Oh my gosh, I had been wanting to go to Harry Potter at Universal Hollywood so badly! Luckily, I have a super amazing bestie who took me as a belated bday celebration and we couldn’t have had more fun!
I can’t recommend more that you just go! It isn’t the cheapest, but it is such a blast – and completely worth it! Here is my guide to visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Hollywood.
We really couldn’t get enough photos of Hogwarts. In the evening, we just stood and starred at it smiling for a few minutes, it’s just so pretty! It makes you feel like you’re frolicking in some European town but like better because it is a magical Harry Potter town! Teehee, this is when I officially admit to you that I am a big dork and this kind of stuff is my jam!
Quick side story – I bawled my eyes out when my parents tried make me sit on Santa’s lap as a 3 year old, BUT when we went to Universal and a full-sized Frankenstein was walking around, I reached out so he would pick me up, laughed, smiled nonstop and apparently wanted to hang out with him all day long! I like to think that this is when my love of all things sci-fi/magic/superhero began. #ilovefrank #myfirstcrush
Now that you are fully aware of my geeky-ness, I must admit – it was just soooooo cool walking through the entrance of Hogsmeade! It had been a long time since I had been to a theme park type attraction for the very first time, and even with my overly excited state I was not a bit disappointed.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride
This is the main ride/attraction so expect a decent sized line. We got there nice and early, but it was a Saturday so the line was 100 minutes long. We decided to just go for it. You can purchase a ‘front of the line ticket’ that includes priority access to each ride and show. And as I’m writing this, the price ranges from $179-$199 versus the general admission of $105-$110.
While waiting in the super long line there are lots of fun Harry Potter props. However, the level of chaos and un-organization that I witnessed physically hurt my lil’ OCD [or CDO as it should be called because that is in alphabetical order haha] heart!
When entering Hogwarts there is a section of the line that forces you to this area with lockers. This is where you are supposed to put your backpacks and larger belongings as they don’t have storage on the actual ride. First off, no one tells you this. The lockers are controlled by a screen which you can’t really see because there is a line of confused people in front of it. Which also, no one tells you.
I found an open locker, put my backpack inside and pressed the button to lock it. Umm yah, don’t do that! Go to the screen and it will give you a locker number that is available and program your fingerprint in order to re-open the locker after the ride so that your belongings are safe. Why there isn’t signage telling you this is baffling to me.
The lockers are free for only 2 hours so make sure to grab your stuff after the ride or else you will pay hourly.
As for the actual ride, it was amazing! And by amazing I mean, I loved it but I really felt like I was going to throw up. It is definitely NOT a ride for those prone to motion sickness.
It is basically a big screen [I read that it used to be 3D but they removed that feature] for some parts and the seat you’re in moves in all directions. It was really fun, but the screen was just so big and too close [almost like sitting in the front row at a movie theatre] so my tummy hated every second of it. If that doesn’t phase you at all…you gotta try it!
You know, Ollivanders – the makers of fine wands since 382 BC?! You can just go in the shop or you can do the ‘The Ollivanders Experience’ which puts you and a small group in a separate room with the shopkeeper. She chooses 1-2 super lucky participants and actually chooses a wand [with a lil’ show to go with it of course] or as they say, the wand chooses you.
Then you are lead to the actual shop where you can buy the character’s replica wands [Voldemort’s, Bellatrix’s, Harry’s, Cedric Digger’s & Dumbledore’s just to name a few] or your very own.
The wands are in the $50 ballpark BUT they come with a map that guides you around the park for an interactive experience. You wave your wand, and cast spells around Hogsmeade. At certain stops and shop windows, for example, you can make teacups spin or mail fly about etc. I was told the wand also works at the Wizarding Worlds at Universal Orlando Resort.
EAT & DRINK
Non-alcoholic, butterscotch-y flavored Butterbeer is sold in a couple different carts in Hogsmeade and it is a must! Kristi and I actually tried the amazingly-delicious Butterbeer pudding at the 3 Broomsticks Restaurant…you will LOVE IT!!! Oh, and don’t forget to take your Butterbeer foam mustache selfie! 😉
Three Broomsticks Restaurant
I LOVE traditional English food so I was pleasantly surprised by the Three Broomsticks Restaurant menu. Fish & chips, bangers & mash, shepherd’s pie and if you go early enough, even a traditional English breakfast. Seriously, the best theme park food I think I’ve ever had.
Get your sweet tooth satisfied at this super cute candy shop. You’ll find all the treats from the movies: chocolate frogs, fudge flies, exploding bonbons and the every-flavor Bertie Bott’s Beans! Gambling with your taste buds is so entertaining! Lol!
Attached to Honeyduke’s is the colorful Zonko’s Joke Shop [see above] full of fun and silly toys/novelty items. Overall, wandering through all the cute shops was one of my fav parts of the visit. They have EVERYTHING you ever wanted and didn’t know you wanted haha. I wanted to buy everything so it is safe to say, if you’re visiting with kiddos it is going to be a challenge to limit the purchases.
The ‘hoot hoots’ [that’s owl in Amy language] are adorable! I had to use every ounce of restraint not to purchase a Hedwig backpack…BECAUSE I DON’T NEED IT [still telling myself that]!
Just like how I don’t need a house robe, scarf, Quidditch equipment, magnets, Marauder’s maps, this super awesome stein/mug or really just wizard wear in general. I’m tellin’ yah, there are goodies and trinkets galore…be warned and be cautious! LOL!
Hogwarts Express Photo
I heard that the Florida theme park has a Hogwarts Express that you ride, but here there is a mini version. You select your house scarf, choose a wand and pose for 3 photos. It was just shy of $40 for (3) 8×10 pics, but once we saw them we HAD to buy them. Take the pics first and then learn the pricing…very clever Universal! And *BAM* just like that now I want a wand and a scarf. Very, very clever! 😉
And while you are at Universal Studios Hollywood make sure, if you only do one other thing besides Harry Potter, you do the Studio Tour tram ride. It takes you behind the scenes in such cool way…ride through studio sound stages, real sets being used today, and get the secrets to moviemaking. The tour guide was hilarious and you can’t help but get star struck at some of the sites.
The tram tour includes a King Kong 360 3D ride [largest 3D experience in the world] as well as a Fast & Furious ride…they are both very cool. And you get to wear these super sexy 3D glasses LOL #geeks
Ummm, I am a bit obsessed with minions so when I learned that they had a Despicable Me area I got so excited!! The Super Silly Fun Land is definitely more for the little ones [kids under 48″] and has an awesome looking water park, so bring dry clothes/towels for the kiddos. There’s also a Despicable Me kid friendly 3D ride. Bello!
We didn’t go on all the rides because well, we found a bar. LOL. But there are a handful of others that I didn’t mention. Here is the park map to make sure you don’t miss any on your visit. But just a warning, last time I went on the Jurassic Park ride it was kinda like I had jumped into a pool with my clothes on [it was hot, therefore it was AWESOME], so again bring dry clothes and/or a towel.