Universal Studios Hollywood enchants “Potterheads” with an impressive visit to Hogsmeade as the basis for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. With a family of muggles who wish very much to be wizards, when our spring break travels brought us to California, I knew that a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a must.
However, even the best-researched plans do not always world out. If you are planning a visit to Universal Studios, ensure you read to the end of this post for mistakes to avoid when visiting the park!
Mistake #1 When Visiting Universal Studios is sleeping in
If the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is what you are going to Universal Studios for, then you are going to want to get there when it opens. As the day goes on it gets busier and busier in Hosgmeade. While the magic lasts all day and it does begin to feel like a town, I think everyone can agree that having a town to yourself is more fun!
Check the hours of Universal Studios and allow 10 minutes to walk from the parkade through City Walk before you get to the entrance. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not far from the park entrance (Universal Studios is not huge). Stay to the right as you enter and you will see it! This leads to Mistake #2
Mistake #2 is not going to Ollivanders First!
Your first stop should be Ollivanders Wand Shop if you want to get a wand and cast spells throughout The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (They do cost money so budget for it $50). There is a queue to do the Ollivanders experience but there is also a door to the Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment shop if you do not want to first see what it is all about.
Doing the wand experience first means that you typically do not need to line up around the village. Watching a wizard in front of you unlock the magic ahead of you takes a little away from the experience in my opinion. I will admit, we made this mistake and when we went back to get a wand in the afternoon there were people waiting everywhere to flick their wrist and cast their spells.
Mistake #3 Know Your Rides and Your Kids
Being a single mom, I have run into this problem before, rides are made for 2 people. Your traditional family is fine, 2 parents, 2 kids, no problems. However if you do not fit into an even number or are a single parent like me, you are going to have to have a child go alone. While I suggested that my two boys go together and 1 go alone, my 8 year old was NOT having it. Thankfully my 10 year old was willing to go on Flight of the Hippogriff alone and it all worked out. (However, it has backfired in the past and at other theme parks as well).
Make sure you know your kids, their comfort levels etc, before you run into this issue!
Mistake #4 Flight of the Hippogriff is a kid’s coaster
A common mistake for Universal Studio’s parkgoers, is getting in line for the Flight of the Hippogriff only to be disappointed when the line is very long and the rollercoaster is very short. I wish it went around twice, but it does not.
The “big” rollercoaster is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and it is an indoor ride (like much of Universal Studios) with lots of special effects. Neither of my kids were willing to go on it (I have been on it and it is really cool, but the CGI does make me a bit sick). If you like roller coasters, you will like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Go past the Flight of the Hippogriff and you will see it near the end of Hogsmeade.
Mistake #5 Is not setting your budget before you arrive
It is easy to get out of hand while shopping at Universal. (I suggest you shop LAST, enjoy the park first.) Set a budget and stick to it, whether it is on pass upgrades (you can buy 1 time use skip the line passes at the entrance, well worth it in my opinion!), meals (we always stick to “no drinks, just water” and bring reusable water bottles – ok we did get Butterbeer, but that is more of an experience than a drink), or souvenirs. While my youngest really wanted a set of Slytherin robes, they were over his budget and he was ok with it. He ended up with a Tri-Wizard cup instead.
Mistake #6 Is not wandering the Alleyways
Want to have Hogsmeade to yourself even when it is busy? Get off the main path and explore the ornately detailed alleyways. Try going out the back door of shops, this is the best way to stumble onto the alleyway!
I hope that by reading this post you have a wonderful visit to Universal Studios and avoid common mistakes that first-timers make when they visit.
We were guests of Universal Studios Hollywood, but as always all opinions are our own.
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.