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I have a ritual I follow every time I visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I say every time because by now I’ve lost count of how often I’ve gazed up in amazement as I walk under the iconic Hogsmeade arch. It always feels like a true Homecoming to this loyal Hufflepuff!
I start with a walk across the entire length of Hogsmeade village, admiring the shop facades, the irregular stone paths, the gabled roofs covered in perennial seasonal snow, and all leading to the magnificent Hogwarts castle as it sits atop the high cliff above it all.
I didn’t grow up reading the books. I was more of a Harry Potter film fan from the beginning. And when I was first sorted into the ranks of the loyal, fair and hardworking, the insights I received about my own personality proved to be accurate. You might say they were even helpful in allowing me to better understand how I approached life and treated those around me. It didn’t hurt, of course, that I was following on the steps of such personalities as the resourceful Professor Sprout, the courageous Nymphadora Tonks and the ultimate, self-sacrificing Hufflepuff hero, Cedric Diggory.
As I’ve grown older and – hopefully – wiser, the lessons, values and memories I’ve learned and acquired while visiting the wizarding world have stayed with me, always bringing a smile to my face. Consider this me sharing some of what I’ve learned as a Hufflepuff in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Flight of the Hippogriff | Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure
For those young wizards and witches, this fun and family-friendly ride offers the first taste of what it would feel like to have your very own wizarding world adventure! From the moment you approach the entrance and are greeted by Fang’s welcoming bark, you know you’re about to step inside a little slice of Hagrid’s world. The coaster is a gentle entry-point into the thrilling world of Harry Potter and the even-more-thrilling rides in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
And I have to say that Hagrid’s care for and curiosity about magical creatures kind of reminds me of that famous Hufflepuff Magizoologist who never met a monster he couldn’t love, right?
Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees | Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida
I won’t hide it, Hufflepuffs can be a bit dramatic. Perhaps that’s the reason my first stop when I visit the bustling streets of Diagon Alley is to catch a performance of wizarding world sensation and singer extraordinaire, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. With a style all her own, Ms. Warbeck entertains and moves us with her passionate and fun musical talent. You will catch yourself singing along and humming her catchy melodies as you enjoy your visit during the day! This is definitely a festive performance that you do not want to miss!
WHERE/WHAT TO SHOP
Magical Menagerie | Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida
Respecting all creatures — magical and non-magical alike — is definitely a principle I’ve always followed. Caring for my own pets as a child, and even now, brings me joy and allows me to share my good times (and some not so good) with a loyal friend who’s always by my side. There’s a place in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter where you can find some of the most imaginative and beautifully crafted plush toys celebrating some of the best-known creatures and companions in the wizarding world. All types of creatures can be found here including an assortment of owls, Cornish pixies, and ferrets, plus fan-favorites like Fang, Buckbeak, Fluffy, and, yes, even Scabbers!
Favorite item: Paws down… it’s Crookshanks (who has a special place in my heart being the cat lover that I am)! No one can match this smart and skillful half-Kneazle cat.
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes | Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida
Walking into Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, nothing brings a smile to may face more than looking up and seeing the infamous Umbridge perilously balancing herself on a tightrope above… Everyone should have a Cycling Dolores Umbridge toy at home to remind yourself of what could happen if we don’t play fair!
WHAT TO EAT
Three Broomsticks | Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure
Well, eventually you have to eat, right? And when you’re playing host to a group of friends enjoying their first experience in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — as any good Hufflepuff would — there’s really no better place to take a break and fuel up with a delicious and hearty wizarding meal than the Three Broomsticks right in the heart of Hogsmeade.
Most famous of all items on their menu is, of course, the refreshing Butterbeer! It was at the Three Broomsticks where Harry Potter had his first taste of the sweet wizarding drink. But to satisfy a bunch of hungry wizards and witches, my vote goes to the aptly named The Great Feast. Featuring a fresh garden salad, delicious rotisserie smoked chicken and spareribs, corn on the cob, and roasted potatoes, this amazing culinary experience is enough for a hungry group or family of four!
There’s also a great selection of other tasty British fare dishes that really complement your visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a truly magical meal surrounded by fellow fans!
- Shepherd’s Pie with Garden Salad – The absolutely quintessential British dish, in my view. A carefully crafted and delicate topping reveals a hearty filling of ground beef, lamb, and vegetables.
- Fish and Chips – Nothing better for a quick and super traditional meal worthy of your visit! Beautifully flaky pieces of fresh, north Atlantic cod battered and golden fried. And, of course, with a generous side of fries! (or chips, as they say). I myself add a touch of vinegar to my fries (Yes, vinegar… try it!) to give them a truly authentic taste!
- Butterbeer Potted Cream – There are no words I can say to describe the experience of tasting this incredible desert. The Butterbeer flavor is really just the beginning…smooth cream balanced with a small dollop of whipped cream on top. The perfect ending for the perfect meal!
Hufflepuff Cup Replica | Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida
Found in both Filch’s Emporium and Dervish and Banges, the Hufflepuff cup is one of my favorite items found in the parks. The fact that I can bring it home with me makes my Hufflepuff heart swell with loyal pride.
Hogwarts Founders Portraits | Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure
One of the most impactful moments when you’re in the castle and walking along the queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, is when you find yourself at the foot of the Grand Staircase and facing the iconic portrait gallery. As you ascend the stairs, you’ll come face-to-face with the portraits of the Hogwarts Founders — Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff (Yay, Helga!), Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin.
Looking up at these legendary personalities sets your mind racing just to imagine what it was like for them to come together and agree to build the incredible institution that we all know as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the end, the founders created something much bigger than a school. They created a community founded on strength, loyalty and purpose. As a proud Hufflepuff, this gallery has always made me hopeful that no matter what challenges we face, if we face them together, we can accomplish the impossible. This is a place where I’d want to live. A place I’d call home.
I hope this all helps make your next visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter even more of an adventure.