If you’re anything like me, the second you walk into Universal Studios Hollywood you make a beeline for one place: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Walking through those arches and into Hogsmeade never gets old. From the snowy rooftops to the overflowing cups of Butterbeer to the towers of Hogwarts castle itself, walking through this area of Universal Studios always feels like coming home.
But there’s so much packed into this slice of the wizarding world — how does one even know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our complete guide to what you have to see, eat, drink and shop for at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
WHAT TO DO
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is home to one of the best rides in the entire theme park: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This thrill ride takes you soaring over the Hogwarts grounds, through the Quidditch pitch, into the depths of the Forbidden Forest, past dozens of Dementors and into the school of witchcraft and wizardry itself.
PRO TIP: Download the official Universal Studios Hollywood app and set up a Wait Time Alert for this ride, and all the rides you want to try. It’ll let you know when the line gets to your desired length, giving you more time to explore the wizarding village. That said, the queue for this one is a trip in itself. You’ll wind through Hogwarts castle, past the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office, the Mirror of Erised, and so many other memorable locales. Wizarding World Fans: this is your heaven.
Flight of the Hippogriff
Want a family-friendly thrill that captures the sensation of flying over Hagrid’s pumpkin patch? This outdoor coaster is for you. The Flight of the Hippogriff begins and ends at Hagrid’s hut, where the groundskeeper instructs you how to properly approach a Hippogriff, a magical creature with a head resembling that of an eagle with the body of a horse, that made for a very memorable Care of Magical Creatures class.
Any Harry Potter fan knows Ollivander’s saying “the wand chooses the wizard.” But how does that work, exactly? See for yourself at Ollivanders, makers of fine wands since 382 B.C.. During this interactive show, one lucky guest will interact with a wandkeeper where the wand chooses the wizard. That guest could be you! After, you can find a wand for yourself in the dusty old wand shop.
PRO TIP: I recommend the interactive wand. This will allow you to perform several spells all over The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including Wingardium Leviosa and Alohomora. Interactive wands come with a map of the area, indicating where you can perform spells. It’ll make you feel like a veritable Hogwarts student.
Triwizard Spirit Rally
You can also meet the students of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang in Hogsmeade, and see them perform during the Triwizard Spirit Rally! Catch the other European wizarding schools’ students show off their skills during this five-minute show. Afterwards, hang around to take a picture with them — no Triwizard Cup required.
Check out this amphibious quartet, which performs on the stage in-between Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle. In this 10-minute show, the four-part chorus sings popular Wizarding World songs a cappella. The Frog Choir performs during the seasonal event, Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As if you needed another excuse to see Hogsmeade lit up in twinkle lights.
WHAT TO EAT & DRINK
This restaurant might be my favorite in the whole theme park. Three Broomsticks is perhaps the best sit-down breakfast option at Universal Studios Hollywood — I always go for the dynamite Traditional English Breakfast (complete with several meats, baked beans, sauteed mushrooms and more), which gives me all the energy I need to face Slytherin on the Quidditch pitch. Shove it, Malfoy!
But if you’re with a group, you should totally take advantage of The Great Feast, a four-person meal with herb roasted chicken, spare ribs, and tons of roasted veggies. Oh, and don’t skip dessert — the Sticky Toffee Pudding is next level delicious, and the Butterbeer Potted Cream is what wizarding dreams are made of.
Speaking of Butterbeer, no trip to Universal is complete without a glass of this iconic beverage! The non-alcoholic treat comes in three modes: hot, cold, or frozen. (The cold is my preference, but it’s worth sampling all three.) But if you’re looking for something a bit stronger, Hog’s Head has a wide selection of original draught beers and spirits. That includes Hog’s Head Brew, and Dragon Scale, a Scottish ale and a lager, respectively, both brewed exclusively for Universal parks.
WHERE TO SHOP
Hogsmeade is jam-packed with shops, so take a spin through ‘em all while you’re there! But, for the sake of guidance, here are the can’t-misses:
Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods
Speaking of Filch, one of the best places in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to pick up some goods is in Hogwarts itself. At Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, you can show your house spirit with Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin gear, or even unveil all of Hogwarts’ hidden passageways with your own Marauder’s Map.
I mean, duh. The wizarding candy shop has everything your sweet tooth could ever desire: Chocolate Frogs, Acid Pops, Peppermint Toads, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, and so much more. I’m known to drop some serious galleons at Honeydukes whenever I’m there.
Witch robes, but make it fashion. Welcome to Gladrags Wizardwear, the one-stop-shop for all the ritziest wizardwear includes dress robes, hats, ties, jewelry and jumpers. You can even get your very own replica of Heromione’s iconic pink Yule Ball dress from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Zonko’s Joke Shop
Channel your inner Weasley twin at this novelty shop. At Zonko’s Joke Shop, you can pick up Extendable Ears for all your eavesdropping needs, Pygmy Puffs for all your snuggling needs, Fainting Fancies for all your class-ditching needs, and much more. Just don’t let Filch catch you with ‘em.
WHERE TO POSE
This is the shot to get in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. No — at Universal Studios Hollywood! Make your way through Hogsmeade village toward the Triwizard Stage for the best place to stand and pose with the enchanting Hogwarts castle.
The Hogwarts Express conductor is there to welcome new arrivals. This is a great opportunity to take a photo with the iconic steam engine as your journey through Hogsmeade village begins. Afterwards, pop into Hogsmeade Station for all the Platform 9 ¾ gear your magical little heart desires.
That’s a wrap on our guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! What’re your favorite spots in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Let us know in the comments below.