Holiday Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando Resort
The holiday season has arrived at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at last! We couldn’t be more excited. In fact, we just had to be there the weekend Universal Orlando Resort said goodbye to summer and rang in this wintery festive season.
We strolled through Diagon Alley, took the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade to do a little shopping, and said hello to all of our favorite wizarding friends. Butterbeer was enjoyed (and a little Fire Whiskey), Cauldron cakes were devoured, and we even took in a Quittach match.
Our imaginations might have run wild a bit in the magical land J.K. Rowling created, and Universal Orlando Resort brought to life. My boys went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which many simply call Harry Potter World, for the first time over the holiday season. I needed to make sure they experienced every last bit of it.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Holiday Décor
Although Hogsmeade is always under a blanket of snow, both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade receive a holiday makeover come the middle of November. Wreaths are put over doorways, garland hangs along shopfronts and carols fill the air. Lights twinkle on at night, bringing a little extra magic to the wizarding world. Even the London Streets around the Knight Bus and King’s Cross Station, are dressed up for the holidays.
12 Grimmauld Place
The houses along Grimmauld Place are wrapped in garlands and lights. In fact, it is a lot easier to spot Kreacher peeking out of the window of #12 Grimmauld Place. It is the only house on the block not decorated for the holidays.
There is nothing like leaving the Hogwarts Express train station and walking into Hogsmeade for the first time. For true fans, tears may fill your eyes. There is no shame in crying when you visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time, or fifth or hundredth for that matter. Seeing Hogsmeade at Christmas just adds a little more emotion to all those Harry Potter feels. Smell the scent of pin, take in the snowman and hear the screams of glee as children and adults ride their very own Hippogriff (OK, it’s a roller coaster, but let’s all stay in the magic, shall we?).
Walk Hogsmeade both day AND night
Hogsmeade is worth a stroll any time of day, but we make a point of seeing it in the morning and at night. I like to see the snow on the roof tops and let the kids practice their spells at the shops. We want to see the lights around town at night and in the shop windows too though. Dinner at the Three Broomsticks makes it easy to get a little downtime in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so everyone can catch their second wind. You’ll be able to watch the light projection show on the castle before you head back to your hotel for bed.
“The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” show
Hogwarts Castle always features a projection light show at night. If you haven’t seen it, you’re really missing out. During the holidays, the magic of Christmas takes over and you see Hogwarts through the Yule Ball and other winter traditions in the Harry Potter Universe.
The Frog Choir is one of the silliest experiences year-round, but especially during the holiday season. Chorales aren’t your typical jingle bells. Each refers back to part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and tells its own story. Parents and grown-ups will enjoy each song on a whole different level than their kids. Watch the facial expressions of the singers too. A lot goes on in this chorale performance than just giant frogs crocking along.
No, the dragon is not spewing green or red fire this time of the year, but it is still breathing fire. In fact, you can time it every 10 minutes on the hour. Subtle décor has been put up around the alley, but it’s the shows and new shops that have us excited to go shopping this holiday season.
Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees Holiday Show
Celestina Warbeck is taking to the main stage in Diagon Alley again this year. As per usual, no song in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is what it seems. Pay close attention to those lyrics grownups. You may be chuckling (or groaning) as your kids miss a few things.
Christmas shopping in Diagon Alley
If you have any Harry Potter fans in your family or group of friends, Diagon Alley is the best place to shop. We picked up a Quidditch board game for my nieces and jerseys for nephews at Quality Quiddith Supplies, a hat for my sister-in-law at Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, a piggmypuff for my niece at Magical Menagerie, artwork for my brother-in-law at Borgin and Burks down Knockturn Alley and journals for all the writers in my life.
Well, as you can imagine, the dark arts aren’t one to celebrate the holidays. You won’t find much holiday cheer down Knockturn Alley. However, there are loads of gifts to pick up for fans of “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” T-shirts, figurines, posters, scarves, hexes, spells, potions, and anything else you might need for that special someone on the naughty list.
Which Butterbeer is the best? Watch the video to find out!
When it comes to food challenges, there is a delicious one waiting for you at Harry Potter World. All six Butterbeers can be found in the Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade during the holiday season, which is a rare treat. You just have to know where to look. Hot Butterbeer is seasonal, which is why the holidays are the only time to try all six.
There are three “liquid” Butterbeers and three “edible” Butterbeer varieties. While we have our favorites, you will need to try them all to find yours. It really is a matter of taste and fights have broken out between families and friends over which is the best.
Liquid Butterbeer options
- Cold Butterbeer
- Frozen Butterbeer
- Hot Butterbeer
All three can be bought at the Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron if you want to get them in one go.
Edible Butterbeer options
- Butterbeer fudge
- Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop (Diagon Alley)
- Honeydukes (Hogsmeade)
- Butterbeer ice cream
- Florean Foretscue’s Ice-Cream Parlour for soft serve twists (Diagon Alley)
- Three Broomsticks (Hogsmeade) for hardpacked Butterbeer ice cream in a dish.
- Butterbeer potted cream
- Leaky Cauldron (Diagon Alley)
- Three Broomsticks (Hogsmeade)
There are loads more delectable treats to eat in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, as well as the rest of Universal Orlando Resort. But to do that, we will have to break the spell and head out of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you’re ready, jump onboard the Hogwarts Express, push through Platform 9 ¾ and let’s be on our way.
Read our Guide to Universal Orlando Resort Holiday fun
I am a Universal Orlando Resort brand ambassador. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.