Universal Orlando Resort consists of two parks: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is divided between the two parks: Diagon Alley is situated in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade is located in Islands of Adventure. You can travel between the two sections aboard the Hogwarts Express ride. However, know that you’ll need to purchase both a two-park ticket and two-park VIP Experience to visit both sides.
With only one day to experience everything that the WWHP has to offer, it was an incredible - albeit extremely expensive - way to completely and totally immerse ourselves into the wizarding world. If you have more than one day, you should be able to do everything in the WWHP without the steep cost of the VIP Experience.
Here’s a look at the perks that the red carpet treatment delivers.
1/Eight hours with private guide
With the private VIP Experience, you get a friendly, knowledgable guide for up to eight consecutive hours on the day of your experience. Your wish is his or her command, and the guide will escort you wherever you’d like to go throughout the park. Half way through your experience, you’ll stop for a one-hour lunch break. We started in Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, where the VIP lounge is located. We wanted to eat lunch at Three Broomsticks, which is located in Islands of Adventure, so we switched right before noon. We later went back to Universal Studios Florida to check out other attractions like Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and E.T. Adventure. As Universal Studios Florida was closing, we returned to Islands of Adventure for the final three hours.
KidTripster Tip: I do suggest riding the Hogwarts Express in both directions because the show (what you see out the windows and on the train) is different in each direction.
Being escorted by a guide all day is not as weird as you may think. The guide is trained to be present when needed but fade into the background when not. Most of the time, the guide is walking ahead of you, parting the crowds.
2/Skip the lines & ride as many times as you'd like
During your VIP Experience, you’ll receive immediate, front-of-the-line entry onto every single ride and attraction. If your kids are like mine, you’ll find yourself riding multiple times in a row. We rode our favorite ride, Harry Potter and theEscape from Gringott’s, a total of five times during our VIP Experience. Being one of the most popular rides at the WWHP, that many repeated rides would have been nearly impossible with a regular ticket and long waits.
3/My Universal Photos
The My Universal Photos card is included in the cost of the VIP Experience, so no need to shell out extra money for photos taken with characters or on rides. Be sure to smile for the camera while riding Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! All photos can be downloaded online at the conclusion of your VIP Experience.
4/Meals for your family
The cost of the VIP Experience includes a continental breakfast in the exclusive VIP lounge to start your day, as well as lunch and dinner for your whole party at one of several full-service dining locations in Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure or Universal CityWalk (alcohol and gratuity not included).
KidTripster Tip: I recommend the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade for lunch. I think that it’s hands-down one of the best and most accurate examples on theming in the entire park. The food was outstanding; even my picky eaters raved about it! We shared a family platter which consisted of smoked chicken and ribs, salad, corn on the cob, and roasted potatoes and veggies. Dessert was butterbeer ice cream!
5/Behind the scenes & insider information
Your VIP guide will be able to provide you with access to select backstage and behind-the-scenes areas, as well as give you insider information that you can’t get on your own. While eating lunch at the Three Broomsticks, our guide was able to tell us which props on display were actually used in the movies and how they were acquired. She also recommended that we sit in different locations each time we rode Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott’s, which resulted in very different ride experiences.
KidTripster Tip: If you buy an interactive wand at Ollivander’s, your guide can show you several places throughout the WWHP where you can use your wizarding skills to cast spells and create magical experiences. If you have trouble with your wand technique, don’t worry. Your guide is an expert at casting spells and will help you out. You can purchase and use an interactive wand on your own, but the spell instructions can be vague; I saw a lot of kids struggling to make the interactive exhibits work.
Standard valet parking for one car is included in the price of the VIP Experience. Other than apparating, getting to the park doesn’t get much easier than this!
With your VIP Experience, you’ll receive a 10% discount on all park merchandise, so be sure and visit the incredible shops in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. From Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes to Quality Quidditch Supplies, the shops bring the world of Harry Potter to life. My kids loved picking out sweets in Honeyduke’s, and the apparel in Madam Malkin’s is stunning and definitely worthy of a visit, though prices are steep.
8/Unlimited Express Passes for rest of the day
At the conclusion of your VIP Experience, you can still experience exclusive access to participating rides. Just present your VIP lanyard for unlimited express ride access for the rest of the day. Note that our three favorites rides in the WWHP - Escape from Gringott’s, The Forbidden Journey, and Hogwarts Express - are not participating rides, so be sure and ride those attractions as many times as you’d like while your guide is still with you. The Unlimited Express Pass works in all parts of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
In addition to being a theme park junkie, Diana Smith is an expert cruiser. She and her family, including her three Disney princesses, have set sail on seven Disney cruises. For more, check out her Disney Cruise Mom blog.