Today I’m switching things up and taking a small break from sharing recipes and sharing the details about our recent trip to the newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter in California. After we returned from our trip, I had dozens of questions about it, so I thought I would share some inside info on this amazing park. I have no problem admitting to you all that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and have been waiting anxiously for this west coast location to open. Opening day was April 7 and went on the 8th.
To say we were ecstatic to go to this park is a major understatement. We took our family along with my daughter’s boyfriend, so we had a total of 6 of us. I think our fan base ranged from mild to extreme but we all had chills and major butterflies walking up to the entrance. There was a steady drizzle of light rain all day, which might have not been great at any other park but we felt like it added to the ambiance of it all. It was absolutely perfect!
Price of Admission:
The main question I have been asked is if it costs extra to go to the Wizarding World part of the park. The answer is no. Universal Studios Hollywood is all one amazing park. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is simply one (huge and amazing) portion of the park. The entrance fee, if you purchase directly on their website is between $95-$115 depending on the day you go. Other options for tickets include Get Away Today where we purchased our tickets for $87 for a one day ticket for adults and $80 for children ages 3-9. The pricing also changes depending on when you go. This was peak pricing and I felt like it was an amazing price for a one day visit. You can also purchase a season pass at Costco for a little over $100. It sounds amazing but when you read the fine print, the blackout dates are pretty ridiculous, so you can basically go never.
This is the entrance as you go into the Wizarding World. If you go during a crowded time of the year, you have to get tickets to go in at a certain time. We were a bit sad at first but then realized it was for crowd control inside the park. Your ticket has a time that you can go in, once you are in, you can stay as long as you want. It was absolute torture not to be able to go in right away but it gave us time to to ride other rides for an hour before going in.
The scenery is unreal. You feel like you literally walked right into the books and the movies. We were all in complete awe and simply just awe struck that people are so talented to be able to re-create this and make it so amazing! I may have gotten teary eyed a time or two. Haha. As we entered in, we went straight back to the castle. I had read previous to coming, that it was imperative to try and ride the rides first, as to not wait in long lines.
Before you enter into Wizarding World, Universal has a big sign with all of the rides listed and their wait times. This is so helpful, so you can know whether or not you indeed need to run straight to the castle for the ride or not. But, the wait times can change in a matter of minutes. There are two rides you can ride. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the ride in the castle. There are no words to describe how incredible and amazing this ride is. Each time we came off the ride, we just couldn’t believe how awesome it was! It is a 3-D ride, as most of the rides at Universal are. The walk through the castle before the actual ride is quite amazing. So don’t rush to get to the ride. I had to go a few times to see everything. I’m sure I still didn’t see everything because the details are just unreal and so much to see. Now, these next few pictures might not be the best because it’s pretty dark inside the castle.
These were a few of my favorites. Now a few key points to keep in mind for this ride. Before you go on the ride, you are asked to put your purses, bags and loose articles in a locker. This takes quite some time if it’s crowded. I recommend taking turns going on the ride if you have a large group. That way you can just leave your stuff with someone, so you can avoid waiting. On the ride, you travel through different scenes. Your chair moves and rotates quite a bit, so if you are prone to motion sickness, keep that in mind. Some people do get a little queezy afterwards. On the ride, you do encounter large spiders and the dementors, so for younger kids, keep this in mind. The scenes quickly change, so hopefully before kids who might be scared know it, the ride is onto the next scene. It’s one of the most amazing rides you’ll ever ride. We all kept commenting how awesome it was afterwards. For this ride you must be 48″ tall to ride.
Flight of the Hippogriff is the other ride, which is located directly across from the castle. It’s a fun and very short roller coaster. You’ll find Hagrid’s hut as you are waiting in line and it’s just so beautiful. I kept taking so many pictures. The height to ride this ride is 39″.
The Wizarding World in California is made up of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. Whereas the one in Orlando also has Diagon Alley. You’ll find some amazing store fronts to look at and so many shops to shop in. Be prepared to just want everything you see. We loved Honeydukes, the legendary sweets shop where you’ll find chocolate frogs, Every Flavor Beans, gourmet baked goods and more. It;s such a fun candy store with so many things you’ve seen in the movie. A word of caution, the flavored beans a.k.a the vomit and rotten eggs, are really really disgusting. Not sure why I thought it was a good idea to buy those.
The Owl post was my favorite store that had such a good variety of things to buy from owls, to clothes and everything in between. If you are wanting some authentic clothing items, be prepared to spend some $$ if you want to buy items such as the robes, which are $110 each. So many people, kids included throughout the park wear their robes, vests, scarves etc. It’s so fun to see. But if you could only buy one thing, it would definitely be to buy a wand!
Now, in order to fully experience Olivander’s, you need to wait in line for the fun “show” before you enter into the actual shop. We waited in line for an hour! This line was consistently long all day, so we just decided to split up our group and not have everyone wait. You enter a room with about 21 people total and the staff has you wait until the wand maker is ready in the next room. Once you enter the actual room where the show begins, a wand maker is there to greet you and makes it a fabulous experience for you. The wand maker chooses one child to determine what wand suits that specific child’s needs. It’s so much fun to watch and it lasts about 10 minutes. The kid who is chosen is taken aside after the wand choosing, to purchase the wand that “chose” them, but you aren’t obligated to buy that wand. Your group is then taken into the store where there is literally walls of thousands of wands.
And be prepared to spend at least 30 minutes just staring at all the different wands. Now, there are two types of wands to buy. Both wands are equally nice and are really great quality. There is the basic wand that is $39.95 and the interactive wand that includes a map to use in the park, where you can cast various spells. This wand is $47.95. Before purchasing our wands, we saw kids and adults using these wands at the different locations and though it was fun to watch, it was pretty time consuming. Just keep that in mind when deciding on your wand.
I wanted to save the food information for last because, last the best of all-right? Ok, let’s just talk for a minute (or more) about BUTTERBEER! All of us were literally dying and so giddy to get our hands on some Butterbeer. Throughout the park, there are cute carts where you can purchase not only Butterbeer but Pumpkin Juice, Gally Water and even frozen Butterbeer.
We tried Butterbeer first with our lunch at Three Broomsticks. We received our beverages before our meal and we each anxiously and very quickly started to drink it. And all I have to say is wow okay, just wow. It’s everything you hope it will be. Which is just beyond delicious. It tastes like cream soda with some butterscotch added and a nice dollop of creamy goodness on top. It’s truly amazing! You can also purchase it in a keepsake mug, which I did. And every time I look at my mug, I just really want it to be filled with some Butterbeer. FYI, Butterbeer alone is $4.99 and totally worth every cent.
Now for our meal at Three Broomsticks.
When we visited the park, my intention was not to write a blog post about our trip, so I didn’t take as many pictures of the details that I would have liked to For example, the menu at the Three Broomsticks. So the photo of the menu below is from another site called Jaunted and the prices are way outdated. Like I wish Butterbeer was still $2.99. So everything is at least $2-4 more.
Let me go back a little from the first moment we entered Three Broomsticks. First, if the park is busy be prepared to wait in line anywhere from 30-45 minutes just to get in the restaurant. The lunchtime crowd for us, was a good 40 minute wait. Luckily, you are given a menu to look at whilst in line. The restaurant is run so smoothly from the time you order, then you are taken to another place to pick up your food, and the friendly staff finds a table for you, so you don’t have to stress about finding one yourself when it’s insanely busy. I was super impressed at how nicely they managed everything. But back to the food, after looking through the menu, my eyes kept going back to the Great Feast. I love trying a variety of foods and this feast was the perfect way to do that. We really had no pre-set expectations since we’d never ordered like this before. And we certainly had no idea that when they say feast, they literally mean a FEAST!
The feast starts with a garden salad that they bring to your table before the actual meal. It’s a great salad topped with their in house signature vinaigrette. The salad is good but save your appetite for the feast. I can’t even give enough credit in describing how good and full of intensely amazing flavor each food item has. Guys, I’m not kidding when I say this food was some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. Pretty bold statement to make but it really was. Maybe it was also a combination of the ambiance and sips of Butterbeer in between bites of food. Haha! My initial thoughts were to eat just the main dish first and so I wasn’t going to eat the corn but after taking his first bite, my husband was dying because it was so good. So I tried it and wow, it really is the best corn you’ll ever eat! And the potatoes, oh the potatoes… they were sliced, roasted potatoes that were both crispy and tender and sooo good! The roasted rotisserie chicken was my favorite, hands down. I think it’s hard to make a roasted chicken that is super moist and full of wonderful herbs and the perfect amount of butter. But this chicken is all of that and more. And now I’m wishing I was eating it. We noticed that after eating a few things, the bottom of the platter was covered in a layer of melted butter. No wonder everything was so good! There’s no point in thinking about how many calories you’re consuming whilst there because 1. – it’s depressing and takes the joy out of eating and 2. -calories don’t even count on vacation, right? The other food everyone else had in our group was equally delicious. My son had the chicken tenders from the children’s menu and he said it was the best he’d ever had. Which is saying a lot because he’s super picky. Our lunch kept us all full for at least 6-8 hours, that is…until we wanted Butterbeer again.
There really is so much to see and do at the park. I already want to go back and do it all over again. When you head out, get your picture taken with the train conductor by the Hogwart’s Express.
We entered the park at 11:30 and we left around 5:00. We thought we wouldn’t be allowed to go back in because of the tickets we had. Two hours later we walked by and were able to go back in. And the best part was, it was totally dead. On a Friday night, second day it was opened and it was a ghost town. We basically skipped around like a bunch of kids and just enjoyed it all over again. Our whole group was able to go into Olivanders again, ride the rides 3 more times each, and just simply take it all in for another 2-3 hours. Seeing everything at night was incredible! The castle alone was breathtaking.
There is also a few fun shows to watch like the Frog Choir and the Triwazard Spirit Rally. Again, this was fun to see at night because the lights surrounding both shows made the experience so fun. So if you can, stay at the park as long as you can to experience it both during the day and at night. Everything is just done so well and I can’t wait to go again but now I need to go visit the Orlando park.