We are excited to share this guest post from Kimberly at Get Away Today Vacations! She recently returned from Universal Studios Hollywood where she got the scoop on all things Harry Potter! Kimberly lives in Utah and loves traveling everywhere – but mostly Southern California – with her husband and two young sons.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has officially been open at Universal Studios Hollywood for just over a month and has been bringing joy to muggles on the west coast ever since. This new land is a welcomed addition to California. Although smaller than its sister park in Florida, “our” version of the park is just as detailed and just as magical.
Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to know for your trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood:
I’m lumping Hogsmeade together as one feature, because it really is an experience in and of itself. When you enter the park, you’ll step right into the cobblestone streets of Hogsmeade where you’ll find meticulous details from the books in every nook and cranny. There are actual shops that you can visit mixed with interactive store fronts.
There’s an Owl Post where you can send a letter postmarked from Hogsmeade. I would recommend purchasing your own stamps in advance, as a sheet of 10 is $15. It is incredibly charming.
This is one of the shops in the Hogsmeade line-up, but it offers a special experience that is definitely worth mentioning on its own. You can either go straight into the shop where you can purchase an exact replica of your favorite character’s wand, or you can first go to a wand ceremony where a wand chooses a wizard.
The actual ceremony only lasts a few minutes and each “show” only holds about 20 guests at a time. Because the ceremony is so intimate, it’s not a high capacity attraction and lines can get long. If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan, I would recommend getting there first thing in the morning before lines get too crazy.
There are two different live shows, the Frog Choir and the Triwizard Spirit Rally. The shows rotate throughout the day and are both so much fun. They completely add to the atmosphere of the Wizarding World, the performers are amazing and available for photos after each show.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
There’s no question that the main feature is Hogwarts, which towers over the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s actually more like two attractions in one. First, you’ll take a tour through Hogwarts where you’ll see actual props and exact replicas from the films. You’ll see the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom, Dumbledor’s office, the Griffyndor common room and so much more. It was actually my favorite part of the land! Once your tour of Hogwarts concludes, you’ll board Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, an intense ride that feels like part virtual reality and part roller coaster. If you’ve been to Florida, you should know that this version is even more realistic with 3D and HD technology.
Flight of the Hippogriff
This outdoor rollercoaster is a perfect “first” rollercoaster, and is a short, but surprisingly fun ride. Not only was it fun to ride, but the queue to get there was so well themed. You’ll wander right past Hagrid’s Hut where you’ll see and hear all sorts of surprises.
You may say that I saved the best for last. There is one restaurant, The Three Broomsticks, that is styled after an English Pub. Everything I’ve had from there has been delicious… I highly recommend the eggy bread (French toast) for breakfast, chicken or prime rib for lunch or dinner, and the Butterbeer potted crème for dessert.
The most popular food item at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is without doubt the Butterbeer, and for good reason. You can currently find Butterbeer in two forms “regular,” which is like a soda, or frozen, which is my personal favorite. It can be purchased as part of your meal at the Three Broomsticks, at the Butterbeer Cart in the streets of Hogsmeade, or from the bar counter at the Hog’s Head, which is connected to the Three Broomsticks, but oftentimes has a much shorter line since there are no actual food items sold there.
I hope this gets you excited about visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which truly is an experience any fan of the series will not want to miss. To make the most of your day, I recommend getting there as early as possible. Also, you should be aware that Universal Studios recently changed their pricing structure, so some days are more expensive (and crowded) than others. To save the most and have the fewest crowds, you’ll want to try to plan your visit during the week and non-peak travel times.
Use the ticket calendar at getawaytoday.com to find out when you can save the most on your tickets. You can book your package online or call Get Away Today at 855-GET-AWAY. Make sure to use promo code: FamilyTrips to save an extra $10 on your 2-night or longer Southern California vacation.