I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I started reading the books when I was 15, so I have literally grown up following the story of Harry Potter. Needless to say, I was super excited at the rumors of a Harry Potter World being constructed somewhere in the world. I was even more excited when it was officially announced that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter would become part of Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park. Yes! It was in the United States!

Luckily for me, a family wedding brought us close enough to Orlando for me to jump at (/attack) my chance to visit the Land of Potter. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is actually just one of the “lands” in Universal’s Islands of Adventure (which is an awesome theme park that will get it’s own recap), but since there’s actually quite a bit to see, I’m going to break it down into a few segments. Today, I’ll just give you a tour of Hogsmeade from the outside.

Harry Potter Hogsmeade Arch

Harry Potter World Hogsmeade Sign
You are now entering Hogsmeade. Please respect the spell limits.

 

Harry Potter World Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts Express is stationed in front, right where you enter the village. People spontaneously stop to take pictures of it, so watch where you’re going! Throughout the day, the conductor comes out to take pictures with kids…

 

Hogwarts Express Conductor

…and me. So not ashamed. 🙂

 

Once you pass the train you enter Hogsmeade itself.

 

Harry Potter World Village

Apart from the hoards of people in Muggle clothing, it really feels as if you’ve stepped into the pages of Harry Potter (or stepped into the movie, if that’s your thing). When we first entered, I had a brief gasp/wow-this-place-is-beautiful-it’s-cuter-than-I-imagined-it-to-be moment…until a group of teenage girls walked up beside us squealing and yelling “Like, Oh Em Geee! We are SO in Harry Potter World!!! EEEEEEEEEE!!” Quotes are for real. That was word for word.

 

Seriously, though, Universal did a wonderful job on this place. It’s so pretty. It really feels like an itty bitty town.

 

Harry Potter World Rooftops 1

Harry Potter World Rooftops 2

There is always snow on the rooftops. Harry first visited Hogsmeade in the winter (snow and all), after all.

 

Harry Potter World Butterbeer Cart

There are a couple of butterbeer carts stationed around. The lines are super long. I’ll let you know how to avoid them when I write a food post.

 

Harry Potter World Signage

Part of the detailing that makes this village so believable is the wonderful signage. I loved the signs! All colorful and worn with “age”, they added so well to the charm and magic of Hogsmeade.

 

Hog's Head Pub Sign

Hog’s Head Pub

I loved the little detail of having this sign off kilter as if it’s about to fall off its chains. It was a nice way to convey the “neglected bar” aesthetic of the Hog’s Head, even from the outside. They really do serve beer here, btw.

 

Three Broomsticks Sign
The Three Broomsticks

This is the only place to eat in Hogsmeade. Well, it’s the only place in Universal’s Hogsmeade, at least. You’ll see this place again when I talk about food. I thought the three broomsticks on the sign were a cute touch.

 

Harry Potter World Three Broomsticks

Also cute was how oddly crooked the entrance was.

 

Harry Potter World Gringotts ATM

Can I say cute again? No? Well then, I thought this Gringotts Bank ATM sign was a very clever way to work modern conveniences/necessities in with the fantasy wizarding world. Does it make sense? No, but I do think it was a fun detail for them to add.

 

Harry Potter World Honeydukes

Honeydukes candy shop

All those candies you read about in the books are stocked right here. Maybe not all of them, but enough to make you smile. Or in my case, enough to make you start squealing and snapping pictures of all the shelves.

 

Harry Potter World Zonko's

Zonko’s joke shop

Universal’s version of this shop is teeny weeny! If this was supposed to be “to scale” then I have no idea how more than ten students could stuff themselves into this shop at a time. It’s also connected to Honeydukes, which isn’t quite right, but oh well.

Harry Potter Dogweed and Deathcap

Dogweed and Deathcap plant shop

I don’t remember this shop from the books (and you can be sure I’m going to reread them all to make sure I didn’t miss it somewhere), but there was always a small amount of people gathered in front of this faux shop. For one, it was close to the “conveniences” and provided a decent amount of shade. For another…

 

Harry Potter Mandrake

…this mandrake in the window was crying it’s head off all day. It cries loud enough to hear from a little ways away and sounds disturbingly like a real baby. If I didn’t notice this little guy, I might have been searching the area for a poor abandoned baby.

 

Harry Potter Owl Post

Owl Post Post Office

Despite the fact that this store front actually says “Post Office”, you can’t actually send mail from here (I was confused, too). This is actually a dump spot for the people exiting Ollivander’s, and no post related items are even sold here. To send mail, you actually have to go around the corner to the wooden podium/mailbox where a worker will stamp your mail as Hogsmeade Owl Post. Don’t be shy to send one to yourself just to have the stamp. They wont know. 🙂

 

Harry Potter Owl Post 2

There are caged owls and post related things in the windows. So deceiving.

 

Harry Potter Ollivander's Shop
Ollivander’s Wand Shop

There is always a line outside Ollivander’s to watch a wand choose a wizard. Wands are sold throughout the park, but the only way to see inside Ollivander’s shop is to stand in that line. The shop is really small, but I liked the way it was set up. It really brought to life the shelves and stacks of wands I always imagined Ollivander sorting through to find Harry’s wand.

 

Gladrags Wizardwear

Gladrags Wizardwear

This is one of my favorite signs. While we were visiting, there was a dress similar to Hermione’s Triwizard ball gown in the window. Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a picture.

 

Scrivenshaft Quill Shop

Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop

This is another one of my favorite signs. It feels old westernish to me. I don’t remember what the window display was like. I would imagine it had something to do with quills. And parchment.

 

Harry Potter Tomes and Scrolls
Tomes and Scrolls bookshop

This faux shop is worth a visit if for nothing else than to see the window displays.

 

Gilderoy Lockhart

Though simple and all pretty much the same (piles of books and scrolls in the background with a few volumes displayed prominently on shelves in front), the moving/talking pictures made the displays kind of fun for HP nerds.

 

Spintwitches

Spintwitches Sporting Needs

Another faux store with a window display for the Quidditch lovers–

 

Quidditch Ball Set
–a Quidditch ball set complete with angry bludgers fighting against their chains to free themselves and smack into unsuspecting passersby. You can’t tell from the picture, but really, that’s what they’re doing.

 

Once you pass Spintwitches, you come upon this sign.

 

Hogwarts Hogsmeade Road Sign

This way to Hogwarts!

 

Hogwarts Castle 1

Now, if Hogsmeade is well done, Hogwarts castle is a work of art.

 

Hogwarts Tower

Hogwarts Crest Entrance

The “stone” (is it real or fake? I don’t know) is beautiful, and no detail was spared.

 

Hogwarts Bridge

If you saw the movies, you saw this bridge.

 

Hogwarts Tower at Night

It’s even prettier at night. I didn’t have the right equipment to capture it properly, so this was the best I could do in the dark of night with no tripod.

 

Next, I’ll show you around the insides of some of the real shops before we venture into food!