Hey everyone! Last week of March 2019 will be my families first trip to US and IOA. We are huge potterheads and want to make sure we have a great experience. We will be there for 1 full day and 2 half days, staying at a partner hotel, so we will have early entry the second and third day. The first day we should get there about noon. Since we really want to go to see the WWHP, does anyone have a suggested order to see everything kinda sequentially? I know I might sound crazy but going to Diagon Alley first only seems fitting to me to “get supplies” before we board the Hogwarts Express to the castle and Hogsmeade, kinda like the order of the movie…but because we are not going to have EP or be there early the first day I’'m wondering if I should not worry so much about the “movie order” and more about having enough time to get everything done at a slower pace so we can enjoy. Thoughts?
It is absolutely not crazy to start in Diagon Alley! I refuse to do it any other way! Being a huge Potterhead myself, my suggestion, given the time of day you are starting, is to do this:
Start in Diagon Alley. Completely take your time walking around, looking in the shops and just taking it all in. If the timing works, catch one of the shows on the stage in Carkitt Market. Have ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s or have a late lunch or early dinner in the Leaky Cauldron. Be sure to spend some time in Knockturn Alley, my most favorite place! If the line seems decent for Escape from Gringotts, ride it at any time. If you were planning on getting wands, go to Ollivanders and get your wands and spend some time doing spells.
When you feel like you have exhausted Diagon Alley, at least for the time being, hop on the Hogwarts Express and head over to Hogsmeade. There is not as much to see from a shop perspective in Hogsmeade, so that won’t take as much time. However, they do have spells, so if you have wands, you can use them over there as well. Still do some wandering. Grab a drink at the Hogshead or a snack at Three Broomsticks. Go on Flight of the Hippogriff. Prepare to be amazed as you get in line for Forbidden Journey, my most favorite theme park ride anywhere. Walk through the castle and soak in all the details.
When you feel like you are done with Hogsmeade, take the Hogwarts Express back over to Diagon Alley. The experience on the Hogwarts Express is different each way, so you want to be sure to do the train each way at least once. I don’t know what the hours will be like in March, but if possible, you definitely want to spend some time and Diagon Alley when it’s dark out.
If you haven’t gotten wands yet, but still want to get them, the lines at Ollivanders should be lower later in the day. And this sets you up to do spells during early entry the next day, which is my favorite time to do spells because the lines are much shorter.
Whatever you do, be sure to just take your time and take it all in. When I took my sister to Universal for the first time, we literally spent 6 hours in Diagon Alley alone, between watching shows, doing spells, eating and riding Gringotts multiple times. It is an absolutely amazing place. You will have an incredible time!
I couldn’t have said it better myself! I too, am a huge Potter fan and have spent hours just being there. The one thing I might add: ABSOLUTELY spend time at night for either park! It is soooooooo magical at night!