wizarding world of harry potter hollywood
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman for Time Out

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in L.A.: Your Ultimate Guide

Find out everything you need to know about the Harry Potter-themed land at Universal Studios Hollywood

Michael Juliano
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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the much lauded land based on the boy wizard book and movie series, first opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2016 but it’s easily still one of the destinations at the theme park—second only to the comparatively newer Super Nintendo World. The Wizarding World’s landmark attraction offers enchantment to Potter fans and Muggles (that’s non-magical folk) alike. Whether you’re visiting Hollywood (though the park is technically just over the hill in Universal City) and searching for things to do or are a Potter-obsessed local looking for your fix, check out these tips and bits of info before you embark on your journey.

Is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an entirely separate theme park?

Nope, it’s just a themed land—albeit an incredibly immersive one—in the middle of Universal Studios Hollywood.

Is there an extra admission charge?

No. Access is included with a park ticket, which ranges from $109 to $154 depending on the day.

How can I skip the lines?

Universal offers front-of-line Express passes ($209–$309, includes admission) that offer access to a priority line for each attraction. If you don’t want to spend that much money, though, waiting in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is totally bearable: We’ve most typically seen wait times between a half hour and an hour, with even lower times later in the evening.

What can you actually do there?

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.

If you purchase an interactive wand at Ollivanders, you can flick your wrist at a few designated spots in Hogsmeade (look for the gold markers on the ground) and set off some magical effects. Elsewhere, there’s a small stage near the castle where you can watch the Triwizard Tournament play out (during the holidays, you can catch the Frog Choir, and around Halloween you may spot Death Eaters roaming around).

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 (if the land is too crowded to see it, just show up a half hour later for the next presentation).

 

What are the 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.

What about the shops?

You’ll find a mix of clothes, candy and other trinkets from the books and films at shops with recognizable names like Ollivanders, Owl Post, Dervish and Banges, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment and Gladrags Wizardwear. You’ll also find Zonko’s Joke Shop and Honeydukes, though the Zonko’s half of that shop is now home to Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream.

Do they sell Butterbeer?

Of course, in iced, frozen and hot formats—and it’s delicious (albeit sweet).

What other food is there?

You’ll find traditional English fare (and, frankly, some of the best food you’ll find inside the park) at the Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head Pub, as well as snacks from the Magic Neep Cart and two Butterbeer stands.

In the spring of 2024, Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream was added to the land with 10 different flavors of soft-serve ice cream (try the Butterbeer or the toffee apple), available in either a cup or a cone.