Orlando boasts tried-and-tested favorites like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, the Orlando Science Center, and the Orlando Aquarium, as well as lesser known destinations such as WonderWorks, the Harry P. Leu Gardens, the Orlando Circus School, and Lake Eola Park. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
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The SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium is a family-friendly underwater world that is home to a variety of sea creatures in amazing and awe-inspiring habitats. Located at ICON Orlando 360™, the heart of International Drive, the SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium features Orlando’s only 360° Underwater Tunnel where visitors can see sharks and graceful rays swim overhead, as well as an array of incredibly themed habitats and bubble tanks with close-up views of the animals inside them. Visitors can discover the secrets of the Atlantic, explore beautiful tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, and soak up the wonders of the Pacific through fascinating exhibits and displays, interactive activities, animal feedings, fun talks, and a Dive Adventure Trail.
8449 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819, Phone: 800-257-0060
2.Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park
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Orlando Tree Trek is an action-packed adventure park with swings, nets, ropes, trapeze, Tarzan swings and more that promises fun for the whole family. Located near Walt Disney World® Resort in Kissimmee, the park is designed for children of ages seven years and up and features 97 exhilarating aerial challenges, including 50-foot high bridges through the pine tree forest canopy followed by 425-foot plunging zip lines, leaping into hanging nets, navigating swinging logs, balancing on hanging skateboards, climbing 50-foot ladders, and crossing wobbly suspension bridges. Climbers are securely clipped into a world-class safety cable throughout the entire course, and each climber is given a safety demonstration by trained instructors before beginning the course.
7625 Sinclair Road Kissimmee, FL 34747, Phone: 407-390-9999
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3.Skeletons: Museum of Osteology
© Skeletons: Museum of Osteology
Located in ICON Orlando™ 360 beneath the Orlando Eye, Skeletons: Museum of Osteology is a family-owned museum dedicated to all things skeletal and one of only two skeleton museums in America. Central Florida's most significant natural history museum features 40 exhibits showcasing more than 500 real animal skeletons of hundreds of animals from all over the world. The museum features skeletons from all types of animals ranging from bats and monkeys to gorillas, a Sumatran rhinoceros, and two Komodo Dragons. Skeletons: Museum of Osteology also offers a variety of educational programs where students learn about animal identification, adaptations, and locomotion on field trips to the museum through an array of hands-on activities.
8441 International Dr. Suite 250, Orlando, FL 32819, Phone: 407-203-6999
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4.Orlando Fire Museum
© Orlando Fire Museum
The Randall R. Tuten Orlando Fire Museum, formerly Station 3 and simply known as the Orlando Fire Museum, showcases the history of Orlando’s fire department and features a variety of antique equipment that includes an array of impressive fire engines. Based in a beautifully restored two-story, red brick firehouse that was built in 1926, the Orlando Fire Museum boasts fascinating exhibits and displays including a lovingly restored 1926 American LaFrance fire engine, a 1919 ladder truck, LaFrance apparatus from the early 1900s, and fire-fighting artifacts such as helmets and other tools. The Randall R. Tuten Orlando Fire Museum is open on Friday and Saturday.
814 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803, Phone: 407-246-3468
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5.West Orange Trail
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The West Orange Trail is a 22-mile long multi-use rail trail with most of its length built on old railroad alignments that passes through downtown Apopka, Oakland, and Winter Garden. The path features four main stations each providing parking, restroom facilities, bike racks, and drinking fountains. The southern trailhead is anchored by Killarney Station, a modern take on an old-time train depot from which the trail leads through the quiet, wooded community of Oakland before hitting downtown Winter Garden. All stations have picnic tables and playgrounds, and the Chapin Station has a basketball court and tennis courts. Some have concession stands, and there is parking located in between the stations.
Orlando, FL 32803
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6.Orlando Science Center
© Orlando Science Center
The Orlando Science Center is a private science museum that features interactive exhibits and experiences that encourage an interest in science and technology and aims to promote a deeper understanding of the world we live in. The museum is home a variety of fascinating exhibits, including NatureWorks, which explores the richness of the natural world; KidsTown, - a miniature town that boasts hands-on interactives and imaginative role-playing; DinoDigs – a fossil-focused display with real, fossilized dinosaur eggs; and Our Planet, which explores the universe. The Orlando Science Center also features two theaters – the 300-seat Dr. Phillips CineDome with an 8,000 square feet giant screen, and the Digital Adventure Theater, which presents award-winning films in 2D and 3D digital formats.
777 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803, Phone: 407-514-2139
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7.Orlando Repertory Theatre
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The Orlando Repertory Theatre (also known as Orlando REP) is a professional theatre that produces and presents a variety of experiences to enlighten, entertain, and enrich families and young audiences. Housed in a three-theatre complex in Orlando’s Loch Haven Park, the Orlando Repertory Theatre also hosts the award-winning REP Youth Academy, which presents classes and workshops for children and provides professional development opportunities to classroom teachers. The Orlando Repertory Theatre also offers a base for the University of Central Florida’s MFA in Theatre for young Audiences graduate program.
1001 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803, Phone: 407-896-7365
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The SunRail is a commuter rail system in the Greater Orlando area and Central Florida's first passenger rail system. The 61.5-mile commuter rail service travels through Volusia, Seminole, Orange, and Osceola counties, and consists of one locomotive, and three cars with the capacity to carry more than 150 passengers in each. Running parallel to Interstate 4, SunRail serves 12 stations between DeBary and Orlando and five stations between DeLand and Poinciana.
SunRail Customer Service, 801 SunRail Drive, Sanford, Florida 32771, Phone: 855-RAIL-411
WonderWorks is a unique amusement park and entertainment center for the mind that offers hands-on exhibits attractions that aim to get children excited about science. Based in a building that is built upside down, WonderWorks features five locations around the country and works around the principle of letting kids’ imaginations run wild through a variety of exhibits and displays that experiment with light and sound, space and natural disaster simulators. The 35,000 square feet center boasts more than 100 exhibits, including the Imagination Zone, allows visitors to make their modern art, play with gears, and defend the world from aliens, Space Discovery, and the Light and Sound Zone. Other attractions at WonderWorks include a glow-in-the-dark Indoor Ropes Course, a fast-paced, black-lit Laser-Tag arena, and a 4D XD Motion Theater.
9067 Intl. Drive, Orlando, FL 32819, Phone: 407-351-8800
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10.Orlando Circus School
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The Orlando Circus School was founded in 2008 with the aim of bringing the circus culture to the Orlando and the surrounding communities. Owned by Victor Bryndine and Pavel Roublev, the Orlando Circus School provides superior, professional coaching in a variety of circus disciplines, as well as teaching the basics and core skills for physical development in young individuals. The school offers a range of classes and workshops for all ages, with the aim of developing physical and emotional creativity in everyone. The Orlando Circus School also offers circus camps which focus on various skills on objects such as Aerial Silks, Lyra, and static trapeze, along with basic tumbling and trampoline tricks to children of all ages and skill levels.
6809 Visitors Cir, Orlando, FL 32819, Phone: 407-965-1552
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Forever Florida is an expansive 4,700-acre Forever Florida Wildlife Conservation Area and nature-loving-thrill-seekers’ paradise that offers a variety of adrenaline-packed options from horseback riding and cattle-herding to zip-lining. Boasting nine distinct eco-systems, Forever Florida provides a wealth of activities and adventures for everyone, including the 1,300-foot zip line adventure known as the Peregrine Plunge, and the controlled 70-foot high freefall drop called the Panther Pounce. The greater reserve is also home to an array of wildlife such as some of the big cats, as well as black bears, alligators, and white-tailed deer, which can be viewed on guided trail buggy tours.
4755 N Kenansville Rd, St Cloud, FL 34773, Phone: 407-957-9794
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The Harry P. Leu Gardens, also known as the Leu Gardens, a beautiful 50-acre botanical oasis just minutes from Downtown Orlando. Founded in the 1930s by local industrialist Mr. Leu, who collected brought rare plants and seeds on his travels around the world, the Leu Gardens feature a variety of gardens from aromatic rose gardens and tranquil butterfly gardens to practical vegetable and herb gardens and several scenic trails with an overlook at Lake Rowena. Other highlights include tropical and semi-tropical gardens, and meandering trails shaded by 200-year-old oaks and forests of camellias, and the Leu House Museum, a late nineteenth century home listed on the National Register of Historic Places which reveals turn-of-the-century living for the families who once called
1920 N Forest Avenue, Orlando, 32803, Phone: 407-246-2620
13.Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
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The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is a 116-acre animal sanctuary and arboretum north of Orlando that is home to over 500 animals representing 205 species and an array of flora. In addition to a variety of habitats and exhibits that showcase animals in their natural habitats, the zoo also features several attractions such the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground Water Park, the ZOOm Air Adventure Park, which offers an aerial adventure course, the Barnyard Buddies Children’s Zoo, and an authentic carousel with rides for young visitors. Guests can explore the zoo and gardens on a 16-inch gauge ridable miniature railway that chugs around the park and enjoy giraffe feedings and rhino encounters for an additional fee. The zoo also operates the Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation, an offsite conservation center that helps to breed and release eastern indigo snakes into the wild.
3755 W Seminole Blvd, Sanford, FL 32771, Phone: 407-323-4450
14.Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours
© Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours
Explore the beautiful region of Winter Park in Florida with an off-the-beaten-path experience with Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours. Located on Lake Osceola in the quiet suburb less than 10 minutes from downtown Orlando, Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours offer hour-long, guided cruises through three of the seven lakes and two, narrow humanmade canals on the tranquil Winter Park chain. These tours give visitors the opportunity to the exotic fauna and flora that call the area home, from large alligators to elegant cranes. The scenic cruises, which can take up to 18 passengers, also glide past some of the elegant estates and private homes sprawling along the shores of the waterways.
312 E Morse Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32789, Phone: 407-644-4056
15.The Orlando Farmer's Market
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The Orlando Farmers Market is a favorite downtown farmer’s market held every Sunday in Lake Eola Park that sells a wide variety of fresh seasonal produce, freshly baked bread and pastries, indoor and outdoor plants, handcrafted items such as jewelry, pottery, and soap, and artworks. The dog-friendly market draws hundreds of visitors on Sundays and features a vibrant wine and beer garden with live music at noon. Highlights of the Orlando Farmers Market include finely manicured Bonsai trees, gourmet cheese, freshly squeezed fruit, and vegetable juices, farm produce from Morris Family Farms produce, and GreenLead Henna.
20 N Eola Dr, Orlando, FL 32801
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16.Farris and Foster’s Chocolate Factory
© Farris and Foster’s Chocolate Factory
Farris and Foster’s Chocolate Factory is a chocolate factory and store that makes and sells handmade chocolates and other candy. Established in 2001, Farris and Foster’s Chocolate Factory produces a wide variety of chocolates handmade to customer specifications, as well as specialty chocolates, truffles, sugar-free chocolates, caramel apples, chocolate barks, farris wheels, and gift baskets. Customer favorites include cookie cups, rice cereal cups, maple cream, marshmallows, marzipan, chocolate mousse, peanut butter cups, Nutella cups and more. Farris and Foster’s Chocolate Factory offers catering services for special occasions and celebrations, as well as ‘Date Nights.’
4875 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814, Phone: 407-770-1607
17.Grande Lakes Eco Tours
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Based at the Grande Lakes Orlando, one of the region’s most sought-after resort destinations which is home to the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, the JW Marriott Orlando, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, and the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Grande Lakes Eco Tours offers a unique way to experience old Florida's natural preserves with an array of guided interpretive eco-tours on canoes or kayaks. Explore the waterways of Shingle Creek and learn all about the history of the region and the fauna and flora that call this richly diverse habitat home. Two-hour tours are led by professionally trained Florida Master Naturalists who share their knowledge and passion for Shingle Creek as you navigate your canoe through scenic Old Florida.
4040 Central Florida Parkway Orlando, FL 32837, Phone: 407-393-4531
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18.Orlando Watersports Complex
© Orlando Watersports Complex
The Orlando Watersports Complex (OWC) is an extensive watersports park that offers a variety of watersports, including knee-boarding, wakeboarding, waterskiing, wake-skating, and wake-surfing. The park features a boating lake with two full-size cable systems and a two-tower system that offers a ‘get-up guarantee’ for boat-pulled watersports. The Orlando Watersports Complex also offers boat lessons with a professional driving instructor, as well as stand-up paddle-boarding, a fully-functional outdoor fitness area with climbing ropes, a great beach area with grills, picnic tables, and a snack bar, and a pro shop with the latest Hyperlite gear.
8615 Florida Rock Rd, Orlando, FL 32824, Phone: 407-251-3100
19.Lake Eola Park
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Located in the heart of Downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park a public park with a variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. The park is built around Lake Eola, which rests at the center of the park and is bordered by a paved walking path that is a favorite spot for walkers and runners. Visitors can spend a few hours paddling around the lake on rented swan-shaped paddle boats, feeding the live swans and other birds that live there, picnicking on the grassy shores or watching a play in the Walt Disney Amphitheater, which is based in the park. The eastern side of the park is home to a Chinese pagoda, and a children’s playground and the park offers spectacular views of Orlando’s skyline from all areas.
512 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801
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20.Universal Studios Florida
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Based at the Universal Orlando® Resort, Universal Studios Florida® is a production studio and theme park that focuses on the entertainment industry, especially movies and television. One of the most visited and best-known theme parks the United States, Universal Studios Florida® features an array of attractions such as Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D, Fear Factor Live, and The Simpsons Ride. The Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™ is a fun ride that combines 360 degree rotating screens and moving cars, while the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit® is hailed as being Universal Studio’s most hair-raising ride, which shoots straight up from the ground on a massive tower, before spinning around the series of loops to pumping music.
6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819, Phone: 407-363-8000
21.Disney's Animal Kingdom
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Disney's Animal Kingdom is a zoological theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida that is dedicated and themed entirely around the natural environment and animal conservation. Disney's Animal Kingdom features traditional attractions, as well as exhibiting hundreds of species of live animals and is home to more than 2,000 animals across 300 species living in six enthralling landscapes highlighting different parts of the world, namely: Africa, Asia, Discovery Island, Oasis, Rafiki's Planet Watch, and DinoLand. Located on the western edge of the Walt Disney World Resort to minimize external disruptions to the animals, the park's icon is the 145-foot-tall, 50-foot-wide artificial baobab tree known as the ‘Tree of Life.’
2901 Osceola Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32830
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Owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Discovery Cove is an Orlando-based theme park that offers a one-of-a-kind marine experience, where you can swim bottlenose dolphins, watch sea otters at play, feed tropical birds and even walk on the ocean floor! Enjoy a session in the water with bottlenose dolphins where visitors can swim, touch and play with them under the friendly eye of dolphin training guides; snorkel along brightly colored reefs that are home to thousands of tropical fish, and get up close to tiger fish and sharks in their protected tank. Don a diving helmet and take a walk on the bottom of the ocean with the Grand Reef’s innovative experience, SeaVenture, where there is a discovery around every corner. Stroll through the park’s free-flight aviary, which boasts over 250 tropical birds to interact with and feed, including parrots and toucans.
6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, FL 32821, Phone: 407-513-4600
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23.Walt Disney World Resort
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Officially known as the Walt Disney World Resort, Walt Disney World, is a world-renowned entertainment complex that offers a wealth of entertainment, theme parks and fun for the whole family. Located in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Walt Disney World spans 27,258 acres and features four massive theme parks, two water parks, 27 themed resort hotels and nine non-Disney-themed hotels, several championships and designer golf courses, a camping resort, and the outdoor Disney Springs shopping center. Theme parks include Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the two water parks include Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world and the flagship destination of Disney's worldwide corporate enterprise.
Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL 32830, Phone: 407-939-5277
24.Pirates Dinner Adventure
© Pirates Dinner Adventure
Experience a taste of the pirate’s life with a unique Pirates Dinner Adventure. Set aboard a traditional 18th-century Spanish galleon, which is anchored in a 300,000-gallon indoor lagoon with night sky lighting. A six-six-sided showroom of six additional ships surrounded the pool where the audience are seated to watch a cast of acrobats, entertainers, and cutthroats chart a course through danger and romance on the 46-foot long and 18-foot wide galleon with 40-foot masts. The popular Orlando dinner show also features swordfights, songs, sea monsters, and ends with a mouthwatering captain’s feast - a must-see for children and adults alike.
7600 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620, Phone: 714-690-1497
24 Fun Things to Do in Orlando With Kids
- SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Photo: Courtesy of AKS - Fotolia.com
- Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park, Photo: Courtesy of famveldman - Fotolia.com
- Skeletons: Museum of Osteology, Photo: Skeletons: Museum of Osteology
- Orlando Fire Museum, Photo: Orlando Fire Museum
- West Orange Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Aris Suwanmalee - Fotolia.com
- Orlando Science Center, Photo: Orlando Science Center
- Orlando Repertory Theatre, Photo: Courtesy of Soydar - Fotolia.com
- SunRail, Photo: SunRail
- WonderWorks, Photo: WonderWorks
- Orlando Circus School, Photo: Courtesy of familylifestyle - Fotolia.com
- Forever Florida, Photo: Courtesy of jackienix - Fotolia.com
- Leu Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of Dorado33 - Fotolia.com
- Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of Earl Robbins - Fotolia.com
- Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours, Photo: Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours
- The Orlando Farmer's Market, Photo: Courtesy of giovinarusso - Fotolia.com
- Farris and Foster’s Chocolate Factory, Photo: Farris and Foster’s Chocolate Factory
- Grande Lakes Eco Tours, Photo: Courtesy of francescodemarco - Fotolia.com
- Orlando Watersports Complex, Photo: Orlando Watersports Complex
- Lake Eola Park, Photo: Courtesy of Javier C. Acosta - Fotolia.com
- Universal Studios Florida, Photo: Courtesy of Peter - Fotolia.com
- Disney's Animal Kingdom, Photo: Courtesy of Jaelen - Fotolia.com
- Discovery Cove, Photo: Courtesy of Shannon Dunaway - Fotolia.com
- Walt Disney World Resort, Photo: Courtesy of JEROME LABOUYRIE - Fotolia.com
- Pirates Dinner Adventure, Photo: Pirates Dinner Adventure
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of susanne2688 - Fotolia.com
More Ideas: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
No bucket list of a Harry Potter fan would ever be complete without looking to visit the Universal Orlando Resort’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This iconic part of the theme park is definitely one of the most breathtaking experiences for any Potterhead out there. The entire place stretches out to both of Universal Orlando’s theme parks, including Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Guests who want to move from one area to another can take the Hogwarts Express, which is a stunning replica of the train that’s featured in the movies.
Tip: To take the train you’re going to need a park-to-park ticket so you can have quick access to both parts of the theme park.
Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade is at the Islands of Adventure. There, you’ll find the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Dragon Challenge roller coaster, and Flight of the Hippogriff attractions. You can also find Honeydukes where chocolate frogs are for sale as well. If you fancy getting a robe, you can head over to Dervish and Banges.
On the Universal Studios side is Diagon Alley, which is a remarkably designed street lined with dining areas, shops, and the famous attraction, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
Here, you’ll learn some tips that would surely make the most of your visit at the theme park:
Wake up really early and be at the park even before the theme park opens to the public. This is because of two reasons. First, this literally gives you more hours in the day to enjoy the park’s sights and attractions. Second, you’re able to beat the lines that only get longer as the day goes on. This will allow you to beat all those lines on rides that have especially long queues in the middle of the day.
One way to ensure that you get to wake up and arrive early at the park is to book a room in one of the hotels nearby Universal Orlando. If you’re lucky, you’ll be rewarded with early access to either or both parks. This means you’ll be able to get inside Islands of Adventure as early as 8:00 AM when the park is still empty.
Be Aware of Height Limits
Like most theme parks, not all rides and attractions are for everyone. Many are not allowed to participate in them because of height limits. If you’re a parent and want to make sure that your kids have a good time, you’re going to want to know which rides your kids can take. It will really save you a lot of trouble having to deal with your children getting disappointed when they approach a ride and realize that they’re not tall enough to get on it.
Below is a quick list of the height requirements for each ride that has them:
- Forbidden Journey: 48 inches
- Flight of the Hippogriff: 36 inches
- Dragon Challenge: 54 inches
- Escape from Gringotts: 42 inches
Don’t worry! The Hogwarts Express is accessible to all park visitors that have the right ticket.
Keep an Eye Out for these Magical Details
While the rides are essential to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you’ll realize that there are interesting things that people fail to notice. In fact, these are little bits and details about the park that real Potterheads will be happy to know.
For one thing, you’ll notice that the King Cross Station entrance of the Hogwarts Express is marked Platform 9 ¾ - a very accurate interpretation of the lore. It’s a very interesting trick that can surprise those who pay attention to the people walking into the entrance ahead of them. So when you’re boarding the Hogwarts Express, take a good look at the people who enter before you and see the magic happen before your eyes.
Another interesting thing to look out for is the phone booth found outside the train station. Few people notice it other than for photo ops. But if you go inside the booth and try it by dialing MAGIC (62442), you’ll actually be able to reach the Ministry of Magic.
Avoiding the Long Lines
As mentioned before, the best way to avoid the lines is to arrive at the park at least one hour before they open. Another way to avoid the long lines is to avoid the seasons when the park is packed with visitors all together. Going to the park during less crowded times of the year will really help you enjoy your day at the park more instead of waiting hours getting in line.
Here are a couple more ways to avoid the lines:
- Staying at the Universal Orlando Resort to get fast-track passes
- Booking a VIP tour
The VIP Tour is currently the only way to fast-track the Hogwarts Express, Escape from Gringotts, and Forbidden Journey attractions. The other rides can be fast-tracked by Universal Express and Universal Express plus Pass.
If you want to catch the shorter lines, a good rule of thumb is to go for the single-rider lines, as this move up the line much faster than the other rides. Another important tip is to enjoy the sights while lining up. Forbidden Journey, for instance, features talking portraits and appearances of Harry Potter characters.
Buy a Wand and other Souvenirs
Head off to Ollivanders in Diagon Alley and witness a costumed shopkeeper who entertains a small audience at a time. During the performance, he will choose one person for wand selection. Just remember that the lines can take really long since the shop itself can only accommodate a few people at a time.
But if you’re there just to buy a wand, there are places along Diagon Alley and Hogwarts Castle so you can save time. You can also buy these online just before you leave the park.
Other souvenir shops include:
- Honeydukes for sweets
- Zonko’s for some fun toys
- Owl Post for mail
- Dervish and Banges for robes and all kinds of Harry Potter clothing merchandise
Proper planning and knowledge is key to making the most of your visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This may be your most exciting moment as a Potterhead yet.
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