Travel Diaries: Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter / by Didier Young

My most recent trip to L.A would not have been complete without a quick visit to Universal Studios. Andrew and I are both huge Potterheads (not to be confused with potheads) and we felt that we had to allocate a full day for Universal Studios so we could maximize our time in The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. Little did we know that the magic didn’t end at Hogsmeade and we would end up having so much fun in the other worlds present on the premises as well!

We purchased our tickets a couple of days before heading to Universal Studios. While you don’t benefit from any discount using this method, pre-purchasing your ticket does allow you to head over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour before the whole park officially opens. For any American Express cardholders out there, there’s a little hidden discount that you can get at most of the vendors throughout the park. You simply need to mention the American Express Discount and you’ll usually end up receiving 10% off of your bill. This offer is not valid inside of The Wizarding World of Happy Potter but you can buy most of the Harry Potter merchandise in the main store near the entrance. Buying your wand there isn’t as magical as making your purchase at Olivanders but at least it saves you a few dollars.

Our first stop at Universal Studios was obviously The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Since we managed to get there an hour before most ticket holders, there was absolutely no line for any of the rides which was glorious. You need to also keep in mind that we went on a Tuesday which would be a less crowded day to begin with. We started off with the main attraction of the park: Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey. Since the ride is located inside Hogwarts, you’ll have a chance to walk through the intricately decorated castle before your ride. The beauty of Universal studios is that even waiting for your rides felt like a journey. They really put a lot of emphasis on creating sets that were highly immersive and made you feel like you were fully part of the movie.

Now let’s talk about the ride itself: it was AWESOME. There’s a lot of movement happening so if you wear glasses like me, make sure to always hold them. It is definitely not meant for the faint of heart but it is worth every single second spent on the ride. While walking in Hogsmeade, you can activate multiple spells throughout the village by using one of the interactive wands available for purchase at various stores in the park. Make sure to get the interactive one otherwise you’ll just be purchasing an overpriced piece of plastic. Hogmeade is made up of multiple other rides, The Three Broomsticks pub where we had lunch and a lovely candy store where you can get your very own chocolate frogs or Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Make sure to grab a pint of butter beer before heading out but I am warning you, it is definitely an acquired taste.

Krustyland the Simpsons

Of course, the fun didn’t end there! As we left the Harry Potter World, we entered Springfield and saw some characters that felt more like family at this point. The most interesting part of this world is not the ride (although it is still quite fun) but rather the gigantic Simpsons doughnuts. Andrew and I hadn’t eaten anything that day up to that point and we still couldn’t finish half of one of those doughnuts.

The rest of the day was spent exploring the park. The Jurrasik Park was unfortunately under renovation when we went but we still managed to go to the Transformer (this one was epic) and The Mummy (scary but incredibly short) rides on the lower lot of the park. The Walking Dead was absolutely terrifying and while I enjoyed it, I don’t think that my heart would be able to handle a second time there. The Minions and Kung-Fu Panda rides were sweet and child appropriate. One of the main attractions of the park is there world-famous Studio Tour which also comprises of a Fast and The Furious and a King Kong segment.

I really enjoyed my time at Universal Studios although I did wish that it were a bit bigger. The park also closes earlier than Disneyland so I would definitely recommend coming here early, both to avoid the crowd and to maximize your time there. Overall I would say that I had a lovely first time experience here but I am definitely looking forward to going to the Florida version next time.