Close your eyes and try to remember how you felt the first time you saw Hogwarts castle in the Harry Potter film series. Imagine the majestic turrets that seemed to stack one on top of the other; the beautiful glass windows; the intricate stonework. Do you feel the warmth in your chest yet?
For many of us who truly love being immersed in Harry Potter’s world, glimpsing Hogwarts castle is a sign that we’re home again, just as it is for our hero. But what if I told you that you could take this reverie a step further and venture inside Hogwarts castle and on an adventure unlike any other? I’ve got great news: this is the Hogwarts letter you’ve been waiting for!
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a thrilling dark ride in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. On board an enchanted bench, you’ll encounter a ferocious dragon, the famed Whomping Willow, a pack of dreaded Dementors, and… I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
Dumbledore has welcomed Muggles to Hogwarts to attend a lecture on the history of the school given by the ever verbose and ghostly Professor Binns, but our favorite trio has other plans. Harry, Ron, and Hermione stealthily urge you to meet them in the Room of Requirement so they can instead sneak you down to the Quidditch pitch for a thrilling match.
It may surprise you to learn that my favorite part of this attraction is actually the part where I wait in line, but seriously… this queue is just that good. Entering between the two tall stone pillars topped with winged boars, you’ll make your way into the castle and through its many tantalizing corridors. As relics like the Mirror of Erised come into view, your tour will start to bring back memories of your favorite moments from the films:
- In the greenhouses, you’ll be delighted to see that Professor Sprout’s mandrakes are coming along nicely.
- Professor Dumbledore’s office houses not only the magical Pensieve and the Sword of Gryffindor, but the headmaster himself will appear and greet you.
- Next, enjoy a trip to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, where Harry, Ron, and Hermione will appear from under the invisibility cloak and brief you on their plans.
- After a quick venture behind the portrait of the Fat Lady and into the Gryffindor common room, you’ll pass the famed Sorting Hat on your way to the Room of Requirement for your adventure.
There are so many things to see along the way, you’ll want to keep your eyes open.
Underneath a candlelit ceiling, you’ll climb aboard an enchanted bench for a scenic and thrilling dark ride unlike any other! As you get ready to take off with a dose of Floo powder, Hermione asks you to say “Observatory” to make sure you reach the intended destination. Away you’ll fly through the Astronomy Tower and toward the Quidditch pitch, right alongside Harry and Ron on their brooms.
On this journey, your bench will twist, turn, and spin as it reacts to the world around you. And there’s quite a bit to react to:
- Hagrid is looking for a Hungarian Horntail dragon.
- In the Forbidden Forest, you’ll encounter the large Whomping Willow tree with its branches primed for clobbering.
- Dementors descend upon the Quidditch match and lead you deep into the Chamber of Secrets.
- And then — well, I’ll leave that up to you to find out.
- Height requirement: 48” (122 cm)
- You will need a locker for this ride
- Child Swap is available upon request
- Universal Express Pass is available
- Single Rider is available
Once off the ride, you can peruse items taken from students who got on the wrong side of the school’s resident caretaker, Argus Filch. From t-shirts, bags, caps, and scarves to plush toys, stationery, and mugs, every fan will find at least one must-have item here.
PRO TIP: There are plenty of authentic movie prop replicas stationed throughout the store. Plan to spend some time pointing out your favorites. Mine is the Marauder’s Map… complete with moving footprints!
Riding Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey feels like flying through the scenes that have lived in your imagination for years — great for both hard core and casual fans of the Harry Potter films. I’ll never be able to express how immersed I felt when I first got on board and realized everything I’ve always wanted to see was coming to life in front of me.
What are you most looking forward to seeing inside Hogwarts castle? Tell us in the comments below!