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Reflecting back on my trip to Walt Disney World, also sparked my memories of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Last year I organized a meetup of Harry Potter cosplayers to hang out at the Universal Studios park based in Los Angeles, CA. The Hollywood park is smaller than the Orlando park, but it is no less magical. And you don’t have to travel all the way to the UK just to feel the Potterhead spirit! A number of friends, myself included, bought the season pass because of the Harry Potter addition.
Cosplayers at Universal Studios
The Wizarding World has really rejuvenated the park for a lot of visitors, especially those who cosplay. Unlike Disney, Universal Studios has less regulations on what you can wear to the parks. It’s really lovely how they have embraced the cosplay community. There are a number of groups who regularly meetup at the park, one such group is the Hogsmeade Weekenders.
Hogwarts a History
After the successful debut of the Harry Potter franchise at the Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios announced the construction of a second Wizarding World of Harry Potter on December 6, 2011. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood officially began operation on April 7, 2016. When the park first opened I’m told it was packed! Now almost three years later it is less busy. I’m not saying there won’t be any wait for rides, but it’s not someplace you’ll be in line ALL day for either. My recommendation would be to do this part of the park in the afternoon to see it in the day and then shortly after in the evening. Hogwarts all lit up is simply magical!
A Magical Ride with Harry Potter
The rides on offer are Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. The Forbidden Journey is highly enjoyable! The Flight of the Hippogriff is cute, but geared more towards a younger audience. Just because there isn’t a ton of rides, doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to do.
Hogsmeade Village at the Wizarding World
What really sets the area apart is its decor. Hogsmeade village is magical! I really enjoyed eating at the Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head Pub with the other cosplayers. There is tons of seating within the building, as well as in the back. If you sit in the back you get an excellent view of Hogwarts! You cannot leave the Wizarding World without tasting Butterbeer! It comes in frozen, cold, and hot. I believe the hot Butterbeer may only be in the winter seasons, but they may have changed that by now. I liked the cold the best as the frozen tasted too sweet to me. After grabbing a cup, wander around the shops and see all the marvelous merchandise and sweets for sale. I would not advise buying the pumpkin juice, it wasn’t great.
Food & Shops
- The Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head Pub
- Ollivander’s Wand Shop
- Owl Post
- Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment
- Gladrags Wizardwear
- Dervish and Banges
- Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods
Wands for Witches and Wizards
Whether or not you buy a wand at Ollivander’s Wand Shop, you can still experience the wand choosing ceremony. It is a lovely experience, especially if you are bringing children. Wands purchased from Ollivander’s Wand Shop can be used to do “magic”. While performing different “spells” from Harry Potter, you can produce different reactions, such as unlocking a cabinet or opening a box of candy throughout the park.
Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle
In the past year, Universal Studios Hollywood has added a fireworks show to the Wizarding World. The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle celebrates the four Hogwarts houses. It is a spectacle of dazzling lights, music, and fireworks! It isn’t a long show, so if you’re bringing children don’t worry about it being late by the end of it. As the name states, it does go on at night so see one of the earlier shows if you want to leave earlier for the little ones. The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle isn’t currently running, but it will return for select dates in 2019. Make sure to check the Universal Studios site for dates.