First there was a Hogwarts at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL, then Osaka, Japan and now Hollywood, CA officially opens The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on April 7, 2016.
Inspired by the best-selling author J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters in her books and Warner Bros. films, it’s an ideal multi generation activity that everyone will enjoy.
Walking into Hogsmeade Village looks exactly like a 1000 year old Scottish Village. Alan Gilmore, the supervising art director for the Harry Potter movie series worked on the new themed land to bring the magical film set to life in Hollywood. The buildings look settled into their foundation. There is moss and soot on the castle walls, snow-capped rooftops, and crooked chimneys throughout. The movie’s soundtrack streams out from hidden speakers to enhance the experience.
Be sure to buy your Harry Potter fans an interactive wand for $47.95. The Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, Ollivanders™ is one of the wizarding world’s premier wand shops, with a variety of shapes and sizes. Stand on a gold medallion, in front of 11 different interactive windows along Diagon Alley to perform “magic” with a flick of the wrist, while casting out, “Wingardium Leviosa.” Lanterns light up, water squirts from a frog’s mouth, and music plays from a treasure box.
Another fun activity is stepping into the train station for an interactive photo opportunity of riding a replica of the Hogwarts Express train. Scarves hang on hooks for guests to drape around their neck, before sitting in a train seat. The fabric colors on the seats, and the luggage racks above the train compartment are the same ones used in the movie. Pretend you are leaving from King’s Cross Station in London to his magical wizarding school.
Actual props from the movies are seen throughout the park. You will see many while waiting to ride the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” attraction located within Hogwarts Castle. Guests enjoy the experience of riding a broomstick, while wearing Quidditch-inspired goggles. While traveling by Floo powder, you will and soar high alongside Harry, Ron and Hermione, above Hogwarts. Not only will you partake in a Quidditch match, you will feel heat as you narrowly escape a dragon attack, and have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow. This hyper-realistic 3D and HD journey is not only thrilling, but a white knuckle whirl at times. Even if the line is long, there is such impeccable attention to detail in every area in the castle as you visit many of the iconic locations, such as Dumbledore’s office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor™ common room, and the Room of Requirement to entertain guests throughout the journey.
Just as much fun, but not as scary, is the enchanting family coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff.” It’s Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor coaster ride. Guests see an animatronics Hippogriff sitting on a nest, vocally greeting guests while turning its head. Swoop down and swirl around a pumpkin patch setting.
When hunger hits, this is one of the best dining experiences in Universal Studios. Chefs prepare authentic Scottish food that includes Beef Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding, bangers and mash, fish and chips; beef, lamb and Guinness stew inside the Three Broomsticks dining hall. Adults over 21 years can enjoy a beverage or libation at Hog’s Head pub next to Three Broomsticks. They serve White Rat Whiskey, Ocky Rot and kegs of Butterbeer. Non alcoholic beverages include pumpkin juice.
Looking for a sweet souvenir? Honeydukes™ offers shelves stacked with colorful sweets, including Pink Coconut Ice creamy coconut confection, Jelly Slugs, Candy in a Can, Cocoballs, Clippy’s Clip Joint Clippings, Exploding BonBons, Peppermint Toads, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. The Chocolate Frogs contain a wizard trading card in each box.
Another fun spot to pursue is Dervish and Banges™ for magical Sneakoscopes, Spectrespecs, Omnioculars, and The Monster Book of Monsters. You can purchase school uniforms and Quidditch™ needs that include T-shirts, robes, sweatshirts.
Before leaving, walk into the Owl Post and get a special Hogsmeade Owl Post postmark stamped on an envelope or postcard. Be sure to look up and notice the animatronics owls. They hoot, and turn their life-like heads.
For those seeking overnight accommodations, The nearby Garland hotel is a hip, retro-cool 1970s style boutique resort within blocks of Universal Studios. Take a ride on their complimentary trolley to the amusement park. Named after the legendary Hollywood actress, Beverly Garland, the property was acquired by her son, James, who took over the property and expanded The Garland into a sophisticated hotel with a new restaurant, The Front Yard.
For more information about Universal Studios www.universalstudioshollywood.com
To learn about The Garland call (800) 238-3759. 4222 Vineland Avenue North Hollywood, California 91602 http://www.thegarland.com.
This article was published in the April 2016 issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.