It takes a lot of work to make everything look as authentic as possible at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and we mean A LOT. Eric Baker (the Senior Props Manager at Universal) and his team, spent 3 years looking around the world for the perfect props that would bring the Harry Potter story to life. They also had exclusive access to the Warner Bros’ warehouses, and were allowed to take some of the actual props that were used in the films, to make the Wizarding World of Harry Potter totally realistic. If you’re planning a visit, you’ll want to make the most of the incredible Wizarding world. Here’s our guide to some of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter hidden gems you should look out…
1. Interactive Wands
This is first on our list as this is one of the worst kept secrets at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Everyone knows that you can buy interactive wands that allow you to cast spells and create your own magic at special locations throughout, but we thought it was worth mentioning for two reasons.
The first reason being that casting magical spells is something that every aspiring witch or wizard dreams of, and the second reason is that not all of the interactive spell locations are marked on the park map. Head to the storefront of the Slug and Jiggers Apothecary on Diagon Alley or the window of Scribbulus Writing Implements on Horizont Alley and give your wand a swish and flick to reveal the surprises.
2. Fire-breathing Dragon
The fire-breathing dragon that guards Gringotts Bank is pretty impressive, and makes for a great photo opportunity. The enormous beast breathes out scorching bursts of flames that reach temperatures of 3,560°F (which is around 1,960°C)! This happens around every 15 minutes, so keep a look out.
3. Gringotts Money Exchange
At Gringotts Money Exchange, you’ll be able to exchange your Muggle currency for Wizarding Bank Notes. You’ll be served by one of the Gringotts goblins, and while he’s not that friendly, you’ll have the chance to ask him anything you like. Just don't ask him if he's a house elf! The Wizarding Bank Notes can be spent at both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade (as well as at select locations throughout the rest of the two theme parks), where you can purchase snacks, goodies and souvenirs from the shops.
4. Diagon Alley Entrance
Cast your mind back to the first Harry Potter movie and the famous scene where Hagrid introduces Harry to Diagon Alley for the first time. He taps his pink umbrella on the brick wall and the bricks shuffle around to make a gateway to the bustling Diagon Alley. At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter there are a total of 7,456 bricks used in the Diagon Alley entrance, weighing more than 37,000 pounds!
5. The Knight Bus
The Knight Bus screeched onto our screens in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The bright purple triple decker bus provides emergency transport for stranded witches and wizards, and can be found in Diagon Alley. The Knight Bus here is one of two actual prop buses that were used in the movie, and you can get up close to it and have a peek through the windows to see what’s inside. Make sure you stop for a chat you’ll never forget, with the conductor and the talkative shrunken head!
6. Gringotts Bank
When you go into the lobby of Gringotts Bank, look up and admire the four stunning chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Altogether, there are nearly 62,000 gleaming crystals. All the galleons in Gringotts couldn’t buy you one of these!
7. Ministry of Magic
While you can’t actually visit the Ministry of Magic at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can make a phone call. Outside Kings Cross station you’ll notice a shiny red phone box, and if you step inside and dial 62442 (MAGIC) you’ll be transferred straight through to the Ministry!
8. Borgin and Burkes
If you recognise this eerie shop from the Harry Potter movies, you’ll know that this isn’t the kind of place that any good witches or wizards would pay a visit, as it’s a shop for traders of dark arts objects. If you go inside you’ll find the Vanishing Cabinet that featured in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was used by Draco Malfoy to sneak Death Eaters into the Hogwarts castle. The 12-foot-tall model took a total of 6 months to create, and if you get up close enough, you’ll hear the sound of a bird chirping inside- just like in the movie.
9. Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment
Recognise this? This barometer was the real prop that was used in two of the Harry Potter movies. You might recognise it as one of the many mysterious objects in Professor Dumbledore’s office in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. It can also be spotted in the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Stop by Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment (the one-stop sorcery shop) to see it for yourself.
10. Number 12 Grimmauld Place
12 Grimmauld Place was both the ancestral home of the Black family and the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix. Invisible to the rest of the neighbourhood, the house was protected by several magical enchantments to keep the Order safe. If you stop here to take some pictures, make sure you look up into the second-storey window on the right hand side, where you’ll find the menacing house elf Kreacher peering out every few minutes.
11. Magical Menagerie
In Harry Potter, Magical Menagerie is like the ultimate pet shop! Home to all kinds of magical creatures, you can find Kneazles (in the photo above), Cornish Pixies, Pygmy Puffs and the Crumple- Horned Snorkack (Luna Lovegood's favourite animal) to name just a few. If you stand outside the window, you’ll see the huge Boa Constrictor from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The snake will speak to you in Parseltongue and then English, so you can understand exactly what it’s saying.
12. Moaning myrtle
At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the incredible theming runs throughout the entire area- even including the toilets! After a few Butterbeers in Hogsmeade you might find yourself needing the loo, but watch out for Moaning Myrtle who’s lurking in the toilets, eager to haunt anyone that enters. You’ll be able to hear her whining from both the men’s and the women’s toilets, so no one is safe!
If you’d love to explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, click here to view our great value tickets for the Universal Orlando Resort.
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