After six long hours of baking in the sun in front of Hogsmeade… The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened for guests to enjoy for the rest of the day. As it was ‘soft’ opened there are still tweaks that will be made… but let me start off with saying that the experience was already incredible! Immersive, exciting, and so intensely detailed you will discover amazing book and movie references in every direction you look. Let’s take a look!
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Let’s start with the phenomenal first part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where guests enter the area (if they use the main entrance, there’s a side entrance near the Studio Tour). Here’s the entryway arch you’ve seen in our many updates, but this time we venture through… First thing you’ll see is the steam-blowing Hogwarts Express and part of the station! Inside the station is a photo-op with the real interior set of the train used in the movies! Moving on just past that, is where Hogsmeade really seems to begin, and there’s two sides to the area. Besides that general information, the details are incredible. Pay close attention to every letter and every window, it’s all unique and looks magical. The area has many stores, some of which are connected with neighboring stores within. Here’s a look at Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, one of the many stores to sell wands and wands, and more wands! (Oh and ropes!). Though the image below is the same store as seen above, a great place to go for picking out a wand would be Ollivander’s, where the wand chooses the wizard in a small show-type experience. Be aware that the lines for that can be longer than for the actual rides (at least so it was today). Another store I’d like to highlight in Hogsmeade is Owl Post, where you can send actual letters that will have an exclusive Wizarding World of Harry Potter stamp on them! (I feel as if this is the ultimate tourist-thing to do: send letters back home making everyone jealous). Of course the Owl Post isn’t complete without OWLS! Just like any other store in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you need to just spend time going through them, seeing the amazing details. It’s an experience on its own. Another look at the stunning new land at Universal Studios Hollywood! Some guy I met (while waiting for Wizarding World to open) and I went to check out the Three Broomsticks restaurant located near the front of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is one heck of a cool restaurant! With special effects on the walls, and incredibly good food that came in large portions, this restaurant is definitely a ‘must’ on your magical adventure through Hogsmeade. And now it’s time for that infamous AMAZING BUTTERBEER! I wasn’t so sure if I was going to like a very sweet beverage, but I loved Butterbeer! I need more, and I will get more very soon! Next to the Three Broomsticks near the entrance of the area is Honey Dukes! You may have already heard of this candy store, that I literally wanted to just purchase as a whole and eat away all day. There’s a bunch of amazing looking fudge, candy from the books/films, and a whole lot more! Oh and if you’d rather eat your wand than use it like a wizard would, you can buy a chocolate wand here!
The Flight of the Hippogriff
Let’s take a look at the next awesome attraction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The MACK Family Coaster the Flight of the Hippogriff! The ride hasn’t gotten too much attention yet, but it’s actually a fun little family coaster. The trains are a bit tiny, but if adults position themselves well it should still be comfortable. There’s a test seat out front near the entrance of the line, so guests can make sure they’ll fit! 😀 The Flight of the Hippogriff is short and takes up very little space. The ride is very smooth and has a few surprise forces I wasn’t expecting. It’s a fun little ride overall, though it may not be worth a wait-time of over an hour. They are currently running the ride with two trains, which is the maximum for them. Though there is a third train being put together, so they can always run two trains, when one of the trains is out for refurbishment. The line is awesome, and since it passes close to the coaster, the theming around the coaster also compliments the line. My absolute favorite thing about this ride? The Hippogriff itself. Well, the animatronic Hippogriff that sits right next to the lift-hill! You’ll hear the movie-soundtrack where Hagrid explains how to gain the Hippogriff’s respect and trust, which is indicated by the Hippogriff bowing. Better make sure he bows before you head up the lift hill! Besides that very cool touch, the Flight of the Hippogriff is not the most amazing thing in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter of course… that would be… Hogwarts in the back!
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Within Hogwarts castle, guests will find one of the best Dark Rides ever created; Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! But before we head there, let’s admire the amazing looking Hogwarts castle! The view from below when you’re right about to enter Hogwarts! Here’s the view from the outside line through the ‘dark forest’. And here’s a sunset view from the front of the massive looking castle! But now… let’s venture into the castle. Which is the line for the Forbidden Journey ride! The line is incredibly well themed, with many rooms and parts of the castle as seen in the movies, the line alone is a unique experience. I won’t give too much away, as you’ll really want to explore Hogwarts, but let’s just say that awesome rooms like the one shown below are very common 😛
The Forbidden Journey Dark Ride itself is one of the best rides you’ll ever experience. With each vehicle being a 4-rider bench on a robotic arm, you can imagine you’re in for a real treat! While you fly through and around the castle on the ride, there’s a great amount of physical theming. In fact, the ride is mostly physical sets combined with very well transitioned ‘simulator’ like scenes. It’s hard to explain really, but one thing’s for sure, there’s no way you won’t thoroughly enjoy this magnificent ride!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a simply wonderful and truly magical new area at Universal Studios Hollywood! The atmosphere is great, the attractions are great, and the attention to detail and immersive feel are out of this world, and can only be found at the Wizarding World.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter officially opens April 7th, ’til then you may be able to catch a soft opening!
Thank you for joining me as I explored the Wizarding World of Harry Potter today, I’ll be back with a lot more in the near future! If you haven’t yet, check out our New Revolution backstage tour report!
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