I WENT TO THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER IN UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD!!!!!
I’ve wanted to go there for such a long time and this summer, I finally went!! It was the absolute perfect way to end the summer and I’m still giddy with happiness when I think back to it!! It was one of the best experiences of my life and I wanted to write down and document every moment so I don’t forget a moment of it, and wanted to share it all here, along with a few tips if anyone is planning to go!!
I actually wrote this post chronicling my day and it ended up being more than 3,000 words!!! So I decided to split this post in two, and will be publishing the next part in a week!
Probably nobody will actually care to read this long ramble, but honestly it’s mostly for myself, a sort of diary post because it was the perfect day and I never want to forget even a tiny detail!
About The Park
If you don’t know, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is part of Universal Studios Hollywood! (There is also a version in Florida, but I went to the Hollywood version!). The amazing people have built Hogsmeade, and once you walk through it to the end, you get to the amazing, iconic, legendary HOGWARTS CASTLE!! The park has two rides, along with an assortment of shops and other goodies for Potterheads to love!
Unfortunately, since it’s part of Universal Studios Hollywood, it’s rather expensive; it was $100 each when I went, which was in September, down season, and in peak season (summer and winter), it can go up to $135! I wish I could have gone to just Hogsmeade for cheaper, but unfortunately you have to get a ticket to the whole park.
We were there for eight hours, from opening to closing, and spent a little under half of that time in Hogsmeade. During the rest of the time, I experienced other rides and shows, my favorites being the Studio Tour and Animal Actors show. I didn’t do everything as the Wizarding World was definitely my priority! It was more important to ride the Harry Potter ride four times than ride Jurassic Park or Simpsons for me haha, but the park is small and if you’re not a gigantic Potterhead, it’s definitely possible to do everything in one day.
Once we arrived, I motored straight towards Hogsmeade! I didn’t strictly know where I was going because I didn’t want to delay my arrival by one second that it might take to read the park map, but blasted forwards until I saw… the gorgeous, quaint, snow capped roofs of Hogsmeade rising above other buildings! I dashed forwards to the archway leading to Hogsmeade, looked through it and saw the amazing town and the towering castle rising above it in the back!!
By this point, I was literally bouncing around on my toes!! I was jumping, skipping around, an eighteen year old reverted to my eight year old self, giddy with excitement! I was dashing around between my parents and brother who were there with me, shouting out look! It’s Hogsmeade!!! It’s Hogwarts!! Upon entering, I was literally screaming! Look, it’s Honeydukes! Zonkos! The Hogwarts Express!!
And indeed the Hogwarts express is right at the entrance, along with a friendly conductor! I headed there immediately to get a photo with him!! Then we raced along the streets. “Raced” being a subjective term because I was literally jumping and bouncing and screaming and skipping and running, so eager to see it, but also stopping every ten seconds to take photos, both selfies and pictures my parents took of me, and also photos without me of the amazing town!!
I was so excited by everything as I rushed through it, but I had a goal! And soon we reached it: Hogwarts!! Upon seeing Hogwarts… I literally teared up. I had tears in my eyes, I was literally crying because it was everything, the absolute world to me, to see this amazing castle that means so much to me right in front of my very eyes.
After taking a million pictures, we headed off to the ride contained inside the castle: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey
But first, the line! Often standing in lines is irksome, but this line was absolutely incredible! The line passes through iconic locations and I was stopping every five seconds to shout out look at that!! Until my parents told me to be quiet because I was screaming, but hey, I was excited!!
Unfortunately, the ride is so intense that there are lockers to store your belongings so they don’t fall out in the ride. I stored my phone so I didn’t get to take photos of the line, but the amazing sets live on in my mind!! A few of the incredible things I saw were:
- The Mirror Of Erised! Although I just saw myself as I was, so I guess my heart desires nothing more than to be in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!
- The house point counters! I loved these since they aren’t in the movies!! Of course Gryffindor was winning, and unfortunately Ravenclaw was loosing, but it was still amazing to see.
- The greenhouse! Complete with Mandrakes in their pots!
- The Fat Lady! She was holding her goblet that she held in the third movie, and moving to look at all of us looking at her!
- The portrait halls of Hogwarts! There were so many moving portraits way up high to the sky!
- The Defense Against The Dark Arts Classroom! It looked just like the movies, and there was even a blackboard informing students about dementors… shout EXPECTO PATRONUM! I also spotted the Golden Trio here, talking to us Muggle park visitors about getting away from boring lectures.
- Dumbledore’s office! First we saw the amazing doorway, then we saw the actual office with all of his crazy artifacts, such as the Pensive, and the headmaster himself talking to us about the ride!
- The Gryffindor Common Room! There were armchairs, the fire, tapestries, and the stairways leading up to the dormitories, all decked out in red and gold!
- The sorting hat! It was up high, talking!
And then we finally reached the ride! And let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint!
We entered the Great Hall, complete with what seemed like millions of floating candles in the ceiling! I know there were probably strings or something but it really felt like they were floating!! We boarded our enchanted park benches, which seated four each so were perfect for my family, and then we were flying!!
The ride was a seriously incredible experience! I’m not even sure what was happening and how much we actually moved. It was a motion simulator I believe, not a roller coaster but at some points when we were following Harry on his broom it felt like one! The enchanted benches fly, shake side and side and at one point go almost completely upside down! (Maybe my favorite part!) We experienced things such as the gigantic spiders from the forbidden forest (the worst for me ack I hate spiders!), dementors (they were terrifying I thought they would really suck out my soul!), a dragon breathing fire with real heat, a quidditch match, and more! The ride combines recorded videos on screens, such as of Harry flying, and actual practical sets! It was totally immersive and amazing!
When we arrived back at the Great Hall, with Dumbledore telling us to make sure we retrieved our stowed belongings lest Mr. Filch confiscate them, I had I gigantic smile on my face as I turned to my family and shouted: “That was amazing! I loved it!!!”
In fact, I loved it so much that I went back and rode it three more times that day, a total of four times! After the first time through the line, I took the single rider line and literally walked on the ride. There was zero line! If you’re going, you definitely have to take the normal line at least once to see everything, but after that you should take single rider since the ride is so intense it’s not like you’ll be talking to the people you’re riding with anyways.
Also, if you’re prone to motion sickness, be cautious of this ride. A couple of my family members get motion sick and said they had to close their eyes during parts of the ride, and they also didn’t ride it over and over again like me. They still enjoyed it though, to do once!!
Flight Of The Hippogriff
After I did Forbidden Journey three times, we headed off to Flight Of The Hippogriff. This is a small roller coaster, it felt only about 30 seconds long. It’s still worth it though, if for no other reason than the fact that as it goes up, you get an amazing bird’s eye view of Hogwarts!! It was so amazing too see that iconic castle from up in the air, swooping past it!
The ride is in cute little Hippogriff shaped cars, and as it went up right at the beginning there was even an animatronic, life sized Buckbeak! Hagrid’s voice came on, telling us to bow, which I definitely did because you definitely don’t want to get on the bad side of one of those things, Malfoy.
The line for this one is also great! It passes gigantic pumpkins, Hagrid’s motorbike and sidecar (although it used to be Sirius’s!), and best of all, Hagrid’s cottage! I really felt like I was transported to Hagrid’s!
Even better was that I ended up riding in the front row! This was just sheer luck and it was amazing, a bit of magic to make my day amazing!!
Have you ever been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Are you a huge Potterhead? Which room of Hogwarts would you most like to visit? (My favorite was probably either the Griffyndor common room because hello iconic seeing the place where the golden trio hung out so much, or the Great Hall because seeing those flying candles overhead was absolutely breaktaking!) I’d love to chat in the comments below!
*I took all the images in this post, including the header image