The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in 2010 and has continued to enchant fans in Orlando, Florida. For those who've dreamt of stepping into the pages of J.K. Rowling's books or onto the sets of the movies, this is the place where that dream comes to life. If you're planning a Harry Potter-themed vacation in Orlando, here's your comprehensive guide to experiencing the magic to the fullest.
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For the complete Wizarding World experience, you'll need tickets to Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure. The Hogwarts Express train connects both parks, but you'll need a Park-to-Park ticket.
Universal Studios Florida has various immersive experiences to enchant any Harry Potter fan. Incredible attention to detail by park designers allows guests to transport themselves directly to the world of Hogwarts.
Diagon Alley, as reimagined in Universal Studios Florida, is a masterclass in immersive theme park design. Concealed behind the facades of London's streets, transport yourself to the magical marketplace that Harry Potter and fans worldwide have grown to love. Every nook and cranny of this meticulously designed area is full of whimsy and wonder. From iconic establishments like the Leaky Cauldron and Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes to the hidden, shadowy Knockturn Alley, the ambiance blends enchantment, mystery, and bustling wizard commerce. The entire setting is further elevated by various shows, interactive wand spots, and, most notably, the looming Gringotts Bank with its fire-breathing dragon that periodically showers the sky with flames.
Every store and establishment in Diagon Alley is here with an attention to detail that is genuinely unparalleled. Ollivanders Wand Shop is not just a storefront but an experience where wands choose their wizards in heartwarming ceremonies. Magical Menagerie, the pet store, showcases magical creatures through its windows, captivating the imaginations of passersby. At Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour, guests can enjoy unique treats like Butterbeer-flavored ice cream. And for those who prefer darker artifacts, Borgin and Burkes in Knockturn Alley offer a selection of the more sinister side of magical items. Everywhere you turn, the sounds, sights, and scents immerse guests deeper into J.K. Rowling's beloved world.
Gringotts Bank, an iconic institution from the "Harry Potter" series, has been masterfully recreated at Universal Studios Florida in the Diagon Alley section of the park. The bank's exterior is nothing short of majestic. Its grand white-marble facade, massive pillars, and the fire-breathing Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon perched on top immediately grab visitors' attention. The dragon adds to the awe-inspiring visuals and periodically roars and breathes out a gush of fire, providing a spectacle that can be seen (and felt) from various points in Diagon Alley.
Once inside Gringotts Bank, visitors enter into the magical world of Harry Potter with an attention to detail that is simply breathtaking. The vast marble lobby dominated by towering crystal chandeliers cast a golden hue over the space. Life-sized animatronic goblins, reminiscent of those from the films, work diligently at their desks, counting coins, updating ledgers, and occasionally acknowledging the presence of Muggle guests. The walls are full of classic artwork, and the intricate designs on the floors and ceilings further capture the opulence and grandeur of the wizarding world's primary banking institution.
The "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts" ride is the crown jewel of the Gringotts Bank experience. It blends a thrilling roller coaster ride with cutting-edge 3D projection technology, offering riders an immersive storyline-driven adventure. As visitors go deeper into the bank's vaults in the ride queue, they'll encounter a series of narrative setups involving familiar characters like Bill Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Harry Potter. The actual ride thrusts guests into the heart of a dramatic breakout from the bank, where they encounter villains like Bellatrix Lestrange and Lord Voldemort. As the mine cart zips through the vaults, dodging obstacles and descending drops, riders are treated to a mix of physical and projected effects, making it feel like they're genuinely part of Harry Potter's dangerous adventures.
Ollivanders Wand Shop in Universal Studios Orlando is not merely a retail outlet—it's a magical experience that captivates both seasoned Potterheads and newcomers to J.K. Rowling's world. Nestled in both the Hogsmeade section of Islands of Adventure and the Diagon Alley area of Universal Studios Florida, the store's exterior evokes the timeless charm of the wand shop depicted in the Harry Potter series. With an aged façade, tall, narrow windows, and an atmosphere of mystery, the shop promises secrets and enchantments for those inside.
The heart of the Ollivander's experience is the wand selection ceremony. As guests enter the dimly lit, wood-clad room filled with towering shelves of wand boxes, staff select a few guests to partake in an extraordinary demonstration where a wand chooses its wizard, echoing the pivotal scene where young Harry gets his first wand. A knowledgeable wandkeeper will present you with various wands, helping guide your selection. As guests try each wand, theatrical effects signify if the match is right or wrong—lights flicker, shelves rattle, or a gust of wind might blow. The culmination is when the right wand resonates with its chosen wizard, accompanied by a warm glow and a sense of awe.
Beyond the selection ceremony, Ollivanders is a treasure trove of wands. Guests can explore an extensive range of replicas of character wands, from Harry's holly and phoenix feather wand to Voldemort's yew with its bone-like appearance. Wands interact with various displays throughout the Wizarding World sections of the park. Each wand has a unique tip that allows guests to "cast spells" at designated locations, activating various effects such as making a water spout from a fountain or levitating a feather. This interactivity deepens the immersion and makes one's journey in the park feel even more magical. Ollivanders, with its rich lore and interactive features, isn't just a stopover; it's a rite of passage for every visitor to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando.
Standing tall and unmissable in its vibrant triple-decker purple design, The Knight Bus is one of the first attractions that greet guests as they approach the entrance to Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando. A direct import from the "Harry Potter" universe, this magical mode of transportation offered a quirky and unconventional ride to stranded witches and wizards in the series. Universal Studios serves as a whimsical backdrop, setting the mood for the magical escapades awaiting visitors in Diagon Alley and beyond. With its wonky angles, seemingly precarious stacking, and luggage piled high on its roof. The Knight Bus is both a marvel of design and a nod to the delightful eccentricities of the wizarding world.
One of the unique features of The Knight Bus attraction is the interactive experience it offers. Instead of being just a stationary prop for photographs, the bus hosts two of its famous passengers: the cheeky, dreadlocked shrunken head hanging from the rearview mirror and the jovial conductor. Both characters engage with guests, making jokes, answering questions, and providing a playful and immersive encounter. The shrunken head, in particular, with its animated movements and humorous remarks, never fails to elicit laughter and wonder, making every interaction feel spontaneous and magical.
The Knight Bus serves as a symbolic gateway to the realm of magic in Universal Studios Orlando. Positioned just outside the brick entrance to Diagon Alley, it bridges the muggle world of London with the enchantments that lie beyond. It's more than just a prop; it's a promise of the adventure that awaits. For many Potterheads, pausing by The Knight Bus, snapping a photo, or having a quick banter with its inhabitants is a rite of passage, marking their entry into a world where magic is real and the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The Knight Bus is a testament to Universal's commitment to detail, infusing every corner of the Wizarding World with magic, wonder, and nostalgia.
Situated in the bustling heart of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando, The Leaky Cauldron is a testament to the immersive world-building the park is renowned for. Drawing inspiration directly from J.K. Rowling's seminal series, the establishment is a faithful recreation of the iconic pub and inn where witches and wizards convene, gossip, and dine. Its rustic interiors, complete with dark wood beams, hanging cauldrons, and candle-lit ambiance, immediately evoke a sense of nostalgia for fans, making it feel like they've genuinely ventured into the magical world of Harry Potter. The attention to detail is staggering, with every nook and cranny echoing the charm and charisma of the literary Leaky Cauldron, seamlessly blending the boundaries between fiction and reality.
Beyond its enchanting aesthetics, The Leaky Cauldron also promises a gustatory adventure. Serving an array of traditional British dishes, it offers patrons a tantalizing taste of the fare that characters from the series would have enjoyed. From hearty plates like the 'Toad in the Hole' and 'Bangers and Mash' to the moreish 'Fisherman's Pie,' there's something to satiate every palate. And, of course, no visit would be complete without savouring the signature Butterbeer. This delightful concoction has become synonymous with the Harry Potter experience. Each dish is crafted with care, ensuring that guests don't just dine but truly immerse themselves in a culinary narrative that complements the overarching magical theme of the park.
The Leaky Cauldron is not just a place for sustenance; it's a hub of activity and camaraderie. The communal seating arrangement encourages conversations and interactions among guests, making it a melting pot where tales of magical adventures are shared, and new friendships are forged. The staff donned wizarding world attire and embodied the spirit of the realm, further accentuating the feeling of stepping into a different era and domain. For many visitors, The Leaky Cauldron transcends its role as a mere eatery. It becomes an integral part of their Wizarding World journey. In this space, they can momentarily live out their magical dreams, surrounded by the sights, sounds, and flavours of a world they've grown to love and cherish.
"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" is a captivating stage show performed at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Orlando. Based on J.K. Rowling's collection of magical fairy tales analogous to the Muggle world's Grimm fairy tales, the performance is a brilliant homage to the rich storytelling tradition of the wizarding world. Brought to life by the talented Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts performers, these tales not only enchant audiences with their narratives but also provide deeper insights into the values and societal norms of the magical community.
One of the standout elements of "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" show is the masterful use of puppetry. The story of "The Fountain of Fair Fortune" and, most notably, "The Tale of the Three Brothers" are rendered with intricately designed, large-scale puppets that move gracefully and evoke emotions, ensuring the tales transcend mere narration. The eerie figure of Death in "The Tale of the Three Brothers," for example, is hauntingly evocative, creating an enchanting and spine-tingling atmosphere.
For fans of the Harry Potter series, "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" is not just a stand-alone performance but a link to the larger narrative of the books, especially "The Deathly Hallows." "The Tale of the Three Brothers" introduces audiences to the origin of the Deathly Hallows — the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Invisibility Cloak — artifacts central to Harry's final quest against Voldemort. The show serves as a reminder of Dumbledore's bequest to Hermione and the pivotal role these stories play in understanding Harry and his friends' broader challenges in their adventures.
A name that resonates with charm and musical magic within the wizarding world, Celestina Warbeck, often dubbed the "Singing Sorceress," is one of the most illustrious figures in magical entertainment. At Universal Studios Orlando, in the heart of Diagon Alley, guests are treated to a mesmerizing performance by this iconic songstress, brought to life in all her glory. With a character inspired directly by J.K. Rowling's books, Celestina Warbeck's stage show is a testament to Universal's dedication to detail and its commitment to providing guests with an authentic Wizarding World experience.
Against the backdrop of the cobbled streets and whimsical shops of Diagon Alley, Celestina, accompanied by her Banshees, delivers a riveting performance, belting out hits that any Potterhead would recognize, like "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love" and "You Stole My Cauldron, but You Can't Have My Heart." The show is not just an auditory treat; it's a visual spectacle. With elaborate costumes, spirited dance routines, and engaging stage presence, the performances invite audiences to tap their feet, sway, and join in the magical merriment. The infectious energy of the act ensures that the square is always filled with eager viewers, each one drawn into Celestina's spellbinding musical world.
What makes the Celestina Warbeck show at Universal Studios Orlando extraordinary is its ability to bridge the world of wizards with real-world guests. The interactive nature of the performance, where Celestina occasionally engages directly with the audience, makes visitors feel like they're a genuine part of the wizarding community, if only for a song or two. For many, watching Celestina Warbeck live on stage highlights their Diagon Alley experience, proving that magic lurks in every corner.
Hogsmeade, the only all-wizarding village in Britain, comes alive in breathtaking detail at Universal Studios Florida. Nestled amidst the backdrop of the imposing Hogwarts Castle, this enchanting hamlet immediately captivates visitors with its snow-capped roofs, cobblestone streets, and rustic medieval architecture. Every building, from the famed Three Broomsticks Inn to the quaint Honeydukes sweet shop, is meticulously recreated to capture the whimsical essence of the Hogsmeade described in J.K. Rowling's novels. The soft sounds of magical chatter further amplify the atmosphere, the distant hoots of owls, and the occasional steam puffs from the Hogwarts Express, ensuring that visitors genuinely feel like they've stepped into a living, breathing magical world.
Hogsmeade is not just a feast for the eyes; it's an immersive experience designed to engage all senses. The tantalizing aroma of Butterbeer wafts through the air, inviting guests to indulge in this sweet, frothy concoction. Shops like Zonko's Joke Shop and Dervish and Banges offer an array of magical merchandise, from Extendable Ears to Quidditch gear. Meanwhile, the harmonious melodies of the Frog Choir fill the streets or the sonorous tolling from the magical Triwizard Spirit Rally. Every corner of Hogsmeade is infused with enchantment, making it a must-visit realm for both avid Harry Potter fans and those new to the wizarding world, as it encapsulates the wonder, mystery, and magic that has made Rowling's universe so beloved worldwide.
Perched majestically against the Orlando skyline, the Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios stands as an awe-inspiring beacon for Harry Potter enthusiasts and newcomers alike. With its soaring spires, rugged stone façade, and the ethereal glow from its many windows, the castle doesn't just replicate its literary counterpart—it breathes life into J.K. Rowling's descriptions, providing a tangible touchpoint to the wizarding world. As visitors approach, the sheer scale and attention to detail become evident; from the merlons atop its battlements to the undulating terrain it sits, the castle is a masterclass in design, creating an immediate sense of grandeur and wonder.
But the magic of Hogwarts Castle isn't limited to its exterior. A labyrinth of corridors, rooms, and hidden nooks await exploration. Guests embark upon a tour that's both familiar and revelatory. Iconic locations, like Dumbledore's office and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, are recreated meticulously, with moving portraits, whispering ghosts, and magical artifacts.
Beyond the architecture and the artifacts, Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios Orlando serves as a nexus for the broader Harry Potter experience in the park. It houses the "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" attraction, a ride that takes guests on a thrilling escapade through the castle grounds, encountering magical creatures and reliving some of the most iconic moments from the series. The castle, thus, is not just a backdrop; it's an active participant in the narrative, an entity that invites, engages, and immerses visitors in the myriad wonders of the magical universe. As both a symbol and a setting, Hogwarts Castle embodies the enchantment and adventure that has made the world of Harry Potter an enduring cultural phenomenon.
The Flight of the Hippogriff, nestled in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida, offers an exhilarating journey that marries the thrill of a roller coaster with the enchantment of J.K. Rowling's universe. The ride provides a gentler coaster experience while delivering the excitement and immersion the park is renowned for. As its name suggests, you ride around on the majestic creature known as the Hippogriff, a half-eagle, half-horse magical beast famously introduced to readers in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."
Before boarding the ride, visitors encounter a visual narrative setting the tone for their upcoming adventure. The queue winds its way through the Hogwarts grounds, passing by Hagrid's iconic hut and hearing the sounds of magical creatures hidden in the surrounding foliage. One of the most enchanting moments occurs when an animatronic representation of Buckbeak the Hippogriff can be observed gracefully bowing to guests — a gesture that recalls the etiquette lesson Harry receives from Hagrid about respectfully approaching a Hippogriff. These details, both large and small, ensure that the ride experience starts long before the actual ascent, drawing visitors into the story and setting the stage for the flight.
Once securely seated in wicker-carriage-style coaster trains, riders are taken on a whirlwind tour of the Hogwarts grounds, mimicking the flight patterns of a real Hippogriff. As the coaster swoops, turns, and dives, passengers catch glimpses of the Forbidden Forest, the Black Lake, and other notable landmarks, feeling the rush of wind and the thrill of flight. The culmination is a close flyby of the towering Hogwarts Castle, providing a breathtaking view that remains etched in many memories. While less intense than some other park attractions, the Flight of the Hippogriff is a testament to Universal Studios' commitment to storytelling, ensuring each twist, turn, and drop feels like a chapter in a grand, magical narrative.
Situated in the heart of Hogsmeade at Universal Studios Florida, The Three Broomsticks is a symbolic representation of the magical dining experiences detailed in J.K. Rowling's novels. With its dark timbers, aged stone walls, and rustic charm, this traditional British inn looks and feels like it has been lifted straight from the pages of a Harry Potter book. The establishment offers park-goers a place to rest their weary feet. It serves as a gateway to the culinary delights of the wizarding world, from hearty meals to iconic beverages like Butterbeer.
The ambiance inside The Three Broomsticks is one of warm enchantment. Guests enter a room with high, vaulted ceilings adorned with hanging pots and pans. At the same time, the glow from the fireplace casts a cozy luminescence across the wooden tables. As for the menu, it stays true to its British heritage and Rowling's descriptions, offering dishes such as the "Great Feast" (a platter of ribs, roast chicken, corn on the cob, and more) to staples like fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and cornish pasties. And for those with a sweet tooth, various desserts await, including treacle tart and sticky toffee pudding. The authenticity of the food, combined with the inn's immersive decor, makes dining at The Three Broomsticks an experience that's as much about the atmosphere as it is about flavour.
Dining at The Three Broomsticks is more than just a break from the rides and attractions of Universal Studios; it's an integral part of the Hogsmeade experience. Adjacent to the inn is the Hog's Head pub, where adult guests can enjoy specialty drinks, including the Hog's Head Brew, amidst a setting as detailed and intriguing as the inn itself. As guests sip their Butterbeer or dine on traditional fare surrounded by the soft murmur of magical conversations, the occasional clink of glasses, and the sense of being fully immersed in Harry Potter's world. This dedication to atmospheric detail and the tantalizing menu make The Three Broomsticks a must-visit!
The iconic Hogwarts Express, as depicted in J.K. Rowling's beloved series, serves as more than just a mode of transportation between the Muggle world and the magical realm of Hogwarts. At Universal Studios Florida, this legendary train has been brought to life in spectacular detail, offering guests a mesmerizing journey that bridges the gap between two themed areas of the park: Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure. From the moment guests step onto Platform 9¾, you enter into a narrative that captures the wonder, mystery, and nostalgia of Harry's own train journeys.
The authenticity of the Hogwarts Express experience begins at King's Cross Station, where guests can pass through a magical wall to access Platform 9¾, echoing the enchanting entrance described in the books. Upon boarding the train, guests enter individual compartments that mirror the Victorian-era design of the novels' illustrations. But the true magic lies when the train trip begins. As the train chugs along, digital windows display a dynamic landscape that transitions from the hustle and bustle of London to the picturesque countryside and finally to the enchanting realm of Hogsmeade. Along the way, characters from the series, such as Harry, Ron, and Hermione, can be overheard conversing in the corridor. Guests can see shadows of familiar creatures like Dementors and the Weasley twins on brooms, alongside other secrets.
The Hogwarts Express is unique in the theme park world. It's not just a ride; it's a functional transportation system that seamlessly connects two sections of the Wizarding World. Moreover, the experience differs depending on the direction of travel. A journey from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade offers a different narrative and visuals than the return trip, encouraging guests to embark on the journey multiple times. This dynamic storytelling approach, combined with the train's iconic status in the Potterverse, makes the Hogwarts Express not merely a means to get from one point to another but an integral and unmissable part of the entire Wizarding World experience at Universal Studios Florida.
Every year, Harry Potter fans from around the globe flock to Orlando, Florida, for the "Celebration of Harry Potter," an event that transforms Universal Studios into a haven for Potterheads. For an entire weekend, this extravaganza is a deep dive into the world J.K. Rowling created, offering fans a chance to immerse themselves more fully into the magic, mystery, and lore of the Potter universe. Unlike a regular day at the park where the Wizarding World serves as a backdrop, this event places the fans and their love for the series front and center, making it an unmissable experience for die-hard enthusiasts.
One of the major draws of the "Celebration of Harry Potter" is the incredible array of panels and Q&A sessions, often featuring cast members, filmmakers, and other key figures from the movies. These sessions provide unique insights into making films, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, and a deeper understanding of the characters and the world they inhabit. In addition, the event showcases exhibits that include authentic props, costumes, and artifacts from the movies. Fans can see the intricate details of robes, wands, and quills up close, deepening their appreciation for the craft that went into creating the films. Additionally, the event often features demonstrations, such as wand duelling tutorials, allowing attendees to participate actively and learn some of the series' magical arts.
Perhaps the most magical aspect of the "Celebration of Harry Potter" is the sense of community it fosters. Fans come dressed in their best robes, house colours, and even as specific characters, transforming the park into a live tableau of the series' most memorable moments. Impromptu fan gatherings, group photos, and shared moments of enthusiasm create an atmosphere of camaraderie. It's a time when fans can bond over shared trivia, favourite book passages, or simply the joy of being in a space dedicated entirely to the world they love. For many, this weekend serves not just as an exploration of the Wizarding World but also as a celebration of the friendships, memories, and moments that Harry Potter has brought into their lives.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida is renowned for its meticulous attention to detail and immersive experiences. Still, as day gives way to night, a particular spectacle elevates the enchantment to a new level. The "Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle" is a mesmerizing display of visual projections, special effects, and music that transforms the iconic Hogwarts Castle into a canvas that tells the story of the four school houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff.
As darkness blankets the park, guests gather in the Hogsmeade village, their eyes trained on the towering spires of Hogwarts Castle. The air is thick with anticipation. And then, with the first strains of the familiar Harry Potter theme, the magic begins. The castle becomes alive with vibrant projections that sweep across its facade, narrating tales of bravery, ambition, wisdom, and loyalty - the core values of the four houses. Celebrate each house, with its unique theme and colours, from the roaring red and gold lion of Gryffindor to the sinuous green and silver snake of Slytherin. Accompanying the visual spectacle is a bespoke musical arrangement derived from the films' original scores.
The "Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle" is more than just a display of technological prowess. It is an homage to the heart of the Harry Potter series - the idea that while we may come from different places and value other things, shared magic unites us all. For fans of the series, the show evokes a rush of nostalgia, memories of favourite characters and moments, and a reminder of the lessons learned from the stories. For newcomers or casual observers, it provides a stunning introduction to the depth and richness of the Wizarding World. And as the final notes fade away and the castle returns to its nighttime silhouette, there's an undeniable sense of community among the audience — a shared moment of wonder reminiscent of the unity and camaraderie found within the hallowed halls of Hogwarts itself.
Orlando, home to the illustrious Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, has expanded its magical offerings to encompass more intimate, puzzle-driven adventures: Harry Potter-themed escape rooms. These escape rooms allow fans and newcomers alike to step into scenarios inspired by J.K. Rowling's enchanting universe, combining the thrill of escape room challenges with the beloved lore of the Potterverse. While not directly affiliated with the official Wizarding World attractions, these rooms are designed with keen attention to detail, immersing participants in settings reminiscent of Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, or the many other iconic locations from the series.
The premise behind escape rooms is simple: participants are "locked" in a themed room and must solve puzzles, riddles, and challenges to "escape" within a set time frame. Escape tasks involve brewing a potion, deciphering runes, or locating a misplaced magical artifact in the context of Harry Potter-themed rooms. The creators of these rooms in Orlando have gone to great lengths to ensure the challenges resonate with the source material. Whether it's a riddle reminiscent of the one posed by the Sphinx in the Triwizard Tournament or a clue hidden within a magical portrait, the puzzles evoke the spirit and intrigue of Harry Potter's world.
While the large-scale attractions at Universal Studios offer a broad and immersive dive into the Wizarding World, the Harry Potter-themed escape rooms in Orlando cater to those seeking a more interactive and cerebral experience. These rooms allow fans to feel like they're actively participating in their magical adventure, using their knowledge of the series and problem-solving skills. It's a unique blend of fandom and gameplay, creating memories that are both challenging and deeply rooted in the magic of Harry Potter. For those visiting Orlando passionate about the Boy Who Lived, taking on one of these escape rooms can be a spellbinding addition to their itinerary.
Orlando offers a deep dive into the magical world of Harry Potter, making it a top destination for fans worldwide. The magic is palpable whether you're sipping on a Butterbeer, watching a wand choose its wizard, or riding the Hogwarts Express. With proper planning, your Harry Potter-themed vacation can be an enchanting experience you'll remember forever.