The Wizarding World of Harry Potter worth every bit of the hype
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter worth every bit of the hype.
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Rising from the middle of Universal Studios Hollywood is the intimidating, black Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which is part of the new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter lives up to every bit of the hype. Hogsmeade Village is straight out of a Christmas card, with its snow-laden thatched cottages from which “icicles” hang. Muggles, as us average folks are called, can peruse the shops and the rides. It’s just an easy walk down the cobblestone streets.
Upon entering the attraction, we were greeted by the Hogwarts Express train and its loveable engineer outside of the Hogsmeade Station. Quickly, we were fully immersed in Diagon Alley, home to a slew of shops, including Zonko’s Joke Shop, where we scored Robot Lilliput, a tin wind-up robot.
Diagon Alley also boasts confectionaries from Harry Potter’s world in a shop called Honeydukes. Fudge, chocolate frogs, “candy floss” (the English term for cotton candy) and assorted jellybeans are found there. Really, anything you need to satisfy a sweet tooth is within reach.
Just outside Honeydukes is probably some of the more anticipated treats—Butter Beer, Pumpkin Juice and Gilly Water. A nonalcoholic drink, Butter Beer tastes like a mixture of vanilla and butterscotch with a consistency of a root beer float. It’s a little sweet, but it’s a must-try for any Harry Potter fan.
Proceed through Diagon Alley and you’ll see a long line snaking through Hogsmeade. It’s a queue of Muggles yearning to try English meals like Shepherd’s Pie, bangers and mash (OK, sausage and mashed potatoes), fish and chips, and a variety of desserts at Three Broomsticks.
I tried the lemon herb half chicken and it was the juiciest meat I have had in a long time. My niece was equally as impressed with her fish and chips, while my English husband and my mother had to naturally try the Shepherd’s Pie.
Now, don’t let the verbiage on the attraction’s map fool you. It mentions that sampling of beer is available at the Hog’s Head Pub. There’s no sampling to be had, we were told rather tersely, but there’s plenty of alcoholic beverages to purchase—domestic and imported beer, Wizard’s Brew, Dragon Scale, Fire Whiskey, wine, spirits, and mixed drinks.
Across the cobblestone pathway is seemingly one of the hot attractions––the Owl Post in the center of Hogsmeade, where fans can send letters with a Hogsmeade postmark, purchase stationery and stamps from the gift shop, along with owl-related toys and gifts. This elderly, robe-wearing couple was so enamored with their owls that the man filmed himself for about 20 minutes playing with his stuffed animal. Presumably his wife, the woman took extra care in setting up their owls for a “photo shoot” with their cellphones.
Adjacent to Owl Post is the store Dervish and Banges, which offers such magical items as Sneakoscopes, Spectrespecs, Omnioculars, and The Monster Book of Monsters. Muggles can give into their Quidditch needs by purchasing T-shirts, Quaffles, Golden Snitches and brooms including the Nimbus Two Thousand and One and the Firebolt. Hogwarts school uniforms and clothing are available here as well.
One of the highlights is Ollivanders, which has been selling fine wands “since 382 B.C.” Shopkeepers and wandkeepers help visitors choose the appropriate wand by measuring customers’ dominant hands. These wands, which average at $49, aren’t just showpieces. Point them at the different shops and attractions to activate a few tricks that we’ll leave to your imagination.
But now it’s time for “the” ride. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey made the news when, shall we say, it made plenty of riders ill. My niece and husband fared just fine as they made their way through the familiar classrooms and corridors of Hogwarts, courtesy of a 3-D movie. The Muggles and students encounter plenty of characters, including the spooky Death Eaters. Harry, Hermione, and Ron lead riders through the adventure, which includes the chance to get advice from Dumbledore.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is just a shuttle bus away from the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City. But, as my 21-year-old niece, who describes herself as a “huge Harry Potter fan,” says, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is “a dream come true.” That applies even to lukewarm Harry Potter fans.
Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
(800) UNIVERSAL or (800) 864-8377
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