A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley

By in Alston Stephanus, Florida, Guide, Harry Potter, Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, USA
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Here we are! The fifth and final chapter of A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Well, for Orlando anyway. I do always like to save the best for last, or rather, it’s my favorite part of the attraction that spans Orlando’s two parks: Diagon Alley.

I feel quite bad for the other parks to be honest. Hogwarts and Hogsmeade are, of course, stunning. They’re incredibly immersive experiences, and they steal your breath away when you see them (especially the castle, who DIDN’T get goosebumps when it first came into view in the first film?). But there is something just… that much more magical about Diagon Alley.

Afterall, that’s where you really go shopping right? Hogsmeade had a few things, but it was the mystical and swirling alley of magical bits and bobs that was Harry’s first introduction into the world of witches and wizards. As such, it was also all of ours. Here you can wander around the shops, each one painstakingly recreated and unique. Like the books, each has its own purpose, selling specific witch and wizardly wares for the up-and-coming sorcerer.

Diagon Alley was added to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the Universal Studios Resort Orlando expansion that includes Muggle London and King’s Cross. Much like the book, you proceed to Diagon Alley through a brick wall that opens before you (though in this case it’s always open because imagine the bottleneck THAT would cause if it open and closed all the time!)

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley | The Nerdventurists | www.nerdventurists.com

It’s that first sight, much like Harry had that really just opens up one’s imagination. Rows of shops are on either side you as you step in, their buildings twist and turning in that quirky and whimsical magical way. Broomsticks and wands and exploding candy and beyond are all around you, and at the very end is the curved and structurally unsound Gringott’s Bank… and atop that… is a fire breathing dragon.

It’s undoubtedly the star of the park and once it begins roaring, everything stops and eyes go skyward and it breaths a healthy dose of fire. It’s super cool, especially at night when it illuminates the whole alley.

 

Harry Potter and The Escape from Gringotts

It’s also the main star of Harry Potter and The Escape From Gringotts, Diagon Alley’s 3D rollercoaster adventure that is just as popular as The Forbidden Journey over at Hogwarts. I’m not usually a fan of 3D anything; I’m a glasses wearer and the double glasses look is never good, nor is it particularly easy to wear. However, I gladly made the exception to Gringotts and I’d do it again… and again… and again. I really enjoyed The Forbidden Journey (especially since we got a secret tour AND got to skip the line), but I think The Escape from Gringotts may be my favorite ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley | The Nerdventurists | www.nerdventurists.com

Like the rest of the park, there is a ridiculous amount of detail put into place here. Gringott’s is beautiful and startling, goblins working away and occasionally looking to you. They really do look lifelike. Once you pass through Goblin Inspection, the line takes a more interactive turn in a way.

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley | The Nerdventurists | www.nerdventurists.com

It all begins with a souvenir of sorts. You get our photo taken before entering the ride, perhaps to make sure you’re not going to go rooting through all the vaults and steal some magical artifacts ;). You won’t be getting any other sort of ride photo here, so it’s a nice compromise and something a little different.

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley | The Nerdventurists | www.nerdventurists.com

And then it’s ride time! The best time. Everyone’s favorite time. And the ride is AMAZING. it’s thrilling and exciting and magical all at the same time. Expect to wait for a long time though, it’s rightfully popular, but well worth it.

Shows and Magic!

There’s more to enjoy in this section of the park other than just the main drag of Diagon Alley. There’s an expanded part as well with a nice courtyard where you can see some shows! We weren’t able to catch them as we were too busy trying to get our magic on (the wands you can buy here are interactive with various sections of the park and you CAN DO MAGIC!).

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley | The Nerdventurists | www.nerdventurists.com

There are two shows you can see here, The Tales of Beedle the Bard show and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees performance (which is what was playing while we were there; they’ve got killer voices).

You’ll find a bunch of the interactive wand sites here, just look for the lines to try them out. It really is one of my favorite parts of the park, it’s just such a fun and unique experience.

 

Knockturn Alley

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley | The Nerdventurists | www.nerdventurists.com

If you’re more interested in the Dark Arts and want to get in touch with your inner Voldemort, you can head into Knockturn Alley. You’ll know when you get to the shopping district known for more unsavory wares because it gets very dark very quickly. This is where the unsavory go for their magical tricks and wares.

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley | The Nerdventurists | www.nerdventurists.com

There’s not too many stores here, and nothing you can’t get in the other ones in Diagon Alley, but you can try your hand at magic as many of the interactive wand stations are located in this area. Though be careful if you don’t like spiders… found this out the hard way from Alston. Grr.

 

Shopping! 

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley | The Nerdventurists | www.nerdventurists.com

Diagon Alley is the shopping mall of the wizarding world, and its replica here is no exception. Here you can get everything from wands to candy to robes to sweaters to ice cream to practical jokes. Want a chocolate frog? Done. Fancy a Hufflepuff t-shirt? Sold. The shops you can find in Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley are: The Leaky Cauldron, Ollivanders Wand Shop, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Borgin and Burkes, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, and Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour.

To know how to best dress the part and where to go, check out our How to Dress Like a Witch or Wizard part of our Wizarding World series!

My favorite shop was Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, the joke store the Weasley twins owned. It’s architecturally very pleasing and delightful, plus there are lots of fun things you’re able to get here than can be fun gifts.

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley | The Nerdventurists | www.nerdventurists.com

There is a great sense of joy one has when roaming around all these places, recognizing the names from the books and films. And really, that’s what makes Diagon Alley my favorite part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hogwarts is great, yes, amazing to look at, but here you really get to explore more and feel a bit more immersed into the magical world so many of us grew up with.

So, have you packed your bags yet?! Don’t forget your wand!

 

| London & King’s Cross | Diagon Alley | Hogsmeade | Hogwarts & The Forbidden Journey | How To Dress Like a Wizard (& Witch!) |

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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.

  1. Reply

    Ahh, your photos and videos are so cool! I am an enormous Harry Potter nerd (I’ve read the series AT LEAST 20 times), but still haven’t made it to Harry Potter world–I actually went to Universal Orlando just months before they opened it and haven’t been back. Thanks for reminding me how much I need to go! 🙂

  2. Reply

    Can you believe I have never read or watched any of the Harry Potter books/movies? YEAH I know, I think I am the only person in the whole world! What can I say? I am not really into fantasy, but I’ve made a promise – one day – to try one at least! Surely your posts (all five!!) have inspired me to look into it now! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. Reply

    This destination sounds right up the (Diagon) alley of many of Potterhead. It’s pure fantasy turned into reality. I think I would love to visit the shops and try the candies!

  4. Reply

    This destination sounds right up the (Diagon) alley of many a Potterhead. It’s pure fantasy turned into reality. I think I would love to visit the shops and try the candies!

  5. Reply

    Our family adores everything Harry Potter! We’ve done the studio tour in London and visited the park in Orlando twice, but last time we were there was about a month before they opened the new part. We obviously have to go back because even from watching the movie I thought that journey into the bowels of Gringotts would make a fantastic ride. Glad it lives up to the expectations!

  6. Reply

    My elder son is a really fan of Harry Potter and when he will see this post then he will straightaway visit this part now only. I never watch Potter movies but would love to take a tour of this magical world. Walking straight and suddenly brick wall opens is funny and magical. The ride to this place is so magical and does not look like a real world. I am really looking forward to visit this place soon.

    • Abigail Sinsona
    • October 6, 2017
    Reply

    I have seen this plenty of times on Instagram and on many travel blogs. But it never ceases to leave me in awe. I can only imagine how I would be so awe-struck when I visit this in person!

    • Ami
    • October 6, 2017
    Reply

    I so so envy you for having seeing this. I need a new wand alright and would love a visit to the Diagon alley 😉 I would want to relive every bit of that book with a visit here. Sigh! Someday I will also walk through those bricks.

  7. Reply

    We never watched any of the Harry Potter movies nor red the books! I think wed still love to go by curiosity. Although we are sure we wouldn’t enjoy it as much as the ones that love it!

    • Kim
    • October 11, 2017
    Reply

    The last time I went to Universal Studios was right after they opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It seems like a lot as changed since I last visited, reading your post didn’t even seem like I had ever been there. Sounds like I’ll have to make a trip down to Orlando sometime in the near future!

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