'Sup! It's Tad, your resident Ravenclaw here. Like many of you, I'm still waiting on my letter to Hogwarts, but that doesn't mean that I haven't done extensive research on all the hoppin' houses at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (in true Ravenclaw fashion, of course). Don't let the stereotypes fool you. Each house is unique and amazing in its own way! In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort, there are so many frogtastic experiences and hidden gems that every burgeoning witch or wizard is sure to love. However, I thought I'd take this time to break down which of the Wizarding World's magical offerings students of each house should immediately hop to. So, without further ado, here's your official house-by-house guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Gryffindor Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
First, let's start off with Gryffindor — the house founded by Godric Gryffindor and famously home to the Golden Trio: Harry, Ron and Hermione. Gryffindor students are notoriously the pluckiest and most daring, valuing qualities including courage, bravery and determination. They face danger head-on and aren't one to back away from a challenge, but most importantly, they love a good adventure!
Hagrid's Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure in Hogsmeade
Gryffindors looking for the ultimate adrenaline rush are sure to find it on the Wizarding World's newest attraction over in Universal's Islands of Adventure. This incredibly themed story coaster enrolls brave witches and wizards in Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class. However, what was supposed to be just a quick trip to the edge of the Forbidden Forest to see a Blast-Ended Skrewt turns into a high-speed detour through the Forbidden Forest where you'll encounter Cornish pixies, a centaur and even Fluffy, the three-headed dog!
This attraction not only features seven insane launches that catapult you through the forest at speeds up to 50 mph, but also sends you backward at one point AND plunges you down a 17-foot vertical free fall drop. An absolute must-do, this coaster also features two completely different experiences — allowing you to sit in the sidecar like Harry or ride on the motorbike like Hagrid. Summon your courage because you're gonna need it!
Quality Quidditch Supplies in Diagon Alley
Every house loves a good Quidditch match ... but no house shows up and shows out for its team quite like Gryffindor. Enter the store where Harry first spotted his prized Nimbus 2000 and stock up on everything you need for the Wizarding World's favorite pastime, whether you're cheering from the bleachers or practicing for tryouts!
This iconic store sells everything from hats and pennants to Bludgers and Quaffles. Of course, you can't leave here without a Golden Snitch and a broom of your very own ... oh, and a cozy Quidditch sweater for those blustery game days.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Queue in Hogsmeade
While the ride in and of itself is all types of high-flying fun, Gryffindors are sure to feel right at home walking through the Forbidden Journey queue ... otherwise known as the halls of Hogwarts Castle. Not only will you find moving portraits of the school's four founders but you'll also see the very sword Godric Gryffindor is holding in his portrait in Dumbledore's office.
That's not all, though! Gryffindors will get to pass through their very own common room (guarded by the portrait of the Fat Lady, of course) AND get a look at the iconic house point hourglasses. I'll give you one guess as to which house is currently in the lead ...
Slytherin Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Let's move on to Slytherin — the house founded by Salazar Slytherin and home to the Malfoy family, Professor Snape and the Dark Lord himself. Noble and yet tragically misunderstood, witches and wizards sorted into Slytherin tend to be ambitious, cunning and possibly destined for greatness. Always one step ahead of everyone else, Slytherins are incredibly resourceful and are constantly looking out for themselves. Pride and self-preservation aren't always bad things, though ...
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts in Diagon Alley
Ready to come face-to-face with some of Slytherin's most famous alum? Then hop in a mine cart and descend down into the depths of the "Safest Place on Earth." Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is half-3D simulator, half-roller coaster and all-fun. What starts out as a quick trip to open up your very own bank vault quickly turns into a fight between good and evil — and you're caught right in the middle.
Voldemort and Bellatrix are looking for the Golden Trio (whom you've just crossed paths with after they've broken into Bella's vault). When they find you instead, they'll do anything to get that information out of you. Throughout your escape from the bank, you'll also encounter trolls, dragons and one snappy and sinister snake. As chilling as it is thrilling, this ride is sure to excite your verdant Slytherin heart.
Knockturn Alley in Diagon Alley
Just off the main pathway of Diagon Alley lies a place perpetually hidden under cover of nightfall. Welcome to Knockturn Alley, a magical Mecca for the dark arts. Here you'll find singing shrunken heads, dancing skeletons and hidden spells to cast with your interactive wand.
With a constant chill in the air — both literally and figuratively — and stores (both real and fake) devoted to dark magic, Slytherins will feel right at home skulking in the shadows and dark corridors of this Wizarding World hidden gem. You'll no doubt be enchanted by the eerie sights and sounds of this sordid shopping plaza.
Borgin and Burkes in Diagon Alley
If you're prone to dabbling in the dark arts, a trip to Diagon Alley (or, rather, Knockturn Alley) isn't complete without a visit to Borgin and Burkes. This infamous antique shop — which once employed the Dark Lord himself — is your one-stop shop for all your dark magic needs. From Death Eater masks to Dark Mark accessories and everything cursed in between, Slytherins are sure to find something that catches their eye.
When you're in this sinister storefront, be sure to look up. About 90 percent of the props and set dressings on the second level are straight from the set of the "Harry Potter" films. Don't froget to also find the Vanishing Cabinet hidden in the back right corner. Used to transport individuals between Borgin and Burkes and Hogwarts, this 12-foot tall prop took Universal Creative six months to manufacture.
Ravenclaw Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The brainiest of the bunch, Ravenclaws have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Always up for learning something new, students sorted into this house have been known to demonstrate excellent wisdom, wit and creativity. So much so that most of the great wizarding inventors and innovators have come from this hallowed house! Founded by medieval witch Rowena Ravenclaw, the house of the eagle was home to students such as the loyal Cho Chang, the eccentric Luna Lovegood and the best wandmaker in the world, Garrick Ollivander.
Ollivanders Wand Shop in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley
One of the most unique experiences in all of Universal Orlando, Ollivanders has been home to the premier wandmakers of the Wizarding World since 382 B.C. This iconic shop (with locations in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley) is where witches and wizards go to choose their very own instrument of incantation — or rather, be chosen by one. One lucky frog from each group will get the chance to partake in their very own wand-matching experience and go through the same trials as every incoming Hogwarts student. (Everyone else gets to be privileged spectators of this magical experience.)
Once the ceremony ends, all frogs get the chance to peruse the shop's halls and purchase their wand of choice. Character wands are only limited to Luna and Cho if you're looking for a fellow Ravenclaw's wand. However, any wand is sure to suffice if Ollivander himself chose to have it in stock. I absolutely love my reed and phoenix wand (which is said to be capable of the greatest range of magic)!
Interactive Wand Experiences in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley
Speaking of wands and magic, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is filled with locations where you can put your mastery of the two to the test. Stop at any of the golden symbols you find on the streets of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and aim your wand at the object you're enchanting. Then, flick your wrist in the direction of the arrows on the medallion beneath your feet. Remember, practice makes perfect, my fellow Ravenclaw!
While there are tons of spectacular spells waiting to be cast — such as "Reparo" which repairs a giant suit of armor in Carkitt Market and "Revelio" at Honeydukes which reveals a croaking chocolate frog — my absolute favorite spell has to be "Incendio" in Horizont Alley which lights up lanterns on the second floor of Flimflam's and is breathtaking once the sun sets. (On particularly hot Florida days, I highly recommend trying out "Aguamenti" at the Carkitt Market mermaid fountain and "Meteolojinx" in Horizont Alley for some wet and wild surprises ... and, of course, any of the secret hidden spells in Knockturn Alley!)
Dervish and Banges in Hogsmeade
For us Ravenclaws, there's nothing like the thrill of shopping for new supplies and apparel before a frogciting school year begins. Whether you're getting ready to try out for the Quidditch team or are itching to buy your school robes and house accessories, Dervish and Banges truly has it all.
Two of my favorite hidden gems in here are posters for "The Quibbler," the magazine published and edited by Luna Lovegood's father, Xenophilius, and the snapping and growling "Monster Book of Monsters" — otherwise known as the Care of Magical Creatures textbook. You can also find Ravenclaw alum Gilderoy Lockhart's book in the shop's window display!
Hufflepuff Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Last, but certainly not least, we come to Hufflepuff — the most inclusive of Hogwarts' houses. Founded by Helga Hufflepuff, this house accepts any student who has a strong moral compass, works hard and is exceedingly trustworthy. Hufflepuffs value patience and dedication and are remarkably humble. Loyal friends and notorious foodies, the house of the badger has produced the least number of dark witches and wizards. Among its alum are Triwizard champion Cedric Diggory and beloved magizoologist Newt Scamander.
Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley
Bright, colorful and buckets of fun, Fred and George Weasley's infamous joke shop is perfect for Hufflepuffs who love to indulge in their goofy sides. From Sneakoscopes to Love Potions and Extendable Ears to Skiving Snackboxes, this prank emporium has everything you need — whether you're looking to partake in a little bit of harmless fun or just try some truly sickening sweets. You can even adopt your very own Pygmy Puff here!
Keep your eyes on the skies here because while there's plenty of fun to be found on the ground, some of the most fascinating things in this store are above your head. Not only will you find a sky full of exploding fireworks on the ceiling, but you'll also see the iconic unicycling Umbridge making her way across the store. Additionally, if you look really closely at the upper levels of this shop, you'll spot some familiar props from "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."
Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade
It's a fact: Hufflepuffs like Butterbeer more than any other house. While there are tons of places to retrieve this scrumptiously sweet beverage such as The Hopping Pot and Fountain of Fair Fortune in Diagon Alley and the can't-miss carts in Hogsmeade, one of my favorite places to order a pint is at Three Broomsticks. The best part? Not only can you get it cold, frozen or hot ... but you can also get it as potted cream or ice cream at this rustic tavern!
Of course, you need a meal to go with your delicious drink or dessert! Lucky for you, Three Broomsticks serves up mouthwatering pub fare, such as Shepherd's Pie, Fish and Chips and Beef Pasties. Looking for something to share with friends? Go for The Great Feast — a fresh garden salad, rotisserie smoked chicken and spare ribs, corn on the cob and roast potatoes. YUMMY!
Flight of the Hippogriff in Hogsmeade
From former professors of the Care of Magical Creatures class to pioneers in the field of magizoology, Hufflepuffs tend to be massive animal lovers. As "Puffs" may know, one of the most majestic animals in all of the Wizarding World is the noble hippogriff. If you've ever wanted to meet one face-to-beak, this is your chance. Flight of the Hippogriff is a tadpole-friendly roller coaster that takes frogs past Hagrid's hut while offering magnificent views of both the snow-capped peaks of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle (which makes this the perfect coaster to ride at night when Hogsmeade sparkles with light and the castle is covered in dazzling projections).
The star of this attraction is, of course, Buckbeak. Half-grey horse and half-giant eagle, this proud creature is very loyal and protective of those who treat him with kindness and respect. When approaching him, it's important to maintain eye contact. Bow before him and wait for him to bow in return. Once he acknowledges you as a friend, you're free to hop on his back and take flight over the pumpkin patch.
What's your Hogwarts house? If you've traveled to the Wizarding World before, what makes you feel the most house pride there? Let me know in the comments below!
Related: Your ~Toadally~ Spellbinding Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando