Beginners Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood
Imagine! 6 acres of all things Harry Potter are just a wand flick away! The latest addition to Universal Studios Hollywood uses actual props from the movies while magic awaits you at every corner within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It officially debuted in April of 2016 and I finally made my way there to see what the fuss was all about.
Let me start out by saying whether you are a fan or not of the Harry Potter franchise, this is huge! I'm by far no expert on all things HP but for those who have yet to visit or are just introducing their kids to this amazingly popular franchise, I'll try to shed a little light to prepare you for what lies ahead on your journey to Hogsmeade Village.
If you are planning to spend the entire day at Universal and don't have several hours to stay within the Harry Potter area, here are my top picks to get the most of your time. With so much detail and interactive areas within this part of the park, you could literally spend most of the day there exploring, casting spells and whatnot.
HOGSWART EXPRESS: Your journey begins at Kings Cross Railway Station. Here is what you will find as this is just a photo opp area: Take your own picture in front of the Hogswarts Express with it's conductor. Enter the Railway station for lots souvenirs options.
OLLIVANDERS™: This is where the wand picks the wizard. There are two ways to do this and we really had the best time doing the later of the two. I will warn you parents, the interactive wands run about $50 BUT it comes with a map of the places the wand interacts with inside Harry Potter world and at each stop there is a wizard to help turn your little muggle into a wizard in no time.
Here are the two options you have to enter and experience the wand shop:
- Enter the shop and browse the tens of different wand styles, lengths and makes by either of the standard entrances. There are many shop keeps there to help you in finding the best fit OR:
- Enter through the shops secret passage via the wand makers hub, there you may just be selected to have the perfect wand choose you. Be measured, fitted and test a few wands out if you are chosen. (there is a line just to the side of the entrance where you will be taken in and the best part, the groups sizes are kept small)
Now, let the spell casting begin! Within your wand box lies a map to Hogsmeade and where to cast various spells. There are 15 bronze medallions set into the pavement that can be found around various places on the street and in front of the shops windows, there is where you will use the coordinating spell and wand gesture to make the magic work. "Finite Incantatem"!
Honeydukes: Oh what a delightful shop! It's candy for the eyes and your belly. Enter this candy lovers dream come true filled to the brim with fresh fudge and some notables from the movies like chocolate frogs, peppermint toads and exploding bonbons! If you have a sweet tooth, this is a must while exploring Hogsmeade. Be sure to look up and around for magic is everywhere.
HARRY POTTER AND THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY™ RIDE: This ride blew my mind! But it's not just a ride, it's a journey inside the castle with walls that are covered in living artwork! Listen in closely to their conversations while making your way to the ride while passing through the Gryffindor Common Room and Dumbledore's Office. The attention to detail is mind blowing and it all makes the wait for the ride go by very fast. As for the ride itself, it's like no other ride I've experienced, huge props to Universal on this one! The only way I can explain it is like you are floating (it's an animatronic arm of sorts that is on a track that articulates in many directions and passes several wrap around action screens). My daughter said it was her favorite.
In researching the ride I learned the park made a change with the ride soon after it's opening, taking it from a 3D to a 2D due to many visitors reports of motion sickness. I got a tad nauseous and I hear this in still not uncommon. As for the ride there are a few areas that might be a little scary since they have the following creatures: Acromantula (spiders) Whomping Willows, Dragon and Dementors.
As for Food and Drinks there is so much of it! So we caved to peer pressure and the hype and tried the Butterbeer, and I must say it was so delicious! Get your fill at the Butterbeer Cart OR inside Three Broomsticks. (they have also just recently added Butterbeer Ice Cream) There are several ways you can partake in this beverage and it's available with or without a souvenir mug. If you are inclined to spike it up (Whiskey is recommended), you can get your poison at The Hogs Head Pub. Butterbeer is served frozen, cold or hot. There are also many other specialty drinks at Hog Head that are great too, we tried the Magical Margarita and it was just that, magical!
Tips for visiting Harry Potter:
- Now if you are planning a visit AND your child is a fan of the Harry Potter franchise and they don't have at the very least a shirt or scarf, get them one. It's almost the norm for everyone to garner some sort of clothing from the movies before or during their visit.
- Utilize the rider switch on The Forbidden Journey Ride. There is a sitting area directly next to the boarding area to make this go smoother.
- If using the alternative entrance (disability access) you will also be given the opportunity to re-enter the castle to enjoy that part of the attraction after finishing the actual ride.
- Download the Universal App before you go to: navigate the Theme Park and City Walk, get current wait times, show times and even set a parking reminder to find your car by section, level and aisle.
- Get the Butterbeer! No I take that back, get two Butterbeers!
Since the Harry Potter area is so detailed, I'll be sharing my tips on how to navigate the entire park for those on the Autism spectrum within another post. A little spoiler: Their accommodations are by far the best I've experienced at any of the local amusement parks making a very busy Saturday there a breeze to enjoy. So have you been yet, what was your favorite? I'm looking forward to further exploring all the shops, that and more Butterbeer of course! “Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now, students. If they can do it, why not us?” — Harry Potter