Universal Studios Hollywood is popular among SoCal natives and travelers from all over the globe. Its the ideal place to take in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood- without having to deal with the sketchiness of the actual Hollywood. As much as I love catching a ride on the legendary Studio Tour or munching on a Homer Simpson-approved donut, I could spend the entire day happily strolling around Hogsmeade. After a year of mesmerizing magic as a Universal annual pass member, I decided to share my favorite things to do when visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Honeydukes Homemade Sweets
My first stop is always Honeydukes. One of my favorite parts of the Harry Potter books is the weird and wonderful selection of sweets, and this colorful candy shop has all of the best treats including Cauldron Cakes, Fizzing Whizzes, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. I love biting into a good Chocolate Frog myself, especially since they come with a holographic collectible card portraying a famous witch or wizard. While I’ll admit that you’ve got to try the infamous Butterbeer at least once, I’d much rather indulge in some of Honeydukes’ offerings.
Hogwarts Castle + The Forbidden Journey
Walking through Hogwarts is a magical experience all on its own. From the dungeons below the castle to Professor Dumbledore’s very own office, the wizarding school unfolds as a maze of classrooms and passageways that feel strikingly familiar to any Potterhead. It’s easily my all time favorite ride queue, and the Forbidden Journey proves to be one of the most unique theme park ride experiences, even when riding consecutively two or three times.
The Three Broomsticks
The Three Broomsticks beats out all other theme park food. Well, at the very least it has the finest feast at Universal Studios Hollywood. The traditional British fare of fish n’ chips and shepherds pie feels right at home in Hogsmeade, but I find myself favoring the roasted chicken and corn on the cob. The woodsy interior of the Three Broomsticks is composed of large wooden chandeliers, crisscrossing walk ways, and several stairways that lead nowhere. It’s easy to get lost inside the dinning room without ever leaving your table.
Window shopping is a must in Hogsmeade. Each inviting storefront is intricately decorated with magical trinkets, equipment, and furnishings, and once inside it’s tempting to drop some serious muggle money. Whether in the books, movies, or real life, Ollivanders will always be my favorite magical store; I feel a certain thrill every time I step inside wand shop. The young and old alike marvel at the hundreds of wand boxes overflowing the floor-to-ceiling shelves, testing wands modeled after their favorite fictional witches and wizards.
Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle
The newest spellbinding spectacle to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle. I was lucky enough to attend a pass member preview of the show a few weeks ago, and I can honestly say I was in awe at the dazzling light show. As nighttime fell over Hogsmeade village, an excited crowd amassed to cheer on their favorite Hogwarts house as the Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff colors illuminate the facade of the castle. It’s the perfect end to any enchanted day in Hogsmeade.
While there’s no shortage of mischief to be had at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, this list constitutes just a few of my favorite elements of Universal Studios Hollywood most recent expansion. Whether you’re a hardcore Potterheard or a muggle who’s new to magic, a trip to Hogsmeade is worth all of the LA traffic.