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A ~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood

by Mommy Frog on March 29, 2024 10 Los Angeles

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Cast magical spells, encounter mystical creatures and fight dark villains alongside courageous heroes at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. Upon entry, guests can enjoy the whimsical village of Hogsmeade, and enter the illustrious Hogwarts Castle for an unforgettable journey. Offering enchanting eats, unique shops and thrilling attractions, this immersive land is one of our Frog Family’s favorites! Let’s hop into all of the important elements you need to be a wizard in this land!

~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - hogwarts castle

Overview of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood

Before we had tadpoles, and before there were movies based on the books, Leap and I were huge "Harry Potter" fans. Once the tadpoles joined our lives, we were hopping excited to share our love of all things Harry Potter with them. But then the most magical thing of all happened, and Universal Studios Hollywood opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2016. That toadally brought the magic to life for us.

Finally, we were able to taste real Butterbeer, buy our own Chocolate Frogs — ribbit — choose a wand, cast spells and walk through Hogwarts Castle. We could hop into The Three Broomsticks for an English meal or have a drink at the Hog's Head. Finally, we could wear our wizarding clothes out in public — and we were not alone! It was a dream come true after years of fantasizing about living in a magical world. If you have your first trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood approaching, put on your wizard robe and hold onto your broomstick while we whizz through all of the details so you don't miss anything.

Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - Hogsmeade Village

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is set in the village of Hogsmeade, the town located next to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in the books. As soon as you enter Hogsmeade, you'll want to have your camera ready to take all of those iconic shots. Right away, you will see many great photo opportunities, from the snow-covered shops to the Hogwarts Express and conductor to Hogwarts Castle itself. You'll walk past the Butterbeer cart, several shops and The Three Broomsticks restaurant. You'll stroll past Ollivanders, Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. — where you can watch a wand pairing or purchase your own interactive wand to cast spells in the Wizarding World — past the stage to Hogwarts Castle and two rides at the back. It's a lot to take in.

Now that you have the lay of the land, you can manage your day. We have a strategy that seems to work for us — it's our Universal Studios Hollywood 1-Day Park Plan that helps us avoid the longest lines and explore the land at the least crowded times. We've hopped through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood many, many times, and our trusty plan still holds up every visit. You can also save some serious green on Universal Studios Hollywood tickets if you buy through Undercover Tourist!

Rides at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood

~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - flight of the hippogriff

Now that you have a plan of attack, let's go over the rides. There are two rides in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood. The Flight of the Hippogriff is Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster. It is family-friendly, short and appropriate for muggles 39 inches and up. Be sure to take notice of Hagrid’s hut and Buckbeak in his nest.

Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - Hogwarts Castle

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Studios Hollywood is the main attraction. It takes place inside Hogwarts Castle. If you have tadpoles too short to ride, there is a Child Switch room right next to the boarding area so that you can take turns riding. The Child Switch room has a "Harry Potter" movie playing to entertain you while you wait. You can also use the room to watch souvenirs or prizes that are too big to fit in the storage lockers. Here are some more tips for bringing toddlers and small children to Universal Studios Hollywood with you.

This 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 get a little greener than usual on this ride. I have found that if I close my eyes on the parts that are based on the screens, it really helps me get through. Tad and Leap, however, jump back in the Single Riders line to ride again and again.

If you are a diehard "Harry Potter" fan who can brave the Quidditch pitch, Whomping Willows, dragons, giant spiders and dementors, then this ride is for you. If you are a "Harry Potter" fan who is afraid of getting sick, you can simply ask to do the castle walkthrough and skip the line. Another option if your family members are waiting to ride is waiting with them and then slipping out before boarding. Just tell the team members you're not riding, and they'll direct you to the exit.

Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - Ride Loading

This ride loads on a continuously moving conveyor belt-type system. You need to be able to move quickly. If you use a wheelchair or need extra time boarding, be sure to ask an attendant before hopping in line. There is a completely separate area to load for people who need it. (And be sure to hop over to our post on using a wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood for more tips.)

Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - Portraits

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 speaks to you from his study. Plus Harry, Ron and Hermione also talk to you from their Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. You'll encounter the Sorting Hat, who also talks! The line itself is as much fun as the ride, if you ask me.

The Universal Express ticket is good for skipping the line for both rides. We highly recommend getting a Universal Express Pass. There is also a Single Riders line available for both rides. And again, there is a special area to enter if you just want to walk through the castle without waiting in the full ride line. It misses a few details, but you'll hit the toadally cool major queue elements.

Shopping in The Wizarding World

Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - Honeydukes

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, Fizzing Whizbees 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 Florian Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor (as of spring 2024!). That's where you can get soft-serve ice cream (including wizard favorites such as Butterbeer, Toffee Apple and Toffee Nut).

Owl Post, Dervish and Banges and Gladrags are all attached to each other. Be sure to look out for the Monster Book of Monsters! You'll also find some dresses that appeared in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." 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 mail officially stamped outside. You can now get select items embroidered.

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. We recommend watching a wand-pairing ceremony first. You just might get chosen! In this unique, interactive experience, you can watch one child or young adult selected from the audience work with the wandmaker to be paired with just the right wand for them. Brace yourself if your tadpole gets chosen. They may want to buy the “custom” interactive wand that lets you cast spells around the Wizarding World. The interactive wands are about $60, 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. We find that the wait time is highest in the morning and dips in the afternoon. Find out more about choosing a wand in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Dining in The Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood

A ~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - butterbeer

There are so many whimsically delicious meals and treats to enjoy at The Wizarding World in Universal Studios Hollywood! From seated dining to quick-service snacks, this land features many authentic eats from the "Harry Potter" novels and films.

They had me at Butterbeer, which you can find cold or frozen at stands in Hogsmeade. You can get hot, cold or frozen Butterbeer with your meal inside The Three Broomsticks, as well. The restaurant sells pumpkin juice, apple cider and pear cider to wash down your meals. The English food is quite good. To learn more about the food in detail, we have a whole post on the best food and drink in The Wizarding World Hollywood.

If you frequently find yourself donning a foam mustache, you're going to love this news: from March 15 to April 30, 2024, Universal Studios is celebrating its first annual Butterbeer Season! Get ready to try delectable new treats, such as a Butterbeer flavored ice lolly, in addition to the traditional items served at the park daily. Additionally, you'll be able to purchase cold or frozen Buttebeer in a special collectible silver stein for a limited time during the event.

~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - three broomsticks

The Three Broomsticks is the one restaurant in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood ... and it's one of our favorite Universal Studios Hollywood restaurants! Everything we have eaten has been delicious, and we've pretty much tried everything at this point. We always make a point to hop in when visiting. It serves breakfast (until 11 a.m.), lunch and dinner.

There are all kinds of edible treats inside Honeydukes. All of those fun candies that Harry Potter purchased off of the snack trolley on the Hogwarts Express are there! Additionally, beginning on March 29, 2024, the confectioners at Honeydukes will begin serving up 10 decadent and savory soft serve flavors of Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream! Get ready to enjoy Butterbeer, Banana, Chocolate, Mint, Orange, Vanilla, Toffee Nut, Granny Smith Apple, Pistachio and Toffee Apple, available in a cup or waffle cone.

The Hog’s Head sells also nonalcoholic Butterbeer, alcoholic beers, mixed drinks and whiskeys. You can snuggle up with a drink in a cozy booth or in front of the fireplace.

For more information on dining options, hop over to our post on the best food items in The Wizarding World. And, of course, don't froget to get some wizarding ice cream at Florian Fotescue's at Honeydukes.

Entertainment in The Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood

~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - frog choir

The entertainment in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood is made up of multiple stage acts, wand pairing demonstrations and a nighttime projection show, amongst other cool interactions scattered throughout the land!

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 for Frog Choir. Ribbit, ribbit! The show can vary during the holidays.

~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - Triwizard Spirit Rally

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.

Be sure to check the show times for these shows early in the day. You can always ask a team member in The Wizarding World for show times. The Universal Studios Hollywood app is also a good source to check ride and Ollivanders wait times, as well.

~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle

During certain seasons, mostly summer and the Christmas season at Universal Studios Hollywood, there is a Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle show once the sun sets. With music, projections and lights, it's pure magic. The theme of the show varies per season.

A ~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - Death EatersIn 2024, it's the Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle, running select nights in the fall. What's toadally cool is that Death Eaters roam for a limited time in summer and during Halloween Horror Nights. Hop over to our post on Halloween Horror Nights to learn more about this event if it's something you'd like to experience.

There are many other magical surprises and hidden gems 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 of the storied details in the store windows and the magical folk working in the shops. Visit our post dedicated to breaking down all of the entertainment in the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood!

Tips for Managing Your Time in The Wizarding World

~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - Jacobite Express

You do not have a time-turner, so you'll need to be smart about your time management, especially if you want to explore other parts of Universal Studios Hollywood. Try to arrive right at park opening, which is how you'll find the shortest lines of the day at any theme park. We love skipping the lines!

Save your shopping and wand spells for midday. We know you are going to be so excited to see it all but bear with us. Ride wait times are short in the morning but then peak. If you see a short wait time for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, head straight to the back of the land toward the castle. Do not take too much time to explore now. You will have plenty of time for shopping and exploring later. Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey inside the castle. Do not use the Single Riders line for your first ride. It skips too much of the castle. If you are a huge "Harry Potter" fan, you'll want to hop through the entire queue so you can take in all those cool details. That's why you want to ride before the line builds up.

Now that that's done, we actually recommend leaving the Wizarding World for a bit. Wait, what? Yes. You'll thank us later. Everyone else heads to the Wizarding World or Super Nintendo World first thing in the morning. Go take advantage of the short lines elsewhere in the park. We like to hop down to the Lower Lot as soon as it opens and knock those rides out while lines are short. (Those wait times peak in the afternoon.) Then, we ride the Studio Tour and make our way back to the Wizarding World.

A ~Toadally~ Magical Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood - wand pairing

In the afternoon, all of the park ride lines are long. Thats a great time to explore the Wizarding World's streets of Hogsmeade. You'll have space to shop and explore and watch the entertainment. The wand pairing line will have magically shrunk. You can take time to eat. This way, you'll feel less pressure and can relax and enjoy your time in Hogsmeade. The wait times for the rides drop off towards the evening. If there is a Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle show that evening, hop back again later for it. The later shows have the thinnest crowds.

Have questions about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood? Drop us a line in the comments below! Your favorite frog friends can magically put some money back in your wallet when you purchase discount regular or Universal Express Universal Studios Hollywood Resort tickets for your visit. 

Related: ~Toadally~ Cool Wizarding World of Harry Potter Spells at Universal Studios Hollywood

Related: Universal Studios Hollywood Tips to Maximize Your Time

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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May 24, 2016 at 7:27 p.m. Myla Says...

We were fortunate enough to experience the Harry Potter World in Orlando last summer! Now my kids want to experience the one in Hollywood since we live in California. I've been trying to figure out if the interactive wands we purchased in Orlando will work in Hollywood. Do you happen to know?

May 31, 2016 at 5:23 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Myla,

Yes, they will work!

Keep hopping!


Apr 5, 2016 at 8:52 p.m. glen Says...

I recall that in Florida, the Forbidden Joirney's single-rider line, while faster, makes you miss a lot of the cool things the regular line sees/heard inside the castle. Do you know if that's true in Hollywood too? Also, do you know if the Front of Line pass also bypasses some of the pre-ride interior experience? Thanks!!

Apr 25, 2016 at 11:34 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Glen,

Yes, that is true in Hollywood too. The single rider line bypasses the interior castle scenery. The Front of Line bypasses just a few items such as the Mirror of Erised and some early statues, but it hits the major points of interest of talking portraits, Dumbledore's study, Defense against the Dark arts classroom, and everything else that follows that scenery. (The two lines parallel each other from Dumbledore's study to the front of the line.) We recommend Front of Line or getting there early and walking through the castle at least once. Then use single rider or Front of Line for a second ride later.

Keep hopping!


Apr 3, 2016 at 3:40 p.m. Teri Says...

If I buy one-day tickets through your site, are you certain they will be honored if we go on April 7th? I only wonder because the Universal Site says that tickets "will sell out" and I just want to be sure we won't be turned away!

Apr 4, 2016 at 12:54 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Teri,

You purchasing the ticket would not guarantee your admission if the park were to reach capacity. This would be true no matter where you purchased from. Your best bet is to make sure you are at the park early on this day. If the park were to reach capacity and you had a date-specific ticket, you would be given a raincheck.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Mar 10, 2016 at 3:30 a.m. Dawn Says...

Any chance that the wizarding world of Harry Potter will open before April 7th?

Mar 10, 2016 at 9:16 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Dawn,

We expect it will have more "previews" before the official opening.

Keep hopping!


Mar 13, 2016 at 4:48 a.m. Dawn Says...

We will be in California until 4/6. Didn't know if we went while we were there if World of Hogwarts would be open.

Mar 16, 2016 at 2:47 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Dawn,

I think there is a good chance it may be, although there will be official grand opening ceremonies, media previews and other events that might keep it from being open.

Keep hopping!


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