Hogsmeade vs Diagon Alley: A Look at Shops, Dining, Rides and More

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – as it currently exists – is a wonderfully immersive two-pronged experience with one foot in Universal Studios Florida and the other foot in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

The design, I suppose, is smart on the part of the Universal Orlando Resort because if you want the full Harry Potter experience on your vacation, you have to buy a two-park ticket and ride the Hogwarts Express. 

In the Universal Studios theme park, you have Diagon Alley, hidden just behind the London portion of the park.

Conversely, at Islands of Adventure, you have Hogsmeade. There’s no hiding, and I think it’s because you have to go through the Lost Continent to get there. 

There are quite a few similarities between the two parts of the Wizarding World.

Certainly, both are exceptional immersive experiences – on par with Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World. 

Both places are themed similarly to the movies. For example, you can get a Butterbeer, dine in a Harry Potter-themed restaurant, get a broomstick, a robe and a wand. 

In both places, there are stores lifted straight from the Potterverse as well as rides, shows and more. 

But there are also differences. For example, one of the worlds is more focused on experience and the other has more of a focus on rides and attractions. 


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Can you walk between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley?

I suppose this question can be answered in two ways. The easiest way to get back and forth is to ride the Hogwarts Express with your two-park ticket.

You can, however, technically walk out of the Wizarding World and march from one park to the other – provided again that you have a two-park ticket. But it’s a pretty good hike.

I think it would be nice if they’d make an option for people who don’t want to ride the Express to take a shortcut from one world to the next.

Surely, it would save a lot of time and a lot of steps for those of us who don’t have a magic broom. 

But geographically the two worlds are not very far apart.

Is Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley better?

There’s only one way to decide for sure, and it’s not got anything to do with your dueling stance or how well you swish and flick. 

It’s time to break out the scientific method and break things down with the tale of the tape. 

Universal Studio's Fire Breathing Dragon Alley Dragon
It is hard to beat the view of the fire-breathing dragon in Diagon Alley (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

1. The entrances

It’s hard to beat walking through the entrance to Diagon Alley and looking up that street to Gringott’s bank with the dragon belching fire.

Hogsmeade’s pointy, snowy rooftops are striking, but the reveal in London is just simply breathtaking. 

Point: Diagon Alley

Entrance to Knockturn Alley in Universal, Diagon Alley
The Knockturn Alley entrance in Diagon Alley, Universal Studios (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

2. The theming 

Oh, man. For the most part, Universal did such a good job recreating the Potter world that it’s hard to choose between the two. 

The only gripe I have is that I wish the Hogwarts Castle above the Forbidden Journey ride was bigger. They tried to use a forced perspective like Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. But I think it ended up looking more like the Camelot model from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. 

I suppose with more crooks and turns – and with a bit of Knockturn Alley, Diagon Alley is slightly ahead of Hogsmeade. But it’s close.

Point: Diagon Alley

Read Also: 11 Best Things To Do at Diagon Alley in Universal, a Complete Guide

woman in front of hogwarts express
I preferred the Hogwarts Express ride from Hogsmeade compared to King’s Cross (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

3. The train stations 

Hogsmeade has a massive advantage in that it entirely exists within the Wizarding World. However, King’s Cross is based on the utilitarian train station in London.

The Hogsmeade station is light and airy and also full of diversions and fun. Conversely, King’s Cross – like other parts of the Muggle World – is depressing and soul-sucking and the kind of place JK Rowling built her world to escape from.

Point: Hogsmeade

Hagrid's Motorbike ride in Universal
Hagrid’s is a beloved ride in Hogsmeade (photo by Craig Russell/shutterstock.com)

4. The rides and attractions

Again, this is a category slanted to Hogsmeade and its three rides – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Flight of the Hippogriff and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

Diagon Alley only has one ride: Escape from Gringotts

For the purposes of this exercise, Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringotts cancel each other out. The two roller coasters, however, swing the pendulum hard for Hogsmeade. 

Hagrid’s is a beloved ride and also one of the best roller coasters in Orlando. It thrills Harry Potter fans with a ride through the groundskeeper’s world where they also meet members of his magical menagerie. 

Point: Hogsmeade

Read Also: What Is the Harry Potter Coaster Called? Your Guide To Magical Rides

5. The shows

This is not even a fair fight really. Hogsmeade has the Twiwizard Spirit Rally which is not as exciting as it sounds and the Frog Choir which is, in truth, as exciting as it sounds. 

Diagon Alley has the Tale of the Three Brothers from the Beedle the Bard book. It’s an elaborate puppet show in the style of the animation from the movie. And also, it’s fantastic.

Diagon Alley also has Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, a rocking character from the Harry Potter world who performs soulful hits from the Wizard World. 

Point: Diagon Alley 

6. The characters

Finally, I’m perplexed as to why there aren’t more Harry Potter characters running around the parks. For example, is it that hard to find a redhead with a British accent to be a good Ron? Would it be that hard to find a Hermione? 

We’ve got Betty Boop and Marilyn Monroe and Scooby and the crew running around the parks. Why can’t we at least get some secondary characters from Harry Potter? I’m not saying we have to have a Voldemort, but we can’t even have a witch or two?

The only real characters are Stan Shunpike at the Knight Bus in London and Elf Kreacher peeking out of the windows at Grimmauld Place. Therefore, there aren’t a ton of characters around. 

Maybe we’ll get some more when the Ministry of Magic opens in Universal Epic Universe. 

Point: Diagon Alley

The Leaky Cauldron Menu in Diagon Alley
The menu at the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

7. The dining experiences

Let’s start with the big ones: The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade (IOA) and Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley (Universal). 

Judging by the menu, these are basically designed to be similar experiences with slight variations. You can get fish and chips at each – and they’re not bad. Maybe not as good as the best shops in London, but right up there.

At the Leaky Cauldron, you can get other British classics like Bangers & Mash, Toad in the Hole, stews and also a variety of savory pies including cottage pie and fisherman’s pie. For dessert? Try the sticky toffee pudding. 

While The Three Broomsticks does offer a shepherd’s pie or beef pasties, it is a little more Americanized with spare ribs, smoked chicken or turkey legs. 

The breakfast menus are chiefly the same. 

Our family greatly preferred the Leaky Cauldron but that was in part due to poor staffing experience at the Three Broomsticks.

But above all, the meal didn’t impress, and the chairs were uncomfortable.

The Cauldron – on the other hand – was pleasant, comfortable and enjoyable. 

If we were basing things solely on the two main restaurants, Diagon Alley would win in a landslide. But there are other Harry Potter dining options to consider. 

Hogs Head Pub Sign Islands of Adventure Universal
The Hogs Head pub features Butterbeer, specialty drinks and more (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Hogs Head (Hogsmeade)

Somewhat confusingly attached to the Three Broomsticks is the Hog’s Head and Harry Potter pub featuring Butterbeer, fresh brews, specialty drinks, wine and more.

There are alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Also, there’s some really great seating on the outdoor patio where you can watch the Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

Butterbeer at Universal
Butterbeer is a favorite drink in the Wizarding World (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Butterbeer Stand (Hogsmeade)

There is a Butterbeer cart there as well. 

Read Also: Butterbeer Universal: What Is It, Where To Find It in the Park

Florean fortescue ice cream parlor at Universal
The Florean Fortescue Ice Cream Parlor has a lot of great options, but none were dairy-free (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor (Diagon Alley)

Butterbeer may be better as an ice cream.

This ice cream parlor at the top of Diagon Alley frequently has a long line, but if you can catch it at the right time and get a sweet treat to beat the Florida heat, there are a lot of great options.

But still, I wish they had a non-dairy option for kids like my son. 

The Fountain of Fair Fortune Universal
The Fountain of Fair Fortune in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Fountain of Fair Fortune (Diagon Alley)

This is not a pub, exactly. However, the Fountain of Fair Fortune serves a variety of beers and other beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).

Non-alcoholic offerings include Butterbeer, frozen Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, Gillywater and more. 

The Hopping Pot Sign Diagon Alley Universal
Diagon Alley’s Hopping Pot offers a vast selection of drinks, beef pasties, Butterbeer and chips (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

The Hopping Pot (Diagon Alley)

An amazing selection of wizarding drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic with a handful of snacks that include beef pasties, Butterbeer ice cream and chips. Seating options are limited. 

Even if the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks were a wash, Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor would be enough to push the needle in the favor of Diagon Alley.

Point: Diagon Alley

8. The shopping experiences

What would it be to come to the Wizarding World without exploring the retail world of Harry Potter? 

Filch's Emporium Hogsmeade Universal
Filch’s Emporium is a great place to find a bargain (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Filch’s Emporium Confiscated Goods (Hogsmeade)

Located under Hogwarts Castle, Filch’s is the Harry Potter version of “American Pickers”.

A guest can pick up a bargain on a souvenir or anything from a robe to the Sword of Gryffindor. It’s a fun little shop to find things you might not see at the bigger stores closer to the exit. 

In fact, we learned this the hard way.

Honeydukes Hogsmeade Universal
Honeydukes candy store in Hogsmeade has treats including Cauldron Cakes and Fizzing Whizzbees (photo by BoxLab/shutterstock.com)

Honeydukes (Hogsmeade)

This sweet shop has a wonderful mix of treats including Cauldron Cakes, Fizzing Whizzbees and Chocolate Frogs.

You can also fill up a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, but beware of the ear wax-flavored ones. 

Ollivanders Wand Shop Hogsmeade Universal
Ollivanders in Hogsmeade offers wands and the interactive wand experience (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Ollivanders Wand Shop (Hogsmeade)

This shop offers the same interactive experience as Diagon Alley where you can watch a wand choose a wizard or be chosen yourself.

Visitors can purchase their own unique wand, wand sets and character wand replicas as well as an interactive wand.

The Owl Post Hogsmeade Universal
The Owl Post has writing tools, ink and owl-related gifts (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Owl Post (Hogsmeade)

Writing tools include stationery, quills, seals and ink as well as an array of owl-related toys and gifts. You can also mail letters complete with a special Hogsmeade postmark.

Dervish and Banges in Hogsmeade Universal
Dervish and Banges is a Quidditch supply shop (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Dervish and Banges (Hogsmeade)

Dervish and Banges is a Quidditch supply shop with T-shirts, uniforms and more.

Ollivanders at Universal
Ollivanders sells wands and offers an interactive experience as well (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Ollivanders Wand Shop (Diagon Alley)

Ollivanders also has the same wand experience as in Hogsmeade. 

Universal's Borgin and Burkes Diagon Alley
You can find dark magical items at Borgin and Burkes (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Borgin and Burkes (Diagon Alley)

This shop has everything a dark wizard or witch needs.

I’ve got just enough goth in me to really like this shop.

Madame Malkin’s Robes (Diagon Alley)

While you can buy robes all over the parks, Madame Malkin’s is the Wizarding World’s finest purveyor. 

Magical Menagerie (Diagon Alley)

The best place to find your magical pet – usually stuffed – in the world. 

Universal's Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment
Wiseacre’s sells wizarding supplies and apparel (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment (Diagon Alley)

Wiseacre’s offers essential wizarding supplies, apparel and more. 

Scribbulus Diagon Alley Universal
Wizards need more than one shop to get their writing supplies (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Scribbulus (Diagon Alley)

You wouldn’t think the Wizarding World would need two stationary stores. However, you’d be wrong.

Gringott's Money Exchange Universal
Exchange your muggle dollars at the Money Exchange (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Gringott’s Money Exchange (Diagon Alley)

You can exchange your muggle dollars for Gringotts bank notes to use in the Wizarding World.

The animatronic goblins are cool, but I wish a little more care had been put into the design of the bank notes. 

Globus Mundi at the Wizarding World Universal
Globus Mundi is for the traveling wizard or muggle (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Globus Mundi (Diagon Alley)

This is the official travel agency of the Wizarding World. But why do wizards who can apparate need a travel agency? I don’t know, but they have cool stuff for traveling muggles to use. 

Universal's Weasley's Wizard Wheezes at Night in Diagon Alley
Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes is the brother’s famous joke shop, pictured here at night (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes (Diagon Alley)

Do you even have to ask? This shop is the Weasley brothers’ famous joke shop. 

Point: Diagon Alley

So which Harry Potter park at Universal is better?

For me, Diagon Alley wins in a landslide. 

Unless your motivation is riding the most rides, when deciding which experience is superior, always go with the one with fire-breathing dragons.

Do prefer Diagon Alley over Hogsmeade? Do you love them both? Let us know in the comments!

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John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for TheSmokies.com LLC – the parent company of TheSmokies.com and HeyOrlando.com.

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