the books and taught himself.

"Blood at the Root" by LaDarrion Williams

“I wrote my first pilot script, and people say to become a TV writer, you have to move to L.A.,” he recalls. On May 9, 2015, he was stuck at Taco Bell, dealing with rude customers, when his paycheck landed via direct deposit. “I had never been on a plane before but I looked up how to buy a plane ticket and bought one for $181, one-way, on Southwest. I packed up three suitcases and a dream and just moved to L.A.”

On the one hand, Williams felt tremendous freedom. On the other hand, there was culture shock, and he was quickly in over his head. “I got a job at Universal, thought, ‘Ooh, I’m going to be working on a movie set,’ but it was the theme park, and I was taking out trash,” he says with a wry chuckle. “My dream was right there, but it was a million miles away.”

He was naïve enough to think that he could still get a job as a TV writer.

“I thought it was kind of like applying to Taco Bell — you send in your stuff and then you just get hired,” he says. “I’ve definitely been humbled.”

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Still, lonely and frustrated, he plugged away, writing, submitting scripts to contests, working for Lyft and Uber to fund short films and produce his own plays.

“I couldn’t get an agent or anyone to look at my scripts, but I was very hungry and kept hustling,” he says, even when he was without a home, sleeping in the same car he was driving around in all day. “I was doing it to pay for my films and plays.”

At one point, he wrote and produced a 25-minute pilot of “Blood at the Root,” hoping to make it into a TV series. While he says he got a strong response on social media, Hollywood once again paid no heed.

Although he had been passionate about writing plays with roles for young Black men, “Blood” struck a different chord for him, bringing him back to his teen years when he yearned for a fantasy story in which he could see himself. That feeling was especially acute in 2020 after George Floyd was murdered, prompting marches and protests across America.

“Now, I had the fire back in me,” he recalls. So he went to the Barnes & Noble in Burbank and asked the clerk for a YA fantasy book with a Black boy lead but without racial trauma or police brutality — one that could provide escape for readers. The clerk brought him to the YA section and together they searched. “And she looked at me and I looked at her and she said, ‘Oh, we really don’t have anything.’”

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That sparked a “righteous rage” in Williams, and he locked himself in his apartment for 12 days to crank out the first draft. “The main character, Malik, wouldn’t leave me alone,” he says, “and I saw my book cover in my dreams.”

“Blood” tells the story of Malik, a 17-year-old who has been in foster care for a decade since his mom’s death. He was 7 when his mother was attacked, and he used magic he didn’t know he possessed, unsuccessfully, to try to save her. Malik later harnesses his powers to rescue his foster brother Taye from an abusive situation. They run away together. (Malik’s experiences and language skew toward the older end of a YA audience, while wide-eyed Taye, at 12, provides a more innocent character.) Malik meets a grandmother he didn’t know he had, and she uses her clout to enroll him at Caiman University, an HBCU for kids with magic — essentially a Black collegiate version of Hogwarts.

“This is a coming-of-age story,” Williams says, adding that he stuck to his plan to not play up racial trauma or police brutality. Instead, you’ll find Malik hugging Taye and expressing his love. “We don’t really get to see young Black boys be tender with each other, and it’s so beautiful because Malik never received that type of tenderness when he was a child. It’s something I’m just learning now in my 30s.”

Originally, Williams planned to self-publish but was persuaded to seek a bigger audience. After plenty of rejections, he found an agent. After another round of “nos,” on Jan. 19, 2023 (he remembers each important date), while he was driving for Lyft, he got the call from his agent that they had landed a publishing deal.

Francis Spufford,

This alternate version of America’s story is an audacious work of the imagination

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“The main theme of the book is that the magic of resilience is in the blood, and I had that magic inside of me,” Willams says, adding that he had to come to L.A. to find it. “I wouldn’t have made it back home. I was so depressed. It even came to a point where I didn’t want to exist anymore because I wasn’t feeding myself artistically or creatively.”

Before he signed the contract, Williams had one demand. “My one non-negotiable was that there be a Black boy on the cover,” Williams says. “I want young Black boys in Alabama, Mississippi or Kentucky to walk into that bookstore and see that cover and say, ‘Yo, that kid looks like me.’”

They’re not going to be the only ones excited to see it on a shelf. “I’m going back to that Barnes & Noble in Burbank,” he says. “I took a picture of myself in the bookstore that day but I was depressed and forcing myself to smile. Now I’m going back there to take a picture of myself with my book.”

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‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: High School Edition’ licensing now available

Licensing for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: High School Edition” is now available globally for students to perform the stage play.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: High School Edition

License “Cursed Child” at Your High School

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which debuted in London in 2016, presents a next-generation Wizarding World tale that takes place 19 years after the original series.

This marks the first roll-out of the production’s licensing rights. The licensing initiative — available to high schools and secondary schools — is a collaboration among Broadway Licensing Group (BLG), Sonia Friedman Productions, Colin Callender, and Harry Potter Theatrical Productions.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: High School Edition

“Manageable for Schools of All Sizes”

The original production boasts intricate special effects to pull off its wizardry. The script of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: High School Edition” keeps in mind the scale of school theaters, adjusting story points and shortening the play’s length accordingly.

“From the beginning of this partnership with the ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ team, our intention was to put educational theater programs first,” said Ted Chapin, interim CEO of BLG, “which meant creating a version of the show that is manageable for schools of all sizes, budgets, and technical capabilities — and is still fun to produce.”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway in New York City

As is, the script for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: High School Edition” specifies roles for 16 men, 14 women, and four actors of any gender. However, an FAQ section of the play’s licensing website states, “Any student of any gender identity, race, etc. can play any role so long as the roles stay as written.”

How to License “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: High School Edition”

Schools’ faculty can apply for licensing now for students perform the show as early as fall 2024. Upon acceptance, BLG will send schools a production package with: acting editions, director scripts, stage manager scripts, required music, and a media kit containing social media and press release templates.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Hogwarts houses

A perusal script is available as a $20 download for those considering licensing the show but unsure about fully committing (or for those interested in seeing the differences between the original production and the “High School Edition”). The perusal script does not reflect the final “High School Edition” script, which is still being developed.

For now, “Cursed Child” is licensable only to high schools and secondary schools, not community theaters of other kinds.

“Cursed Child” in Orlando

Following a 2023 contest, BLG selected Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla. as one of the first 31 schools to license “Cursed Child” for their theater department to perform in fall 2024, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel earlier this year.

Dr. Phillips High is located directly across the street from Universal Islands of Adventure. The theme park’s version of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is visible from the high school.

“Cursed Child” Permanent Venues and North American Tour

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is currently performing in New York City, U.S.; London, England; Hamburg, Germany; and Tokyo, Japan.

A North American tour will launch in September 2024, starting in Chicago, Ill. and continuing in 2025 to Los Angeles, Calif. and Washington, D.C. The touring production will perform in its first three cities for a stretch of several months each. This may or may not mean Harry Potter Theatrical Productions will equip those cities’ host venues with the infrastructure required to mount the auditorium-wide special effects for which the play’s permanent residencies are known.

“Cursed Child” on Broadway is a tour de force of practical theater effects. Read more in our review:

Broadway Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ defies belief with special effects wizardry


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Ukraine’s ‘Harry Potter Castle’ Burns in Deadly Russian Missile Strike

At least five people died in the incident, according to a local governor.

Dan Ladden-Hall

Dan Ladden-Hall

News Correspondent

A building known locally as the “Harry Potter” was set on fire in what local officials described as a fatal Russian missile strike in Odesa, Ukraine.

Sergey Smolentsev/Reuters

At least five people have died after a Russian missile attack hit an ornate mansion in Ukraine affectionately known to locals as the “ Harry Potter Castle,” officials said Tuesday.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service shared a video showing the building in a seafront park in the southern city of Odesa engulfed in flames after the strike Monday. The agency initially said four people had been killed and another 32 injured, including two children.

On Tuesday, regional governor Oleh Kiper said another man had died in the hospital. He added that eight people are still in serious condition and that four of those are in an “extremely serious condition, including a four-year-old girl.” He also said that a day of mourning had been declared throughout the Odesa region.

The building hit in the attack houses the Odesa Law Academy, a higher education institution, and is also the official residence of former lawmaker Serhiy Kivalov who is now the academy’s president. Media reports claimed Kivalov was among those injured in the strike, according to the Kyiv Independent .

“Monsters. Beasts. Savages. Scum. I don’t know what else to say,” Odesa Mayor Hennadii Trukhanov said in a Telegram video. “People are going for a walk by the sea and they are shooting and killing.”

A student at the academy told Reuters that the fire broke out when a missile was intercepted. “In front of my eyes, a missile was shot down, this was just in front of me,” the student, identifying herself only as Maria, told the news agency. “My doors were blown open and the glass was shaking. And then I saw this,” she added, pointing to the burning building.

In a video address on Monday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

“Many people have been wounded—all of them are being provided with medical aid,” he said. He also spoke about the need for speedy deliveries of weapons to Ukraine given the “daily Russian missile attacks, as well as the daily attempts of the occupier to destroy more of our positions,” all of which he said could be stopped.

“The Russian offensive plans can be thwarted,” Zelensky continued. “For this, Ukrainian strength must be backed up by sufficient support from partners.”

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The Fanfic Temptation

harry potter world school trip

Y/N: A Novel by esther yi astra, 224 pages, $26

A  few months ago, an old school friend confessed that she’d been reading a lot of “AO3”—Archive of Our Own, the world’s most popular fan fiction website. I assured her that she wasn’t alone. Fan fiction—stories about fictional characters or real-life celebrities, written by the fans, for the fans—long assumed to be the hobby of awkward fangirls, has escaped from its niche. AO3 receives up to two billion visits per month (the number of visits increased during the pandemic), more than Netflix, and hosts more than 12.8 million works and 64,000 “fandoms,” the top three being Marvel, Harry Potter , and the DC Universe.

Though fan fiction—or “fanfic”—has been around for a while, the sweeping pervasiveness of the internet is making it more accessible than ever: 97 percent of AO3 readers access the site from their smartphones. It was only a matter of time before fanfic influenced mainstream culture, which is becoming increasingly subservient to the internet. In 2019, AO3 (taken as a whole) won “Best Related Work” at the Hugo Awards, the science fiction Oscars. It is a decade since the novelist Lev Grossman, in his introduction to Anne Jamison’s 2013 Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World , observed: “Fanfiction is the madwoman in mainstream culture’s attic, but the attic won’t contain it forever.” That prediction has been vindicated. Jamison, an English professor at the University of Utah, was invited to teach a course on fan fiction at Princeton University in the spring of 2015. By that time, E. L. James’s steamy Fifty Shades trilogy, originally posted online as Twilight fan fiction, was gaining extraordinary popularity. The novels were published by Vintage Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

A few weeks after my friend’s confession, another friend admitted that, as a teenager, she had been captivated by Anna Todd’s After series, a wildly popular fanfic about the boy band star Harry Styles. She read it on Wattpad, a website that hosts both original fiction and fan fiction, which has been endorsed by Margaret Atwood in The  Guardian . Gallery Books, a Simon & Schuster division, published the series after buying the rights for a six-figure sum. Jennifer Bergstrom, vice president and publisher of Gallery Books, has said that “fan fiction has absolutely become part of the fiber of what we publish. This is changing at a time when traditional publishing needs it most.”

The list goes on. Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments , a young adult book series that has been adapted for film and television, started out as Harry Potter fan fiction. Anne Hathaway is set to star as the forty-year-old divorcée love interest in a film adaptation of Robinne Lee’s The Idea of You —a novel seemingly inspired by Harry Styles. On a trip to Coachella with her daughter, Hathaway’s character “meets 24-year-old Hayes Campbell, the lead singer of the hottest boy band on the planet.”

Once derided and ridiculed, fan fiction is now sought after because it is profitable. It is profitable because, in a lonely digital age, there is a fortune to be made from the human longing for intense relationships and emotions. As Jamison noted in an interview, “fanfic unapologetically places a premium on feeling.” A typical fan fiction reader wants to be emotionally manipulated; she delights in seeing her favorite characters forced into situations that compel intimacy and vulnerability, such as injury or illness. On AO3, fans can look for the stories they’d like to read by inserting certain “tags” into the search function: “hurt/comfort,” “angst,” and “fluff” are among the most popular. Readers can customize their searches further by selecting the rating (from “General Audiences” to “Explicit”), the characters and relationships featured, including the types of relationships (“M/M,” “F/F,” “F/M,” or “other”), and more.

A  work of fiction about fanfic may sound self-indulgent. But Esther Yi’s surreal and dreamlike debut novel Y/N is perceptive about the strange forms of longing that characterize contemporary youth culture. Yi’s nameless protagonist, a lonely and bored twenty-nine-year-old Korean-American woman living in Berlin, becomes obsessed with a Korean boy band star, or “idol,” called Moon. After she sees him perform live, her “world suddenly proliferate[s] with secret avenues of devotion.” In him, she finds her raison d’être. The obvious inspiration for Moon and the other celestially named members of the band is the globally adored K-pop band BTS, subject of more than 200,000 stories on AO3 and the eighth most popular fandom on the website.

“K-pop is a symbol that, in my opinion, traffics in displaced spirituality,” Yi told Publishers Weekly in an interview.

There are very few things in an average person’s life that one would call their idol. My narrator has no outlet for her enormous capacity for devotion. . . . She turns to K-pop. That’s how I view her obsession. . . . To me, it’s a natural consequence of the sort of conditions under which she’s living.

What are these conditions? Yi’s narrator lives in Berlin, a foreign city; she isn’t fluent in German. She is divorced from her past; she isn’t fluent in Korean. She met her roommate online. They share something that can only “almost be called a friendship.” Her boyfriend, whom she also met online, is merely “considering being in love with” her. No family is mentioned, except for an estranged uncle in Seoul. She works from home as a copywriter for an “Australian expat’s business in canned artichoke hearts”—uncreative work that doesn’t address her intellectual longings. “I don’t want real life,” she declares. “I don’t even want romance. . . . I need something else. Piercing recognition. Metaphysics. Byzantine iconography.” But those hints at a religious awakening go nowhere. Instead, she begins to write fan fiction.

Specifically, she composes Y/N (“Your Name”) fan fiction—a subgenre in which the reader can insert her name into the story—after she is struck, as her boyfriend breaks up with her, “by the impossibility of conveying what I felt, which was crushing disappointment.” She is “tired of making arguments and revelations, of words falling out of my mouth and exploding in another person’s face”—in other words, the inevitable land mines and difficulties of connecting and communicating with others.

The narrator is lonely, but not because she lacks human interaction. She yearns for bone-deep connection, to be known and understood, and to be loved unconditionally. But every conversation with a stranger reminds her of the abyss that stands between people who have no shared understanding: “She and I would never see eye to eye. So it was with most people.”

In fan fiction, there are no such difficulties. The narrator can be the author of her life and build it from the ground up. The protagonist of her tale, Y/N, meets Moon at a bus stop. She “senses they were rudely cut off in a previous life. It is possible, she realizes for the first time ever, to open her mouth and say exactly what she’s thinking.” Unlike real life, this encounter bears the mark of destiny; Y/N is chosen, special. Their relationship is not random, but meaningful.

When Moon disappears from the world stage in real life, the narrator impulsively buys a one-way ticket to Seoul and sets out to find him. Unexpectedly, she does find him, at a place called the Sanctuary, where she makes him read her fan fiction. When she is forced to confront the reality that the Moon in her mind and the Moon in front of her are not the same, she laments: “I wish we’d met through mutual friends. I wish our families had gone to the same church. Don’t you see how hopeless my situation is?” Without a common culture, the spaces between us are even more unbridgeable. Fan fiction bridges those gaps only by reinterpreting the world, Narcissus-like, in the author’s image. The narrator tells her boyfriend accusingly that Moon “feeds my imagination more than you do.” “Of course he does,” the boyfriend replies. “Because he exists in your imagination.” Fan fiction, the novel hints, can become an exercise in self-cannibalism.

I n 2014 the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki offered a celebrated critique of the $26 billion global anime industry. “Some people spend their lives interested only in themselves,” Miyazaki said. “Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people, you know. It’s produced by humans who can’t stand looking at other humans. And that’s why the industry is full of otaku !” (An otaku is a person obsessed with pop-culture phenomena such as anime or manga.) There is something similarly misanthropic about fan fiction. When you can gratify your emotional needs by reading words off your phone screen, you will have no need for the pains of cultivating good character and the nitty-gritty of social interaction—of patience, forgiveness, selflessness.

No wonder that so much of the genre consists of “slash” fiction: love stories between two men, predominantly written by young women. This trend, at first baffling, is best explained as answering a desire for connection without complication. In the real world, relationships between the sexes involve tension, miscommunication, a hint of threat. But the female consumer of “slash” fiction can enjoy her attraction to the masculinity of a male character in a context where he is “in tune” with his lover. In Y/N, the narrator imagines Moon having sex with her boyfriend, who acts as her “ambassador, sent to a foreign land with which my own land was in delicate relations.”

Yi, it should be said, has a fundamentally optimistic view of fan fiction. In an NPR interview last year, she praised the genre as “a really interesting and really rich mode of expression,” because it conveys “this desire to put yourself in the same space as the transcendental, you know, to almost touch the hem of it without really quite grasping it.”

But this kind of failed transcendence, which privileges emotional intensity—the more intense, the better—over truth and reality, easily takes a dark turn. Fan fiction (as evidenced by Fifty Shades , among other examples) is often sexually explicit, and can delve into disturbing adult topics, with popular search tags including “smut,” “death,” “violence,” “BDSM,” “blood,” “abuse,” “trauma,” “rape/non-con,” and “suicide.” And it often calls human nature itself into doubt. Gender and sexuality are fluid; in “slash,” men can become pregnant. Y/N ’s narrator writes about a “feat of dance that defies description” in her fan fiction, one that she tries to replicate in the real world: “Limbs had to go where they couldn’t. Muscles were asked to tense and relax at the same time. My head behaved like its own person.”

Perhaps I should conclude with my own confession. I was a late bloomer when it came to reading, and my first steps consisted of late nights with fan fiction and questionable young adult fantasy novels, which slowly gave way to days of reading Pride and Prejudice , Jane Eyre , East of Eden , Crime and Punishment . For an unpracticed reader, the classic works were more laborious and offered less instant gratification, but they were beautiful, vibrant, full of soul and wind and dirt, words that carried real meaning and real weight, words as solid as the book I was holding in my hands. Reading them felt rewarding, not shameful. Most importantly, I found that while reading these books I was finally able to stop thinking about myself, to turn my gaze outward. These were not stories designed around my own desires. In contrast to an internet trend that has prevailed for some years now, I was not the “main character.” I was training myself to take an interest in the world I was in, body and blood and bones and all, instead of wishing to escape from it. It was a relief to be free from my incessant overthinking. The only price was accepting the truth of my insignificance—or rather, the significance of everything around me, which I had once preferred to ignore.

Veronica Clarke  is associate editor at  First Things .

Image by  Dispatch , licensed via Creative Commons . Image cropped.

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harry potter world school trip


  1. Harry Potter tours: School trips just got a whole lot more magic

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  1. Japan Trip 2023 [Part 4]

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  1. Schools

    Your School Visit Includes: Entrance ticket to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. A free 45 minute lesson, planned and taught by qualified teachers in our purpose-built classrooms. Lessons are subject to availability and must be booked in advance. We can accommodate up to 100 people (including students and adults) per school, split across our two ...

  2. Warner Bros. Studio Tour

    Harry Potter World School Trip FAQs What are the opening times of the studio tour? The Warner Bros Studio Tour opening times vary depending on the season. However, on weekdays the studio tour typically opens at 09:30 and closes at 20:00. During holidays and weekends the studio tour opens at 08:30 and typically closes at 22:00.

  3. Complete Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

    Hogsmeade is my favorite of the two Harry Potter worlds currently open at Universal. Between the sweeping views of Hogwarts castle, the world-famous rides, and the Three Broomsticks, this world has it all.. Hogsmeade was built in 2010 and was the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter developed in Universal Orlando. The resort worked hand in hand with J.K. Rowling and filmmakers to make sure ...

  4. It's Time to Visit Hogwarts

    Enter the magical world of Harry Potter™ at Universal Orlando. Explore two lands of rides, attractions, and shows. Board the Hogwarts™ Express and travel between them.

  5. The Making of Harry Potter School Trip with The School Travel Company

    Make your students the happiest children in the world by letting them explore authentic sets and experience the Harry Potter film series through the eyes of the filmmakers. This is a great way to boost students' enthusiasm and engagement across a number of subjects for Key Stages 2 to 5, including Art & Design, Film & Media, English, and ...

  6. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

    Discover the magic of Warner Bros. Studio Tour London! Explore authentic sets, props, and costumes from the Harry Potter films. Book now for an unforgettable experience.


    Planning a school trip is no easy task, so to help you and your students we have put together all the information you will need to take your students out of the classroom and on to the world-famous authentic sets of one of the most successful film series in history.

  8. The Making of Harry Potter Day Trip

    Explore the wonders of the world of Harry Potter. This outing will give you a chance to go behind-the-scenes at the Warner Bros. Studios near Watford, where the film series was made. Finish the day visiting Christ Church College, in Oxford, another key filming location within the franchise.

  9. Plan Your Visit to the Warner Bros: Harry Potter™ Studio Tour

    The Wizarding World of Harry Potter hours of operation remain consistent throughout the year. Key Points: Autumn hours: 8.30 am to 10 pm, with tours starting at 9 am. ... Typically, a Harry Potter™ Studio tour takes about 3 to 7 hours, depending on the kind of experience you have purchased your tickets for. If you choose to attend an ...

  10. Harry Potter World studio tour London

    The Harry Potter studio tour is a fascinating insight into the world of film, and the Harry Potter movies in particular. It consists of two giant stage sets (like giant aircraft hangars) and a outdoor backlot. It's a visual feast of detailed sets (including the Great Hall), props, animatronic creatures and special effects used in the making ...

  11. The Complete Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Pro Tip: This ride is great for little witches and wizards who might be a bit spooked by Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Hogwarts Express: Hogsmeade Station. Location: Hogsmeade. Board the famous train and head toward King's Cross Station in London. (You'll need a park-to-park ticket for ...

  12. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Step inside the story on the streets of Diagon Alley™ where hidden dangers lurk far beneath Gringotts™ bank. Then, board the Hogwarts Express™ to travel to the wizarding village of Hogsmeade™ and into Hogwarts™ castle for a spellbinding journey through the skies. Then, join Hagrid™ as you fly far beyond the grounds of Hogwarts ...

  13. Ultimate Guide to Harry Potter World in London (Studio Tour)

    By Public Transport. The closest train station to the Harry Potter Studios is Watford Junction. You can very easily get a train here from London Euston. Once you get to Watford, there's a shuttle bus service right outside the station that takes you to and from the studios. This costs £2.50 for a return and £2 for single.

  14. TPG's guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

    A visit to Universal Orlando to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter had been on my wish list for a while. Suspension of disbelief takes place here every day. Visitors don wizarding robes, grab interactive wands and — at least for a day or two — pretend that they are following in the footsteps of Hermione, Ron and Harry, truly inhabiting the magical world of "Harry Potter."

  15. Harry Potter Studio Tour

    Join us as we enter the spectacular world of Harry Potter, and take a behind-the-scenes look of this worldwide phenomenon. On this 3-hour tour you will be transported to a magical world filled with special effects, stunning costumes, iconic props, spellbinding creatures and countless surprises from the eight films much loved by young and old!

  16. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    E nter Enter two lands of groundbreaking thrills and magical fun in Universal's Islands of Adventure™ and Universal Studios Florida™. Step inside the story on the streets of Diagon Alley™ where hidden dangers lurk far beneath Gringotts™ bank. Then, board the Hogwarts Express™ to travel to the wizarding village of Hogsmeade™ and into Hogwarts™ castle for a spellbinding journey ...

  17. Cultural School Trips and Tours to London

    Your Harry Potter World school trip is located at the Studios where all 8 films were produced. 45 minute workshops are also available, covering Art and Design, Business Studies, English and Drama, Film and Media and STEM subjects, as well as Primary. Science Museum .

  18. Magical Escapes: 5 Harry Potter Theme Parks That'll Transport You ...

    Step onto the enchanting streets of Diagon Alley, dine at the Leaky Cauldron and choose a wand at the Ollivanders by going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal City, Orlando, Florida.

  19. "Harry Potter: The Exhibition" heading to New England this fall

    The wizarding world is coming to New England this fall, as the US leg of the "Harry Potter: The Exhibition" tour makes its Greater Boston debut at CambridgeSide Sept. 13.

  20. Harry Potter at an HBCU? LaDarrion Williams on his YA fantasy book

    Williams grew up in Helena, Ala., a small town, but also a small world. And the world of publishing didn't help much — he devoured the "Twilight," "Harry Potter" and "Hunger Games ...

  21. Harry Potter: The Exhibition in Boston- Dates, tickets ...

    Harry Potter: The Exhibition is making its Boston debut at CambridgeSide on September 13, 2024, as part of its upcoming United States tour.Tickets for the exhibition will go on sale formally from ...

  22. Harry Potter 101: The Hogwarts teachers

    Welcome to Harry Potter 101! A series all about getting back to the basics of the stories. Whether you've just discovered the wizarding world or have been here since 1997, we think you'll learn something new. Today, we're offering you a guide to absolutely every single Hogwarts teacher.

  23. 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: High School Edition' licensing

    License "Cursed Child" at Your High School "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," which debuted in London in 2016, presents a next-generation Wizarding World tale that takes place 19 years ...

  24. Original cover art for 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    The record for an item related to the book series is currently held by an unsigned first edition of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," which sold for $421,000 at Heritage Auctions ...

  25. Ukraine's 'Harry Potter Castle' Burns in Deadly Russian Missile Strike

    At least five people have died after a Russian missile attack hit an ornate mansion in Ukraine affectionately known to locals as the "Harry Potter Castle," officials said Tuesday. Ukraine's ...

  26. Wizarding World

    Looking for Pottermore? Wizarding World is the new official home of Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts. Join the Fan Club and bring your traits with you. Brought to you by Wizarding World Digital, a partnership between Warner Bros. and Pottermore. Delivering the latest news and official products from the Wizarding World and our partners.

  27. Tickets

    Return to Azkaban 1st May - 4th Sep 2024. Dark Arts 13th Sep - 10th Nov 2024. Hogwarts in the Snow 16th November - 19th January 2025. Tickets. Individual. Family. Souvenir Gift Ticket. Gift E-Ticket. Tickets and Hotel ↗.

  28. The Fanfic Temptation by Veronica Clarke

    Y/N: A Novel by esther yi astra, 224 pages, $26. A few months ago, an old school friend confessed that she'd been reading a lot of "AO3"—Archive of Our Own, the world's most popular fan fiction website. I assured her that she wasn't alone. Fan fiction—stories about fictional characters or real-life celebrities, written by the fans, for the fans—long assumed to be the hobby of ...