Exploring All Things Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood

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Harry Potter at Universal Studios HollywoodOne of the main attractions for our family visit to Universal Studios Hollywood was of course The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Having just finished book number 5, my 7 year old was hankering to visit our neighborhood theme park.

While the Wizarding World of Harry Potter isn’t a huge section of Universal Studios Hollywood, I wanted to give a quick overview of this part of the park with some tips and tricks to get the most out of your visit.

Explore Hogsmeade

Harry Potter at Universal Studios HollywoodEntering the park, most visitors head straight into the cobblestone streets of Hogsmeade. It truly is like entering another world – Harry Potter’s world!  The amazing details bring to life all you have read in the books and even more. Take your time to fully appreciate all that is on offer here. Real storefronts are mixed with fake ones, so go ahead, go in and explore. Make sure to stop into the candy store to pick up some chocolate frogs and every flavor beans! Tip: Buy in bulk rather than the set packages. Trust me you won’t want *that* many of them!

Must Do: Head to the Owl Post and send yourself a letter postmarked from Hogsmeade. You will need to buy a set of postcards and a book of stamps, but if you want to be more economical, bring your own postcard and your own stamp!

Taste Butterbeer

Butterbeer at Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Butterbeer in “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Butterbeer is a must have on your visit to Hogwarts. This non alcohol drink comes in standard form which resembles a soda or a frozen version. I wasn’t a fan at first I must admit, but it did grow on me as I continued to drink it. My son said it tasted like vanilla ice cream mixed with root beer, but in his mind, not in a good root beer float kind of way!

I’m always a fan of anything frozen so that was what I preferred, but you really do need to try both! You can get your Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks with your meal or at one of several Butterbeer carts in the streets of Hogsmeade.

Get a Wand at Ollivanders

Get a wand at the Wizarding World of Harry PotterOllivanders is one of the many shops in Hogsmeade, but I have seperated it so you don’t miss it! As you will remember Ollivanders is where Harry (and all the great wizards!) get their wands. And now you can too.

You can either go straight into the store itself to purchase an exact replica wand of your favorite character or you can stand in line for a special experience where you have the opportunity for a wand to choose you. We recommend the latter just for the experience itself and to bring some real life magic alive for your kids.

Note that only one person is chosen per group so not everyone will get a wand chosen for them during the experience.The wand choosing ceremony lasts only a few minutes, but for huge harry Potter fans, this is a must do experience. Lines can get extremely long as the ceremony only takes about 20 people at a time, so make sure to go first thing in the morning if you plan to do this.

If you don’t get chosen and you don’t want to go through the line again, head into Ollivanders and find a staff member who is available to create your own personal wand choosing ceremony. The employee will ask your child lots of questions about themselves, returning with a few wands to choose from. Then the child is able to feel out each wand to find the one that “chooses” them. My son LOVED this and was so happy with his wand choice. TIP: Purchase an interactive wand as you will need it for the next item on the list.

Make Magic in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Make magic at the Wizarding World of Harry PotterOne of the biggest surprises for our son was the ability to do magic throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter part of the park. Once he was chosen by his wand, he set off to do magic around the 11 interactive points located at the park.

Interactive magic points at the Wizarding World of Harry PotterLook for these metal signals on the ground (or the crowds!) corresponding with different points on your map. My favorite was turning the lights on!

The beauty of the interactive wand is that it can be used here at Universal Studios Hollywood as well as the theme parks in Orlando and Osaka. For huge Harry Potter fans, it is easy to spend most of the day wandering around here practicing magic spells.

Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Hogwarts at the Wizarding World of Harry PotterWithout a doubt, the main attraction in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. The impressive Hogwarts building which we have eyed for years from the highway, towers over the park like a beacon. It is such a delight to see it up close and get to explore it.

The first part of this journey takes you on a walking tour through Hogwarts where you will see actual props and replicas from the films. Check out the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, Dumbledore’s office, and so much more. This is one of the few times you actually want to wait in line as the line is what takes you through Hogwarts.

Once you reach the end of the line, the actual ride begins. You will board an intense, but amazingly fun ride that is part roller coaster, part virtual reality with spectacular 3D technology in use. Hold onto your stuff as things fly around here!

[box]Note: You must store all of your belongings that cannot fit into your pocket in lockers before getting in line. Lockers are free and secured by your fingerprint. They are not very large though so try not to bring too much stuff with you![/box]

Flight of the Hippogriff

Hippogriff at Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hogwarts castle in “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood

The Flight of the Hippogriff is a great roller coaster for all ages. It is short, but fun. On the way, you will pass Hagrid’s Hut – pay close attention as you might hear all sorts of fun stuff! The line for this ride takes forever and it is a very fast ride (think 10 seconds!). We recommend you go first thing or towards the end of the evening. It is not worth a 45 min line. Set your Universal Studios app to let you know when the line is short.

Catch a Live Show

There are two different live shows in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Frog Choir and the Triwizard Spirit Rally. The shows occur throughout the day and are definitely worth catching. The performers are amazing and available for photos after each show, so get your cameras ready! If you don’t want to miss them, ask at the information desk or the “Information Person” just outside the Hogwarts entrance for the show times.

Eat at the Three Broomsticks

Eat at the Three Broomsticks at Wizarding World of Harry PotterBy far all reviews of Universal Studios Hollywood say that the best food at the park is here at The Three Broomsticks. Styled after an English Pub, it has great authentic pub food with the ever famous Butterbeer to accompany your meal! We tried the Ploughman’s meal which was not cheap, but was perfectly suited for our son, the fish and chips and the Shepherd’s pie. Even though the food doesn’t magically appear like in the books, everything was delicious!

Nightlights at Hogwarts

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
“The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle” at “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood.

One of the newest features at Universal Studios Hollywood is the new Nighttime Lights show. This show plays two or three times a night depending on the season with about 20 minutes wait between shows.  The first show of the evening is always the most packed, so try to stick around for the later showings. If you have downloaded the Universal Studios app, it will typically recommend going to the last show as it is the least crowded. The show is not held year round. If this is a must do, check the calendar to make sure it will be operating during your visit.

Are you excited now about your upcoming visit? I hope so! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is truly an amazing experience that any fan of the books (or movies) will love.  To read more about how to make the most of your day, check out our Universal Studios Hollywood tips for first timers. Otherwise, head over to Universal Studios Hollywood’s website to buy your tickets now!

Have you been to Universal Studios Hollywood? Was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter your favorite part too? Did we miss anything?

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Tips for visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood

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