Have you read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies more times than you can count? Have you taken quizzes to discover which house you’d be sorted into? Do you like to dress up in wizard robes and maybe own a magic wand for casting spells? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you’re probably a superfan of Harry Potter, just like our frog squad! If you are planning your first trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood, then you certainly don’t want to miss any of the frogtastic details in the land. (We get it: You are our kind of people!) Here are the details that will be important to you Harry Potter fans so you do not miss a thing!
A Superfan’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood
Timing Your Visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
First of all, you’ll want to time your visit to The Wizarding World properly. Are you an early riser? The early frog catches the flies, as we always say. You will want to catch that “fly” of short wait times by arriving before the park opens. Even if you use Universal Express tickets to skip the lines, real fans like you will want to wait in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at least once, because the Universal Express line does skip a few early iconic moments of the queue, such as the Mirror of Erised. (It's easy to miss in a dark hallway as your eyes are adjusting to the darkness just after you drop your items off in a locker.) Also, look for the Herbology supply cabinet (note the earmuffs for repotting baby mandrakes), statues and the gemstone counters for calculating house team points.
The Universal Express line joins and parallels the regular line at Dumbedore’s study. But the regular line offers a closer look at all of the details and small objects in the study cabinets and the Defense Against the Darks Arts classroom. The Single Riders line is awesome for skipping the line, but it really and truly skips the line and all of its cool parts. That's why we recommend it only for repeat rides.
Even though you will need to store bags in a locker before riding, we have had success bringing a small camera or phone with us to take pictures in line. If you are prone to motion sickness, you might want to medicate or take other measures to prevent a queasy tummy. Sadly, this ride makes me a little greener than usual, but I find closing my eyes for the video portions helps. In line, keep an eye out for the Fat Lady in the Portrait (be patient, she talks) and the Sorting Hat before the loading area. The hat also talks if you are patient enough to let others get ahead of you so you can hear his whole spiel.
The other Wizarding World ride, Flight of the Hippogriff, has some fun details for fans, such as Sirius Black’s Motorbike, Hagrid’s Hut (listen for Hagrid’s voice and Fang’s bark). The line can vary for this short ride that is more like a first coaster experience. We recommend it when there is a short wait or if you use the Single Riders line. You’ll need to ask about the Single Rider entrance, which is the same as the Universal Express entrance, but not marked. Once boarded, be sure to bow to Buckbeak as you pass him. Remember what happened to Malfoy when he did not show proper respect?
As for shopping, casting spells and eating, we recommend saving those activities for the afternoons when ride lines peak. Hit the Lower Lot and other rides in the morning when their lines are shorter and then return to The Wizarding World to take a closer look at the details and hidden gems. Then, you will not feel rushed when you explore all of the tiny details in the village of Hogsmeade. By then, many other diehard fans will have moved on, leaving you a little more elbow room for casting spells.
Then there is the evening entertainment. At certain times of the year — namely summer and Christmas — you'll toadally want to hop back in at night to catch the nighttime castle show! (More on that later.)
Cast Some Spells
Do you remember when Harry got his first wand at Ollivanders? You can experience seeing a student get paired with their first wand too! The Wand Pairing Experience is the other line to time well in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood. The line surges in the morning but usually drops off quite a bit in the afternoon. Save that experience for a little later in the day. It's time you learned to do a little magic yourself! Here's a guide to the many magical spells in The Wizarding World.
Shop in The Wizarding World
Perhaps one of the hardest things about visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood is deciding what to purchase. There are a number of stores where you can pick up your wizarding gear, souvenirs, treats and wands. Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods has a large collection of souvenirs. While you are there, be sure to look for Filch's collection of items he's confiscated (in his role as caretaker of Hogwarts) from students over the years.
No doubt you’ll want to try your hand at some magic, so you’ll need to purchase an interactive wand. The wands cast spells throughout the village of Hogsmeade. If you have any elementary- to college-age tadpoles in your group, you might attend a wand pairing before purchasing on the chance that one of them may be selected from the small audience to demonstrate a wand pairing. They just might get picked and have a wand choose them! If not, just hop into the shop to pick a wand.
The interactive wands can be character wands or “custom” wands, which are not associated with any characters. Do you want a unique wand? Or do you want to channel your inner Harry, Dumbledore or Death Eater? Seriously, I’m a proud Gryffindor, but there is a hopping cool Death Eater wand with a skull on it. If I dabbled in the dark arts, I would toadally get it.
The interactive wands have a gold label on the box and can help you perform magic in The Wizarding World. The map that comes with the wand will show you the locations, along with the verbal spell and the wand movement to do to make things happen in shop windows and other places in the land. Toadally awesome! Hop over to Tad’s post on choosing a wand in The Wizarding World in Hollywood for more details.
When you enter Honeydukes, you might feel like a kid in a candy shop ... or more like Harry on the Hogwarts Express for the first time when the trolley cart comes by with exciting magical treats! You are going to have a hard time deciding and will want to buy it all. Hopefully you have a new pile of wizarding gold in your pocket, too, so you can “take the lot.” The treat packaging for Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans matches that of the movie. There are Exploding Bonbons, Fizzing Whizbees, Peppermint Toads, Fudge Flies (yum!) and so much more. Take some time to look around.
There’s also a treat trolley cart in the Hogsmeade Station shop with fewer people. You'll find loads of treats in the Universal Studio Store for some final shopping before you exit. Unless you want to eat your treats right away, we recommend making purchases at the end of the day so they do not melt in the Southern California sunshine and heat.
Accessories and Toys
Whether you want some Spectrespecs for reading the "Quibbler" or "Monster Book of Monsters," there are so many magical items from the movies. You can adopt a creature, such as a fluffy pygmy puff from Zonko’s Joke Shop or a pet owl from Owl Post. Even though you may not be able to send your postcards and packages via Owl Post itself, you can at least get envelopes and postcards “post marked” and stamped with an Owl Post stamp. You can also purchase Wizarding World-themed postage stamps there!
We can’t all travel by disapperating, Floo Network or portkey, so you might be looking for suitcase-friendly souvenirs. You can find keychains, notebooks, Christmas Ornaments and more to commemorate your visit.
Even if you’re a muggle who’s only a wizard at heart, you’ll want to look the part. You can purchase Hogwarts uniforms and robes, quidditch clothes and clothes in House League colors. There are various souvenir T-shirts, socks and magical shirts (such as one with the Marauder’s Map that changes color in sunlight). Remember the sweaters Mrs. Weasley made and sent Harry and Ron for Christmas with their initials? They are for sale in Gladrags!
One of our must-do activities in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is to eat a proper English meal at the Three Broomsticks. The food is tasty and the details in the restaurant are satisfying to any Potter fan. If you have a group of big eaters, share the Great Feast. You can pretend the house elves have made it magically appear on your table. Hop over to the attached Hog’s Head to check out their selection of fire whiskey, beer and drinks. Read the signs on the walls and watch for the hog to move and make noise! Wizarding World food is a magical topic of its own, so to learn more, hop over to our post to get the latest dish on the best food and drink in The Wizarding World Hollywood.
You may have been wondering what Butterbeer tastes like. It’s a butterscotch-flavored soda drink with the yummiest, creamy foam on top. You can find it at Butterbeer carts and at the Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head. You can try frozen or cold butterbeer at all locations. Sometimes, the Three Broomsticks also sells hot butterbeer, which is more like hot chocolate but with butterscotch.
Find These Superfan Must-Sees
We know; you’ll want to see it all! Window shop, because the shop windows have, besides magic spell opportunities, toadally cool details. But be patient! For example, you can see moving pieces of wizard chess, quidditch equipment and other moving scenes. Hop into the “Public Conveniences” to hear Moaning Myrtle wailing and talking in the bathrooms. Note the lighting in the land. They do not use electricity in The Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood, so the lamps are flames. You’ll see actual dresses worn by Cho Chang, Ginny Weasley and Fleur Delacour for the Yule Ball in Gladrags (look up high for some of them).
Jump over to a showing of the Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally on the stage. After each performance, you can get a pic with the performers. If you are visiting during a peak time, such as summer or Christmas time, you might be able to catch a showing of the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle at night. There are usually multiple showings of this projection show each night with music, images and special effects that will excite Harry Potter fans. The shows vary depending on the season. Hop over to our post on the best viewing of the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle for the deets.
A Superfan's Checklist for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Here's a checklist of toadally magical things you must do or see while you are in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood:
- Locate Ron's flying car (it is most likely outside of The Wizarding World).
- View the owls in Owl Post (and owl poop).
- Stamp mail with the Hogsmeade Owl Post stamp.
- Try Butterbeer.
- Shop for candy from Honeydukes.
- View a wand pairing at Ollivanders at least once.
- Buy your first wand.
- Cast spells.
- Locate Puking Pastilles in the shop window.
- Find wizard chess and wait for the pieces to move.
- Find a baby mandrake.
- Locate and do a spell with quidditch equipment.
- Watch the Frog Choir.
- Watch the Triwizard Spirit Rally
- Locate dresses worn in the movies in Gladrags.
- Find the Monster Book of Monsters.
- Get a pic with the Hogwarts Express conductor.
- Any Luna Lovegood fans? Find the "Quibbler" and accompanying Spectrespecs.
- See Sirius Black’s wanted poster.
- Find Sirius Black’s motorbike.
- Hear Fang bark.
- Listen for Hagrid at his hut.
- Ride Flight of the Hippogriff and bow to Buckbeak.
- Find the Mirror of Erised.
- Look in the Herbology cabinet.
- Locate the House Point hourglasses.
- Find talking portraits.
- Look for the Pensieve.
- Listen to Dumbledore talking to you in his study.
- Listen to Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom (that would be "defence" with the English spelling).
- Watch the Fat Lady in the Portrait talk.
- Look for details in the nooks of the castle.
- Find the “No Muggles” sign (and try not to get too offended).
- Find the Sorting Hat — wait for it to talk!
- Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey if you dare, but definitely walk through the entire castle even if you do not want to ride.
- Eat at the Three Broomsticks.
- Listen for Moaning Myrtle in the "public conveniences."
- Look for Gringotts Bank Automated Teller Machine.
- Catch a showing of the Nighttime Lights (seasonal).
- Visit Zonko's Joke Shop (they even have Muggle games!).
- Read the signs in Hog’s Head (and maybe even get an adult drink while there).
Hopfully you've found this superfan's guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood helpful in planning your first visit. We frogs are here to make a little more magic by helping you save money with hoppin' deals on discount Universal Studios Resort tickets and Los Angeles hotel stays.