Are you thinking about visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando?  Unsure about which park to go to?  Let’s compare Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure.

Both of these parks are amazing and I am excited to share with you all of my favorite parts about each park and ultimately give you my opinion on which park wins in the battle of Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure. 

In this post we are primarily going to focus on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the differences between Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) and Diagon Alley (Universal Studios).

Let’s explore both Universal Orlando parks and plan a trip to Harry Potter World!

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How Much Time Do You Need at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Orlando?

Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure Harry Potter World

Are you wondering how many days you should spend at Harry Potter World? Well, for Harry Potter fans the more days you stay the better.  I suggest at least two to three days.  In this post we are focusing on which park to spend most of your time in.  

The first time we went to Harry Potter World we only had one day.  It was not enough time!!!!  We even bought front of the line passes and bought a park-to park ticket.  You might be in the same situation we were.  If so, this post will help you know where to spend most of your time.  

This is the ultimate Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure… aka Diagon Alley vs Hogsmeade post.  Even if you have several days at the park this post can still help direct you on where to spend your time. 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tickets

Universal Studios Tickets

Ticket prices vary depending on how many days you go, and if you want a park-to-park pass or a front of the line pass.  

One Park Per Day Ticket

Ticket prices start at $109 for a one park per day ticket.

Park-to-Park Ticket

The park-to-park pass starts at $164.  This allows you to:

  • Ride the Hogwarts Express
  • Enjoy both parks on the same day  

Multi-Day Ticket

You can buy a multi-day pass.  This will save you money if you plan to spend more time at the park. 

Front of the Line Pass

Front of the line is an additional option to skip the lines.  This pass is typically less expensive if purchased ahead of time.  

Promotions

Universal Studios typically runs deals such as buy 2 days get 2 free.  The longer you stay the ticket prices go down per day.  Sam’s Club also has discounted tickets. 

 

Harry Potter Rides at Islands of Adventure

Plan a Trip to Universal Orlando tickets

If you love rides, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will not let you down. There are rides located in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.    

Harry Potter Rides at Islands of Adventure

The rides at Islands of Adventure are more thrilling. So naturally you can expect the same type of thrill rides in the Harry Potter World (Hogsmeade) at Islands of Adventure.

There are three amazing rides.  However, two have a height requirement that will not allow younger/shorter children to ride.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 

Harry Potter vacation

Height Requirement: 48 inches

Ride Time: 4 minutes

The Forbidden Journey takes you inside the castle of Hogwarts.  It is almost as fun to stand in line as it is to ride the ride.  As a huge Harry Potter fan I find it difficult for me to describe because it is so detailed and perfect!  It brings me such happiness and joy. 

The ride is just as wonderful! I love every aspect of it.  In fact I could ride it over and over again.  However, Some people get a little motion sick, so keep that in mind. 

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Hagrid ride at Islands of Adventure

Height Requirement: 48 inches

Ride Time: 3 Minutes

Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure is the newest addition to the Harry Potter area of Islands of Adventure.  This ride is a roller coaster.  It is fun and unlike any other roller coaster you will ever go on!   The design and execution of this ride is one you do not want to miss. 

Hot Tip

Download the Universal App before you go to the park.  During busy times, you will need to select a time in the virtual queue to ride the Hagrid ride.  If it is extremely busy you will want to do this at the designated times on the app.  

Flight of the Hippogriff

Flight of the Hippogriff rides at Harry Potter World

Height Requirement: 36 inches

Flight of the  Hippogriff is a junior coaster.  The line is fun and is themed around Hagrid’s house and his care of magical creatures.  This is a great option for younger/shorter Harry Potter fans.

Harry Potter Rides at Universal Studios

The rides at Universal Studios are more virtual. There is only one main Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios.  It is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

The height requirements are shorter so younger children can ride the ride. 

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Gringotts ride at Universal Studios

Height Requirement: 42 inches

The detail on this ride is incredible!  There is an actual fire breathing dragon on the top of the bank.  It is unreal!

As you enter the ride you will be entering Gringotts.  The detail is phenomenal.  The dwarfs are so realistic.  The ride is fun but in my opinion it is not as fun as the two rides at Islands of Adventure – The Forbidden Journey and Hagrid’s.  It is still amazing! 

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando

Hogwarts Express is located at both parks.  It is the transportation to/from Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.  It is a train ride with a virtual experience.  It is a different experience depending on which direction you are going.  

You have to have a park-to-park ticket to ride this attraction.  

Islands of Adventure vs. Universal Studios

Winner is……

Hands down Islands of Adventure – Hogsmeade wins on rides.  There are more choices plus they use superior technology.  Hagrid’s Motorbike adventure is unlike any roller coaster you will ever go on.  

Harry Potter Food Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter Food

There are stores in both areas that will have similar food items and Harry Potter Souvenirs such as butterbeer and candy items.  However, there are two restaurants, one in each area.

Three Broomsticks – Islands of Adventure – Hogsmeade 

Three Broomsticks at Islands of Adventure Hogsmeade

The three broomsticks is located at the Islands of Adventure in Hogsmeade.  This restaurant is a quick service location.  

 Price:

Adults: $17.99

Child: $12.99

What to Eat

Breakfast is what you should try to eat if you arrive early to the park.  These menu items are more kid friendly.  The lunch/dinner menu may not be great for picky eaters. 

However, if you want to save your appetite and go for lunch or dinner there is a great feast that is $70.  It comes with all sorts of delicious meats and side dishes such as rotisserie smoked chicken, spare ribs, roast and potatoes, and corn on the cob.  

Leaky Cauldron – Universal Studios – Diagon Alley

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort.

Price Range:

Adults: $21

Child: $7.49

The Leaky Cauldron is in my opinion not a kid friendly location.  The food is more English style.  The atmosphere is fantastic.  If you like fish and chips, beef lamp, or fisherman’s pie then this is for you.  It is a unique experience and fun if you have sophisticated taste buds.  

Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure – Winner is…..

In this battle of Universal Studios vs.  Islands of Adventure Harry Potter food. Islands of Adventure wins.  I don’t have sophisticated taste buds so I wasn’t a fan of the Leaky Cauldron.  The Three Broomsticks would be my choice. 

Harry Potter Shows Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure

Hogwarts Castle Show

There are three shows at Islands of Adventure – Hogsmeade.  There are nightly light shows on the Hogwarts Castle.  This is one of the best shows as it uses music and lights to tell a story.  It is incredible.

The other two shows at Hogsmeade are located between the Hogwarts Castles and Hogsmeade Village.  Each show alternates throughout the day every half hour with a total of  around 12 shows in a day.

Triwizard Spirit Rally

Triwizard Spirit Rally at Hogsmeade - Islands of Adventure

Triwizard Spirit Rally is a show located at Islands of Adventure.  This show has both the students from beauxbatons and durmstang performing on stage. They use a combination of rhythmic gymnastics and martial arts.  These schools were invited to the Triwizard Tournament in book 4.  

Frog Choir

Frog Choir at Islands of Adventure - Hogsmeade

The Frog Choir is also located at Islands of Adventure – Hogsmeade.  This choir has a representation from each house.  They perform wizarding songs with their croaking frogs! 

Harry Potter Universal Studios Show

Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando

Celestina and Banshees is a live show featuring Molly Weasley’s favorite singer!  These shows do not have set times but are usually hourly.  Even non Harry Potter fans will love this up beat performance.  

The Tale of the Beedle and the Bard

This puppet show is a 10-12 minute account of the Tale of the Beedle and the Bard first introduced in book 7.

Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure Winner is……

In the battle of Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure Harry Potter World show category. It’s a tie!!! Universal Studios wins with the two shows in Diagon Alley, but the Hogwarts Castle show is amazing and happens to be at the Islands of Adventure.  Harry Potter fans will enjoy all of them.  

Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure - Ollivanders Wand Shop

Ollivanders wand shop at Universal Orlando

There are Ollivanders Wand Shops in both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.  Which one is better you ask? 

Universal Studios – Diagon Alley

If you are a die hard Harry Potter fan you might want to have the experience where Harry did.  Diagon Alley is where Harry purchased his wand.  The Ollivanders in Diagon Alley has been said to have shorter wait times as well. Reservations are required only in Diagon Alley. (This is a Covid procedure and may go away)

Islands of Adventure – Hogsmeade

Ollivanders in Hogsmeade is the exact same experience you would have if you went to Diagon Alley.  Usually, early morning hours will be in Hogsmeade making the wait times a little longer.

Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure – Winner is…..

In the competition between Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure this one is almost a tie.  Like I said, if you want to do it like Harry did Diagon Alley at Universal Studios wins.  It is kind of nice to have a specific reservation time too….if you can get one.  

Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure - Interactive Wand Experiences

Harry Potter Souvenirs

Once you get your wand you can participate in interactive experiences throughout the park.  You actually make magic happen.  There are medallions located on the ground that indicate that magic can happen in this spot. 

Universal Studios – Diagon Alley – Wand Execution 

In Diagon Alley there are more options to practice your skills and perform magic.  There are also many workers to assist young wizards and witches and help learn how to execute the spells.  You will also get to sneak into Knock-Turn Alley with dark witches and wizards.  Although it is dark, it is once again exceptional.  

Islands of Adventure – Hogsmeade Wand Execution 

There are many spots to perform magic in Hogsmeade however there are two things that you should be aware of.  One is the medallions are located farther away from the windows which means that people can walk right in front of you.  Also, the spells are more difficult to execute.  

Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure Winner is….

Out of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, I like Universal Studios for wand practice.  I feel like there are many more opportunities to practice and because of that the lines are shorter.  There is also Knock-Turn Alley which is out of this world cool! 

Universal Studios Vs Islands of Adventure - Shopping

Harry Potter would souvenir

Shopping at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an experience you want to have.

Shopping at Universal Studios – Diagon Alley

Shopping at Diagon Alley

 

  • Quality Quidditch Supplies
  • Weasleys Wizard Weezes
  • Madam Malkam Robes
  • Borgin and Burkes
  • Ollivanders Wand Shop
  • Magical Menagerie
  • Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment
  • Gringotts Money Exchange
  • Scribbulus 
  • Wands by Gregorovitch
  • Globis Mundi
  • Sugar Plum Sweet Shop

Shopping at Islands of Adventure – Hogsmeade

Honeydukes at Islands of adventure

  • Honeydukes
  • Dervish and Banges 
  • Owl Post
  • Finches Emporium and Confiscated Goods
  • Hogsmeade Carts

Universal Studios vs. Island of Adventure Winner is……….

When comparing Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure in Harry Potter Shopping, Universal Studios wins – Diagon Alley is where you want to go to shop. 

This is the area Hagrid brought Harry to shop for his first year at Hogwarts.  Everything in the stores is unique and true to the book.  It is part of the whole Harry Potter experience. Plus, there are so many more stores in Diagon Alley! 

Harry Potter World Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure

Before I wrote everything out I would have said hands down Islands of Adventure – Hogsmeade was the best Harry Potter World experience.  The rides are amazing!  So If you are going for rides Islands of Adventure wins. 

After writing about the wand experiences, shopping, and shows I feel like Universal Studios wins. 

I am more of a ride person so Islands of Adventure will always have my heart. 

Facebook Community

Do you have any more questions about planning a trip to Universal Orlando? Join my Travel Community on Facebook.  This is a great group that can help answer any travel question you might have.  I also try to add any deals that companies send me as well.