What’s happening at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer? A lot! Thanks to our friends from Universal Studios Hollywood for hosting our family and giving us the gift of Hogwarts. #UniversalStudiosHollywood
This trip was eight months in the making but Craig and I finally took Kayla to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Okay, we actually visited most of Universal Studios Hollywood, but let’s be honest…this was about finally getting our letter to Hogwarts. If you’ve never been or it’s been a while then you should know there are some new things waiting for you.
My youngest sister joined us as the stars aligned and she found herself on a business trip to LA that week. She read the series as a teen while they were originally being released and attended those midnight parties at bookstores. To see her get to experience this with Kayla was so special!
Also, because I love nothing more than a Harry Potter DIY I made this special savings bank to use leading up to our trip for Kayla’s souvenir money. You can get the full tutorial for my DIY Harry Potter savings bank here.
We started with a trip through some of the shops like Zonko’s, Honeydukes and Gladrags Wizardwear. Gladrags has new high-end costume replicas of Snape’s robe and Hermione’s Yule Ball dress (available in adult and kid sizes, don’t you worry.) And be sure to go take a look at yourself in the talking mirror located in the shop! It had us doubled over laughing.
Ollivanders was very crowded when we stepped in, but don’t be discouraged. If you wind up there when it’s busy you can still grab yourself the wand of your dreams at what I referred to as the “express wand cart” located across from the entrance to Flight of the Hippogriff. The guys manning the cart were so sweet and helped my little sister choose the wand she’s been waiting about 15 years for.
If you treat your little (or big) wizard to an interactive wand you’ll be able to try some new spells. Give the Alohomora spell a whirl at the giant door near Hogsmeade Station and you might just unlock it to reveal the smoke of a dragon hiding behind it. There is also a new Incendio (fire-making) spell you can try as well.
Kayla’s favorite spell was the Ventus jinx at Dominic Maestro’s. This spell is supposed to send a swirl of air out of your wand. Here it sent sheet music swirling around and had instruments playing music. The look on her face when she got it to work was worth at least 10 wands from Ollivanders.
Kayla’s favorite person in all of Universal Studios was Laurie. We saw her a few times as we zig zagged around Hogsmeade, like kids on a Hogsmeade field trip. Laurie took the time to show Kayla several spells, chatted wizard life with her and remembered her throughout the day.
Over the years I’ve watched Kayla receive special treatment at other theme parks we’ve visited while one or both of us are wearing a badge or a wristband that suggests we’re there as members of the press or for a special event. On this occasion we had nothing. We were like any other family roaming the park and knowing kindness like this is the standard, not the exception made me smile.
Because we couldn’t JUST eat treats from Honeydukes all day and we were as hungry as a pack of Weasley boys, our family headed to Three Broomsticks. Craig and I were both surprised at what an efficient and orderly experience it was. No hustling for tables or anything of the sort. You are greeted, you order, you pick up your food and you are led to a freshly cleaned table by a staff member.
Most of the seating is indoors with lots of air conditioning, which is a welcome respite on an 85 degree day. There are also new lunchtime menu items including Ploughman’s Lunch, a Cheese Toastie with Chicken and a Sunday Roast Sandwich. All three of the adults opted for the Sunday roast Sandwich and Kayla was able to get a kid-friendly meal of chicken fingers as well.
If you’re night owls, you can enjoy The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle nightly from now – August 19, and September 1-3. Where Hogwarts is illuminated with a great lights show honoring all of the houses. We didn’t get to stay for this because Blake was waiting at home with the grandparents and we promised him we’d see him before bed.
Here are a few of the other fun things waiting for you at Universal Studios Hollywood this summer:
- See “Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest” in the all-new DreamWorks Theater. It’s a cute show with just enough motion to make it fun while still little kid friendly. It’s also the perfect place to cool down on a hot day.
- If you have Kung Fu Panda fans, they can meet Po and Tigress at Universal Plaza. We caught Tigress as we were on our way to the show. You can also stop by Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop to enjoy dishes like Dragon Warrior Bao, Secret Ingredient Stir Fry Noodles and Po’s Dumplings.
- Experience Jurassic Park-The Ride one last time before it closes September 3, 2018 to be replaced by the new Jurassic World Ride coming in 2019
- Minions! There’s nothing new here, but if you love those minions like my kids do then you’ll want to try out Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. Kayla and I loved it. There are also a few great little games outside where your child is guaranteed to win a prize. We paid $6 for Kayla to play a game where she was going home with a plush minion or unicorn no matter what and that felt like a deal.
- We also really enjoyed the Animal Actors show. You’ll see actual owls from the Harry Potter movies that are HUMUNGOUS and beautiful as well as a bunch of other cute animals, many of whom are rescues.