The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood opens this week!
The magical theme park opens on April 7, and if you are planning on hitting up Harry's old stomping ground and you're kind of a novice with the world of wizards and/or theme parks, here are some tips on what to expect and how to make the most of your visit.
Accio Muggles Guide to Wizarding World!
1. What do I do first? Once you enter the park, you will be overwhelmed. You'll want to go in a million different directions, but in our opinion, you should head straight to the back of the park. Straight to Hogwarts Castle.
Why? Because the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride will almost certainly have the longest wait time, and we suggest getting that out of the way first, then working your way back through the park. Plus, walking up to the castle is one of the best parts of the park because it's so beautiful. So head straight back, enjoy the view and just get in line.
2. Is the ride worth the wait? Yes! Not only is the ride at the end of the line a thrilling 3-D adventure, but walking through Hogwarts Castle is an attraction in itself. From listening to Dumbledore in his office to looking into the Mirror of Erised to watching the talking portraits, there are so many tiny details that will make the wait go by quickly.
3. OK, where do I go after I get off the ride? We suggest hitting up the shop inside Hogwarts Castle after you get off the ride. It has some merchandise you won't find in the other places in the park, plus props from the films are sprinkled all over the place. It's definitely worth your time to walk around. And then right across from the Forbidden Journey ride is the Flight of the Hippogriff, a rollercoaster. It may look like its for children, but we promise you will love it, no matter how old you are. The view from the top of the highest hill is worth waiting in line. Plus, you gotta pay a visit to Hagrid's hut, right?
4. I'm done with the rides! Now what? Now is the time to work your way back through the park, taking photos of all the beautiful scenery. As you work your way backwards, that's when you stop in every single shop in Hogsmeade to stock up on Harry Potter paraphernalia. And there are plenty to hit up: Dervish and Banges, Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Good, Gladrags Wizardwear, Honeydukes, Ollivanders, The Owl Post, Wizeacre's Wizarding Equipment, Zonko's Joke Shop.
Plan on spending the most time in Ollivanders (the wand must choose you) and Honeydukes, which is full of Instagram worthy displays. And sugar! If you don't mind waiting in another line, Ollivanders has a special presentation for those who are looking for a new wand.
5. I'm hungry! Where else to eat but the Three Broomsticks? It's a rustic tavern that looks like it was literally ripped from the pages of J.K. Rowling's novels. The food is authentic and delicious (we recommend the Bangers and Mash or the Fish and Chips), and you should definitely take the time to walk around the dining room to see all the cool decor.
6. What's the last thing I should do before I go? You should end your trip with a frosty glass of Butterbeer. You can buy one at the Three Broomsticks or you can purchase them at the carts placed throughout the park. We think the perfect way to end your visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is by strolling past the Hogwarts Express, sipping on a sweet concoction and savoring the magical soundtrack that floats through the entire park.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens at Universal Studios Hollywood on April 7.
(E!, NBC and Universal Studios Hollywood are all part of the NBCUniversal family.)