The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida is much larger and made up of two lands; Hogsmeade located in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley located in Universal Studios Florida, connected by an actual working Hogwarts Express. If you'd like to visit both sides of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the same day, you'll need a park hopper ticket.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood is patterned after the Hogsmeade side. There is only one park in California, and you can easily experience everything in one day.
Hogsmeade on the west coast is just slightly smaller than the original in Orlando, but the space is used so wisely, you would never know. The layout of the streets and shops are almost identical, but with an additional attraction and more space, Orlando is more spread out.
As far as general comparisons from west coast Hogsmeade to east coast Hogsmeade, they each feature the two attractions, Hogwarts which houses Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. They also both feature Ollivanders, Honeydukes, the Three Broomsticks Restaurant, Hog's Head Pub, Butterbeer carts, so many shops and live entertainment. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando also has the Dragon Challenge rollercoasters, which the California version does not.
Now, I'll get into some of the nitty gritty details of the Harry Potter differences between California and Florida. Many of these you may not even notice, but any hardcore fan will appreciate the subtle and not-so-subtle differences:
- Although both Hogwarts Castles are identical, each have their own setting. In Florida you access Hogwarts from two areas; one by crossing a bridge from the outside near Jurassic Park, or inside after wandering through Hogsmeade. In California, you get to Hogwarts by passing through the Forbidden Forest outside of Hogsmeade. You can even see the remnants of Mr. Weasley's muggle car after its encounter with the Whomping Willow.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is an intense attraction in Florida, but the one on the west coast is even more intense because it is the same attraction, but in 3D and HD.
- The actual seats on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in Florida feature different sizes, only allowing larger (regular adult sized riders) to use select seats. In California, they adjusted the seats to all be the "larger" size so that they will all accommodate more riders.
- In Florida, both the Frog Choir and the TriWizard Spirit Ralley were added after the plans were completed for the park. Because of the shows' success on the east coast, the shows were part of original plans for the California park, and a stage to highlight the live entertainment was built. In Florida, the shows take place on the street level.
- The Flight of the Hippogriff in California has individual lap bars while the one in Florida has one lap bar for the entire car. The California version also has two more seats per train, which is great news for those waiting in line in Hollywood.
- There are actually two Ollivanders locations in Florida; one on the Hogsmeade side and one on the Diagon Alley side. In California there is only one Ollivanders, but it is an extra special one that has two show rooms. Guests enter in one main area lined with wand boxes. Once everyone is gathered in, a panel in the room moves revealing one of two wand ceremony rooms. You would never know that there are any rooms, let alone two!
No matter which coast you decide to visit, know that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will completly transport you from muggle to magic. Our agents would love to help you plan your Universal Studios vacation whether you're visiting Floriday or California. You can book either vacation online or call our agents at 855-GET-AWAY.