Monday, June 13, 2016

9 3/4 Things to Do in The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

This summer has been pretty great. And our trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Hollywood was nothing short of magical. Literally. I will be sharing more details about our trip and how it went down with a baby (teaser: she did great), but for now, I want to share 9 3/4 things that you absolutely can't miss when visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood. (9 3/4... see what I did there? It's really just 10... but how boring does that sound? This is Harry Potter World we're talking about here).

Harry Potter World Universal Studios Hollywood

Brad and I feel like we grew up with Harry. We started reading the books in third grade. We were eight years old at the time... only three years away from the magical age of eleven. I don't think we were alone in secretly hoping that we might receive that wonderful letter by owl when we reached our eleventh birthdays. And even though we didn't get that magical letter, we loved our journey through the magical world, accompanying Harry Potter along the way. When we closed the cover of the final book, we were in the summer before our final year of High School. So you see why we feel like we grew up with Harry. From true friendships to disappointment, teenage angst to learning and maturing, Harry was right there with us.

Now for those of you who are like us... slightly sad that you never received a letter from Hogwarts, you will be glad to know that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Hollywood is everything you ever hoped for. You will enter a magical world and leave feeling that you're actually leaving those magical grounds. So from two Harry Potter nuts, take our advice. These are the ten things you just can't miss out on when you visit WWHP Hollywood. 

1. Explore the Castle--Take Your Time
The castle was probably the most exciting part of the day for me. You will automatically visit the castle if you want to ride HP and the Forbidden Journey. But if you are only caught up in the ride, you will miss quite the experience on your way through. We literally let people pass us in line because we weren't done looking at certain things. It seriously felt like we were really in the school. I could picture the students going from class to class, lessons on the grounds, and the like. We even spotted a few Hogwarts students along the way.

Hogwarts The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

 It's very dark inside, so pictures are tough.

 Perhaps you will see your greatest desire. 

The greenhouses were awesome. Spotting some Mandrakes made it all the more real.

2. Fly Away on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Which leads me to the ride itself. After exploring the castle, you will end up in the main attraction of the WWHP: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I had never been on a ride quite like this one. It was fun, slightly intense, and put you right in the action of it all. I jokingly told Brad going in to the park that I wanted to catch a Golden Snitch... little did I know I would actually get to try! This ride is definitely worth the wait.

3. Drink a Butterbeer... or Two or Three
I don't usually like soda, so I didn't think I would care for the stuff. But after reading about the famed drink for years and years, I had to try! We bought a regular and a frozen version (both are non-alcoholic), and let me tell you, they were amazing. Don't miss our on the butterbeer. You can drink them in the three broomsticks, or grab them from carts outside (which will cut down on your wait time).

4. Eat In the Three Broomsticks

I'm usually one to be all about picnicing it when it comes to theme parks. I mean, the food is generally outrageously expensive and mediocre at best. But when it comes to WWHP, you just have to splurge and eat in The Three Broomsticks. First of all, Universal Studios is pretty stingy about what food items they allow in the park. Secondly, It's really less about the food and more about the experience. I seriously felt like I might see Hagrid walking in for some Fire Whisky at any moment. If you've read the books and know how awesome The Three Broomsticks is, you just can't miss out on eating there yourself.

 And the food is actually really good! Especially for theme park food. We wanted to go with something nice and British, so we chose the fish and chip platter and the beef Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding. Both were delicious. We would especially recommend the roast. So good!

If you don't want to fork out the money for an entire meal in the three broomsticks, please just eat dessert! You will still get the experience of dining inside the of the famed pub, and you won't miss our favorite treat of the day: Butterbeer Potted Cream. Seriously. So. Good. It was a rich and delicious butterscotch style pudding. You thought I was gushing over the butterbeer? Well I would choose the potted cream version over the drinks any day. Don't miss it!

5. Send a Note by Owl
The Owlery is a must see for me. They seriously got every detail, including owl droppings on the floor. The workers will even post mark your letter with a stamp from Hogsmeade. Here's a little bonus tip: They will stamp any kind of paper for you (they won't stamp skin though, so don't bother asking for a hand stamp), so take your own paper, stationary, envelopes, etc. And it's totally free to get the stamp! You can't beat such an awesome souvenir at just the right price. You can also mail your letter directly from Hogsmeade, but I would suggest bringing your own stamps... they only sell HP stamps at a very steep price. Which is why the post cards we bought still haven't been mailed... oops.

6. Check out Hagrid's Hut: Flight of the Hipogriff 
Flight of the Hipogriff isn't the best ride in the world, but waiting in line for it is the only way to get a close up of Hagrid's cabin. The ride is cute enough, but I may not wait for it were it not for Hagrid's cabin. Hagrid's hut makes it all worth it.

7. Take a Ride on the Hogwarts Express
Pictures inside the train are available for purchase only, but anyone can take a picture with the conductor outside. He is so much fun, welcoming you to Hogsmeade and commenting on all there is to do in the village. A highlight of the day was when I brought out my big girl camera and he asked everyone to clear away for the Daily Prophet Photographer. Seriously awesome! Now I just need to get in contact with Rita Skeeter...

Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter

As for the pictures inside, I thought it was a little spendy. But even if you don't buy the pictures, you can go inside and put on props from the different houses and at least have the experience of it all. 

8. Experience Olivanders
The wand literally chooses the wizard. And you might just be the lucky one that is chosen! I loved that Olivanders was just like I pictured it. The wands were perched precariously on top of each other with very little organization, the shop was dusty and dark, and it all just felt so real. Here's a little tip: if you aren't one of the very first people in line, maybe wait it out a bit. We got there about an hour after the park had opened, and the wait was 90 minutes. We waited until after lunch time and waited 30 minutes. During peek season, it's probably not going to get any shorted. But on our Wednesday in April, we were glad that we waited until the line died down a bit. The wait is so long because it's really an experience. A small group of 15-20 is taken in at a time to meet with a wand maker. The wand maker selects one lucky individual to receive a wand. After that, the group is free to shop and browse in the next room over. We ended up not buying a wand (we had every intention of doing so, but changed our minds last minutes) because the experience of it was enough for us. 

9. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth in Honeydukes

Honeydukes Wizarding World of Harry Potter

 If you don't have time to visit all of the little shops, choose Honeydukes over the rest. It is adorable! Honeydukes was probably Brad's favorite part of the day. It was exactly how he had pictured it. They have all of the big name treats from the books: Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, Fizzing Whizzbees, Chocolate Frogs, Cauldron Cakes, and more. We could have spent hours just looking at all the fun treats.

Honeydukes Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Honeydukes Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Honeydukes Wizarding world of Harry Potter

Honeydukes the wizarding world of Harry Potter

It would have been easy to buy all sorts of goodies, but we settled on a chocolate frog.
Chocolate Frog Honeydukes Wizarding world of Harry Potter

10. Take Time to Watch the Magic of it All
If you are just buzzing from one thing to another, there is a lot you will miss in the WWHP Hollywood. We enjoyed time just strolling the streets and watching the magic around us. The workers generally refer to park goers as Muggles, and will even make comments about muggle money. You can catch the sounds of Moaning Myrtle in the bathrooms. Interactive wands make magic happen in the shop windows. And the excitement of it all makes for a truly magical experience. Try not to treat the Wizarding World of Harry Potter like other theme parks. Instead of running from attraction to attraction, think of yourself as vacationing in Hogsmeade. Slow down and enjoy the experience.

Hogsmeade wizarding world of Harry Potter

So there you have it. My 10 must do's of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood. Now, there is sooo much more that you could do and see. And we did! But we visited the park on a Wednesday in April when the crowds were minimal. Which means we did pretty much everything there was to do. But if I was on a time crunch, these are the things that I absolutely wouldn't miss. Stay tuned for more magical possibilities in future posts including a frog chorus, shopping experiences, photo opps, Zonkos Joke Shop, and the like.  If you make the trip, let me know what you think! It's absolutely worth it my book.

Hogwarts The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal studios Hollywood.


  1. Your pictures inside Honeydukes are amazing! This just makes me want to go back. I feel like I grew up with HP too... the first book came out when I was in 4th grade. I felt like I lived the years with the characters. Such a magical place!

    1. It really is so magical! Capturing Honeydukes was so much fun. We definitely plan on going back!

  2. I can't wait to go!!!! My friend just got back and she said it was everything she'd ever dreamed it would be!

    1. It really was! We loved it. It was like the books came to life!

  3. This list is SO helpful! Thank you! My husband and I cant wait to go on August 8th!

    1. I'm so glad it was helpful! I'm super jealous that you're going so soon! We want to go back! I'd love to hear about your trip!

  4. Your post was very helpful for this Harry Potter novice. We used many of your tips to maximize our fun in WWHP but just a note for your readers, if your kiddo is the ‘lucky’ one to be chosen for the wand experience just know and be prepared to shell out the $50 for the wand. It was a pretty magical experience but we nearly choked on the price tag, as we didn’t realize that getting chosen only meant you get the experience but have to shell out the cash for the wand! And what meanie parent says no after all that ��


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