It’s been two years since our first visit to Universal Orlando. Little has changed in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with the exception of one GIANT addition, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
The queue for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure starts just behind Hogsmeade village. During our visit we experienced both the standard wait time and the virtual visit options. On our first weekday ride, the wait time was posted as 75 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, but we breezed through in less than half an hour. On Saturday morning at 11am, we logged into the Virtual Line section of the Universal Orlando App and secured a 1:15pm start for our 1-hour timeframe to return to the queue. Ironically with the virtual queue we actually experienced the 75-minute wait time that had been posted the day before.
For the ride itself there is a motorbike or sidecar option. I preferred the motorbike for the novelty of it, but felt like I saw more of the Magical Creature details from the sidecar. It’s a very long and smooth ride; without giving too much away, be prepared to go backwards for a long portion. Alice knew her limits and chose not to ride, and the child swap area was conveniently located just after the ride loading area.
To best ensure that you will get a chance to ride, arrive at the Park early and head straight to the ride. They often allow visitors to ride before the Virtual Queue login opens up at 9am. Most visitors are splitting at opening between the coasters in Hogsmeade and Jurassic Park. The Team Member we spoke to recommended refreshing often during the Virtual Queue opening time slots (9am, 11am & 2pm) and choose the latest time available, since most visitors will be snatching up the earliest available. Weekdays didn’t offer the Virtual Queue, and ride times were posted as 60-90 minutes through most of our May trip. If you are staying at an Universal Orlando resort, you may also have some luck by going for early entry at Diagon Alley, and then hopping on the first Hogswart Express to Hogsmeade.
We skipped The Three Broomsticks and Leaky Cauldron this trip. (In part because we were still trying to dine primarily outdoors, but also because the lines were exceptionally long we felt like we could skip revisiting them.) Ride times for The Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff were much shorter than in 2019, and on the weekdays we didn’t need Express Pass to wait less than 20 minutes. This allowed us to experience the entire queue inside Hogwarts Castle (The Express Pass Queue skips a large portion) and enjoy it more.
We took advantage of staying onsite for early morning hours in Diagon Alley. During this visit, lines were long for the Ollivander’s Wand Shop experience (Hogsmeade’s smaller shop had an onsite reservation system that filled very quickly and still required a 30-minute wait once your returned.) We chose to focus on the details around Diagon Alley and in the shops. We tested our wand skills at the interactive storefronts (small, quick, intentional wand work is required.) On our Sunday evening visit, the streets cleared out as we toasted the end of our trip with a shot of Fire Whisky and a Dragon Scale IPA from the Hopping Pot.
Snacks, Shops & Shows
Diagon Alley has it all! Butterbeer and ice cream for breakfast, singing wizards, farting plants, and an alley filled with the Dark Arts. The small details are even more fun if you’ve recently read the books or seen the movies. Shops hold both for sale items and displays that mimic those found in the book’s pages.
Let me help plan your trip to Universal Orlando, Florida
Choose a Resort
Universal Florida has so much to offer, and staying onsite is the best way to experience all of it. From the affordable (& brand new) Aventura Hotel to the luxury of Portofino Bay, there’s a place to stay for every interest and budget. Staying at a Universal Resort even gets you early admission to a park!
Go from Muggle to Wizard
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is rightfully the biggest draw to Universal Florida. This immersive experience is enjoyable if you’ve seen the movies, but even better if you’e read the books. Put on your robes and exchange your Muggle money, explore the dark corners of Knockturn Alley, and drink all the butterbeer .
Pick Your Parks
Universal Orlando is home to three parks: Universal Orlando, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay. (Note: a park to park ticket is needed to ride the Hogwarts Express.)
Dine at Universal Orlando
Finding fare to fit all budgets and dietary preferences is easy at Universal Orlando. Pre-order a quick meal using the App, reserve table service meals, or enjoy fine dining at a resort.