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Ride / The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a series of areas at the Universal Studios parks. They serve as elaborate replicas of the many locations in the Harry Potter series, both in appearance and overall sheer experience.

The first area is themed after Hogsmeade, which first opened at Universal's Islands of Adventure in 2010 (the same year as the release of Deathly Hallows Part 1), and later at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Studios Beijing in 2014, 2016, 2021, respectively. It contains Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a dark ride/simulator hybrid attraction, Flight of the Hippogriff, a junior roller coaster, The Three Broomsticks restaurant, several themed stores, and two shows: Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally.

Florida by far has the most extensive Wizarding World IP. At Islands of Adventure there is an exclusive ride, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. It's a roller coaster through the Forbidden Forest and it replaced Dragon Challenge, which served as another large scale coaster for the area. At the Studios park, there is an additional area themed after Diagon Alley, which opened in 2014. The main attraction here is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, an indoor roller coaster. Accompanying it is the Hogwarts Express, which transports guests to and from Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Along with that, the area also contains The Leaky Cauldron restaurant, even more themed stores, and another two shows: The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. The Epic Universe park set to open at the Orlando resort sometime between late 2024 and mid-2025 is expected to have a third Wizarding World area, though this has yet to be officially confirmed.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter provides examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • There being a never-moving dragon sitting on top of the entrance to Gringotts' bank.
    • All of the buildings in the areas still contain the normal exit signs you would expect.
    • The show building for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is clearly visible next to Hogwarts.
    • Diagon Alley's Magical Menagerie store is themed as a pet shop, but only sells animal plushies.
    • The Hogwarts Express departing the Hogsmeade station and entering the King's Cross station in reverse.
    • On the technical side, the Hogwarts Express is actually a funicular rather than a true train, and its cable system is relatively visible when a train is not in the station.
    • Ollivanders selling working replicas of the characters' wands as well as uniquely designed non-character wands for guests exclusive to the parks.
  • Adapted Out: Some of Diagon Alley's shops from the books and films either appear as just fake store fronts (like Potable's Cauldron Shop) or are removed entirely (like Eeylops Owl Emporium), presumably due to the limited selection of merchandise such shops would afford (for example, not many tourists would be buying fake cauldrons and an entire shop that sells nothing but owl plushies would get old fast). That said, Hogsmeade's "Owl Post" allows people to buy toy owls alongside the post cards that are their main attraction.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: Although the parks are ostensibly based on the movies and use their art style, there are things that aren’t in the movies that appear. For example, Celestina Warbeck, some of the stores, and some creatures like Blast Ended Skrewts and Nifflers.
  • Alternate Continuity: The setting of Hogsmeade and its attractions doesn't seem to fit with any particular point in the timeline of the films. Diagon Alley, on the other hand, appears to be set during the events of the last movie, although the events of the Gringotts escape play out slightly differently in the headliner attraction.
  • Always Night: It's always dark out in Knockturn Alley (an effect pulled off by having the whole alley be indoors).
  • Animate Inanimate Object:
    • In the window of Dominic Maestro's Music Shop, a cello can be seen playing itself.
    • The window display of Gladrags Wizardwear has a cat made out of measuring tape that moves its own "tail".
  • Audience Participation:
    • A brief part of Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees involves the Banshees picking an audience member and bringing them on stage for the performance.
    • At the Ollivanders experience, the wandkeeper would pick a random audience member to help demonstrate how a wand chooses a wizard. The lucky guest would then be offered to purchase the wand or not after the ordeal.
  • Blind Bag Collectables: Just like the films, the chocolate frogs you can buy at Honeydukes or Sugarplum's Sweetshop contain a card of someone significant to Hogwarts history. There are ten in all to collect: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, Salazar Slytherin, Albus Dumbledore, Gilderoy Lockhart, Hengist of Woodcroft, Bertie Bott, Jocunda Sykes, and Devlin Whitehorn.
  • The Cameo: Hagrid, Alastor Moody, and Fred and George Weasley all make brief appearances in the Hogwarts Express ride.
  • Christmas Special: Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have special shows for the holidays. At Hogsmeade, it's a projection show on Hogwarts, while at Diagon Alley there's a special performance of Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees.
  • Continuity Nod: The King's Cross station contains the Divine Magic billboard that also appeared in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  • Cool Train: The Hogwarts Express is a static prop at Hollywood and Japan's Hogsmeade and a functional funicular-type ride in Florida, but both do not sacrifice the same level of detail possessed by the real "Olton Hall/Hogwarts Castle" locomotive.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • As a way of keeping things authentic, outside brands such as Coca-Cola are not sold anywhere in the areas.
    • The stroller parking at the King's Cross station is referred to as "Pram Parking".
    • The queue line for the King's Cross station has a small section where you can buy snacks and drinks for the train ride.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Islands of Adventure's Hogsmeade opened with two rides that are holdovers from the previous Lost Continent land that the Wizarding World took over: Dragon Challenge is a lightly rethemed Dueling Dragons, and was eventually replaced with Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Flight of the Hippogriff is a rethemed Flying Unicorn, and still stands along with being cloned at other versions of the land.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Occurs on the Hogwarts Express when the trains pass by Malfoy Manor.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are filled with places and objects that you can perform spells with your wand.
    • The maps enclosed with every interactive wand purchase, which show where to go to activate "spells", have an Easter Egg of their own: if viewed under the UV lights in Knockturn Alley, that section of the map will display glow-in-the-dark clues about what objects (e.g. a cursed candle, a skeleton, a key) the "spells" affect.
    • There's an unmarked spell location in front of one of the windows of the Scribbulus store. If you make a triangle shape with your wand, it'll make a message appear on a scroll in the window.
    • The window display of the Slug and Jiggers Apothecary store has another unmarked spell location that again requires you to make a triangle shape with your wand.
    • You can hear a conversation going on inside The Daily Prophet building if you walk up to the door and listen closely.
    • If you head into the Hogsmeade restrooms, you can hear Moaning Myrtle.
    • At 12 Grimmauld Place, Kreacher will peek through the window every few minutes.
    • The mirror in Madam Malkin's will give you wardrobe advice if you stand in front of it.
    • The Magical Menagerie store contains a model of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack, a creature that Luna Lovegood and her father have long tried to prove the existence of.
    • The Gringotts Money Exchange building is staffed by a goblin that will answer any questions you have.
    • One of the albums that’s in the record store window at the entrance to Diagon Alley is “JoeSezNo” which is a joke about how Rowling had final creative say on everything at the park and apparently said no to a lot of stuff.
  • Expansion Pack: Diagon Alley and Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure served as this to the Florida location. A third expansion is expected at the new Epic Universe park but hasn’t been officially confirmed just yet.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Wiseacre's has a bunch of eyes on sticks in one of the display windows. A spell will make them all open up and follow the direction you move your wand.
  • Fantastic Fireworks: On the Hogwarts Express ride to King's Cross, Fred and George toss some fireworks that spell out "Weasley's Wizard Wheezes now in Diagon Alley!"
  • Fun with Flushing: Weasley's Wizard Wheezes has a spell location where you can flush a sign down a toilet in a display window.
  • Halloween Special: During the Halloween season in 2016, Japan's Hogsmeade featured a special nighttime show involving the Death Eaters roaming the streets and creating chaos. This show was later introduced to Florida's Hogsmeade in 2019 and then to Diagon Alley in 2023, where it would be officially declared as the Wizarding World's part of the Studios park's greater Halloween Horror Nights.
  • Hand Wave:
    • The explanation for the roller coaster next to Hogwarts is that it's Hagrid's way of demonstrating to the students what it's like to ride a hippogriff.
    • Ollivanders having a store location at Hogsmeade is explained as it being a recently-opened branch of the shop.
  • Invisible Writing: The Scribbulus store has a scroll with invisible ink on it, which can only be revealed via a spell.
  • Jump Scare: Knockturn Alley has a locked door that, should you try to open it, will give you a sudden blast of air.
  • Magic from Technology / Magic Wand: Interactive wands, available at the Ollivanders gift shops, can be used to activate "spells" in many Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley shop windows and street features.
  • Making a Splash: Several spells in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley involve making water come out of objects.
  • Matte Shot: Hollywood's Hogsmeade has a forest matte painting on what's supposed to be the building for Kung Fu Panda Adventure.
  • Mythology Gag: Diagon Alley contains a few references to the movie that inspired previous tenant Jaws:
    • Next to Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor is a store front that has a pair of shark jaws hidden in the back of its window display.
    • One of the London facades in front of the area is a Music store, which in its window display includes a CD called "Here’s to Swimmin’ With Bow Legged Women", by "The Quint Trio".
    • Knockturn Alley has a group of shrunken heads that sing various songs, one of them being "Show Me The Way To Go Home".
  • Official Cosplay Gear: The various stores in the areas sell stuff like Hogwarts robes and official character wands.
  • Playing with Fire: Japan and Hollywood's Hogsmeade have a spell location where you can make fire come out of a chimney.
  • Shrunken Head: A window in Knockturn Alley is full of shrunken heads that sing in unison.
  • Stay on the Path: While guests walk through the line for Flight of the Hippogriff, Hagrid warns them to not enter the Forbidden Forest and to stick to the path that they're on.
  • That Poor Plant: If you do the "Wand Ceremony" at Ollivanders, one of the things the Wandkeeper may have you do is try and water a vase of flowers. Since this is usually when you've got the "wrong" wand, the flowers will wilt instead of grow.
  • The Walls Have Eyes: If you cast a spell on the aforementioned Jump Scare door, it'll reveal that there's a big eye on it.
  • The X of Y:
    • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
    • Flight of the Hippogriff