We were lucky enough this year to have spent Christmas and New Year over in the grand ol' US of A (before all of the recent craziness started!!!) One of the highlights of the trip for all three of us was a trip to Universal Hollywood and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which was the most amazing Christmas present from my American family. I'm a huge Potter fan and the man isn't particularly but he enjoyed it too!!
As amazing as it was there was some advice given to us that made it even better so I thought that I'd share some of those tips with you guys too. First off, as it's still shiny and new, EVERYONE heads to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter first as it's the thing they all want to see. Going against every grain in my (very excited) body, we took the advice of park staff and started right at the very back of the park and left it until last. Now don't get me wrong, it was busy all day but we certainly missed the crush!! This is the entrance:
Eeeeeeek so very exciting! The geek in me was actually pogo-ing at this point!! The first thing that we saw was the Hogwarts express;
There is also the station there where you can get your photos taken on the Hogwarts Express with a green screen behind you and they then add the scenery. It's a lot of fun as they give you scarves and wands and you get really get into the swing of being part of the books and films. The only downside is that you can't take your own photos on there and the Universal photos are about $35 dollars each!! Ouch - too much money for me to warrant spending unfortunately!!
The second piece of advice that I would give you is, if you can afford it, then buy the passes that enable you to jump to the front of the queue. Both of the rides in the Wizarding World had long queues all day but Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was at least a 90 minute wait for the entire day!!! We were again very lucky and had the queue jump passes which meant we got on every single ride and didn't have to wait for more than 15 minutes for anything. It's certainly worth the money. The only plus side of the queue for this ride is that it winds through the Hogwarts Castle and has some amazing features including Dumbledore speaking to you. We loved this although the ride made Chick feel a bit sick!! These are the views inside the castle whilst you are queuing:
One of the other things that I also thought was cool, is that as there are a lot of larger people in America, each ride with height/size restrictions had a 'sizing' carriage before you got into the queue so you knew if you would fit into the ride or not.
Of course there are also plenty of places to spend your money in the Wizarding World!! We couldn't even get in to Ollivanders because the queue was nuts the entire day but they do sell the wands and interactive wands (around $50) at all of the other shops in the park too. Almost everyone we saw had the interactive wands and there are certain spots in the wizarding world where these then enable you to 'cast a spell'. The kids we saw all day were absolutely spellbound by this and had we taken the youngest two we would've bought them both one but (probably incorrectly) decided that we were too old for this!! There were markers on the ground indicating the spots and telling you the spell however at the trickier ones they had members of staff assisting!! Just so unbelievably awesome and a great part of the magic!
So we missed out on the wands but we may however have spent a good amount of time and money in Honeydukes:
So exciting seeing a huge, colourful variety - just like being a kid again. The man treated me to a chocolate cauldron and erm this was the photo I sent to my best friend of it......
Attractive I know ;) The only thing I would be tempted to avoid from Honeydukes is Bertie Botts all flavoured beans...... Vomit and Ear Wax are not nice flavours to accidentally bite in to.............
The absolute highlight of the day for me without a shadow of a doubt was eating lunch at the Three Broomsticks! We waited until after 2pm as suggested to us and although we still had a half an hour wait the line moved pretty quickly and the staff seemed to do a good job of getting you seated as quickly as possible. The food was amazing and the puddings were out of this world. We couldn't have eaten one each. As it was we shared two puddings between the four of us and still struggled to eat everything.
A word of warning though the refreshments are limited to juice/tea or iced tea/Pumpkin juice or Butterbeer (yuck), you can't get a soda in the Wizarding World. The food was incredible and some people had the Great Feast which looked amazing - we weren't that hungry!! Considering that it was theme park food I felt that it was fairly reasonably priced too especially for such a great experience:
After lunch, we needed a break so had a walk around the park and went shopping and to see some of the shows and then came back at night once it was all lit up. It was certainly much quieter at night and we actually got to look at the shop windows including self-stirring cauldrons, wands and amazing outfits. Hogsmeade at night is something special:
As is the Hogwarts castle all lit up:
We had such an amazing time and would happily go back again. Like I say the only thing I would do differently is to buy a wand and get interactive. We may also be adventurous and try the great feast at the Three Broomsticks. If you've been and have any other advice for new visitors then please let me know and I'll add to it :)