The Ultimate Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley
I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to continue sharing about our trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but as I mentioned last week, some pretty crazy things happened in life and everything else had to take a back seat. But, I’m excited to revisit my memories from this trip and share all my tips/tricks for visiting Diagon Alley so that anyone else who is planning on going has an idea of what to expect and what to look for!
In case you missed it, you can read Part One of the Ultimate Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: When to Go & Where to Stay and Part Two: Guide to Hogsmeade and get all the details for your future trip!
Welcome to Diagon Alley!
Diagon Alley was opened a few years after Hogsmeade and it’s about twice the size. It has a COMPLETELY different feel and atmosphere than Hogsmeade, which makes it even more exciting. You don’t feel like you are seeing the same things in Diagon Alley that you saw in Hogsmeade. You would actually never know that Diagon Alley was in the park if you weren’t looking for it. Nestled in between San Francisco and the Men in Black attraction is a row of brick houses, a giant archway into Kings Cross Station and a street cart with British Merchandise. If you look closely at the row of houses, you may see some movement behind a curtain…because it’s not an ordinary row of houses! It’s Number 12 Grimmauld Place and Kreacher is peaking out at all the people below!
You have to actually walk into the brick building and (with the sounds of bricks moving as you pass through an arch and turn the corner) you walk into Diagon Alley. It’s COMPLETELY hidden from the rest of the park, which makes it feel so authentic to the Harry Potter World. And, at the end of the crooked cobblestone street is Gringotts with the dragon towering over ahead and blowing fire. It literally took my breath away the first time we walked into it.
There is only one main ride in Diagon Alley, besides the train ride to get there if you are coming from Hogsmeade. Although I was initially disappointed about this, I was so blown away by the size and detail in Diagon Alley that it didn’t bother me at all by the end of the day.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts 5/5 Stars: I’m not even kidding when I say that I burst into tears half-way through this ride from sheer joy. I felt totally and completely emerged in the Harry Potter world and on a real adventure with Harry and his friends.
Like the rides in Hogsmeade, this isn’t just a ride; it’s a complete experience that starts the second you get into line. You first wind your way through the top of Gringotts, which is built to full scale with the marble pillars and perfectly detailed goblins weighing gold coins and exchanging money. Once again, the attention to detail was amazing and I had to REALLY study the goblins to make sure they were, in fact, animatronics.
Once you were through the main part of the bank, you wound your way down to the bank offices, where your photo was taken for your “visitor pass.” The offices all had names on the doors and once in a while, a light would turn on in the office and you could see the silhouette of a goblin walking around or working at his desk.
After getting through the offices, small groups were brought into a room where your adventure officially started. In front of the room was a comfortable looking office and a 3D Bill Weasley and Griphook were projected into the office, walking around and talking about having to go to the bank. They invite you along for a tour, so you move into an “elevator” to get down to the mine cars. It’s not really an elevator, but it feels SO real. The floor and sides of the wall move up and down in bumpy motions, so it feels like you are descending down a deep shaft into the depths below Gringotts. Once your elevator ride is finished, you exit into a cavern that leads you up to the mine carts that take you on the ride.
I won’t spoil the plot of the ride, but just know that your tour of the bank vaults goes wrong very quickly. It’s exciting, it’s fast-paced, and it’s a complete experience, filled with heat and water 4D effects. And, for someone who gets VERY motion sick, I rode this ride three times and barely felt woozy. It wasn’t bad at all!
The longest we ever waited in line for this ride was 20 minutes, tops. It moved really fast and there were so many parts to getting to the ride that you didn’t feel like you were waiting at all. And, because of how the line is set up, once you get to the mine carts, you basically walk right on. I seriously would have ridden this ride all day long if there wasn’t other things to see and experience and it was by far my favorite ride out of all the Harry Potter world attractions.
Exchange your money for Wizard’s Gold and chat with the Goblin: To the left of Gringotts is a small shop where you can go and exchange your muggle money for real Wizarding money that can be used in the park! There is a giant animatronic goblin that will actually talk and answer your questions as you exchange your money – it’s kind of creepy but also really really cool.
Catch Celestina Warbeck Preform: You may remember Celestina Warbeck from the Wizarding Wireless Network (she was Mrs. Weasly’s favorite singer) and you may catch her performing on the stage by Gringotts throughout the day.
Watch the Tales of Beetle the Bard: If Celestina isn’t performing, then you might be able to catch a performance from a troop of wizards that do plays from Beetle the Bard! They use beautiful puppets that are similar to the ones used in the movie to depict the Tale of the Three Brothers. They tell wonderful stories and act them out with the puppets on the stage; it is well worth grabbing a seat and watching one of them
Shop in Knockturn Alley: First of all, YES, Knockturn Alley IS a part of Diagon Alley. Its entrance is tucked away in the back corner of the park across from the bathrooms and you could very easily miss it if you don’t look hard enough! As you walk down to the alley, it gets dark and cool and creepy. There are shrunken heads that talk to you as you pass and creepy shop displays filled with bones of weird creatures. It’s small (the only shop you can actually go into is Borgin & Burkes) but it feels authentic and perfect to the landscape of Diagon Alley.
The Details/Things to Look For:
The Dragon: Of course, one of the biggest details in Diagon Alley is the giant dragon on top of Gringotts. You literally cannot miss it as you walk into the park. And every 20-30 minutes, she will roar and blow fire from her mouth down the alley! BE AWARE, if you are anywhere close to the dragon when this happens, you WILL feel some pretty intense heat. Obviously, not enough to be burned, but it was definitely strong enough to make me want to stand further back the next time it happened.
The Monster Book of Monsters in the cage at the Book Shop: Biting books can be hard to manage, so be sure to catch the cage filled with copies of the Monster Book of Monsters. They will growl at you and start fighting if you get too close!
The House Elf Placement Agency: I literally laughed out loud when I saw this storefront nestled in between the other shops in Diagon Alley. I mean, how clever?! And, if you look at the tops of the stores, where the leaky cauldron is, you may see shadows of some House Elves cleaning the rooms.
The Talking Mirror in Madam Malkin’s Robes: Again, just like the book, there is a mirror in Madam Malkin’s Robes shop. If you stand in front of it to look at your reflection, it will give you a strong opinion on your fashion choices. It told me that it liked my shoes, but it told Dustin that he looked particularly ragged.
Professor Umbridge on a Bike: Right out the movie, Weasly’s Wizard Weezes has a Professor Umbridge riding a bike across the top of the shop! Make sure you look for it while buying your biting teacup and fanged frisbee!
The Shaking Trunk in Borgin & Burks: While perusing the dark artifacts in Borgin & Burkes, be careful of the trunk by the counter of the shop. It shakes violently every few minutes (and scared me senseless the first time it happened because I was standing right behind it!) I think it might have a Boggart living in it!
Hopefully, this gives you all enough to plan for a trip to Diagon Alley (or help you experience it if you are unable to go for some time.) Of course, there is more to say when it comes to the food and treats you can get in Harry Potter World, but I have so much to say about that so it’s going to be its own post!
Once again, if you want more tips/tricks to visiting Harry Potter World in Orlando, you can check out part one and two of my guides below:
Have you been to Harry Potter World? What would you want to see first?