Brown Harry Potter castle at midday

9 Must-See Harry Potter Rides at Universal Orlando Resort

Attention, muggles! (If you’re here looking for all of the Harry Potter rides at Universal Orlando, we can only assume you know what that means. For everyone else, do yourself a favor a read the Harry Potter books or have a Harry Potter movies marathon and thank us later.) For those heading to the Universal Orlando Resort, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a bewitching realm inspired by the Harry Potter series, where wannabe witches and wizards can enjoy the many sights, sounds and tastes of his magical life. Naturally, that means there are plenty of awesome Harry Potter rides you can experience while you’re there.

But exactly what Harry Potter attractions can you enjoy during your trip? We’re cracking open our spellbooks and digging into everything you need to know about each of the Harry Potter rides at Universal Orlando and the wizarding worlds of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade village, including what makes each attraction unique and valuable tips for maximizing your visit. So, grab your wand, don your robes and join us as we explore these spellbinding attractions.

Brown Harry Potter castle at midday

Harry Potter World 101

For Harry Potter fans, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is definitely a bucket-list destination. After all, where else can you walk the halls of Hogwarts Castle, buy a wand at Ollivander’s or take the Hogwarts Express? And, not to mention, try three different versions of butterbeer: hot, cold and frozen. (Our personal favorite is the cold. It’s all in the foam.) Best of all, you can experience it all, no Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry acceptance letter required.

However, there’s one very important thing fans of the Harry Potter films and books need to remember when planning your visit. This enchanting Harry Potter world is actually two Harry Potter lands: Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade village in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Naturally, each of these Harry Potter theme parks offers a cauldronful of things to see, do and eat, including six different rides.

That said, if you want to live out your Hogwarts student dreams at each of these two Wizarding World lands and experience everything they both have to offer, you’ll need to plan your trip accordingly. That includes your Universal Orlando tickets. While you could certainly choose to go to Universal Studios Florida one day and Universal’s Islands of Adventure the next (and save a little bit of cash in the process), there’s nothing more magical than following in Harry’s footsteps and taking the Hogwarts Express from Kings Cross Station to Hogsmeade and, ultimately, Hogwarts Castle.

To do that, however, you must have a park-to-park ticket. Otherwise, your one-way trip to Hogwarts is going to turn into a roundtrip ride back to Diagon Alley (or vice versa) very fast. Though this isn’t really a problem, per se, we prefer the freedom to move back and forth between the separate theme parks. Having said that, this park-hopping privilege does come at a premium. So, keep this in mind when purchasing your tickets.

Two stone huts with pumpkins

Must-Do Rides for Muggles at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Ok, now onto the fun stuff (AKA all those Harry Potter rides we’ve been talking about). Harry Potter rides at Universal Orlando are spread between each of the resort’s two theme parks, with two at Universal Studios Florida and four at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. What’s more, there’s something for Harry Potter fans of all ages in this Harry Potter world, from a kid-friendly family coaster narrated by Hagrid himself to an incredibly immersive dark ride that is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

Although most of the Harry Potter rides do have a height requirement, with the exception of the Hogwarts Express (which includes trips departing from both Kings Cross Station and Hogsmeade Station), attractions with restrictions also have a Child Swap room to accommodate younger children who are too short to ride. This Universal park service is completely free to take advantage of—all you need to do is let a theme park team member know when you get to the ride. Then, just have one parent or guardian stay back with the too-small kiddo while the other one rides. Afterward, simply swap out chaperones to allow everyone who is tall enough a chance to go on the attraction.

We should also note that certain Universal Orlando Resort guests, including Annual Passholders and those staying at one of the Universal hotels, are able to get into the theme parks before they officially open with Early Park Admission. If you fall into one of these categories, we highly recommend you take advantage, as the best Harry Potter rides can get extremely busy during the day, namely Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Attractions open for Early Park Admission can vary depending on when you’re visiting, so check out the Universal website before to see what will be available when you’re there.

Alright, without any further ado, let’s take a look at all of the rides at Harry Potter world. (Anyone else wish that you could just apparate there and go on them all right now? Us too!)

Diagon Alley Shops and cobblestone

Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida

Since Diagon Alley is where Harry Potter begins his own journey to Hogwarts and the rest of the wizarding world, that’s where we’ll begin ours as well. While Hogsmeade village and Hogwarts Castle were the first parts of Harry’s world to make their way to Universal Orlando and Universal’s Islands of Adventure specifically, it’s this Wizarding World of Harry Potter section that really has our muggle hearts.

Stepping into Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida truly feels as if you’ve been magically transported from a theme park in Central Florida to a spellbinding thoroughfare hidden among the streets of London. The theming here is incredible, from the brick-wall entrance you walk through (just like Harry and Hagrid, minus the magic) to the bewitching storefronts touting broomsticks and potions to the fire-breathing dragon perched atop the roof of Gringotts Bank. Even for someone who has been to this part of Universal Studios Park numerous times, taking it all in gets me every time.

Along with the two Harry Potter rides located in the theme park, this Harry Potter land is positively filled with all sorts of things to explore (and eat!). We highly suggest you try out some of the dining opportunities located around Diagon Alley, like getting fish & chips or other traditional British fare at the Leaky Cauldron, cooling off with some Strawberry and Peanut Butter ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour or enjoying a cup of sweet and creamy butterbeer.

For those looking for an authentic Harry Potter experience, getting a wand from Ollivander’s is an absolute must. But, this isn’t just some prop you can pose with to make any photos you take look extra cool, although that is certainly true, too. No, these are interactive wands that allow you to do “spells” (which basically just means moving your wand in a certain way) to make different parts of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter come to life.

Of course, aside from wands, there are also plenty of shopping opportunities in this corner of Universal Studios Orlando that are sure to charm any Harry Potter fan, like searching for the perfect toy or magical joke at the kaleidoscopic Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes or trying on robes at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions for your big trip to Hogwarts Castle. While you’re out and about in Diagon Alley, you can even catch a concert by Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees.

Dragon statue with fire coming out of its mouth in Diagon Alley

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

At the heart of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is Gringotts Bank, the illustrious goblin-led wizarding bank. Here you’ll find one of the best Harry Potter rides the Wizarding World has to offer: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, an indoor roller coaster meets dark ride that zooms through the bank’s many vaults and tunnels.

However, while Bill Weasley will tell you that it’s the safest place there is, don’t expect this trip through Harry Potter world to be smooth sailing. You’ll face plentiful magical security measures along the way, as well as Death Eaters like Lord Voldemort and his faithful servant Bellatrix Lestrange. Fortunately, there will be some familiar faces there to help you and Harry Potter escape the Death Eaters’ clutches unscathed. And remember that fire-breathing dragon holding court from the top of the bank? He’ll also be there to help save the day.

Although this is a roller coaster and there are certainly some thrilling moments, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts isn’t too intense, especially compared to Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. That said, the sudden drops, sharp turns and plenty of surprises are sure to get your adrenaline pumping.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is typically open for Early Park Admission. So, if you can, go on right away in the morning before the lines get too long. On the bright side, if you do get stuck with a long wait, the attention to detail throughout the ride queue makes it all worthwhile. Between the Audio-Animatronics of the goblins to the glittering chandelier, you’ll be so busy taking pictures that you won’t even mind the wait.

Height Requirement: At least 42 inches (106.7cm) or taller

Universal Express Pass Accepted: Yes

Single Rider Line Available: Yes

Locker Location: Outside the queue to the right of the entrance

Ride attraction vehicle for Gringotts

Hogwarts Express – King’s Cross Station

The other Harry Potter ride in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross Station. For those following Harry’s path, it’s also the starting point of a magical journey to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle. To reach Kings Cross Station, you’ll first need to exit Diagon Alley and make your way around the corner until you reach the entrance to the London Underground. (Be sure to stop for a photo with the Knight Bus driver along the way.)

The entire station has been meticulously designed. We’ve even seen buskers there a few times in the past playing for guests as they walked by. Then, make like Harry and step through the brick wall at Platform 9 ¾ before you board the train. (Take Molly Weasley’s advice and “do it at a bit of a run if you’re nervous.”) Once you’re through to the other side, it’s time to climb aboard that iconic scarlet steam engine bound for Hogsmeade and, of course, Hogwarts.

After sitting down, take some time to soak in all the amazing details around you. We’ll be honest—the Hogwarts Express isn’t so much a typical ride as it is an elaborate way to get from Point A to Point B. Still, it brings The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to life in an immersive way. Characters from the Harry Potter books and films appear to make it feel as if they’re taking the journey with you. And be sure to have a chocolate frog handy, as you might even spot some Dementors or other not-so-friendly fantastic beasts lurking around.

Height Requirement: N/A

Universal Express Pass Accepted: Yes

Single Rider Line Available: No

Locker Location: N/A

Train station full of people

Hogsmeade Village in Universal’s Islands of Adventure

After leaving Diagon Alley behind, it’s time to visit another quintessential part of the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling: Hogsmeade village. Home to the grand Hogwarts Castle, which towers over the charming hamlet, and quaint shops and restaurants like Dervish and Banges, the Three Broomsticks and the Hogsmeade outpost of Ollivander’s Wand Shop, this Harry Potter land in Universal’s Islands of Adventure is just as captivating to explore as Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Orlando.

Along with experiencing the four harry Potter rides here, visitors can also purchase treats like chocolate frogs and pumpkin juice from Honeydukes, mail letters with an extra-special Hogsmeade postmark at the Owl Post & Owlery or simply wander the cobblestone streets working charms and enchantments with their interactive wands. The Three Broomsticks dishes up classic British eats, while the attached Hog’s Head pub offers butterbeer or, for something more potent, domestic and imported beers.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade also offers an array of entertainment options. Listen to the musical stylings of some Hogwarts students and their giant throaty frogs during a concert by the Frog Choir or, during the Triwizard Spirit Rally, cheer on the competitors of the Triwizard Tournament as the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students show off their skills. You can also see Hogwarts Castle glow to life in the evenings during the nightly projection show.

Old time homes with snow on roofs

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Are you ready for a daring expedition into the Forbidden Forest? Then climb aboard Hagrid’s motorcycle, complete with a sidecar, and hold on tight for a heart-pounding roller coaster ride past a menagerie of fantastic beasts on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

Previously the home of a pair of intertwined roller coasters called Dragon Challenge (and Dueling Dragons before that), this award-winning thrill ride offers a unique take on a roller coaster, effortlessly fusing a world-record seven launches and a top speed of 50 miles per hour with appearances by Audio-Animatronic mythical animals for an unforgettably thrilling adventure you’re sure to remember long after the ride is finished.

As the Care of Magical Creatures professor, Hagrid himself narrates this wild ride through the Forbidden Forest, passing along informational tidbits on everything from Cornish Pixies to unicorns as you zoom along. In other words, it’s the epitome of a story coaster, a roller coaster with just a dash of dark ride. Sure, it isn’t quite as exciting as another roller coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the VelociCoaster, but wow, it is one heckuva good time!

As you can probably imagine, everyone else visiting the theme park agrees, as the wait times for Hagrid’s magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure are typically the highest of any of the Harry Potter rides in the Wizarding World. So, if you can, you should definitely head here first thing in the morning, preferably during early admission, if you don’t want to get stuck in an unbearably long line.

Height Requirement: At least 48 inches (121.9cm) or taller

Universal Express Pass Accepted: No

Single Rider Line Available: No

Locker Location: Outside the queue to the right of the entrance near Hogsmeade Station

Rock Castle with tower

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Along with the kiddie roller coaster Flight of the Hippogriff, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the Harry Potter ride that started it all. Located inside Hogwarts Castle, this immersive dark ride sends you soaring over the castle grounds, into the Forbidden Forest and through a host of perils, including the Whomping Willow, Harry’s arch-nemesis Draco Malfoy and not-so-friendly magical creatures like a Hungarian Horntail dragon, the spider spawn of Aragog and soul-sucking Dementors.

Although the Harry Potter and the\ Forbidden Journey ride uses the massive screens that Universal Studios has become so fond of, guests experience them in a completely different way as a result of the unique ride vehicles, which propel you from scene to scene. Though not as exciting as Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts or the other can’t-miss Harry Potter world roller coaster, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, there are still plenty of magical thrills to get your pulse racing.

Fortunately, guest demand has calmed down quite a bit since Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey first premiered. As a result, the wait times usually tend to be more reasonable than Hogsmeade’s other must-do Harry Potter ride. However, if you do get stuck in a lengthy line, the ride queue does wind throughout the castle grounds, as well as through several rooms of Hogwarts Castle. In fact, we’d argue that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey has the best queue of any attraction in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So, silver linings?

Height Requirement: At least 48 inches (121.9cm) or taller

Universal Express Pass Accepted: Yes

Single Rider Line Available: Yes

Locker Location: Inside the queue

Hogwarts Castle at night time

Flight of the Hippogriff

Try your hand at riding a Hippogriff—with a little help from Hagrid—on Flight of the Hippogriff, a family-friendly roller coaster in the shadow of Hogwarts Castle. Formerly known as the Flying Unicorn, this easy-going roller coaster is definitely the most approachable of all the Harry Potter rides at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure (aside from the Hogwarts Express, which, as we said, is really more like a fancy transportation option).

There are some fun twists and turns along the way, and you do get a great view of Hagrid’s hut, his pumpkin patch and an Audio-Animatronic version of Buckbeak the Hippogriff. (If you’re lucky, he may even bow his head in greeting.) Plus, Hagrid, the consummate Care of Magical Creatures professor, shouts out plenty of tips along the way. However, aside from that, the whole thing is over and done pretty quickly. On the bright side, there’s never really too much of a line here.

Height Requirement: At least 36 inches (91.4cm) or taller

Universal Express Pass Accepted: Yes

Single Rider Line Available: No

Locker Location: N/A


Hogwarts Express – Hogsmeade Station

Leaving Hagrid’s hut and Hogwarts Castle behind, the Hogsmeade Station leg of the Hogwarts Express is much like the one coming from Kings Cross Station, only in reverse. So, instead of watching London fade away, you’ll see Hagrid waving goodbye and stretches of pastoral English countryside, as well as appearances by Harry, Ron and Hermione as they try to find an empty compartment.

It’s certainly a nice way to travel from one theme park to another. However, if we had to pick our favorite direction, it would probably be Hogwarts Express – Kings Cross Station. It doesn’t help either that, for some reason, the line here tends to be longer. So, we’ll stick with starting our day in Universal Studios and then heading over to Universal’s Islands of Adventure later.

Height Requirement: N/A

Universal Express Pass Accepted: Yes

Single Rider Line Available: No

Locker Location: N/A

Wands in a window shop

What Is the Best Harry Potter Ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Now, the question we know you’ve all been thinking about. What’s the best Harry Potter ride in Harry Potter world? As much as we love Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and classic Wizarding World attraction Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, our top pick has to be Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

With its combination of storyline, lovable characters and creatures and a host of thrills, this Islands of Adventure roller coaster has a little bit of everything. It’s also completely unlike anything else at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Orlando Resort, and, not to mention, every other theme park in Central Florida, too. There’s a reason why it has been nominated for or won Golden Ticket Awards from Amusement Today for Best New Attraction Installation, Best New Roller Coaster and Top Steel Roller Coasters. Because it’s just that good. If you can only go on one ride at Harry Potter world, let it be this one.

Train at entrance to town

Well, muggles, that brings our tour of the different Harry Potter attractions at Universal Orlando Resort to a close. Have you been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before? Which Harry Potter ride is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Then, check out our other free vacation planning tools, like free park plans for Universal Studios Florida and ticket tips & tricks. Speaking of Universal Orlando tickets, don’t miss out on our discount Universal tickets and make your travel budget magically expand. (You know what that means? More butterbeer!)