The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is now officially open at Universal Studios Hollywood. And if you’re anything like scores of celebs in town, you simply cannot wait to get your wand-holding hands on a ticket to see it. Tickets for the early days sold out, but we got inside the gates and behind the scenes to experience the spellbinding new attraction… and bring back these insider tips!
1. There are real props from the movie throughout the park.
You’ll spot them if you look closely — because there aren’t any signs calling attention to them. That’s by design, so you can feel fully immersed in the experience. For example, in the train compartment within the Hogwarts Express photo opp, the luggage racks are the real ones used in filming. So you can sit inside and touch the actual fabric that the main characters touched. Also look around the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom within Hogwarts Castle to spot the actual school chalkboard prop, blending perfectly into its surroundings.
2. There’s a best way to drink Butterbeer.
On a hot day, you’ll find nothing in the park as refreshing (nor delicious) as a frosty mug of Butterbeer. But take it from us and order in the off-the-menu way that will have your friends all super jealous: Ask for your cup half frozen and half ice cold (combining the two different options available). You’ll have the perfect consistency for exquisite sipping.
3. You might get seasick.
As you approach the land’s signature ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you’ll note a sign advising you to avoid the attraction if you’re prone to motion sickness. Just an FYI? That’s not just a gratuitous warning! The ride has all kinds of action sequences that you’ll experience in 3-D with Quidditch-inspired 3-D goggles… and you may have to walk it off afterward so you don’t toss your Butterbeer. (True story... take it from us.)
4. You can buy a wand that actually works.
The evocative Ollivanders wand shop — which looks straight out of the movie, with floor-to-ceiling boxes — actually sells wands that are interactive throughout Hogsmeade Village. Your wand will allow you to practice spells by standing in front of 11 enchanted windows and using a medallion encrypted with the proper incantations.
5. You can send a letter from Hogsmeade.
The new theme park includes the Owl Post — which is an IRL fully functioning post office. There, you can mail your friends and fam back home a letter or postcard with a Wizarding World of Harry Potter stamp, postmarked from Hogsmeade. “Dear so and so…. jealous much?!”
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