Hogwarts Comes to SoCal

After nine years since the last film of Harry Potter series premiered, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood is finally ready to welcome its fandom on April 7th, only 25 days from now.

The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has nurtured our imagination since we were children- enchanting spells, monstrous books, magical creatures, Marauder’s map, and so much more. I remember daydreaming about my own life in the world of magic. “Perhaps my parents were not muggles,” I thought to my 12-year-old self, “maybe one day I would receive the acceptance letter from Hogwarts.” Of course the letter never came, and within that process of endless waiting, I’ve grown up.

I’ve toured the shooting sets and been to the Harry Potter studios in suburban London. But I wasn’t satisfied- perhaps seeing the lego size Hogwarts was instead a destruction of my imagination. Therefore, when I read about the upcoming Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios Hollywood, I didn’t expect too much but I decided to check it out anyways.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is currently in “soft opening”- the section is open to the public but not all the rides are ready. It looks completely different from the rest of the theme park. To my surprise, old Scottish Village with snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets put me under the spell as soon as I stepped into this details-to-the-teeth Hogsmead.

At a glance, you could see Hogwarts Express, Honeydukes, Owl Post, Joke Shop, Dervish and Banges, Three Broomsticks, Ollivanders, outdoor coaster “Flight of the Hippogriff”, several carts with huge butterbeer barrels, and the real size Hogwarts castle in the distance. You could get your pictures taken with probes from the actual film set at Hogwarts Express, taste any of the every flavor beans you desire in Honeydukes, and then mail a show-off letter to your family and friends with special stamps from Owl Post. The must-go attractions are Three Broomsticks, Ollivanders, and the 3-D ride inside Hogwarts castle.

Three Broomsticks offers the most authentic British ambiance you could find in Los Angeles. It’s an aged rustic tavern with custom-made wooden seatings and traditional British cuisine. Their signature entrees include Bangers & Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, Beef Sunday Roast, Lamb & Guinness Stew, and Fish & Chips. They also offer a variety of breakfasts.

Hog’s Head Pub is connected with Three Broomsticks, they provide original draught beers and spirits exclusively created for this Hogsmead. Some featured drinks are Hog’s Head Brew, Dragon Scale, Wizard’s Brew, and Fine Whiskey.

After a beyond satisfying lunch, you might catch special performance from Hogwarts’ students and toads on the stage next to the main walkway. And slowly, you would find your way to Ollivanders, makers of fine wands since 382 B.C. A mesmerizing wand fitting experience awaits your inner child. In a dark room stored with thousands of wand boxes, an old wizard will choose one lucky person to find his or her wand of destiny. You might wave your wand twice or three times, but only when it’s the right one, light will be shed on you.

Interactive wands are also sold everywhere, meaning you can use spell with this wand at several spots in the park to move objects or destroy them.

The most notable attraction is the hyper-realistic 3D-HD ride inside the Hogwarts castle, called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. On the way to the ride, you will see Dumbledore’s office, Pensieve, Fat Lady with her wine glass, Gryffindor Common Room, and such. With the special goggles, the ride takes you through a magical journey- following Harry’s Quidditch game to the Dark Woods with dragons, Hippogriff, Dementors, and giant spiders.

Walking out with your heads still spinning, the best way to top this awesome day is cheering to it with a cup of butterbeer. Sweet and bubbly, you could pose with a perfect cream mustache under the warm and cuddly Californian sunshine.

Although many people are waiting for the opening day to tour this magical land, you can start purchasing your tickets at ushtix.com/csula. The good thing is, Cal State LA students get special discounts!

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