My little sister is a long-time lover of Harry Potter.  She’s the perfect age for it, as kind of she grew up with the characters.  When I heard the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was opening at Universal Studios in Hollywood, I knew we had to take her.  So, as part of her college graduation gift from us, we did!  I decided to post about our experience in case it helps someone else who’s wanting to go – keep scrolling down for photos from the day, our favorite rides, and a few tips and tricks to help you in the park.

We went last Friday before the holiday weekend, and although the park was busy we were able to do everything we wanted comfortably!  Here’s how:

Universal Studios Hollywood Tips

  • Buy your tickets online ahead of time.  You save about $20 and don’t have to wait in the long ticket line!
  • Splurge for “Front of the Line” passes.  We had “Front of the Line” passes and were SO glad we did!  We were able to walk on to every ride and really maximize our time in the park – we didn’t wait in a single line!  This allowed us to do everything we wanted to do in one day, with time to spare.Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines
  • Bring your own water.  They don’t allow outside food and drink, except for water!  So it saves a lot of money to bring your own.

Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to PinesUniversal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines (A “Brain Freeze Do’Nut Sundae” from the ice cream stop in The Simpson’s “Springfield”)

  • Take a break in the American Express Lounge.  If you have an American Express card or purchased a “Front of the Line” pass, take advantage of this little lounge.  It’s a comfy place to cool off, use the private bathroom, and grab free water and snacks.
  • Grab a park map and show schedule.  Plan your day around the shows first, and then locations.  You should definitely do all the rides in the “Lower Lot” at once so you’re not going back and forth!  (P.S. – we took the stairs back up to the upper lot – was definitely a workout and made me feel better about all the crazy food we ate!!)
  • Make sure you plan for the Studio Tour in your day – it’s an hour long but was one of my favorites.  And rumor has it that the third car in the tram is the best place to sit!  This is where we were sitting and apparently has the best view.

Our Favorites

We had some strong favorites – here they are!

  • Water World – This show is so good, whether you’ve seen the movie or not!  There are legit stunt people that you might recognize from various movies and TV shows, and lots of special effects.Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines
  • Jurassic Park – For me, I mostly love seeing the size of the dinosaurs and what it would feel like to actually be next to one!  But the T-Rex combined with the huge drop at the end were my favorite!
  • Revenge of the Mummy – It’s a pretty fun roller coaster that will get you screaming ;).Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines
  • Transformers – They do a great job making you feel like you’re actually part of the movie via 3D.Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines
  • Studio Tour – I loved this one.  It’s a nice little break in your day because you get to sit on a tram for an hour that takes you all over the park.  You get to ride around the backlot and see studios and sets where actual shows and movies are filmed.  I loved how they’ll show you on the tram screen a scene from a movie or show as they’re pointing out the real-life spot it was filmed.  Some other highlights: the plane crash from War of the Worlds, Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, the legendary Bates Motel from Psycho, Jaws, King Kong 360 3D, and Fast & Furious Supercharged.
  • And of course…The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! See below for our favorites within that section.

Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

As you walk in, make sure you get a picture at the Hogwarts Express!  Then, here are the other things you can’t miss:Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines

Ollivanders Wand Shop.  This is a must-see, even if you aren’t planning on buying a wand.  It really felt like what I imagined the real wand shop to be like!  If you are planning on buying a wand, go here first and get an interactive wand.  There are tons of spots around Hogsmeade that you can use your want to do “spells”.  We all had so much fun taking turns with Lisa’s wand to see if we could get the spells right.  There are also tons of wizards who work at the park hanging around to help if you need it!  Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to PinesUniversal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines
 Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Hands down the best part of the park!  I loved this ride!  The best part is actually waiting in line, because you get to walk through Hogwarts.  My favorite part was the talking portraits on the walls, as well as the part where you walk by Dumbledore’s office.  The ride itself is so cool – I love how it combines real aspects with 3D to make you feel like you’re really flying around Hogwarts!
Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines

Flight of the Hippogriff

This is the only other ride in Harry Potter World, and it’s a fun, family-friendly coaster.  My favorite part is actually in line where you walk by Hagrid’s Hut.Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines


Believe it or not, it tasted exactly how I imagined it would!  Except for me it’s pretty sugary (I’m not into sugar) so I had to share ;).Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to Pines

Three Broomsticks

We ate dinner here, and loved the atmosphere!


Anything and everything you could ever want is there!  Whether it’s a cape, a Hogwarts souvineer keychain, a wand, or memorabilia from the four houses.  If you are wanting to buy some gifts for the other Harry Potter fans in your life, I recommend getting them some candy or treats from Honeydukes!

My biggest tip: go with someone who LOVES Harry Potter as much as my little sister!  It was so fun to see her light up and get excited about everything!  And also fun to have her there to explain some of the little things (creatures and places) that I’d forgotten since reading the books.  Lisa, you make everything magical, especially The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Universal Studios Hollywood | Palms to PinesSo there you go!  Hope that helps someone out there planning a trip to Universal Studios!!  And thanks Universal Studios Hollywood, for showing us a great and memorable time and for bringing the magic of Harry Potter to life for us :).