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Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Hollywood Review!

Jondee here at Snowy Rooftopped Hogsmeade,

DSC_0228 copy Hogwarts Castle.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter commercials have been putting Potter fans under its spell. There is the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them set for release on November 18th. Another exciting news, a new Harry Potter book, in a way with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I & II, out in bookstores on July 31st. It is based on the play with story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. Now, Universal Hollywood is about to open Harry Potter Land which has its grand opening on April 7th. It is currently in soft opening, and on this particular day, March 31st, there were camera crews shooting around Hogsmeade. There were also stands and interviews next to Hogwarts Castle. Harry Potter Land opened about noon time for that day. It looked like Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) was shooting a spot at the time. I previously went to Harry Potter Land at the Orlando park in 2010. This is a comparison to the one from memory and the new part of the park.

DSC_0257 copy “Wingardium Leviosa!”

Hogsmeade is located around the corner from Shred 4D and wedged next to Springfield. The outdoor seating of the Three Broomsticks restaurant and Hog’s Head are next to the exit line for the tram. First, it is similar to the Orlando version in that it is authentic, you are actually walking through Hogsmeade from the films, not a recreation by a theme park. There are some pieces of the surrounding park, painted backdrops, but spending most of the day there, you are in Harry Potter Land not Universal Studios. The bathrooms are haunted by Moaning Myrtle!  Second, what should you do first? There are many shops to catch your interest and two attractions, but the first thing is to get a wand. All through the day guests were saying where did you get your wand? Of course, the answer is Ollivander’s. There are other gift shops in the park, but you have to get your wand at the wand shop. Ollivander’s here had better line management than in Orlando. There is a show inside where a lucky person is chosen for a wand. New to me, the wands are interactive. There are medallions throughout the park that show you were to cast spells. The map with the wand also shows the locations. You stand in the direction of it, say the words and move the wand in the specific pattern. Kids were persistent in getting it right. They wanted to know the words and tried again and again to cast the spells. Myself, it didn’t always work. One wizard cast member said to point at the middle bottom window (which makes sense since it has to work for kids), and then move the wand.

DSC_0204 Buckbeak.

Third, the attractions themselves. At the end of Hogsmeade and to the right is Flight of the Hippogriff, a roller coaster for the family, but still thrilling. It winds around Hagrid’s Hut where you can hear growling. This leads to a long building that loads up the wicker basket shaped ride vehicle. Up the hill you go with the instruction to bow to Buckbeak before you go into drops and turns next to Hogwart’s Castle. The nearby Waterworld show sent up smoke which would be neat, but I hope they knock that down for another Harry Potter attraction. Then, we have Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This ranks as my favorite attraction at any park including all of Walt Disney World. Tip one, don’t take the Single Rider line! I did all the time I was at the Orlando park and skipped the following. A passage (after you drop bags into a free locker) leads past some statues to the outside of the castle. It winds around the Herbology greenhouse. This leads back into the castle where you see a preview of the ride, then to the Professor Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room, and the Dark Arts classroom. The last queue leads to the Sorting Hat and a mirrored corridor where you load into a bench.  Then, we get to the ride itself, motion sickness does apply, you are yanked back and forth on a bench. Face dragons, the Whomping Willow, and spiders. This is following Harry and Ron on broomsticks for a Quidditch match and chase by Dementors. I remember the bench was turned and the Dementor coming right up on the side which spooked me, but I didn’t get that here. I also don’t think there was a ride photo which was at Aragog in Islands of Adventure.

DSC_0196 copy Beauxbatons and Hogwarts’ Host.
Fourth, there are two shows, one has the Triwizard Tournament. The Beauxbatons dance on stage and then the acrobatic Drumstangs. They take photos with fans afterwards. The other show, I think I remember from Orlando, is the Frog Chorus with Hogwarts students, but I missed that one this time. Finally, remember to get a mug of Butterbeer. It is delicious! There is a frozen version and cold variation. You can of course just get the cup, but the mug is refillable. If you are slightly hungry, don’t forget Three Broomsticks. It has a roast chicken that is stunning, also fish and chips and smoked turkey leg. Which you can eat along with your Butterbeer. So the last part is that you will spend money, Expecto Changum! The wands that are interactive (they have a gold seal on the box) went for about $47. Also, don’t forget the Chocolate Frogs. They come in a nifty hexagonal box with the chocolate frog and a collectible hologram card of famous wizards, I got Helga Hufflepuff. There are robes, hats, scarves, pins, stuffed beasts, and a Hedgewig puppet that makes sounds. I also saw an interactive Marauder’s Map, a Triwizard Tournament cup, and a barking Monster’s Book of Monsters. I have a feeling that April 7th will be too much of a crowd, but get to Harry Potter Land soon. I didn’t see any items from Fantastic Beasts beyond the book so far. Anyone who read the books or seen the movies, cosplays Harry Potter or other wizards or witches, and just would like a day in a magical land, must go! Oh, and there’s also Fast & Furious Supercharged on the tour and Transformers: The Ride-3D.

DSC_0155 copy Entrance.

DSC_0219 copy Cho Chang’s dress.

DSC_0262 copy Owl Post.

DSC_0266 copy Honeyduke’s.  DSC_0243 copy Defence Against Dark Arts classroom.