If you are a Harry Potter fan, a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood is a must see. It was so wonderful to be emerged in the Hogsmeade and Hogwarts world. There are so many other fun movie-themed rides to enjoy aside from Harry Potter. We loved the Transformers, Mummy, Walking Dead, Jurassic World rides and more! The Universal Studios Tour is also such a fun and informative experience.
In order to park at Universal Studios Hollywood, you will have to pay. We selected the cheapest option of General Parking and paid $28. Since we have a large truck to pull the RV, we were directed to the oversized vehicle parking lot. It was the first lot and right outside the parking garage. It was about a 5-minute walk through the parking lot and through the City Walk to the entrance of Universal Studios Hollywood.
Universal Studios Hollywood App
Make sure you download the Universal Studios Hollywood app before your visit. We found it to be so useful. First of all, you are able to see where you are inside the park on the map. We could figure out which direction to take for the next place we wanted to head. Second, the app will provide you with the wait times on rides. It was great to check and we could head towards a ride when it had a shorter wait time. For the shows, you can set a reminder for a showtime to receive an alert when its time to head to the show entrance.
Order of Rides
We arrived at the park before opening and waited with the large crowd at the park entrance. Our plan was to head straight for the Hogwarts Castle and ride “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”. However, everyone had the same idea as us and there was already a 60 minute wait by the time we made it to the castle. We quickly were able to ride “Flight of the Hippogriff” (a quick smaller roller coaster) and then we headed to the lower level.
I suggest heading to the lower level (which is down several escalators) first as we were able to ride those rides without a wait. It was not busy in the lower level and it was a good place to start. We were able to ride the three lower level rides without a wait. After we finished in the lower level, we headed to the Universal Studios Tour ride. After the tour, I kept checking the app for rides with the shortest wait times.
The Three Broomsticks
As a huge Harry Potter fan, I wanted to eat lunch at the Three Broomsticks. I enjoyed my fish and chips. Ryan thought the chicken sandwich with cheese was okay and the boys enjoyed chicken strips. We all ordered a Butter Beer. The bill was $111. I was a little shocked when the cashier gave us the total. This was a little expensive for lunch but it was the experience.
Speaking of butter beer, you cannot visit Universal Studios without having a butter beer. I was so excited to try one. A description I read was that butter beer tasted like cream soda with caramel and I think that is an accurate descriptions. There are three different kinds of butter beer – hot, cold or frozen. I preferred the hot and the frozen. Peyton preferred the cold. They all have a slightly different taste but you cannot go wrong with any of them.
There are several shows to watch. The app was useful to find the showtimes. At first I thought the app was showing all the showtimes. However, I realized that the later showtimes showed up later in the day. Our favorite show was the WaterWorld show. It was entertaining and the visual effects were amazing. The Special Effects show is fun to learn more about movie making. We highly recommend this show too!
Harry Potter Wands
For all the other Harry Potter fans, you are able to purchase a wand at Universal Studios Hollywood. There are two options. You can purchase a wand that it interactive. There are fun areas throughout the park that allow you to cast spells or create magic. The other option of wand is a plain wand (not interactive). As we did not make the purchase until we were ready to leave the park, Peyton purchased a plain wand. It still cost about $50 for the plain wand. However, we had a blast looking through Olivanders and all the options!
On rides that you cannot take personal items, there are lockers outside the ride entrance/exit. The lockers are free as long as your items will fit within the locker. The locker is opened by your fingerprint so you are able to lock everything away in the locker.
Sadly, a couple of the boys were disappointed in Universal Studios Hollywood. The reason….they were expecting more rides. They were expecting a normal theme park to ride roller coaster after roller coaster. This is not the case. While there are many rides, part of the Universal experience is the experience in itself. I love all walking through Hogsmeade and soaking in all the scenery. However, if you are not a Harry Potter fan, this may not be nearly as exciting.
You should be able to experience everything in the park in one day. It may be a long day but its not large enough that you need multiple days to explore the entire park.
To see more visuals on the fun at Universal Studios Hollywood, check out our YouTube video below.