Calling all witches, wizards, goblins and trolls! We’re just days away from the April 7th grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Studios Hollywood℠ so I thought I would share some of my insider tips and photos from my recent sneak peek of this amazing new attraction. Hold on to your broomsticks because here we go!

WWHP - Hogwarts Express

Early Park Access & Convenient Transportation

As a preferred hotel partner of Universal Studios Hollywood℠, Loews Hollywood Hotel offers guests the opportunity to purchase EZ Rez tickets, a new easy to use online ticketing system, which also includes early entry to the park and certain attractions like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™. These tickets are available to purchase online as well as at the conveniently located kiosk on the Mezzanine level of the hotel and with the Universal Studios Hollywood℠ representative in the lobby. Entering the park before it opens allows you the chance to experience the grandeur of this enchanting new world, take in the many details and of course get dibs on the rides before the mass crowds arrive when the park opens. This will undoubtedly be the most popular attraction at the park and I can say from experience it is well worth taking the time to soak up all the magic!

In addition to early access, make the most out of your trip by taking advantage of the easy and inexpensive transportation options available to the park. Loews Hollywood happens to be just one LA Metro stop away from Universal Studios Hollywood℠ and a day pass will only cost you $7. Simply purchase and load a metro pass, take the NoHo (North Hollywood) Red Line one stop and get off at Universal City. It’s a quick five minute underground rail ride and no need to stress about remembering where you parked at the end of the day!

INSIDER TIP: Once you exit the metro there is a bridge to the other side of the road where it’s then just a simple walk to find a shuttle stop that will take you up to Universal City Walk and the park entrance, for free! Shuttles arrive every 5-10 minutes and it takes just over 3 minutes to easily guide you up the hill and drop you off just steps from the park and lots of shopping and dining.

WWHP - Hogwarts

Hogwarts™ Castle

An iconic image known around the world from the Harry Potter™ movie franchise, this replica castle is just as awe-inspiring as you would expect, and more! The attention to detail is incredible and there are so many aspects from the books and movies that they were able to bring to life, complete with the Weasley’s crashed Flying Ford Anglia just outside the castle grounds.

And Hogwarts™ Castle isn’t just for looks. Upon entering between the two flying boar statues, you follow a path that guides you past Professor Sprout’s mandrake garden and up into the castle where you’ll discover the House Cup Scoreboard, a hallway filled with animated talking picture frames (including the house founders; Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin), Dumbledore’s Headmaster’s Office, Harry, Ron and Hermione sneaking around the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and past the portrait of the Fat Lady leading you to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, a thrilling 3D adventure ride. But don’t be fooled, Hogwarts™ isn’t nearly as tall as it looks. The architects designed the very top portions of the castle to be smaller so that the castle looks bigger from the ground perspective, clever huh?

INSIDER TIPS: If you’re anything like me you are bound to take loads of pictures throughout the day, especially with all of the crazy details and fun surprises in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™. Bring your phone charger with you and charge up when possible. I found an inconspicuous outlet inside the Panda Express on the Lower Lot that allowed me to power up several times when needed!

Also, if you plan to purchase a wand at Ollivanders™  in Hogsmeade, tell the cashier you’d like them to hold the box for you and you can pick it up in the park on your way out without having to carry the box with you throughout the day!

WWHP - Butterbeer


Unlike its sister attraction featuring Diagon Alley™ at Universal Studios Orlando℠, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Studios Hollywood℠  offers guests the chance to spend a day off from their wizard studies to enjoy the atmophere of the village of Hogsmeade™. And no visit to Hogsmeade™ is complete without a delicious glass of Butterbeer™! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when ordering this popular wizard beverage from the Butterbeer™ cart but was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful it was. Offered both cold and frozen (I HIGHLY recommend the frozen option), imagine a frothy cream soda with a hint of butterscotch flavor on a warm spring afternoon. Like me, you may be tempted to go back for a second glass! You’ll never have to look far for Butterbeer™ in Hogsmeade™ as it can even be found when dining in Three Broomsticks™ or for a drink in Hog’s Head™ Pub.

Speaking of dining, you can’t beat lunch at Three Broomsticks™ where they offer appropriately themed menu items like shepherd’s pie, turkey legs, fish & chips, and bangers & mash to complete your Hogsmeade™ experience. In fact, it was the easiest dining experience I’ve ever had at a theme park because the tables inside are reserved and a witch or wizard will greet you once you pick up your food and personally escort you to a clean table to fit your group. What a handy addition for those wrangling a group of wizards hopped up on Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans™!

INSIDER TIP: Have a friend who’s dying to try Butterbeer™ at home? Just because you can’t transport a cold glass of Butterbeer™ back to them doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the mysterious flavor of this favorite fictional drink. Stop by Honeyduke’s™ where you can find Butterbeer™ flavored fudge as a sweet souvenir!