All the Rides at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando, Ranked
Fly with a Hippogriff ... or hop a train ride with Harry? Here's all there is to know about the five Potter-themed rides at Universal Studios Orlando.
Nikki Ridgway · 5 months ago
Happy International Harry Potter Day! We’re celebrating the May 2 commemoration of the Battle of Hogwarts (and defeat of you-know-who) with a deep dive into all the rides at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando — the original playground for Potterheads across the globe.
The five attractions cover the thrill-seeker spectrum, from a low-key chug on the Hogwarts Express to a wild turn on the newest attraction, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Each ride has lots to love and some insider tidbits to know. Where will you find the shortest lines? What’s best for the littlest Potter fans? Who makes a guest appearance, and where? And what are the story nods not to miss? Read on to find out!
5. Best for Families: Flight of the Hippogriff
Inspired by Harry’s flight on the Buckbeak, the Hippogriff friend from the Prisoner of Azkaban, this family-friendly ride offers a short and sweet ride that's perfect for younger visitors, clocking in at just over a minute on the rails, and with a relatively short line to tackle. Expect to peek at Hagrid's Hut as you wait (and hear safety info from the man himself), get a close up with the huge animatronic Buckbeak right next to the track, and score an epic view of Hogwarts Castle. Each carriage takes two people, so there’s someone to hang on to during the steep climb and tummy-flipping drop at the very start of the ride. From there, it’s all easy turns and gentle loops, so you have plenty of time to admire the view of the park and rooftops of Hogsmeade.
Wait time: 4/5
Thrill rating: 1/5
Bonus sights: 3/5
4. Best for Longer Trips: The Hogwarts Express
If you can’t apparate over to London’s King’s Cross Station for the original Hogwarts Express experience, this is the next best thing. And the coolest way to get between Universal Studios (home to Diagon Alley) and Universal’s Island of Adventure (destination for Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle) — just make sure you have tickets to both parks! Travel on the King’s Cross Station-to-Hogsmeade route, and you’ll enter via the faux wall at Platform 9 ¾ to see video projections of Hedwig flying ahead of the Dementors, plus Harry, Ron, and Hermione walking past your carriage, and Hagrid soaring past on his flying motorbike. Be sure to make the return journey to see centaurs riding through the forest, Fred and George Weasley on their broomsticks, and the Knight Bus squeezing between the London traffic. Thrill seekers won’t get their fix here, but for the double immersive experience, and sheer scale of the train itself, this gentle ride can’t be beat.
Wait time: 3/5
Thrill rating: 2/5
Bonus sights: 3/5
3. Best for First Timers: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
The quintessential Wizarding World experience, this beloved ride feels like a rollercoaster but really uses state-of-the-art technology to let visitors take “flight” alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Pre-ride highlights include a walk through the Hogwarts dungeons, safety briefings from talking portraits, a passage past the Sorting Hat, a chance to gaze at the Mirror of Erised, and visits to Dumbledore’s office and the Gryffindor Common Room. Dumbledore even appears momentarily to welcome you to the castle. The ride really takes off from the Room of Requirement, and uses wraparound videos and animatronics to bring Hogwarts to life. Expect a turn in the Forbidden Forest, a fly-by through a Quidditch match, a close shave with the Whomping Willow, and a chilling encounter with the Dementors. There might be snazzier special effects at the newer rides, but this classic experience checks all the boxes for first timers — even waiting in line offers an unmatched dose of Harry’s wizarding world.
Wait time: 3/5
Thrill rating: 3/5
Bonus sights: 4/5
2. Best for Drama Lovers: Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
Get ready for an encounter with He Who Shall Not Be Named as you traverse the depths of Gringotts bank with Harry, Ron, and Hermione on a unique indoor roller coaster. The centerpiece of the Diagon Alley complex (on the Universal Studios side), the experience begins beneath a fire-breathing dragon that sits atop Gringotts. Once inside, you’ll admire the soaring ceilings and crystal-laced chandeliers of the stately lobby, all under the watchful eyes of the busy animatronic goblins. Down in the bank vaults, it’s a wild ride of 3D effects, guest appearances from Bellatrix Lestrange, Nagini, the Gryffindor trio, and then Voldemort himself. The darkest of the Orlando rides, this one is best for older kids who will revel in the drama of the bank escape without being too frightened by the blackouts and “attacks.”
Wait time: 2/5
Thrill rating: 4/5
Bonus sights: 4/5
1. Best for Thrill Seekers: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
The newest ride at Hogsmeade at Universal’s Island of Adventure is a best-in-class tear through the Forbidden Forest and a true thrill ride with seven launches (the moments of eye-popping acceleration) and a 17-foot free fall. Not for the faint of heart, it’s the most adrenaline pumping ride at the park, and also has one of the most intricate story-telling sets. Keep your eyes peeled for a life-like seven-foot-tall animatronic Hagrid, Fluffy the three-headed dog, dozens of Cornish Pixies, and Magorian the Centaur. This is the longest roller coaster in Florida, but the zippy speeds mean it lasts only three minutes and definitely deserves repeat rides — especially to experience both the motorbike seat and sidecar setups. Go early to beat the worst of the line and don’t forget to admire the all-new Forbidden Forest set and towering views of Hogwarts Castle.
Wait time: 1/5
Thrill rating: 5/5
Bonus sights: 5/5
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