I’ve always been a huge Harry Potter fan. When I heard that there would be a Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening up at the Universal Studios in Hollywood, I was thrilled! I didn’t have to book a flight to Orlando to see it!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood
I couldn’t wait to take the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade and on to Hogwarts. Universal truly brought the experience to life. My imagination was allowed to run wild, while also indulging in familiar experiences.
Having lived in Los Angeles for almost 20 years, going to Universal Studios is one of those places that we really visit when we have out-of-town guests rather than head there often on our own. But now that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has opened, that’s all about to change!
Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts Express
When we arrived, we headed straight to Hogsmeade. If you know the park, it’s on the right after the Shrek experience and before you get to the Simpsons (formerly the Back to the Future ride). We were greeted by the entrance to Hogsmeade. There’s a large gate that welcomes you to the attraction.
Once inside Hogsmeade, the first thing you see is the station for the Hogwarts Express. There’s a full size engine with full size luggage on display for you to take your photos. You can also take special photos inside the Hogwarts Express too for a fee.
After you leave the Hogwarts Express, you can wander around Hogsmeade to explore all the shops, try some butter beer, and enjoy some food. You can also go to Ollivander’s to experience a wand selecting a wizard –just know that the little ones typically get to do this, not us big kids. Nonetheless, it’s fun to watch.
You can visit the Weasley’s joke shop, Zonko’s, and enjoy some great snacks at the Three Broomsticks or Honeydukes. You can also find apparel for your cosplay needs at Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment, Gladrags Wizard Wear, and Dervish and Banges. Even Filch has an Emporium of Confiscated Goods. While you’re there, be sure to send an owl home from the Owl Post.
Entertainment in Hogsmeade
While you are visiting Hogsmeade, you can also enjoy live entertainment. There is a pavillion area for performers to put on small shows throughout the course of the day. We enjoyed performances from students at Beauxbatons and Durmstrang performing in the Triwizard Spirit Rally and listening to Hogwarts’ very own Frog Choir.
We decided to sip on some butterbeer while enjoying the shows. The butterbeer tasted a lot like a vanilla birthday cake with butter cream icing. It was a particularly hot day when we were there, so we enjoyed our butterbeer frozen. It was kind of like the consistency of a frozen margarita. Frankly, I think a spiked butterbeer cocktail would make an excellent adult beverage.
The Flight of the Hippogriff
The Flight of the Hippogriff is the open air rollercoaster at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s a fun, family friendly roller coaster. It sweeps past Hagrid’s hut, around Hogwarts’ pumpkin patch, and past the hippogriff’s nest. It’s a gentle yet fun coaster that’s ideal for the kids. You do have to be at least 39″ to ride.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Of course, the main attraction when visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It’s housed inside Hogwarts castle, and the outdoor line takes you around Mr. Weasley’s flying car and around the outside of the castle.
Once you get inside, you’ll be instructed to place your belongings in a locker. You will wind through several familiar rooms inside Hogwarts Castle. As you make your way to the ride, you’ll be taken to a room to line up for the next set of seats on the ride. The ride is a suspension roller coaster and it takes you through scenes from your favorite Harry Potter stories.
Once you are strapped in to your “broom,” get ready to follow Harry.
You’ll play quidditch, you’ll spend time with Dumbledore, you’ll see Hermione and Ron, and you’ll feel like you are soaring through the greatest hits of Harry’s adventures.
Is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter great for families?
Yes! It is the perfect place to take your family, particularly if you need some time to get away from being a muggle.
That said, there’s a lot to do inside Universal, and not all of it is ideal for babies. Especially because it can get really hot in the summertime. I’d recommend visiting with children 5 and up. They need to be tall enough to enjoy the rides – otherwise they might be disappointed if they don’t get to follow Harry around Hogwarts.
Universal has done a stellar job with the attraction, and I think it’s made the park a much more valuable experience to visit.
You may also enjoy reading our piece about why it’s great for children to read Harry Potter.