“I’ll never forget the first time I walked through those doors.” — Sirius Black, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
I started as a team member at Universal Orlando Resort four days before my birthday and celebrated by visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure for the very first time! I still remember walking through the stone archway, barely containing my excitement as I first caught sight of Hogwarts castle towering over the snowcapped roofs of Hogsmeade village.
There is so much to explore here, from an exhilarating roller coaster ride through the Forbidden Forest, to a charming tavern and so many enchanting shops. Every time I come here, I notice another delightful detail in a storefront window or down a winding corridor.
Here’s a guide to it all.
WHAT TO DO
Take it all in
If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting your entire life to come here, so don’t rush it. Gaze down the cobblestone street of Hogsmeade village and look up at Hogwarts castle. Try to spot the famous sweet shop Honeydukes and the inviting Three Broomsticks tavern. Listen to the melodies of the Frog Choir intermingling with the delighted screams of coaster riders.
PRO TIP: My favorite Hogwarts castle photo spots are on the wooden bridge leading into Hogsmeade and by the entrance to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Fly into the Forbidden Forest on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
If you’re an animal-lover like me, you’ll have a blast on this incredibly-themed roller coaster ride that plunges you deep into the Forbidden Forest where you’ll come across some of the Wizarding World’s rarest beasts.
PRO TIP: Try the side car and motorbike for two different ride experiences.
Soar Above Hogwarts on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
It’s time to enter the hallowed halls of Hogwarts! Pass by some well-known sights including The Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom and Dumbledore’s Office. Then join Harry Potter and his friends on an exciting ride above the castle grounds.
PRO TIP: If you’re not into rides, ask a team member if the castle-only tour is available. You get to walk through the corridors without riding.
Take to the Air on Flight of the Hippogriff
Approaching a Hippogriff can be intimidating, but Hagrid is here to help. Once he gives you instructions, you’ll take wing on this family-friendly coaster.
Ride the Hogwarts Express: Hogsmeade Station
At the end of the school year, Hogwarts students board the train back to King’s Cross Station in London. Now you can do the same. On your journey, you’ll see familiar faces, along with some surprises. Spot the Hogwarts Express locomotive right past the archway into Hogsmeade. You may even get to meet the conductor!
You’ll need a Park-to-Park admission ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express between Diagon Alley in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Cast spells with Interactive Wands
With a flick of the wrist and the right incantation, you can cast spells in over a dozen locations in Hogsmeade (and in the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida). Find the locations on the map that comes with your Interactive Wand purchase.
PRO TIP: Some of my favorite spots are the Chocolate Frog box outside Honeydukes, the Hogwarts model outside Dervish and Banges, and spinning wheels and rockets in the façade of Zonko’s Joke Shop.
Stay for The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle
You’ll want to be here after dark on select nights to enjoy this beautiful spectacle illuminating Hogwarts castle. There’s also a sinister Dark Arts display in the fall, as well as a super festive one during the Holidays at Universal, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.
PRO TIP: You can get a great view of the spectacle while enjoying a meal on the back patio of Three Broomsticks.
Catch a performance of the Frog Choir
As a singer, I love listening to this group of Hogwarts students perform a cappella with giant croaking frogs. They also sing carols during the Holidays at Universal.
Cheer on Students at the Triwizard Spirit Rally
Celebrate centuries of tradition as students from Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons take part in a lively procession in honor of the Triwizard Tournament.
PRO TIP: Download The Official Universal Orlando Resort App to see the latest showtimes.
WHERE TO EAT
Like Harry Potter, this cozy tavern is where I tried my first Butterbeer! My go-to meal is the rotisserie smoked chicken, followed by apple pie. If you’re with a big group, share the Great Feast, which includes salad, chicken, spareribs, corn, and potatoes.
PRO TIP: If you’re a hotel guest with Early Park Admission, I recommend grabbing breakfast here. I’m partial to the pancakes.
This little pub is tucked inside Three Broomsticks with the eponymous stuffed hog’s head overlooking the bar. Enjoy a variety of drinks including Butterbeer (cold, frozen, and hot), Pumpkin Juice, and various alcoholic drinks — including the exclusiveHog’s Head Brew, which you can only find in Hogsmeade. You can also try Wizard’s Brew and Dragon Scale beers, as well as Fire Whisky liquor.
PRO TIP: Looking to quench your thirst? Take advantage of the pub’s separate entrance. You can also visit one of the two Butterbeer carts, which have bottled water and light snacks.
WHERE TO SHOP
Satisfy Your Cravings at Honeydukes
There’s a reason this sweet shop is a legend! Peruse the colorful aisles for Exploding Bonbons, Fizzing Whizzbees, and Chocolate Frogs. You can also get a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans. But beware, they do mean every flavor! (To quote Professor Dumbledore: “Alas, earwax!”)
Stock up on wizarding gear at Dervish and Banges
Shop for Quidditch essentials including T-shirts, Quaffles, Golden Snitches, and brooms. You can also get your Hogwarts uniform and magical items like Spectrespecs.
See a wand choose a wizard at Ollivanders Wand Shop
No wizard or witch forgets the moment their wand chose them! Now’s your chance to see it happen or even get chosen yourself. Shop for unique wands, wand sets, character wands, and check out our Guide to Wands in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Stock Up on Stationery at the Owl Post
If you’re a writer like me, you’ll relish looking through all the parchment, quills, seals, and ink. You can also get a plush owl of your own, as well as other owlish souvenirs.
PRO TIP: You can mail postcards and letters from the Owl Post with a special Hogsmeade postmark and send parcels with customized packaging.
Snoop Through Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods
The curmudgeonly school caretaker would be outraged if he found you browsing through items he seized from students, including Hogwarts T-shirts, hats, and scarves, along with house banners, mugs, and more.
The wizarding world is full of mysteries, and Hogsmeade is no exception. Here are a few secrets I’ve uncovered.
*Look for PUBLIC CONVENIENCES (aka restrooms) and go in either side to hear the unmistakably familiar caterwaul of a particular gloomy ghost.
*Before you board Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you’ll pass portraits of Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Salazar Slytherin, and Helga Hufflepuff. If you wait, you’ll witness them squabble, I mean, chat with one another.
*If you solemnly swear you are up to no good, you can find a particularly iconic map in Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods.
*Right outside the Three Broomsticks, you can see an infamous Azkaban escapee laughing maniacally in his wanted poster.
*If you go up to the window of the Owl Post, you may hear some of the angry letters all Hogwarts students dread to receive.
*As you walk through the queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, keep an eye out for The Sorting Hat, Mirror of Erised, and other intriguing items.
*While you’re shopping in Dervish and Banges, look for a familiar beastly book snarling inside a cage.
*It’s not just your imagination; the hog’s head that gives the pub its name moves and growls intermittently.
*Make sure you bring your earmuffs to protect against the piercing cry of these young plants in the window of Dogweed & Deathcaps near PUBLIC CONVENIENCES.
*Before you enter Dervish and Banges, look in the window for three famous broom models.
Hogsmeade is so magical and never ceases to fill me with wonder! Did I miss any of your favorite gems? Let me know in the comments below or by tagging us on social media!
Must be 21 years and older with valid photo identification to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. Drink responsibly.