I put off writing this for so long that I wasn’t going to bother posting it anymore. But what better way to celebrate JKR and Harry’s birthday than sharing some magic? This experience meant so much to me which is why I haven’t been able to just sit and write it out. But, here’s me trying to share my first time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The Wizarding World in Hollywood opened over a year ago today, and how I planned to be one of the first people to step into Hogsmeade but life had other plans and instead I went the day Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them released in theaters with a bunch of Potterheads known as the Los Angeles Dumbledore’s Army. This fan made group created an event which called for going to the WWoHP dressed up in 1920’s garb following an IMAX screening of Fantastic Beasts in CityWalk. Honestly, there was no better way to experience this place for the first time than with people who are just as passionate about HP. If you’re a Potterhead living in or near LA I definitely recommend you join the group as they always have fun HP related events going on!
So, here we go! Yes, I cried. Not upon the first steps walking in. Surprisingly, I kept my cool up until I reached the castle. This was the place that had filled my imagination and dreams as a kid. The place I always longed to escape to when times got hard. And now I could physically step into it. It was like the moment in The Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry gets his wand and there was that dramatic gush of wind, music, and spotlight. I was home.
After the initial shock wore off, my sister and I set to scope out every corner of Hogsmeade and to be honest, it didn’t take long. The Wizarding World in Hollywood is small. I’ve never been to the one in Florida but I know theirs is much bigger. All the same, Universal Studios Hollywood provides the same careful craft of making you feel completely immersed in the world JKR created.
There are two rides: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. Both are a great time and I’m a bigger fan of Forbidden Journey now that it is no longer 3D (made one a little sick before). It’s a great thrill ride and I get to see beautiful and pure Harry playing Quidditch as if I were flying right beside him. This ride is located inside the castle which is the piece de resistance. As you wait in line, you get to see the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office and so much more. Although I have not done so myself, I believe you can just do a walk through of the castle instead of waiting in the queue for the ride. I won’t give more away in case you’re waiting to see and ride it for yourself. Flight of the Hippogriff’s only flaw is that it’s TOO short. But if the wait isn’t bad, I still recommend you go on it. You get to meet Buckbeak just don’t forget your manners and bow.
After riding both rides, my sister and I ate at the Three Broomsticks for lunch. I had the ribs platter with corn on the cob and potatoes. So good! The atmosphere in here is straight out of the movie with its rustic aesthetic. There is plenty of seating both inside and outside the restaurant and both views are enchanting as you have the wonderful view of Hogwarts outside. On the rare occasions I visit the park by myself, I take my journal, order a butterbeer and just write on one of the tables outside. These moments truly make me feel like a Hogwarts student. Oh, and since I brought it up, let me just say, butterbeer is amazing!
Bellies full, we decided to walk through all the shops. Bad idea for my weak resistance of pretty things. Obviously, I wanted to buy everything! For whatever reason, I didn’t do as much damage as I could have that day. But, I did indulge myself in buying Harry’s wand, a chocolate frog, and a few pins. I was upset they didn’t offer my Pottermore chosen wand so I’m holding out, hoping they come out with more types of wands in the future.
After catching the Triwizard Spirit Rally & the Hogwarts Frog Choir (both great shows my personal favorite is the Frog Choir – ♫ Move your body like a hairy troll, learning to rock and roll spin around like a crazy elf dancing by himself ♫ ), it was time to watch Fantastic Beast and if the whole day wasn’t magical enough the film was just as dazzling. I can’t wait for the next one! The Wizarding World in Hollywood a wonderful escape from the Muggle world. I can’t help but awe each time I visit like it was the first time. It’s overwhelming for sure if you have grown up with Harry Potter. And now thinking about how it’s been 20 years since the Philosopher’s Stone released I can’t help but feel even more nostalgic. Happy birthday Joanne Rowling and the Harry Potter!
“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen (or theme park), Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”