I vividly remember the first time I read Harry Potter; I was 10 years old and my mom and I read it together (I even made her do the accents when she read haha). I was instantly hooked and every couple years as the next book would come out, I devoured it in days. I grew up with Harry Potter. I was 18 years old and a freshman in college when the last book was published. I stayed up until 2 AM to finish the book, crying partly because of the story but also because it was ending. It felt like a chapter of my life (a very long chapter) was closing, which I felt even more acutely when the final movie came out. I’ve since read all of the books over again and watched the movies countless times. I’m so excited to introduce these books, which I believe had a huge influence on my love of reading, to my own children one day. I’m definitely a Harry Potter nerd and proud of it! 🙂
When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened up at Universal Studios Hollywood I could not have been more excited. I didn’t think I would make it out to Florida anytime soon so this was a big deal. My family visited in May and my brother, sister, brother-in-law, his sister, and I (all big fans) finally got to visit the park.
The park isn’t all that big, as it is only a section of the larger Universal Studios but it was pretty magical. As you walk in, it feels like you’re in (a version of) Hogsmeade. There was butterbeer which was basically cream soda with butter on top, but totally delicious. All of the famous shops were there: Honeydukes for sweets where I picked up some Fizzing Whizbees and Bertie Bott’s Baked Beans, Zonko’s Joke Shop for trick gifts, the Owl Post to send letters, Dervish and Banges, and Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment for robes (we saw lots of people wearing robes). While most of these shops sell souvenirs and novelty items, it’s still fun to walk through.
A fun stop was Ollivander’s where you could watch a wand pick a person in the crowd. While the “show” is almost word for word from the book and movie, it was cool to watch it played out. The best part was watching the little kids in the audience who stood there wide-eyed and in awe of the “magic”. I think they thought it was real. The store itself was fun and you could pick your favorite character’s wand. They were all pretty beautiful. Some of the wands are interactive where you can “do magic” throughout the park. A cool idea if they weren’t $100.
The main attraction is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey; the rollercoaster-esque ride that takes you through the castle as if you are flying on a broom using 3-D effects. I’m not the biggest fan of any rides so that was an experience for me. Although I had a great time and would definitely do it again. The best part was, despite the line being an hour wait it wound through the castle passing by talking portraits, the entrance hall, Dumbledore’s office, and the greenhouse; it felt like we were actually in Hogwarts.
After the ride, we walked around Universal Studios a little more; we went on the movie tour and saw the Waterworld show which I actually enjoyed quite a bit.
It was a great day and I’m already hoping to return before I move away.