There’s something magical about going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; but what about when you’ve done it a billion times and you’re tired of riding The Forbidden Journey or wading through the crowds at Ollivanders? As an annual passholder, I’ve spent a fair share of my time wandering around Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley; but every time I go, I try to discover something new, or do things that I would normally pass on. So as a self-proclaimed “seasoned pro”, here are my top 5 things to do as a HP World reg.

5. Ride the Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express
Hogwarts Express

Okay, so riding the Hogwarts Express might be something you do as a newbie, but this train is part of the whole HP experience. Whether you’re starting in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade, both queues are unique and fun! Grab yourself a *insert adult beverage* and make a game of finding a new detail that you’ve never noticed before. If you’ve “literally seen it all”, download the game, Heads Up. You will not only have a blast playing trivia with your party, but everyone else around you will be entertained, as well. You might even make a new friend, like the 10 year old boy behind me in line today, who was slyly giggling at our clues/ hand gestures and standing on his tip toes trying to see our phone screen. Definitely made the 35 minute wait fly by! The train ride itself is pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

4. Brews and Booze!

This wouldn’t be a true PB&GN post if I didn’t suggest drinking a beer of some sort while you’re pretending to be a wizard for the day. In Diagon Alley, the coolest place to check out is The Hopping Pot. They feature 2 HP World brews, Wizard’s Brew, which is a stout, and Dragon Scale, a lager; both are brewed by The Florida Beer Company. These beers are delicious, even for a wizard who might have an aversion to darker beers. If you really can’t bring yourself to drink a dark beer, have no fear, for they serve a variety of other draft beers that aren’t HP World specific. For all the non-beer drinkers out there, they have Fire Whiskey, a cinnamon flavored whiskey, aka the college student favorite Fireball. Mix it with a Strongbow for an awesome drink! Or try mixing 3 beers of your choice together for a lovely layered brew like our producer/editor, Chris, did! Pictured below is a layer of Strongbow, Hogs Head Ale, and Guinness, unofficially named the “Triple”.

IMG_2762 2
Layered brew

3. Honeydukes Candy

Visiting Honeydukes Candy Store in Hogsmeade is at the top of every young wizard’s bucket list. But how many of us regulars actually purchase candy from the famous candy shop? Of course we’ve all bought a chocolate frog or the crazy flavored jelly beans. It’s a rite of passage. But what about all the other treats we’ve read about in our favorite HP books? I typically walk through the shop, pick up a box of peppermint toads or fudge flies, walk around the store for a few more minutes, then ultimately end up putting the box back and walking out. My advice: DON’T PUT IT BACK! Actually buy the cool candy, because it will not disappoint. Indulge in that chocolate cauldron or Honeydukes Rice Krispie treat. Maybe even go a little wild, and mix & match your own bag of candy from the candy dispenser. Whatever your guilty pleasure may be, this candy shop will not let you down.

P.S. The peppermint toads are amazing!

2. Store Fronts

Have you ever stopped and really checked out all the cool things that are in the store fronts of all the shops in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley? Even though I’ve been countless times, I never truly took the time to look in all the windows and check out all the displays. Even the wall on the back side of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes is awesome!

Walking down Knockturn Alley to check out Borgin and Burkes is something worth checking out if you’ve never ventured down there or if you’ve always rushed through. You can even find most of the horcruxes in the store, and take a look at the vanishing cabinet. Check out the shops and window fronts in detail. See how many details you can find that you’ve never seen before. Can you spot all the items and creatures mentioned in the books but not in the movies?

1. Butterbeer, butterbeer, BUTTERBEER!

Every true Harry Potter fan has dreamed of drinking a butterbeer, and thank goodness HP World has no shortage of this wonderful drink. Of course we’ve all had butterbeer (if you’re like me, you get it every time you visit), but did you know just how many forms you can consume butterbeer in? Yes, there is your standard cold butterbeer, but you can also get it frozen, hot (during the colder months), ice cream and now they have a butterbeer potted cream.   There’s even butterbeer fudge! I should have a shirt that says I’m only here for the butterbeer because it is truly one of my favorite parts of visiting the Wizarding World.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy your time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Whether it’s grabbing a butterbeer, strolling around looking in shops, watching the shows, riding the rides, practicing your spells with your interactive wand, or having a meal at the Three Broomsticks, HP World is magical. I love going time and time again, even if it’s only so that I can pretend that I’m a witch for a few short hours.

I am, yours most sincerely,

Erin Gallagher

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