The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood opened in early April in sunny Southern California. And for many of us die-hard Harry Potter fans who live in California, we’ve never had the chance to experience the Orlando, Florida attraction which has been open since 2010. We like our heat dry and not oozing out of our pores and giving us hair to rival Monica Geller’s, thank you very much. If you don’t understand that reference, then I don’t think we can be friends. Still don’t get it? I feel sad for you. Anyways, to say I was excited to make my very first trip to the new Harry Potter attraction is an understatement. I mean, I’m not saying I was crying. I’m just saying I had Floo Powder in my eye.
So without further ado, here are…
THE 7 MOST MAGICAL THINGS ABOUT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD’S WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER:
THE DETAILS—Everything is designed to make your experience at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter authentic and truly magical. This can be seen in the main attractions like the rides, restaurants, and stores, but it can also be found in the little details. Not only are the streets cobblestone and the buildings charmingly worn as one would expect of an old village, but signs using British terms (pram instead of stroller, public conveniences instead of restrooms) can be seen all around. And when it doesn’t have a British touch to it, you can be certain it has a wizarding world touch to it (muggle plastic instead of credit card, gilly water instead of water bottle, Quidditch goggles instead of 3-D glasses). You also won’t be helped by any friendly park employees, but instead by Hogwarts students (who BTW are sorted and will excitedly engage with any visitors displaying their house colors and are still afraid to hear You-Know-Who mentioned by name).
OWL POST—Stop by and send mail to your friends and family… it’ll actually be postmarked from Hogsmeade! Need I say more? Tip: Be sure to watch out for the owl droppings.
THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS—This Hogwarts Express may not be mobile like the one in Orlando, but it has something unique to the Hollywood park. Sit inside the train car decked out with props from the actual movies and have your picture taken and inserted into a magical scene. Be warned though, the attendants will stop you from taking any muggle photography and there is a fee if you want to take your picture home with you. If you’re looking for a free photo op, you can always take a picture with the cheery train conductor (speaking with an appropriate British accent, of course) outside the train.
HONEYDUKES—You’ll feel like a literal kid in a candy store when you walk into Honeydukes. On display and for sale are a colorful array of both classic muggle candies as well as Harry’s, Ron’s, and Hermione’s favorites—such as Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, Exploding Bon Bons, and so much more. Can you think of anything better?
BUTTERBEER—Honestly, you’re going to take your first sip of butterbeer and feel as though you’re getting a taste of Heaven. It’s that good. And on the hot Southern California days, a frozen butterbeer is just the trick to cool you down. Bonus: Make it an even more authentic experience and enjoy a butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks along with some traditional English favorites.
OLLIVANDER’S WAND SHOP— Ollivander’s shop has gotten an upgrade in the new California attraction. The shop, showrooms, and experience are expanded. Stop by and see a wand choose a wizard and then pick out one for yourself. Even cooler—purchase an “interactive” wand that can be used at various spots around Hogmeade. It truly adds to the magic when you’re walking around and see children and adults alike running around in their Hogwarts robes, brandishing their wands and performing spells. Although, as the sign states upon entrance into Hogsmeade, “Please respect the spell limits.”
HARRY POTTER AND THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY— “That was the coolest ride ever!” said everyone ever…including me after I got off this ride. Find yourself exploring Hogwarts castle as you make your way through the line for this exciting ride. This includes a walk through the green houses, classrooms, Gryffindor common room, hallways lined with portraits whose subjects are carrying on conversations with each other, and the entrance to Dumbledore’s office, just to name a few. Once you’re on the ride, you’ll find yourself flying over the grounds and into the middle of a Quidditch match, having a close call with the whomping willow, descending to the depths of the Chamber of Secrets, and so much more. I don’t want to give too much away, though. The ride is designed to have surprises around every corner. It’s almost exactly the same as the one in Orlando, but there are some key updates and improvements, including the 3-D effects, which will be fun for anyone who has already experienced it in Florida.
Bonus: Be sure to wander through the area and take a look at all the store fronts. There is an extra side street and a few new stores you won’t find at the Orlando attraction. You’ll be able to peer into the windows and walk around the very stores frequented by some of our favorite characters, including Gladrags where you might just discover Cho Chang’s and Hermione’s Yule Ball gowns (straight from the movie!).
Alright, now that you’ve gotten the 411, solemnly swear that you are up to no good and get yourself over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You won’t regret it! I wouldn’t lie to you. After all, I must not tell lies.
Had a chance to visit? Tweet us or let us know in the comments below what you love about it!