A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogwarts and The Forbidden Journey

By in Alston Stephanus, Disney Adventures, Florida, Harry Potter, Hogwarts, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, theme park, Universal Studios, USA on January 29, 2017
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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. And when you wander through Hogsmeade you’ll end up at the base of Hogwarts Castle.

The main attraction over on the Islands of Adventure half of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando.

A Muggle's Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogwarts and The Forbidden Journey - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Not only is it a school for witches and wizards, but it’s also home to The Forbidden Journey, a robocoaster that has you spirited away to the land of magic and go on a journey in and around the legendary Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books and films. it’s hard to ignore the giant towers and behemoth that is Hogwarts looming over everything. Even though Hogsmeade is wonderful, everyone immediately wants to go rush to Hogwarts, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s been replicated in a beautiful fashion. The stone work, intricacies in the detailing, and overall atmosphere add to the glee that is the entire park. If you’ve ever gotten goosebumps reading the books or seeing the movies, seeing the castle in real life is definitely an exciting experience, awakening the inner child.

Speaking of Hogwarts, you know a famous wizard that was expelled from Hogwarts? No, not Hagrid (bless). Newt Scamander! Alston did a great cosplay shoot as the main character from the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which you can check out on Nerd Out.


As we approached the castle, one of the workers, a rather slick looking guy in a Slytherin uniform called us aside. Now, by this point Alston had been mistaken for a park employee about fifty thousand times (thanks in part to the fact he’s just an immaculate dresser in general, plus add Hogwarts robes…) and more than a few people had taken photos of us. I thought maybe this was happening again or he was just going to say “Hey! Nice costumes!” or something, but in fact we instead were offered to skip the line!

Turns out the students/employees at The Forbidden Journey randomly pluck people and give them a guided tour through the castle before bringing themย to the front of the line. On a busy spring day this was a plus as the place was a touch crowded. But moreover, it was incredibly exciting! I never get chosen for stuff, ever. I was that kid who was always picked last in gym (though to be fair I had (and continue to have) no athletic ability). I wasn’t first choice for partners or anything and I have notoriously bad luck at games… so I was kinda super excited.

… well that got depressing. Back to magic!


Josh the Slytherin let us into a separate line where we waltzed on up to the castle and had to take care of our belongings. You see, The Forbidden Journey is a pretty intense ride with no storage space, so you can’t have any spare belongings or anything. Keep that in mind!

Pro Tip: There are lockers provided, but on crowded days you may be queuing for locker space in addition to the ride. Don’t bring a ton of stuff with you, use lockers in other parts of the park, or give them to a non-rider.

Inside the castle is an interactive and fascinating line. The entire place is decorated just like in the films and you weave in and out of classrooms and past Common Rooms and more. There are props and magic (it may start suddenly snowing in a row!), talking paintings, plus lots of excited Potterheads around you. It is dark however, so forgive the low lighting in the photos. Gotta have that ambient magical feel after all.

As we were whisked past the line during our tour, Josh would occasionally stop and explain something about a prop or piece. He also quizzed us. Or rather, me, because I was the Ravenclaw and he had a delight testing my knowledge. I remember getting most things correct, I seemed to have passed and done my fellow Ravenclaws a solid. Or at least we’ll just say that happened.

While the actual line itself weaves outdoors around the Herbology greenhouses, goes through the dungeons, and interacts with the famous trio, we diverted off a few times. We got to explore the back hallways of the castle, off-limits to regularย guests. This included getting to see the beautiful stained glass window from The Prisoner of Azkaban, and heading the back way into Dumbledore’s Office and such. Also more quizzes. Brush up on your Potter facts before entering the ride!

A Muggle's Guide to the Wizard World of Harry Potter: Hogwarts and The Forbidden Journey

After our tour was finished, Josh brought us to the front of the line and asked if he could join us. Now, seriously, what better place to work? Get to show people around a magical castle all day and then get to ride the ride as many times as you want?

Sign me up… seriously… are you hiring, Universal?

The ride itself is great fun! I had no idea really what to expect, but I was laughing and screaming the whole way. You get a glimpse at so many parts of the franchise and the Hogwarts grounds. You’re zooming up to the Observatory, playing Quidditch, tackling Dementors, going through the Forbidden Forest, escaping dragons… I mean, what more could you ask for?

A Muggle's Guide to the Wizard World of Harry Potter: Hogwarts and The Forbidden Journey

Josh clearly knew where the cameras were.

Alston knew there was a section with a bunch of spiders. He ALSO knew that I hate spiders.

He laughed at my screams.

Overall The Forbidden Journey is a wonderfully fun ride. It’s not really a rollercoaster so much as it’s like a more extreme version of the Flight of Peter Pan from Disneyland (the one is Shanghai Disney is upgraded and super sweet btw). You twist and turn and sometimes are at a total 90 degree angle, but there’s no upside down parts and anyone afraid of such things won’t have much to worry about! I really recommend it though, even if you’re not chosen for the tour.

Huge thanks to Josh for showing us around Hogwarts! It was a lot of fun to get to explore the castle a bit. You’re pretty awesome… for a Slytherin.

A Muggleโ€™s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter isย a multi-part series, so make sure to subscribe and follow us on social media to know when the next part is published!

| London & Kingโ€™s Cross | Diagon Alley | Hogsmeade | Hogwarts & The Forbidden Journey | How To Dress Like a Wizard (& Witch!)ย |


A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is part of the Disney Adventures collaboration between The Nerdventurists andย  Alston Stephanus ofย Alston Stephanus Accessories.ย Check himย out on Instagramย & his company!

Photos and video by Noriko Sugiura.

Kristina is an ardent traveler and has been to over 48 countries and has no plans to stop. She taught English in a small fishing city in Japan for a year, volunteered on an archaeological dig on an Iron Age site in Israel, drove 10,000 miles in a 1994 Corsa from London to Ulaanbataar for charity, and accidentally fell in love with K-pop in Seoul. Itโ€™s been a wild ride.
  1. Pingback: A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: London & King’s Cross – The Nerdventurists

  2. Pingback: A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade – The Nerdventurists

    • Priyadarshini Rajendran
    • January 30, 2017

    Wow! I am already a great fan of Rowling’s works and now your post has got me super excited. I want to visit the Harry Potter castle right now!! Great post. Hope I get to see Dumbledore’s office too.. haha!

  3. Reply

    I love that you are dressed up for the occassion. This looks like a great place to explore if you are a Harry Potter fan! It looks like you two had a lot of fun!

  4. Reply

    I love the wizarding world of Harry Potter and it is one of my favorite places to visit if I’m not going anywhere on the weekends!

  5. Reply

    This is such a cool experience for any Potterhead! I am a fan myself, but I haven’t been to any theme park for this. I am considering of going somewhere close – Universal Studios in Japan also have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter similar to the one you have in Orlando. I hope it feels like Hogwarts, too!

  6. Reply

    Omg I had so much fun reading this! And I love how you’ve added little gifs in the middle, they add such a fun authentic element. Brought back so much Harry Potter nostalgia! <3

  7. Reply

    Wow, the guided tour sounds amazing! I’d love to visit : the closest I’ve been is the studio tour near London which is great but this looks even more fun!

  8. Reply

    Wow….I am so jealous of you right now. I love Harry Potter and you managed to do the whole tour of this place. I so want to see it . Lucky lucky you.

  9. Reply

    This is a GREAT guide! and so glad to find your blog ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Reply

    I was there a few years ago and this post brings back all those memories. Your costumes look fantastic so no wonder so many people wanted your photo! How cool that you got to skip the line ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Reply

    Pretty cool!!! I didn’t know there was a ride or anything really but it seems you had lots of fun and were lucky enough to get chosen.

    • Dane
    • January 30, 2017

    I’ve never actually read Harry Potter or seen the movies. However this still looks like a super fun experience! Kind of jealous!

    • Marlene Marques
    • January 31, 2017

    How cool is this park! I’m not a major Harry Potter fan, but I think I would have a blast here! You guys looked like you were taken out of the movie. No wonder you were mistaken for a park employee hihihi Very nice post! Congrats!

  12. Reply

    You guys are so cute, complete with costume and all. You really immersed into the experience, I’m jealous. Hopefully, we get to visit the one in Japan this year… Orlando is too far. Haha!

    I enjoyed your photos! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • neha
    • February 1, 2017

    This is so exciting. For all of us who have lived the harry potter era. I guess we all would like to visit here. Thanks for sharing about this wonderful place

  13. Reply

    This is super cool. Its been a while since I read any Harry Potter book or seen a movie but this brought flashbacks. I should see this place someday ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Reply

    Abracadabra! this is a magical post that cast a spell over me and had me flying on a broomstick all the way to Hogwarts. Very enjoyable post. Hope to get to the magical world someday, till then derived vicarious pleasure reading your post.

  15. Reply

    I’ve always wanted to visit Hogwarts and Hogsmeade! Good advice not to bring lots of bags when heading to a theme park like this. I hope I get as lucky as you and get the private tour when I go!

  16. Reply

    Wow ! This is definitely going on my bucket list. The place sounds fun and am going to visit Hogwarts and Hogsmede with a fellow Harry Potter fan to make the experience that much more fun and memorable.

  17. Reply

    Sounds like you had a great time! Love your outfits! I loved it there! Especially Diagon Alley.Might have to try and sweet talk an employee next time I go!
    Katie x

  18. Reply

    That is such an amazing exeperience. I’ve actually just had a Harry Potter Movie marathon and been itching to see this place. Glad that u had a great time. Hope to visit one day!

  19. How wonderful to be plucked from the line like that! Love Universal and spent hours in the Harry Potter part last time we were there:) Found the rides a bit much for my vertigo though!

    • Anna
    • February 1, 2017

    Hogwarts and Hogsmeade – my dream destination, looks like fun!:) Back home to watch Harry Potter again… xD

  20. Reply

    I love your outfits and the way you chose to visit Hogwarts. I am not a fan of Harry Potter but I would love to visit The universal Studios and enter the world of magic. It looks so exciting!

  21. Reply

    Looks like great fun. Love you commitment to the costumes. Some great tips too, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Reply

    I love that you went there in full gear! That makes the whole experience even more fun ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy travels!

  23. Reply

    I love Harry Potter and would love to be able to visit the Harry Potter exhibit at Universal Studios. What great pictures you guys got, the castle is breath taking. I love the outfits you chose to wear to this. I wouldn’t want to be caught there in muggle clothes either. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for sharing this cool adventure.

    • travellingslacker
    • February 2, 2017

    Who can resist a Potter themed trip? he he
    I have only seen the movies and have not read the books but I have some potterhead friends. Will have to show them this post.

  24. Reply

    I had no intention of visiting the Harry Potter places here in London but now you made me want to. I think I also need to watch the movies and read all the books now. I want to be picked out from the line too when I visit Universal Studios and get all the answers right when they quiz me. Where did you get the costumes? You both look super cool! ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Reply

    Wow so lucky on getting that guided tour! It looks and sounds like you had an incredible time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Reply

    I am not a Harry Potter fan but I understand that Harry Potter has millions of fans across the globe including my country India. In fact, after seeing this post, I am contemplating turning into a Harry Potter fan!

  27. Reply

    Seems you had an awesome experience. I loved the way you guys are dressed up. You look super cute. I am not at all a Harry potter lover but after reading I feel it is going to be an awesome experience. Nice pictures and that video too.

    • Bethanny Sudibyo
    • February 3, 2017

    OMG! This seems to be an amazing experience. I need to go to the Wizarding World soon, it’s just so real! I love they you got picked to get the tour and be in front of the line ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Reply

    We love Harry Potter and the Wizarding world. It is great to see other adults enjoy it as much as we did. You guys really did it properly and gave us a serious craving for Butterbeer!

  29. I read most of the books when I was a kid and created my own mental photos of how each place looked. Due to that, I had some problems accepting the places in the movies as it did not correspond with my own view. Would probably be even harder if I ever visited a site built according to the buildings in the movies. ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Reply

    How lucky to get a guided tour! I really liked the series, I mean, who didn’t?! I’d like to go there one of these days. Thanks for all the great tips!

    • Hassan
    • February 6, 2017

    wow…. absolutely love this post. I had read about this place but now i wana go there and take kids. this seems so much fun. great post

  31. Reply

    Whoa! This post is just mind blowing. I really love your props and your gifs. How did you create those? Do tell me about the costs of this place and if any food is available inside?

  32. Reply

    How cool is that! Omg I want to do this too! Looks so amazing and like loads of fun! I love theme parks so much! X

    • soumna
    • February 8, 2017

    I went to the other Harry Potter ride in Universal Studios when I was in Florida. It was pretty exciting too and we had a gala time in spite of standing in queue for almost an hour. Cool that you got someone to show you around.

  33. Pingback: A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Magical Shopping! How To Dress Like a Wizard (& Witch!) – The Nerdventurists

  34. Reply

    Awesome post! I definitely enjoyed the Forbidden Journey as well!

  35. Pingback: A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade – The Nerdventurists

  36. Reply

    Why it is important that the Muggles remain unaware of the Wizarding world is never fully explained.

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