We just got back from Universal Studios Hollywood. It was amazing! We went mainly for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened in April of 2016.
WOW does not even start to cover it! Once we were inside the Universal Studios park, it was all I could do to make my 4 teens walk. They wanted to flat out sprint to Hogsmeade. They simply could NOT wait to be there. To touch the walls of Harry Potter’s world. Here’s proof, I’m not joking! I know, it sounds silly, but it was so important. I am sure that the passer-bys thought we were nuts!
We went straight for Hogwarts Castle. We didn’t waste anytime. We NEEDED to see it, close up and personal. Of course, we were taking pictures just as fast our fingers could hit the button, we were so excited.
You walk up to Hogwarts itself and you see the sign. But then it morphs into “The Forbidden Journey” and you are immediately swept into a VERY REAL world of wizardry. (That is my 13 year old daughter, she is in the Hufflepuff house as you can clearly see.) Your first trip is through Professor Sprout’s greenhouse. Complete with crying Mandrakes! Even the sidewalks looked old and used. Which is super authentic since supposedly Hogwarts has been around since the 10th Century.
Even when you are standing in line, it is like you are on the ride itself. The castle is so authentic. So like the movies AND the books. Which the geek in me truly appreciated! To see things that I’ve only read about because they weren’t included in the movies was such a treat. It was simply amazing. From statues that would hide the openings to hidden corridors, to movie props, to items mentioned in the books. The atmosphere was TRULY HARRY POTTER WORLD.
Please understand, they asked for no flash photography and I was taking pictures on my phone trying not to hold up the line. But here it is…Oh! I wish I were there again. The attention to detail was astounding, the sounds were stupendous, and the props were perfect.
What you see and experience INSIDE Hogwarts Castle of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood will make you want to go again and again.
As you walk through the halls of Hogwarts, which also the line to the actual ride, you see so many things. You are completely immersed in the ambiance. You pace by the Potions Storeroom…looking for Professor Snape maybe? You see the window that ‘cried’ from movie, and you can look into the Pensieve, trying to see a memory or two.
There are even a couple of the statues that George and Fred Weasley and Harry used to sneak out of the castle. The hunchback, the one-eyed witch, the statue that has all four houses’ mascot animals. Even the tapestry that hid a secret staircase is there. All you need is the Marauder’s Map…..hmmm, where can it be?
There is also the Hall of Paintings. And YES THEY MOVE!!!! They talk to each other, cheer for other subjects, and quarrel with each other. And when it is dark out side, THEY ALL HAVE CLOSED EYES! How did they do that? I don’t know, but it was amazing. We rode this ride twice, one in the afternoon, once at night. That is how we know. And we are so impressed!
Each of the Founding People of Hogwarts had in their portrait, their special object from the movies and books. Salazar Slythern was wearing his locket. Helga Hufflepuff was holding her cup. Rowena Ravenclaw was wearing her diadem. And Godric Gryffindor was holding the sword of Gryffindor. The four were arguing over Harry Potter and if he will be as great as the other thought.
Other portraits lined the walls. They, too, talked and moved. Not all, but a good handful of them. All of this is happening while you are STILL in line for the actual ride. So far it doesn’t feel like you’ve been in line at all, because you are so entertained and amazed.
Now, you are deep in the castle, moving toward the Defense Against The Dark Arts Room. And boy is it dark (pictures didn’t turn out so well) and boy, is it straight out of the movies! Harry, Ron, and Hermione show up from under the invisibility cloak and tell us we must get to the Quidditch Pitch. You are now close to the Great Room and actually getting on the ride. You will see the entrance into Dumbledor’s Office. (We tried every password we could remember, nothing happened). And you will see the house points counter. From this picture it looks like Gryffindor is just a bit ahead of Slytherin. Sorry Slytherin, no house cup for you!
Harry, Ron, and Hermione come out and to tell us that they have a plan to get us all to the Quidditch Pitch….via the Floo Network!
From here you enter the Great Hall. All the lights look like they are floating and that the ceiling is bewitched. It is quite the illusion. There is a moving sidewalk and you board the ride.
When you are on the first thing that happens is that Hermione comes and sprinkles Floo powder on you and you are whisked away on an amazing, dare I say forbidden, journey. The dark forest is full of spiders and other dark creatures. I yelled and yelled ‘ARANIA EXUMIA’ at the attack of the Acromentula. I do NOT like spiders. Especially when they spit on you. But where I really lost my voice was where we faced the Dementors! Complete with lights that look like they are trying to give you the ‘Dementor’s kiss.’ Screaming ‘Expecto Patronum’ takes a lot out of person ya know. Then we faced the Whomping Willow. We ducked, we dodged, we flew like mad people! It was crazy! We go through other parts of the movies and books, and then we are at the Quidditch Pitch. We ride along with Harry, fighting Draco for the Golden Snitch!
You continue, and as the ride comes to the end you fly through the outer parts of Hogwarts where all your favorite characters applaud you and celebrate you. It is so neat to see those familiar faces waving and smiling at you, especially after facing those darn spiders!
As you walk out of the ride you come into the most adorable shop. It is full of amazing things and props from the movies. Look up, look down, look all around. Don’t miss a thing.
And look what I found there….and it actually had moving foot steps and people’s names.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS RIDE. But hold your small child’s hand. The Dark Forest is a bit scary. My 4 teens loved it, even my not so brave one that won’t go on roller coasters. So, please have your kids and you read the books and watch the movies, there are links in the post, and then GO to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Hollywood. Click on ANY picture for a GREAT deal! You will NOT regret it!
Until next time….