If you’re a millennial, then you likely grew up reading the Harry Potter books, or at least watched the movies. The Harry Potter fandom in millennials is HUGE! If you’re reading this, you probably know which house you belong in and will become offended if anyone questions that status. There’s a good chance that you’re still bitter that a letter inviting you to Hogwarts never showed up on your eleventh birthday. You probably have strong feelings about one character that you wish never died in the series (um, hello, Fred!). Finally, you probably want to fill your life with as much magic as the muggle world will allow. Below, I list the major places, experiences, and eats that a muggle wishing to be a wizard should check out. I present: The Ultimate Harry Potter Bucketlist!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando
Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida
First on the list is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The Wizarding World features daring rides, delicious treats, and decor that puts you in the heart of the Harry Potter universe. Explore Diagon Alley, where you can tour Gringotts and escape the Death Eaters, stumble into Knockturn Alley, laugh around Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and sit down for a meal at the Leaky Cauldron. The coolest part of Diagon Alley is that you have to go through muggle London in order to get there. It’s truly magical. Once you’ve had your fill of Diagon Alley, hop on the Hogwarts Express and head over to Hogsmeade. If you’re planning a trip, I recommend checking out my guide to the Wizarding World!
Hogsmeade at Universal’s Island of Adventure
At Universal’s Island of Adventure, Hogsmeade is decorated for winter, with amazing snow-topped stores and looming Hogwarts castle. Here, you can walk through Hogwarts, visiting the herbology lab outside, the headmaster’s office, catch a glimpse of the sorting hat, and then hop on the ride to see the quiddich pitch, Chamber of Secrets, and Forbidden Forest! While visiting, make sure to grab a glass of butterbeer, visit the shops, and get your very own wand. If you purchase a wand, you can use to cast spells at certain parts of the park!
Things to Keep in Mind
You should keep in mind that you have to buy two days of tickets or a park hopper in order to experience both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade – purchase tickets here. If you’re a Florida resident, check out the active packages for a discount!
Are rides not your thing? No problem! You can request to go on a tour of Gringotts or Hogwarts by speaking with a worker near the queue line for the attractions. On top of that, a variety of themed shows take place on either side of the park daily. There are puppet shows reenacting the Tales of the Beedle and the Bard in Diagon Alley and presentations for the Triwizard Tournament occurring once every hour or so in Hogsmeade. You can find the showtimes for Diagon Alley here and for Hogsmeade here.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour
For some up-close views of the costumes, sets, and props used in the films, check out the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London! There are some amazing photo ops and even more incredible reenactments that you will cherish forever. Purchase tickets here and see how Warner Bros. brought the magic of the books to life.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
While you’re in London, make sure to stop by West End and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is a play by J.K. Rowling and is the latest installment of the Harry Potter series. Focusing on Harry’s son, this story is a perfect addition to the original 7 books of the series. If you can’t wait to see the play to find out what happens, you can read the script. Currently, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is being acted out in London at the Palace Theatre and in New York at the Lyric Theatre. Tickets are super hard to get, so plan your trip way in advance.
The play takes place in two parts that should be seen in the same day (matinée and evening) or two consecutive evenings. For information about when the next round of tickets becomes available, check Cursed Child’s website in London here and New York here. Don’t purchase tickets from outside sources, as the theater has been rejecting those tickets in order to keep prices down.
UPDATE July 2018: I SAW CURSED CHILD IN NYC! Check out my tips for seeing the show here!
The London Zoo
Step into the Reptile House at the London Zoo, where Harry spoke with a Burmese Python, did some magic, and managed to help a snake escape and trap Dudley in the exhibit all within the span of a few moments. Rest assured, the Reptile House is totally safe when Harry isn’t around.
Before you leave London, head over to King’s Cross station and see the spot where Harry Potter first ran through the wall at 9 3/4 and hopped on the Hogwarts Express. You can find Platform 9 3/4 next to the gift shop. Be sure to stock up on your house gear before heading to the shopping cart for a photo-op!
Jacobite Steam Train (aka the “Harry Potter Train”)
While on the topic of the Hogwarts Express, Scotland’s Jacobite Steam train was the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies. While you can’t leave from Platform 9 3/4, you can take the 84 mile journey beginning near Ben Nevis and ending at Loch Nevis. The picturesque ride should be a must-do for all Harry Potter super-fans! Check the schedule and buy tickets here. Hopefully, you won’t run into any dementors on your trip.
In the movies, Alnwick Castle is where Harry and his friends had their first ever flying lesson. While you won’t be able soar up to the roof like Harry did to fetch the Rememberall, you will be able to marvel at the amazing architecture of this castle that was built almost 1000 years ago! Check out the Harry Potter role players and even take on a dragon. Purchase tickets in advance here.
A ton of the scenes in the movies were shot at Oxford! First, head to the Bodleian Library at The University of Oxford and get lost in the stacks where the crew would study. Next, walk over to Duke Humfrey’s Library where Harry almost got caught in the restricted section. Before you leave Oxford, check out Christ Church, which was the inspiration of the Great Hall, minus the floating candles.
Attend the Quiddich World Cup
Not only is quiddich real, it is taken very seriously and you don’t need a portkey to get there. The 2017 cup took place in Kissimmee, FL and looked pretty intense. The dates and location of the 2018 cup haven’t been announced, but it’s sure to be a thriller! If you are interested in joining a quiddich team, check out the US Quiddich page here. If you’re into international quiddich, check out the International Quiddich Associations website here. Unlike the above clip, real quiddich does not involve singing.
The College of Wizardry
Finally, we come to the College of Wizardry. The College of Wizardry aims to make your muggle life more magical by giving you a four-day, LARPing event. Here, you will take classes rooted in magic, get sorted in to a house, and spend three nights in this castle! Check out their website for more info here. You must be 18 or older to participate and the entire event is in English.
Wands at the ready? Good! Now go out and tick these places off your bucket list!