When you take the train from King’s Cross at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, you’ll end up in Hogsmeade, the perpetually snowy village at the base of Hogwarts.
If you’re at all familiar with the Harry Potter books and films, Hogsmeade will look just like you imagine. It’s fanciful and just a little askew. The roofs are pitched and chimneys whirling, and it’s buzzing with excitement. While mostly a gateway to Hogwarts and the rides and attractions there, Hogsmeade deserves some of your time. So don’t go running to The Forbidden Journey just yet!
There’s plenty of magic on display here, from interactive window displays, to Hogwarts students prowling about. There’s also The Dragon Challenge dueling roller coasters here in Hogsmeade. Themed after The Triwizard Tournament, two roller coasters flip and intertwine. It’s actually a re-purpose of the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, but sssshhh. No one told you that. The two coasters were renamed “Hungarian Horntail” and “Chinese Fireball” in homage to the First Task.
FUN FACT: Hogsmeade and Hogwarts were the first part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that was constructed. Diagon Alley came four years later.
What most people look the most forward to at Hogsmeade is going to The Three Broomsticks, the famous tavern from the books and local eatery of witches and wizards. In the style of an old English pub with, The Three Broomsticks is really the only place to get a full meal in Hogsmeade. There’s a number of choices of magical nosh from fish and chips and Shepherd’s pie to Cornish pasties, turkey legs and various vegetables.
Though vegans… there’s nothing for you here. The vegetables are soaked in butter, as I sadly found out.
For adults there is the Hog’s Head Tavern located at the back of the restaurant where you can get some Fire Whisky, wine, and other alcoholic delights. There are, of course, alcohol free choices too.
The atmosphere is rather lovely. There’s low artificial lights, instead relying on the large windows. It has that same whimsical feel that the rest of the park has, and you can’t help but to admire it. There is painstaking detail in everything from the portraits to the chandeliers, to simply the labels on the (Gilly) water. Everything here is about an immersive experience, and The Three Broomsticks captures the magic in a simple way.
Now while your tummy was rumbling for food here, we all know what you really want.
What is Butterbeer? Still not entirely sure. A buttery soda but not soda with a lot of creamy foam on top. It was a staple in the books and films and is something you simply have to get to complete your visit.
Just make sure you have a napkin to wipe your mouth with after!
After you’ve got your fill of food, sugary drinks, and are itching to explore more, head back out into Hogsmeade to take in the sights.
Most of your shopping will be in Diagon Alley, but if you weren’t able to get over there on the train, or you missed something, you’re in luck! Hogsmeade has a few of the same shops so you can grab your wands, robes, candies, books, and House apparel.
You can head into Dervish and Banges for magical supplies and wizarding equipment like Spectrespecs, Omnioculars, “The Monster Book of Monsters.” This is also where you’ll get all your Quidditch goods including brooms, jerseys, scarves, jumpers, and fan goods. If you’re looking for more Hogwarts related items, head on over to Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods. It’s the store at the end of The Forbidden Journey ride that’s in Hogwarts Castle, but we’ll talk about that later.
There’s also a branch of Ollivanders here in Hogsmeade, if you have buyer’s remorse about that wand you didn’t get in Diagon Alley. Like the main store, you can choose a unique wand or a movie replica.
The famous Honeyduke’s sweet shop is also here, the one that Harry Potter snuck into in ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban.’ You can get all sorts of magical candy here including the infamous Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (beware!), Puking Pastilles, Cauldron Cakes, Chocolate Frogs, and Acid Pops. I know they sound a bit… awful, but just go with it, it’s magic, okay?!
Hogsmeade is wonderful to walk around in, and the atmosphere is fantastic! Even in the Florida sun, the illusion of snow was quite cooling. I think. I may have been delirious with happiness.
The main attraction here, of course, is Hogwarts. The castle looms over Hogsmeade and it’s hard not to get very very excited and immediately dash to the attraction. But spend some time in Hogsmeade, it’s wonderfully constructed and full of so many nooks and crannies.
A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a multi-part series, so make sure to subscribe and follow us on social media to know when the next part is published!
A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is part of the Disney Adventures collaboration between The Nerdventurists and Alston Stephanus of Alston Stephanus Accessories. Check him out on Instagram & his company!
Photos and video by Noriko Sugiura.