Ollivanders was hands-down our kids favorite experience at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. Our (almost) 11 year old insisted we visit Ollivanders first thing. We entered the park and went straight to the line, which had about a 40 minute wait. They take back small groups of about 20 people- our group consisted of mostly adults and teens. Our little guy was standing front and center when the presentation began. Whether you plan to buy a wand or not, you should definitely attend a wand selection! When our son was the chosen one we seriously almost cried. He was bursting with excitement and the magic did not disappoint. Plan for 20 minutes once you enter Ollivanders. After the presentation we were given the choice to buy my son’s wand (as well as wands for our girls). They offer two types of wands- the interactive kind that can cast spells in the park and the non interactive wands. They look exactly the same. We opted to go with the interactive wands, but know that they are fairly expensive (plan for about $50 per wand, although some are less or more.).
There are 11 interactive wand spots that with the right flick of the wrist, you too can cast a spell! Each interactive wand comes with the map (pictured below) to find each spell location as well as the right spell to cast! (It can be a bit tricky to cast spells and younger children may find this frustrating- we recommend this activity for at least ages 5 or older!) The spells were very fun and we had fun trying each and every one.
2. The Shops at Hogsmeade
If you’ve ever wished you could step inside Honeydukes and eat a chocolate frog, exploding Bon-Bons, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean or any other sugary novelty, this is your chance! We had so much fun looking at (and eating!) these yummy treats. Zonko’s Joke Shop is also attached to Honeydukes and here you can find a variety of novelty jokes and magic tricks.
Take time to wander through Hogsmeade and explore the different shops. At the Owl Post you can mail a postcard to your favorite muggle with a Hogsmeade Postmark and all. At Dervish and Bangs you can find your favorite Hogwartz apparel from scarves and sweaters to pins and bags, it has it all!
Oh Butterbeer! MMMMM. We tried both the frozen and non frozen variety and even though we visited in cool January, we definitely preferred the frozen drink! You can find this yummy drink at any beverage cart inside Harry Potter and Three Broomsticks. Honorable mention: Pumpkin Juice which was surprising sweet and tasty! Give that drink a try too.
4. Three Broomsticks
Dig in to yummy English food at the Three Broomsticks! This is the only restaurant inside Harry Potter.
Although it was a bit pricey, it was actually really yummy and filling food. We opted to go with The Great Feast (pictured above) and this was more than enough food for our family of five (our kids are ages 10, 7 and 5). You walk in and order at one counter and move to another counter where you pick up your food. Seating fills up fast- even during off peak time. As soon as we saw a table, we snatched it up. There is also seating outside.
And Bonus: Of course the RIDES!
5: Flight of the Hippogriff.
Children must be 39 inches or taller to ride- again, we recommend for children 5 and older. This is one of two rides inside Harry Potter and is short and moves fast. There was no line when we were there, so we stayed on and went around a dozen times or so. We may have been a bit dizzy when we got off, but it was as close to Hagrid as you can get at HP!
6: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Riders must be 48 inches or taller to ride, although anyone can walk through the castle (which we suggest you do whether you ride or not!). BEWARE- this ride is not for those who get motion sickness. Seriously. It’s not a scary ride at all, but if you get queasy easily, maybe stay in the waiting room at the top (also a great place for parents to switch off with each other when you have little ones not tall enough to ride). This is one of the coolest rides we’ve ever been on- you feel like you are a part of Harry Potter as you ‘ride’ on a broomstick and zip and zoom through Hogwartz, play a game of Quiddich, zoom away from spiders etc. We could only handle riding it twice and both times people on our ride got “sick”. Nuff said. You’ve been warned. Plan accordingly.
EXTRA BONUS you must check out the bathrooms! (REALLY!) Moaning Myrtle just might be there to say hello!
The best deal on tickets we found was at Costco. We opted to go with the season pass, which is about $130 per person. Yes, it does have black out days so this may not be the best option for everyone. We prefer to travel off peak anyway, so for us it is no issue. We’d never want to go in July. However, for an additional fee, you still can use your pass even on blackout days. Last we checked, it was an additional $30 per person per day to use during peak days. Also, Universal does offer special times when you can use the passes on black out days- we just received an email from them that with an advanced RSVP we can use our passes on Memorial Day (most holidays are black out days). Overall, it’s a great deal. If you plan to attend more than one day- you will get your money’s worth.
For all things Harry Potter at Universal, visit their official website here.