I had one thing on my mind as we entered the enchanted land of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood: Butterbeer. Ever since I read the Harry Potter books, I’ve been wanting to try this magical beverage and finally I had a chance because they serve it here three ways: Cold, Frozen and Hot.
But I was distracted as soon as we saw the Hogwarts Express conductor near the entrance to Hogsmeade, posing for cheery photos with guests, and had to have one for myself.
The Hogwarts Express, as I’m sure you know, is the train that brings student wizards to Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Students like Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger were all transported by this train into our hearts and imaginations when we read the Harry Potter books, and at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can experience the magic come to life.
The town of Hogsmeade is where wizarding students would go on weekends, and there was a magical candy store, a trick shop and of course, the Three Broomsticks – a pub which served up a wonderful concoction suitable for all called Butterbeer.
I’ve been imagining what Butterbeer would taste like for years, and I’d been talking about trying it ever since I knew Universal would open the theme park here in Los Angeles. Finally, here was my chance.
We got a hot and a cold Butterbeer – for comparison purposes only – and I must tell you my son loved it. I’m afraid it’s too sweet for me, sadly, since I find it tastes like melted ice cream in a cup. Quite delicious for most, but I’m an outlier who doesn’t love sweets the way I used to, so don’t let me dissuade you from trying it. It will, however, live on in my imagination.
And here’s a pro tip for the grownups: you can buy a Butterbeer and get a shot of booze at the Butterbeer Bar next door to the Three Broomsticks and have yourself a holiday cocktail. Not to mention you can get an entire meal of British deliciousness, like Bangers & Mash, Fish and Chips, or Shepherd’s Pie, just to name a few.
The Harry Potter Look and Feel
The design and décor at the Wizarding World is really beautiful and you feel like you’re in a snow-capped mountain town, albeit one from a book. It’s very fun to walk around and look at all the little touches they’ve added.
There are several shops, including Honeydukes, the candy shop from the books, Ollivander’s wand shop and of course a couple of gift shops. Plenty of people were dressed in costume on the day we visited, which was really fun to see. And there are spots sprinkled around Hogsmeade where you can use your wand to make something magic happen in one of the store windows.
Speaking of wands, the Ollivander’s Wand Experience was one of the highlights of the day. You’re ushered into the wand shop and one lucky kid is picked from the crowd to get to choose a wand. Of course, as we all know from reading the books, the wand chooses the wizard and not the other way around, which becomes clear in the experience as well. It was delightfully done and we thought it was worth the wait for sure.
There are a couple of rides in the Wizarding World. There’s a family-friendly roller coaster called the Flight of the Hippogriff, and there’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. We sampled this ride, which is a trip. After a stroll through the Castle, taking a peek at the classrooms where magic is taught, you’ll get to the ride entrance. Half virtual ride and half moving, you’ll feel as if you’re flying on a broomstick all around Hogwarts Castle, into the forest and you’ll even get chased by Dementors at one point. It’s very fun, although not suitable for everyone. Take advantage of the test seat near the entrance before deciding if this ride is for you.
The experience at the Wizarding World is rounded out with attractions like the Frog Choir singing for the crowd and the TriWizard Tournament Spirit Rally. My family was occupied for hours and we enjoyed every minute.
Universal Studios, Too
Don’t forget that when you come to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you’re also at the world famous Universal Studios Hollywood, with a long list of rides and attractions to enjoy as well. I predict you’ll find plenty to do!
Sarah Auerswald is the co-Founder of MomsLA.com, your source for terrific Things To Do in Los Angeles with Kids. Her family was given complimentary tickets to the park in order to write this review. All opinions are her own.