It has been 2 months since our family decided to take off on a crazy weekend road trip to California for some theme park fun! Disneyland was of course a stop for us because this Disney mom could literally live there, however, my family also enjoys Harry Potter and so making a stop at Universal Studios Hollywood was a must!
We went on a Friday and got there about an hour after opening. Lines were long, the plaza was full and we were already a little overwhelmed and questioning if this was such a good idea. We walked in hungry, thirsty and ready to take on the day. We stopped and had some breakfast inside the parks, stopped by guest services to grab an accessibility pass because of my recent surgery and hit up the Shrek 3D experience as our first “ride”. After some food, drinks and fun, we walked the short distance to the place that we all had been so excited for!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You walk into “Harry Potter Land” right into Diagon Alley. It is everything you see on the movies and more. The shops are there, people are dressed as wizards from the various houses and everything is just so magical. Our first stop in HPL was Olivanders. Our kids were able to choose one souvenir from each park and the interactive wands were at the top of our list!
There are not many rides in Harry Potter Land. You can ride the very short and fast rollercoaster, “Flight of the Hippograff” which we enjoyed but I heard others say that it wasn’t worth the hour long wait. The coveted ride in HPL is “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”. The wait for this ride is worth it, as you are actually in Hogwarts, walking through the castle and seeing everything come to life in the castle as it does in the movie (aside from the staircases moving). We truly loved just experiencing all the interactive portions of the queue line but the ride, OMG, the ride was truly amazing. It is a 4D experience, but without 3D glasses and it really takes you through Harry Potter in an incredible and action packed adventure. We rode this ride twice and even though I probably should not have done that, I just could not pass up experiencing it for a second time.
We could not fully experience Harry Potter Land unless we had a frosty Butterbeer. We ordered two and although they were definitely sweet, they were also super tasty and hit the spot on a hot day! Although we did not eat a meal in this portion of the park, the snacks and drinks that we did have were great. I also loved that they had a fresh fruit cart out and other people seemed to love that as well as it was busy the entire day!
At the end of the night, you can catch a truly spectacular evening show that is projected on Hogwarts and highlights each of the houses. It is packed, but the viewpoints from around the castle are all good, we are told, and the show was so fun. People cheered as their favorite house was highlighted and the special effects were tremendous. I need to upload our video from it!
Now we didn’t spend our entire day at Universal Studios in Harry Potter Land. We did make sure to check out the rest of the park, take in some shows and do many other rides. One purchase that we did make were these reusable cups that you can refill all day. I do recommend these as it saved us a ton on drinks and we had no problem refilling them around the park.
Another thing that I really loved about Universal was that the character meet and greets were pretty centralized and very often throughout the day. The characters rotated through and were out about every 30-45 minutes, which meant it was easy to get photos with whoever the kids desired. We hit Spongebob, Poppy, the Minions, Transformers and even a Raptor with a very short wait time (were talking less than 5 minutes).
We really did have a fantastic time at Universal Studios Hollywood and I am sure we will go back. I think that we will likely wait until the kids are just a bit older and bigger because many of the rides that mommy and daddy wanted to ride, were just not right for our family just yet, so we spent a lot of time taking in little shows here and there and meeting characters and eating. Our day was great and we are very glad that we took a day to check out The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the rest of Universal Studios. This was definitely a short vacation to remember!