The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a themed area at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park near Los Angeles. From magical spells to magical creatures, from dark villains to daring heroes, it’s all here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, now open at Universal Studios Hollywood. Explore the mysteries of Hogwarts castle, visit the shops of Hogsmeade, and sample fare from some of the wizarding world’s best-known establishments. Plus experience pulse-pounding rides and attractions that transport you into a world of magical thrills and excitement.
The area is themed to the Harry Potter media franchise, adapting elements from the film series and novels by J.K. Rowling. The attraction in Universal Studios Hollywood is the second Harry Potter-themed area to exist at a Universal resort. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood officially began operation on April 7, 2016.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the much lauded land based on the boy wizard book and movie series, has quickly become the destination at Universal Studios Hollywood since its debut. The Wizarding World’s landmark attraction offers enchantment to Potter fans and Muggles alike.
The Wizarding World’s village-like Hogsmeade portion features shops and restaurants pulled straight from the Harry Potter universe while the Hogwarts section features two rides. The centerpiece attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, is housed inside of Hogwarts Castle. You’ll fly through the castle grounds—via a cleverly disguised robotic arm that whisks you through tangible scenes and projection domes—and encounter everything from a dragon to dementors. Across from it, you’ll find the family-friendly Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster. Additionally, you can line up for an interactive experience at Ollivanders, where one lucky would-be-wizard gets to wield a magical wand.
The Wizarding World is immersive and full of magic for all of the wizards in your family. Arriving early or late is the best way to approach the attractions. The evening option also means you’ll experience the added dimension of darkness and the twinkling lights of Hogsmeade. On summer nights, you can see the four houses of Hogwarts come to life on the castle’s exterior during the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle projection show. The five-minute show occurs multiple times toward the end of the evening. There’s a similar show during the holiday season dubbed the Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.
A mix of clothes, candy and other trinkets from the books and films at shops with recognizable names like Zonko’s Joke Shop, Honeydukes, Ollivanders, Owl Post, Dervish and Banges, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment and Gladrags Wizardwear.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a motion-based dark ride located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-themed areas of Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, California. The ride takes guests through scenes and environments in and around Hogwarts Castle from the Harry Potter series of books and films.
Enter through the towering castle gates and make your way down the familiar passageways and corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Visit iconic locations such as Dumbledore’s office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, the Room of Requirement, and more.
Then get ready to soar above the castle grounds as you join Harry Potter and his friends on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, coming face-to-face with an array of magical creatures. This amazing attraction uses groundbreaking, state-of-the-art technology (and a little magic) to create a one-of-a-kind ride.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey uses KUKA robocoaster technology, which allows the seats to pivot while being held above the track by a robotic arm. However, the ride is not a roller coaster but a scenic dark ride. The experience includes a flight around Hogwarts castle, an encounter with the Whomping Willow and a horde of Dementors, and a Quidditch match.
To enter the ride, guests walk through the gates of Hogwarts and begin their journey in the dungeons where they see items featured in the movies and books. Passengers enter through the castle doors, go to the lockers, queue outside in the green house and then enter the back castle doors. Objects recognizable from the series include the Mirror of Erised, the Hogwarts House Jewels, and talking portraits, which feature the founders of Hogwarts.
As guests proceed throughout the hallways, they encounter replicas of the rooms of Hogwarts castle, including the Headmaster’s office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom and the Gryffindor common room. In the Headmaster’s office, Professor Dumbledore extends a warm welcome to all Muggles, informing them that Professor Binns is hosting a lecture on the history of the school.
In the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Harry, Ron, and Hermione appear from under the Invisibility Cloak, urging guests to meet them in the Room of Requirement in order to sneak everyone down to a Quidditch match. Ron tries to cast a spell, which goes wrong, and one of several special effects, such as falling snow, is triggered. Before continuing on, visitors receive a safety reminder from the Sorting Hat and several paintings in the next two rooms.
The station of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey allows up to four guests to board an “enchanted bench” which is their ride vehicle for the duration of the attraction. Next, riders board an enchanted Omnimover-style bench inside the Room of Requirement, which lifts off the ground and through the Floo Network for a journey with Harry. The ride combines real sets and animatronics with segments that use wrap-around projection screens.
The ride begins with a dousing of Floo Powder from Hermione Granger, who asks the guests to say, “Observatory” in order to transport them to their desired location, and the enchanted bench flies off through the Floo Network to the Astronomy Tower. The guests leave the room of requirement through its fireplace and enter the Observatory, where they look out through the open arches to the hills and lake outside Hogwarts’ boundary.
As the guests fly out of one of the Observatory’s arches, the ride smoothly switches to a wrap-around projection screen and they follow Harry Potter and Ron Weasley around Hogwarts’ buildings and towers to a Quidditch match. As Harry and Ron travel under a bridge, Hagrid hails the riders and asks them if they have seen a dragon.
As Harry redirects the riders’ attentions back to their journey, Hagrid’s pet Hungarian Horntail dragon begins to chase the riders. The bench flies out of the projection screen and into a set of the uneven bridge that crosses the valley behind Hogwarts and, after falling out of a hole in the floor of the bridge, they encounter an animatronic dragon, which breathes pressurized water mist with red lighting pointed to it to make it resemble fire.
The riders descend into a set of the Forbidden Forest where they encounter a figure of Aragog, a large, sentient spider who spits water at them. As Hermione tries to help the riders away from Aragog and towards the castle, encountering many spiders on the way, they encounter an animatronic Whomping Willow which swipes at them, knocking them into the Quidditch pitch.
The ride returns to a projection screen as the riders become caught up in Harry’s and Ron’s game of Quidditch. As Slytherin scores into Gryffindor’s goal, Dementors arrive at the Quidditch pitch and Harry attempts to lead the riders away through the structure of the pitch and back to the school, but their bench falls into the long-abandoned Chamber of Secrets through a cave entrance in a cliff which Harry, Ron, Ginny, Fawkes, and Gilderoy Lockhart departed through from the Chamber in the second Harry Potter installment.
The riders return to a real set as the Dementors appear from the pipelines and chase them. The skeleton of the long-deceased Basilisk lies on the floor of the Chamber, and expels Lord Voldemort’s Dark Mark into the air as the benches are drawn into the mouth of Salazar Slytherin’s statue.
Dozens of Dementors emerge from the darkness while one descends and attempts to suck out the riders’ souls. This effect is achieved by projecting the riders’ faces onto a cloud of fog in front of the Dementor, blasting cold air towards the riders, and using a heartbeat-like sound played through the sub-woofers built into the benches. After shaking the riders out of the trance, Harry causes the Dementors to flee with a protective Patronus Charm.
After the final Dementor, and while Harry uses his Patronus, the riders enter the final video dome segment, where the cliffs outside the Chamber of Secrets cave in. They fly over the Black Lake, back into Hogwarts and through the Main Hall and Grand Staircase, where they are cheered on by a series of onscreen characters from the movies who appear three-dimensional. Professor Dumbledore sends everyone back through the Floo Network to the Room of Requirement, where they exit their bench.
Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff is a junior roller coaster at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of the many Universal theme parks. A Hippogriff is a magical creature that has the front legs, wings, and head of a giant eagle and the body, hind legs, and tail of a horse. Flight of the Hippogriff is a family-friendly roller coaster that spirals and dives around the pumpkin patch.
The new ride was a redesign of an existing roller coaster known as Flying Unicorn, which the park closed in 2008 to begin its transformation. The design change was implemented to fit the new Harry Potter-themed area that was being constructed at the park. Flight of the Hippogriff is a mild alternative to the area’s more extreme rides.
The roller coaster’s new backstory is that Hagrid is teaching young wizards how to fly a Hippogriff by using fake replicas of the creature. The queue line weaves through Hogwarts Grounds, past Hagrid’s Hut and the Forest, and leads into an open canopy where Care of Magical Creatures Class is taught, and riders board the vehicle.
The roller coaster takes passengers on a test flight of the Hippogriff over the Forbidden Forest and Hagrid’s Hut. Riders are instructed to bow to the Hippogriff before the ride progresses up the lift hill. The cars then travel over a track, to the top of the lift, where riders have a full aerial view of The Wizarding World, and then dropped through various dips and turns around Hogwarts Grounds before being deposited at the start of the track, where Hagrid thanks riders, who then disembark.
Hogsmeade – With a gentle flick of the wrist and just the right touch, visitors can cast spells throughout The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at wand magic locations.
Frog Choir – Hear the vocal stylings of this small choir of Hogwarts students, accompanied by the smooth bass rumbles of their giant throaty frogs.
Triwizard Cup – Cheer on the colourful procession of students from the legendary wizarding schools of Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang as they lead the excitement for the Triwizard Tournament.
Three Broomsticks – This rustic tavern is the place to go in Hogsmeade for good food, friendly conversation, and a Butterbeer. Take a seat and have your fill of tasty British fare including the ‘Great Feast’, Fish & Chips, Shepherd’s Pie, Cornish Pasties, Turkey Legs, and Fresh Vegetables.
The Hog’s Head Bar – Located in the back of Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade, this is the place to stop in for a Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice, along with domestic and imported beers, specialty drinks, wine, spirits, and mixed drinks.
Magic Neep Cart – Fresh Fruit, cold beverages, bottled beers and snacks.
Ollivanders – Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, where you can see a wand choose a wizard.
Honeydukes – A must-stop for visitors to Hogsmeade, at Honeydukes the shelves are lined with all manner of colorful sweets, including Acid Pops, Exploding Bonbons, Peppermint Toads, Fudge Flies, Fizzing Whizzbees, and Chocolate Frogs, which contain a wizard trading card in each box.
Owl Post – The Owl Post sells a variety of stationery, writing implements, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter stamps, as well as owl-related toys and gifts.
Zonko’s Joke Shop – Zonko’s is your destination for novelty items, jokes and toys.
Dervish and Banges – Be sure to stop at Dervish and Banges for such magical items as Spectrespecs and The Monster Book of Monsters. Dervish and Banges carries all your Quidditch needs including t-shirts, Quaffles, Golden Snitches and brooms including the Nimbus 2001 and the Firebolt.
Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods – Here you can see confiscated items like the Marauder`s Map and purchase souvenirs like t-shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, bags, caps, pins, keychains, plush toys, glassware, jewelry, travel accessories, collectibles, stationery, books and an assortment of other fine gifts.
Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment – At Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, visitors will find house robes, Platform 9 ¾ train station items, Hogwarts Express items, and a variety of wizarding wares and supplies.
Gladrags Wizardwear – Here guests will find a variety of fashionable wizardwear such as authentic wizards’ robes and accessories, as well as other apparel and jewelry fashion items inspired by the four school houses.
Hogsmeade Station – Among the towering stacks of lost luggage and traveling parcels you’ll discover magical Platform 9 ¾-branded items including train tickets, wallets, passport cases, backpacks, blankets, mugs, photo frames, jewelry and more.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood is a film studio and theme park in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County, California. It is one of the oldest and most famous Hollywood film studios still in use. It was initially created to offer tours of the real Universal Studios sets and is the first of many full-fledged Universal Studios Theme Parks located across the world.
The magic of movie-making comes to life at the park, which combines the quintessential Hollywood movie experience with frogtastic theme park attractions and shows. Exciting attractions include The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
Universal Studios Hollywood is divided roughly in half between upper and lower lots. Outside the theme park, a new, all-digital facility near the Universal Pictures backlot was built in an effort to merge all of NBCUniversal’s West Coast operations into one area. In 2017, the park hosted 9.056 million guests, ranking it 15th in the world and 9th among North American parks.