Even as a muggle I find it hard to believe that many Universal Orlando guests only visit on a day off. This can mean some difficult choices about which Universal Orlando theme park to visit. You can now buy the day ticket from park to park, but the price is a bit high. This price is more than half the price of the season pass at Universal Orlando. In a previous article, we explored which Wizarding World fast service restaurant to choose based on this same dilemma.
Now if you only have one day and you can only go to one park, how do you decide? This decision comes down to whether you prioritize attractions or shopping / delights / theming.
The area from Hogsmeade to Islands of Adventure is full of attractions. These range from a children’s roller coaster, Flight of Hippogriff, to Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure. There is the Forbidden Journey attraction and even a nightly screening show at Hogwarts Castle.
Now the two areas of the Magic World have a version of the Olivivander’s Wand Show. Both lands have themed stage shows on various aspects of the history of the Magic World. I think most guests would consider these shows to be a little better at Diagon Alley vs Hogsmeade. However, this is probably not enough to make your decision anyway.
The Escape from Gringotts attraction is the only aspect of Diagon Alley that can compete with Hogsmeade attractions. During my trips to Universal Orlando, I’ve heard that many guests experience the attraction of Gringotts saying, “Is this the only trip?” Yes, Gringotts is the only walking-style attraction on Diagon Alley.
So what would make anyone choose to experience Diagon Alley instead of Hogsmeade, since Hogmeade wins in terms of attractions? Here are a few thoughts:
- The Diagon Alley area is better organized and planned.
The Hogsmeade area is well themed. However, much of the theme was adapted into Wizarding World. The whole area can be very busy even on a moderate day. While Diagon Alley can also be crowded, there are places to go with lower crowds. Diagon Alley took the place of the old Jaws attraction. They started it from scratch. This has created an area that any Wizarding World fan can spend all day just enjoying the theme.
- Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlor is an “attraction” in itself.
Although Hogsmeade has a Wizarding World ice cream, this ice cream pales in comparison to the glory of this ice cream place. Hard ice cream is the only option at Hogsmeade, but the mild service option at Diagon Alley has much higher reviews from guests. Some would consider this ice cream parlor to be one of the best in the Orlando area.
- Hot Butterbeer is easier to find on Diagon Alley
Although there are two carts of butter beer in Hogsmeade, they don’t sell the formula other than the hot version. The hot version of butter beer can be found in many more places on Diagon Street. Now, if you’re not interested in the previously “seasonal” version, it may not matter. However, if you visit Orlando during the colder months, you may want a hot butter beer.
Last variable, what kind of sweets and drinks do you want to try? Both areas have butter beer in various forms. Both have alcoholic beverages (although Hog’s Head Brew is only available at Hogsmeade) and non-alcoholic ones like pumpkin juice. Both have a major candy and candy store. These stores have basically the same deals. In addition, a large portion of these offerings can be found outside of the Magic World.
Comparing the options side by side, Diagon Alley has better desserts not available at Hogsmeade, such as Chocolate Potted Crème, Cranachan and Sticky Toffee Pudding. Hogsmeade’s exclusive desserts are apple pie and some chocolate. Diagon Alley also offers more Wizarding World delights than Hogsmeade with the exception of Pumpkin Fizz.
If you find yourself with only one day at Universal Orlando, the choice will be difficult. So, the easiest solution is to spend two or three days at Universal Orlando on your next trip. Although not that simple: the choice should depend on whether you prioritize attractions or shopping / delights / theming. No one else can decide this for you. Good luck and enjoy your future visits to the Magic World.