The West Coast has long-awaited the arrival of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. It officially opens April 7, 2016, and the Frog Family is literally hopping with excitement. We recently made our non-froggy friends green with envy when we got a sneak peek into Hogsmeade during the employee training. Here’s what to expect when the Wizarding World Hollywood opens:
Photo Opportunities in the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood
Right away you will see many great photo opportunities, from the snow-covered shops to the Hogwarts Express and conductor to Hogwarts Castle itself. Be sure to get a picture with the crashed flying car from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood Rides
There are two rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Flight of the Hippogriff is Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster. It is family friendly and appropriate for muggles about 36 inches and up. Be sure to take notice of Hagrid’s hut and Buckbeak in his nest.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Studios Hollywood takes place inside Hogwart’s Castle. This 3-D adventure is more appropriate for brave muggles 48 inches and up and definitely not for those prone to motion sickness. I can enjoy the biggest and fastest roller coasters around, but even I got a bit queasy on this ride. Tad and Leap, however, jumped back in line to go again. If you are a diehard Harry Potter fan who can brave the Quidditch pitch, Whomping Willows, dragons and dementors, then this ride is for you.
The queue is quite fun as you weave through the castle among the Mirror of Erised, talking portraits and the house league gemstone counters. Professor Dumbledore talks to you, plus Harry, Ron and Hermione also talk to you from their Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. The line itself is entertaining, so you might wait in line even if you do not wish to ride. If you are bringing a young child to Universal Studios with you, take advantage of the child switch so everyone who wants to ride gets a turn without having to wait twice. You can get more tips for entertaining young children in the park here.
The Front of Line pass is good for both rides. We recommend getting a Front of Line pass if you are attending anytime after the Wizarding World officially opens. Lines are expected to be long. There is a single rider line available for The Forbidden Journey.
Shopping Inside the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood
Be sure to go into the various shops such as Honeydukes candy shop for some chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, chocolate cauldrons and more. We liked the dark mark suckers as well as the feather quill suckers that actually can be used to write. Attached you will find Zonko’s toy store, where you can find magical items from the movies such as extendable ears, sneakoscopes and Pygmy Puffs available for adoption. The Owl Post, Dervish and Banges, and Gladrags are all attached as well. Be sure to look out for the Monster Book of Monsters. This is the place to buy your robes and uniforms as well as Quidditch equipment and materials to send items by owl post. You can get it officially stamped outside. Inside the castle and as you exit the Forbidden Journey are where you will find Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods. You can purchase clothing, house crest banners, toys, games and replicas of the movie props. If you want to buy a character wand, there is a stand outside of Filch’s Emporium. At Ollivanders you can buy character and custom wands—including magical interactive wands that cast spells in both California and Florida parks—but we recommend watching a wand-choosing ceremony first.
Wand Choosing Inside the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood
As all wizards know, the wand chooses the wizard. And where do wizards buy their wands? At Ollivanders of course (they have been doing so since 325 BC)! In this unique interactive experience, you can watch one child selected from the audience work with the wand seller to be paired with just the right wand for them. Brace yourself if your tadpole gets chosen, because he or she may want to buy the “custom” interactive wand that lets you cast spells around the Wizarding World, and these wands are not inexpensive. So you might want to set up expectations before entering. There is usually a wait to take part in a wand choosing ceremony, so keep your eye on that.
Food and Drink Inside the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood
They had me at Butterbeer, which you can find at stands in Hogsmeade, but there are all kinds of edible treats from the candy in Honeydukes to the restaurant and pub. We hopped into The Three Broomsticks to check out the traditional English fare. It is attached to the Hog’s Head, where you can snuggle up with a drink in a cozy booth or spot in front of the fireplace. There are other beverages such as pumpkin juice also sold on the Butterbeer carts outside.
Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood Entertainment
On the Hogsmeade stage you will find some entertainment throughout your visit. Some of the Hogwarts choir students (one from each house) perform with their large croaking frogs. Ribbit, ribbit! You can also cheer on the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students as they get the crowd excited for the Triwizard Tournament. After each performance, you can take photos with the singers and dancers.
There are many other magical surprises waiting for you in Hogsmeade. We don’t want to spoil all of them, but if you are a true Harry Potter fan like we are, you will appreciate all the details in the store windows and the magical folk working in the shops. If you are planning to visit shortly after the official Wizarding World opening this spring or summer, we recommend arriving early or getting Front of Line Passes if you can. Hit the rides/wand demonstration first. After that, you can take your time tasting that Butterbeer and exploring all the shops and details.
Have questions about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood? Drop us a line in comments below!