20 Cool Facts About the Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Diagon Alley

Diagon-Alley_3.jpg
••• Universal Orlando Resort

With the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley, Universal Orlando Resort has created a highly immersive realm that lets Harry Potter fans to explore Hogsmeade and London. Since Harry Potter’s adventures at Universal Orlando stretch across both Universal theme parks, you'll need a dual-park ticket to see it all.

Here are fun facts you may not know about this playground for wizards and muggles:

  1. Those British accents are for real. To create an authentic experience, Universal reportedly hires many Britons to work in the Harry Potter worlds. Even better, every staff member has to pass a knowledge test on the Harry Potter books and movies to make sure their guest interactions ring true.
  2. The souvenir wands really are magic. You'll find an Ollivander's Wand Shop in Hogsmeade and another in Diagon Alley. While an interactive wand may seem like a pricey souvenir (at around $50), it adds a really fun dimension to your visit. The wands let you cast spells all over Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Here's how they work: Consult the map that comes with your wand and look on the ground for tell-tale metallic plaques. Stand on a plaque and wave your wand, reciting the given spell, and watch what happens. Each spell leads to a different outcome.
  3. Moaning Myrtle haunts the bathrooms in Hogsmeade. In the Harry Potter books and films, poor dead Myrtle Warren was a frequent presence in the first-floor girls' bathroom at Hogwarts. In Hogsmeade, the bathrooms for both genders are haunted. Visit and you may hear the ex-Ravenclaw girl's ghostly whining and crying.
  1. The clock tower is a hoot. At the top of the Owlery in Hogsmeade, the cuckoo clock goes off from time to time, and out pops—what else?—an owl.
  2. You can send a letter by owl delivery. Well, sort of. Bring an addressed postcard or letter to the Owl Post in Hogsmeade and you can send it to a friend or yourself (for a great souvenir). It will arrive stamped with the Hogsmeade postmark. You can also buy Harry Potter stationery and pens, as well as owl toys and gifts. 
  1. You can get screamed at by a howler. In a storefront window next to the Owl Post, a holographic howler will yell at you for not having your permission slip. After delivering the message, the red envelope will rip itself up.
  2. The queues are just as magical as the rides. The line to ride Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey is almost as amazing as the attraction itself. As you walk through the Hogwarts grounds and castle, you'll see enchanted furnishings such as moving paintings and the Mirror of Erised.
  3. You can do some eavesdropping. While in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, stand near the door marked "Potions Classroom" and you'll hear a professor teaching Neville Longbottom how to cast a spell.
  4. You can ride the Hogwarts Express. Within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can travel between Hogsmeade Station and London's King's Cross Station aboard the Hogwarts Express, just like Harry and his friends do. In the first year after opening, the magical train carried more than five million passengers.
  5. People really disappear through Platform 9 3/4. If you're taking the Hogwarts Express from King's Cross Station, it's easy to miss one of the coolest special effects if you don't know where to look. Stand a bit back from the entrance to the tunnel leading to the train. The people in line ahead will appear to pass through a solid brick wall to Platform 9 3/4. Note that you can't see the effect as you walk through the tunnel, but those in line behind you will see it.
  1. There's a magic phone booth outside the train station. The red phone box outside of King's Cross Station makes for a great photo opp, but few tourists will actually try to use the phone. If you dial MAGIC (62442), you'll be patched through to the Ministry of Magic.
  2. If you feel like you're being watched, it's because you are. As you stroll along the London embankment, take a moment to admire 12 Grimmauld Place, the fictional ancestral home of the Black family. You may spy Kreacher the House Elf peaking through a second-floor window.
  3. The Knight Bus offers a ghoulish surprise. Parked next to the Eros Fountain from London's Piccadilly Circus, the Knight Bus makes for yet another great photo opp. While you chat with the conductor, keep your ears tuned toward the famously chatty shrunken head dangling above the dashboard.
  1. The cauldron really is leaky. In Diagon Alley, the Leaky Cauldron pub is the gateway from muggle life to the magical world. At Universal Orlando, the sign above the Leaky Cauldron really does leak. It was no small feat to recreate the famously magical brick wall behind the pub; the Universal Orlando version weighs more than 37,000 pounds and is made up of 7,456 bricks.
  2. There's a fire-breathing dragon in Diagon Alley. Perched atop Gringotts Bank, a Ukranian Ironbelly dragon lets out a gasp of fire every 15 minutes or so. The fire's temperature reaches 3,560 degrees Fahrenheit, which is over 16 times hotter than boiling water.
  3. You can converse with the goblin tellers inside Gringotts Bank. The queue to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is fabulous, starting with the money exchange. If you ring a desk bell, the animatronic goblin teller will look directly at you. Encourage kids to ask the goblin a question, such as "How old are you?" or "Did you know there's a dragon on the roof?" and wait for the response.
  4. You can trade your muggle money for Gringotts money. Don't leave the money exchange without padding your pockets with a few Gringotts notes, which can be used to pay for items throughout the Universal parks. Be sure to save a bill or two as inexpensive souvenirs.
  5. The walls have ears. Or, more accurately, the ceiling has ears. Inside Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, you can hear whispering coming from the extendable ears that hang from the ceiling. Another cool thing about this joke shop: When you adopt a Pygmy Puff, the attendant will ring a bell and announce your new pet's name to the entire shop.
  6. A magical mirror will give you fashion advice. Here's a great example of why you should take your time and poke around in every corner. Inside Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, you can try on Hogwarts school attire and even buy a wizard hat. But be sure to wear a thick skin. There's a mirror in the shop that will dole out an unsolicited and insulting critique of your outfit.
  7. You can speak to Voldemort's snake. Inside the Magical Menagerie, you'll find 13 different types of magical beings, including Hippogriffs, Kneazles, Demiguises and Graphorns. Before entering, take a moment to look up at the oversized windows for Nagini, Voldemort's serpent, who will speak to you—first in Parseltongue and then in English.

Where to stay at Universal Orlando​