Let’s face it. Most of us Potterheads have aged far beyond our eleventh birthday, and none of us received a Hogwart’s acceptance letter. Because of this devastating blow, Harry Potter fans love to do whatever they can to try and experience the Potter magic firsthand. Most recently, they have been flocking to Orlando and Japan to get a chance to experience a bit of the magic in Universal Orlando’s very own Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. That’s all well and good, but things can get a bit crowded if literally ALL the Potterheads have exactly one place in the entire country to get a taste of Rowling’s beautiful, wizarding world.
Happily, it looks like American Potterheads will no longer have to travel in hordes to the beaches of Florida to experience the magic of the wizarding world firsthand. Next spring, Universal Studios Hollywood will be opening their own Wizarding World attraction just for you. Get excited, nerds!
We don’t know 100% what to expect from the new attraction, but most reports are saying you can expect a “hyper-realistic” 3D version of “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”, you can chow down at the Three Broomsticks or Hog’s Head, and you can enjoy an outdoor roller coaster (and Universal Hollywood’s very first) called “The Flight of the Hippogriff.” I’m pretty sure there are a few more seat belts involved with the ride than Harry’s first ride on a Hippogriff.
While this all sounds crazy exciting, we’ve still got about a year to wait until we can get a piece of this Harry Potter action. So until that time, here are some of the best Wizarding World attractions that you can experience today.
Dervish and Banges
You simply cannot leave the Wizarding World of Harry Potter without some sort of a momento, and Dervish is a great place to get those magical items you’ve always wanted (Spectrespecs and Omnioculars, anyone?), you can buy your own copy of The Monster Book of Monsters, and any pick up Quidditch gear or uniforms that you need.
I think every single Potterhead has always wanted to try a proper cup of Butterbeer. While you can find tons of recipes online (seriously, just google that right now–there are tons of Butterbeer recipes out there), there is some sort of official feeling you get when drinking Butterbeer in Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley. The butterbeer isn’t hot, because Orlando, but it still is wonderfully delicious and magical.
Hog’s Head Pub and The Three Broomsticks
You can enjoy two of the most recognizable restaurants/inns/pubs from the Harry Potter world in Universal Orlando. Hog’s Head has an actual pub where you can buy alcohol, and Broomsticks serves other non-alcoholic faves like pumpkin juice and butterbeer along with actual meal-type foods. No word if you can join up with Dumbledore’s Army while you’re in Hog’s Head.
One of the coolest things in the Harry Potter universe is the crazy, creative, sort of alive candy and treats they have. While, sadly, you can’t buy yourself a chocolate frog that is able to literally jump out a window, you can get a non-jumping Chocolate Frog, treacle fudge, exploding bonbons, and Bertie Botts Every-Flavour Beans—just watch out for flavors like grass, booger, and vomit!
Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes
There is simply no better wizarding joke shop out there–just don’t try to get a family discount. Here you can buy yourself a Skiving Snackbox, a Pygmy Puff, U-No-Poo, and tons of other fantastic stuff that will make the rest of your travel buddies hate you for the rest of the trip.
What’s Universal Studios without a rad, movie-inspired coaster? This ride has sort of a “dueling coaster” feel. You can ride one of two “dragons,” either the Hungarian Horntail or the Chinese Fireball, and each one is offers a completely different experience. The coasters sort of “chase” each other around, so you get the feeling that you are actually riding on the back of a dragon as it chases another across the sky. Yes, please.
Remember, the wand chooses the wizard. Ollivander’s is renowned to be the best wand shop anywhere, and you can experience it for yourself. They let about 20 people at a time in the shop. In addition to getting the change to buy your own wand, a movie replica wand, or a new “interactive” wand that casts magical spells around Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, you can also watch a wand actually choose a member from your group. However, if you’re like me — a twentysomething Potterfan looking to experience a Potter-esque moment of magic in Ollivander’s — you might be disappointed. They tend to pick kids to experience a wand choosing them. It makes sense, but still…
If you try to tell me you’ve never wanted to ride on the Hogwart’s Express, you’re lying. In Universal Orlando, you can travel from London in the park to Hogsmeade, and from there to Diagon Alley. It even provides you with exciting, Potter-related scenery to watch on your journey. Keep a wary eye and your wands at the ready, though: word on the street is you might catch a glimpse of He Who Must Not Be Named when taking the train to Diagon Alley.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
So the Orlando version of this ride isn’t the “hyper-realistic 3D” version Universal Hollywood is launching next year, but it’s still a must-see for Potterheads. This ride takes you on a journey through the amazing Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can travel through the corridors of the awesome school, see things like the Gryffindor common room, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, duck around the Whomping Willow, and even join Harry Potter himself on a bit of an adventure.
I, for one, cannot wait to see what adventure awaits us in the new Universal Hollywood Wizarding World attraction. However, there is tons of amazing, Harry Potter magic to be found in Universal Japan and Orlando’s Wizarding Worlds. We may not be able to travel to actual Hogwarts just yet, but Universal has done a pretty spectacular job of making visitors feel like they’ve genuinely stepped into the world of the books and movies we all love so very much.
Will you be visiting the Wizarding World at Universal Hollywood? What are some of your favorite attractions at Universal Orlando and/or Japan? Let’s talk about it all in the comments!