Tourist in my own town a continuing series…
Looking for things to do over the winter holidays I decided on a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood and more specifically the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We had a wonderful time! However, you might be surprised to hear that none of us were all that excited, and I had to drag the kids. In fact it was only the promise of Butterbeer (which we had in Orlando four years ago) that got Simon excited…
Now I don’t mean to start off negative, but unlike the Orlando location , I remembered the SoCal park as a much smaller place in dire need of an update. The last time we’d visited (10 years ago) the attractions already seemed outdated and irrelevant. The movies they were showcasing… Terminator, Waterworld, Backdraft… were movies from my own youth, which meant nothing to Simon and honestly, you couldn’t have given me free tickets to go back. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case! Enter Minions, Jurassic World, and Harry Potter!
First Stop: Butterbeer!
So, our most recent visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was largely driven by our desire for Butterbeer and as soon as we parked the car we made a beeline right for it! In my humble opinion Butterbeer is the only beverage in the world that might be worth a 3000 mile flight and was absolutely worth a one hour drive! Over the past four years, we’ve tasted many imitations in our attempt to find it, and while some have come close, they just weren’t Butterbeer.
Hard to describe, Butterbeer is a delicious mix of flavors which could be butterscotch, marshmallow, cream soda and even shortbread, but one can’t really know exactly what it is, because the recipe is a secret! The creamy foam on top is my favorite part and cold is the most popular way to drink it, but you can also order it frozen and hot!
Arriving to the park at lunchtime, we decided to enjoy our Butterbeer while waiting in line for a table at The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade Village.
The line for the Three Broomsticks moves quickly and just like the other park attractions the ambiance inside the restaurant is perfect and immersive helping to make the wait time go by. The process is seamless from start to finish and once you order your food the friendly staff will find you a table. I wish more theme park restaurants would do this!
We enjoyed our food very much. I had the Sunday Roast, while the boys went safe with fish and chips. We decided to try hot Butterbeer, which I loved, and topped it all off with some Sticky Toffee Pudding! Now that we’d taken care of business it was time to explore Hogsmeade Village and some of the other attractions!
Hogwarts Castle is really impressive! One can almost believe it’s as real as any castle you might see traveling the world.
There are two ride attractions in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and while we all enjoyed The Flight of the Hippogriff, Simon rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey on his own. Elliot does meet the height requirement, but as soon as they buckled us into the seat restraints I panicked! Call it a mother’s intuition, but I knew he wasn’t going to like it and I pulled him off the ride just before we entered the tunnel. I’m so glad I did! Simon confirmed my fears and while many people might enjoy the very immersive 5 minute experience, which includes, darkness, Dementors, being shaken this way and that, and a squirt of water in the face, I knew my little guy would have been terrified!
My new theme park rule: If they tell me to lock up my purse and take off my glasses, it’s not the ride for me! That said, even if you don’t plan to ride,wandering through the castle is fabulous and there are many surprises to make you feel as though you’ve stepped inside the real Hogwarts! There is a cozy little room where Harry Potter movies are playing to keep littles and their keepers occupied while waiting for the riders.
Even on a rainy day Hogsmeade was crowded, so we weren’t able to do everything, but we really enjoyed wandering around the village and were able to pop into Honeydukes where we picked up a few treats before we set off to see what else Universal Studios had to offer…
One last stop at the Butterbeer cart before we set off for home, made our day complete!
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