One of Universal Studios Orlando’s main attractions is without a doubt The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s so popular in fact, that it expanded to both parks on the Universal property in 2014 after a very successful seven-year run inside Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. Sure there are plenty of rides, shops, and "magical" experiences along the way, but the real highlight is the food. In the spirit of The Eater Guide to Disney, here is Eater Miami’s primer for all the edible options at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
There are now two sections of the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, one inside Islands of Adventure and the two-year old addition inside Universal Studios. Both are inspired by different elements of the books and connected by the Hogwarts Express. It is also an easy 5 to 7 minute walk from one to the other.
Inside Islands of Adventure you’ll find the world of Hogsmeade, filled with cottages covered in "snow" helping to recreate the wizard-only village the book’s characters visit on the weekend. The Universal Studios part of the equation features the more modern Diagon Alley based on the hidden shopping area in London that Harry and crew would visit to stock up on school supplies. The newest section of the two, it opened in summer 2014 and it’s part modern-day London and part magical mall.
Keeping with the theme of the books, the majority of the cuisine in both parks is British in style. The menus for each were created by the Universal Orlando Resort culinary team after years of research, development and tastings in the United Kingdom to help gather inspiration in order to develop authentic recipes, according to park reps.
Both parks feature large dining halls as their main food anchors. If you’re in the mood for breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner, this is where you go. Both dining halls are open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with an average entrée running from $10 to $15.
Inside Hogsmeade lies its dining hall, Three Broomsticks. It’s a dimly-lit tavern full of rustic wooden benches and tables situated below a vaulted wooden beamed ceiling. It’s all a very welcome reprieve from Florida’s often sweltering heat.
Is the food mind-blowing at Three Broomsticks? No, but it isn’t bad either, with the shepard’s pie, fish and chips and Cornish patties as highlights. The space is the real attraction with its Hollywood-like attention to detail of the restaurant decor, along with that glorious shade you are hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the parks.
At Diagon Alley you’ll also find one main dining hall, this one called The Leaky Cauldron. Staying impressively true to the books as well, this is a brighter venue and space than Three Broomsticks but still pays attention to all the little details that Harry Potter lovers would appreciate. The massive dining hall style, communal set up is almost an exact replica from the films with high wooden beam ceilings, rustic chandeliers and several long tables where everyone dines. And if you look closely enough, the restaurant's sign even "leaks" water.
The menu at The Leaky Cauldron is a bit more refined than Three Broomsticks. It’s not fine dining by any means. But you won’t find standard theme park fare like chicken tenders and hot dogs. Menu highlights include British-inspired dishes like bangers and mash, fisherman’s pie, which is a chicken-pot pie made with seafood instead of chicken, and the impressive ploughman’s board, which is basically a twist on a charcuterie board featuring English cheese, cornichon pickles, apple beet salad, Branston pickle and a Scotch egg. It’s priced at $20 and is easily shareable amongst two to three people.
Non-Alcoholic: Just as the food remains true to the books and the setting, so do the drinks. The real star of the area is the famous Butterbeer and can be found roughly every 20 feet inside both parks. Butterbeer is a butterscotch meets caramel meets cream soda flavored drink. It’s offered in regular form, frozen and even hot for the few days out of the year it drops below 70 degrees. Go for the frozen variety in the signature mug, which allows for you to get refills at a discounted price throughout the two worlds.
Almost as popular as the butterbeer is the Pumpkin Juice, which is combination of pineapple and apple juices mixed with pumpkin spice flavoring, and tastes like fall in a cup. Diagon Alley also features the almost neon-bright Fishy Green Ale, which is a mash up of mint and cinnamon with blueberry flavored pearls akin to boba at the bottom. Then there is the twist on lemonade called Tongue Tying Lemon Squash, a fizzy orange concoction known as the Otter’s Fizzy Juice and the Peachtree Fizzing Tea, an unsweetened ice tea. All the non-alcoholic beverages will run you roughly $5 a glass. If you’re a fan of juices they are worth a try since it's a nice break from the water you'll be likely guzzling. Otherwise, you won't miss much by skipping them.
Alcoholic: But we know what you’re really thinking — what about the booze? Unlike its theme park counterpart Disney World down the street, all Universal parks allow alcohol on-site. Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley serve two proprietary beers: the dark, malt-heavy porter known as Wizard’s Brew and the lighter lager-style Dragon Scale beer, both created by the Florida Beer Brewing Company.
Adjacent to Three Broomsticks is Hog’s Head Pub is the only bar in the two worlds, which is a bit grim and dark in keeping with the theme of the books. The highlight of the menu is the pub’s own Fire Whiskey, which is its take on cinnamon-flavored Fireball. It also happens to pair well with the Butterbeer. No sodas can be found in Hog’s Head, but there are a few specialty drinks like Hog’s Tea, a Long Island iced tea riff and the strongest drink on the menu, and the Pear Dazzle, which is a mix of vodka and pear cider.
Hog’s Head features a fully stocked bar, but mixers are limited to juices, tea, beer, cider, or sour mix. Wines by the glass in your standard varieties like chardonnay and merlot are also available. Prices range from $9 for a beer, glass of wine or shot, to $11 and up for a mixed drink. If you want to take your beverage with you in order to keep exploring the park, you're welcome to. But if you want sit down and enjoy your drink there is patio seating in back of the bar.
Like the books, there is certainly no shortage of sugar in any and all of its forms inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and both worlds have stand out sweets destinations.
If you’re on the lookout for the elusive chocolate frogs, those and much more can be found inside Honeydukes sweetshop. The colorful candy store inside Hogsmeade features additional aisles and aisles of candy that can be found in the books. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, which is an assortment of jelly beans in normal and not-so-normal flavors like dirt and earwax, and the frogs are the most popular items, but everything from Tongue Toffee, an extra-sticky toffee candy, to Fizzing Whizbees, a pop rock type confection, can all found inside the shop. Adding to the sugar rush is the display of fudges, and house-made cakes and other assorted treats.
At Diagon Alley the must-try sugar stop is Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlor, where Harry in the books would get his ice-cream fix every half an hour. It serves ten different hand-scooped ice cream flavors along with ten different frozen yogurt options. Flavors veer towards the whimsical and rotate quite a bit. Think chocolate chili, salted caramel blondie, Earl Grey tea, lavender, and strawberry-peanut butter. This is also where Butterbeer frozen yogurt can be found. A cup of ice-cream or soft serve runs around $5, a cone for $6 and a souvenir glass for $11. Odds are there will be a line to get into the shop — it's that popular — but it's well worth the wait.
Tips & Tricks
- Word to the wise: be ready to wait anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour during prime time lunch hours between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. No reservations are accepted — and just like most things in this theme park, the lines feature hungry kids.
- Don’t dare attempt to sit down at one of the tables in the dining halls without food in-hand. Waitstaff is on the lookout for people trying to save tables and they’ll quickly let you know this is off limits.
- No samples are allowed at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlor so be ready with that in mind. Chocolate chili certainly has a kick, so if spice isn’t your thing you may want to skip that. The crowd pleasing caramel blondie is a foolproof, delicious flavor.
- The food can veer on the heavy side, so if you have a weak stomach wait until after you ride one of the many rollercoasters before you sit down to enjoy your "magical" meal.
- If you’re dining with a non-adventurous eater, right outside Diagon Alley is more traditional park cuisine: chicken nuggets, fish and chips, salads, and pita sandwiches.
Photographer: Giovanny Gutierrez of Chat Chow TV