A guide to Harry Potter worlds and attractions

Harry Potter themed props

So, you’re a Potterhead. You know every line of every movie, each edition of the books sit in pride of place on your shelf, and even after all this time, you’re always hoping that a certain Hogwarts marked letter will arrive in the post. But whether you’re loyal to Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, there’s one thing that every Harry Potter fan can agree on; that the ultimate vacation is to one of the incredible Harry Potter worlds and themed parks.

Where are there Harry Potter worlds?

There are 5 major Harry Potter-themed parks and attractions around the world;

Orlando, Florida

Hollywood, California

Beijing, China

Osaka, Japan

Leavesden, England

In Orlando, Hollywood, Japan, and Beijing, there are Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter. These expansive theme parks feature thrilling rides and immersive experiences. The fifth Harry Potter world is in Leavesden, near London, and is called the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. Here, Potterheads can see stunning recreated sets and props and costumes used in the Harry Potter movie series.

Hogwarts Castle

When did Harry Potter World open?

The first Harry Potter world opened in Orlando’s Islands of Adventure. The Wizarding World later expanded further into Orlando’s Universal Studios, and to this day is the only Harry Potter world with two major sections, themed around Hogsmede and Diagon Alley.

Harry Potter world opening dates;

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Islands of Adventure – June 18th, 2010

Warner Brothers Studio Tour, London – March 31st, 2012

Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando – July 8th, 2014

Osaka, Japan; The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – April 7th, 2015

Hollywood, California; The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood – April 7th, 2016

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Beijing – September 20th, 2021

How big is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Orlando is the biggest park, with 2 zones across Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure. A beautiful replica of the scarlet Hogwarts Express shuttles guests between the 2 parks, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. To do everything in the parks without rushing, you’ll need 2 or 3 days to explore.

The other Wizarding Worlds, in California, Japan, and Beijing, are smaller, with one Hogsmede area in each. 1 or 2 days should be ideal for each of these. The Warner Brothers Studio tour is a different attraction, in that you won’t have to spend a lot of your time in queue for rides. There are time slots to enter, and half a day should give you ample time to see everything on display.

Fire breathing dragon on Gringotts bank

How much are tickets to Harry Potter world?

When budgeting a trip to any of the Harry Potter worlds, tickets are the first thing you need to plan for. Tickets to all the parks need to be booked in advance. The best place to get them is from official park websites. Prices (as of winter 2021) are;

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando – $164.00 (Adult), $159.00 (Child) – for a 2 park, 1-day ticket

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in California – $139.00 (Adult), $109.00 (Child) – for a 1-day park entry ticket

London – £49.95 / $67.40 – standard timed and dated entry, £65 / $87.71 – Behind The Seams tour and costume workshop

Japan – ¥7,400 / $64.81 (Adult), ¥5,100 / $44.88 (Child), ¥6,700 / $58.67 (Senior 65+)

Beijing – ¥315 / $49.39 – 1-day park ticket

Which Harry Potter world is better?

That’s like asking Molly Weasley to choose between Fred and George, impossible! In truth, each Harry Potter World has unique charms, and any one of them would be a fan’s dream vacations destination. There are some differences between parks which might sway you to visit one over the others, so let’s take a look at some unique features.

Unique attractions in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando

Best for; superfans and adrenaline junkies

The original Harry Potter world was in Orlando’s Islands of Adventure, where the Hogsmede-inspired park became the blueprint for the other wizarding worlds. 4 years after Hogsmede opened, Orlando’s Harry Potter world expanded into another area of Universal Studios, this time themed around Diagon Alley. This area is unique to Orlando park, and amazing sights including Gringotts Bank, guarded by a fire-breathing dragon, make it the best park to visit for superfans who want to explore more of the magical world. There is also a ride that you can only find in Orlando, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. It is the longest rollercoaster in Florida and the most thrilling ride in any of the Harry Potter worlds.

What’s special about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Japan?

Best for; Total immersion in Harry Potter’s world

If incorrect details and oversights make you as angry as Movie Dumbledore in that one scene in ‘The Goblet of Fire’ (you know the one we mean), then Osaka is the park for you. The attention to detail is utterly exquisite. The recreation of Hogwarts Castle is breathtaking and is about as close to stepping into the Harry Potter movies as you can get. Before you set eyes on it, the suspense is built on an enchanting walk through the Forbidden Forest, soundtracked by music from the movies.

The incredible sight of Hogwarts towering over the landscape is made all the more amazing by the excitement built-up on the walk. Hogwarts Castle is surrounded by another feature unique to the Japanese Harry Potter world; the Great Lake. You can explore the murky depths from a walkway protruding out onto the dark water. There are even mysterious bubbles rising to the surface, hinting at magical beasts lurking beneath the surface. 

Unique features of Harry Potter World in California 

Best for; Families and casual fans who want to experience the Wizarding World as one part of their Universal trip

Having been built later than its counterpart in Orlando, the Wizarding World in Hollywood hit the ground running with little tweaks to everyone’s favorite parts of the Florida park. There is more emphasis on shows and events in California, with a special stage to highlight performances. In Orlando, all of the performances happen at street level, rather than in a designated area. Aside from that, the parks are incredibly similar, with California being the smaller of the 2.

A shop in Hogsmede

How the Warner Brothers Studio Tour stands out from the rest

Best for; Movie buffs

The Warner Bros Studio Tour is different from the other Harry potter worlds because it is not a theme park. Instead, guests will be swept up in the magic of recreation of sets from the movie, including the majestic Great Hall. Also on display are costumes and props from the movies, offering a fascinating insight into the movie-making process. There are interactive elements to the self-guided tour. You can walk down the corridors of the Hogwarts Express, follow the spiders into the Forbidden Forest and even knock on the front door of 4 Privet Drive (if you dare).

Cool features of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Beijing

Best for; Magical winter trips

Although Beijing’s Harry Potter world has similar attractions and features to the other parks, there is something special that happens in the cold months, along with the Osaka park, making it a pretty spectacular place to be. When the temperature dips low enough, Hogwarts Castle, the Hogwarts Express, and the surrounding areas are covered in a sparkling blanket of snow. It’s something that is unlikely to happen in the Florida and Orlando parks and makes for an extra magical experience.

Is Harry potter World outside or inside?

The Wizarding World parks are mainly outside, with shops and restaurants offering shelter if the weather is unfavorable. The Warner Bros Studio Tour is mostly inside, with a few outdoor features.

Is Harry Potter World open during Halloween Horror Nights?

In the most recent Halloween Horror Nights event in Orlando (2021), both Diagon Alley and the Escape from Gringotts rides were open.

Shops at Harry Potter World 

No Harry Potter fan could resist the wondrous array of souvenirs and gifts available at the various Harry potter worlds. Here’s our guide to the shops in the different parks.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter merchandise stores in California 

Zonko’s Joke Shop 

Honeydukes

Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment

Ollivanders Wands  

Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods

Gladrags Wizardswear

Dervish and Banges

Owl Post

Hogsmede Station 

Shops in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando

Stores in Diagon Alley

Ollivanders

Quality Quidditch Supplies

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes

Sugarplums Sweet Shop

Globus Mundo

Magical Menagerie

Madame Malkins Robes for all Occasions 

Borgin and Burkes

Hogsmede Shops

Ollivanders

Owl Post

Honeydukes

Filch’s Emporium

Japan’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter shops

Zonko’s

Honeydukes

Ollivanders

Wiseacres

Owl Post

Dervish and Bangs

Filch’s

Wizarding World stores in Beijing

Ollivanders

Flich’s

Gladrags

Dervish and Banges

Honeydukes

Owl Post

Warner Bros Studio Tours shops

Studio Shop

Letter with Hogwarts stamp

How much is a wand at Harry Potter world?

If you buy one thing during your Harry Potter vacation, it’s got to be a wand. There are lots of different types available, from replica character wands to interactive ones to cast a little extra magical throughout the parks. Prices in the USA parks are currently (2021) $55 for a standard wand, $59 for an interactive wand, and $75 for an exclusive, limited edition wand. 

In the Warner Bros Studio Tour, detailed replicas of characters’ wands from the movies start at £32.

Where to get food and drinks

Ever since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in 1998, we’ve found ourselves dreaming of the magical snacks that Harry and his friends enjoyed in the stories. If you found yourself fantasizing over butterbeer, pumpkin pasties, and chocolate frogs, then the Harry Potter parks are where all your wizard food dreams come true! Every one of the Harry Potter worlds has a selection of delightful themed treats to try. Here’s a round-up of what you can find in each place.

Orlando Harry potter restaurants and snack venues

The Three Broomsticks

Hog’s Head

Butterbeer carts

The Leaky Cauldron

Florean Fortescue’s

The Hopping Pot

The Fountain of Fair Fortune

Wizarding World dining venues in California

Leaky Cauldron

Three Broomsticks

London Taxi Cart

Hog’s Head

Fountain of Fair Fortune

Hopping Pot

Carkitt Market

Beijing Harry potter world dining places

Three Broomsticks

Hogs Head

Where to get Potter-themed food in Japan’s Wizarding World

Three Broomsticks

Hg’s Head

Food and drink at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Chocolate Frog Cafe

The Hub Cafe

The Foodhall

The Backlot Cafe

The Hogwarts Express in the station

Harry Potter world Rides and Shows 

A theme park wouldn’t be much without a few rides to get the adrenaline pumping. Thankfully, the Harry Potter worlds all have a cauldron-full of exciting and gentle rides for the whole family.

Ride and events at Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Flight of the Hippogriff

The Hogwarts Express

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees

Frog Choir

Triwizard Spirit Rally

Hogsmede Station

Kings Cross Station

Knight Bus

Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle

Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter rides and events in Universal Studios, California

Flight of the Hippogriff

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Frog Choir

Triwizard Spirit Rally

Beijing rides and events at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Flight of the Hippogriff

Frog Choir

Nighttime Magic at Hogwarts Castle

Triwizard Spirit Rally

Harry Potter rides and events at Japan’ Universal Studios

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Flight of the Hippogriff

Frog Choir

Triwizard Spirit Rally

Attractions and events at Warner Brothers Studios Tour in London

Studio tour

Hogwarts in the Snow (Winter)

Christmas dinner in the Great Hall

Gringotts Wizarding Bank

Hogwarts Express

Platform 9/34

Where to stay in Orlando and California to visit the Wizarding Worlds

The magic doesn’t have to stop when you leave the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Here at Top Villas, we offer a spectacular choice of beautiful villas that are ideally located for visiting Universal Studios in both Orlando and California. We even have a special range of Orlando villas with rooms inspired by a certain boy wizard.

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