After years of waiting, I finally received my acceptance letter to Hogwarts! Well, I visited Universal Studios, which is basically the same thing. Warning, I’m about to be an extreme geek.
All day on my actual birthday, my coworkers asked me why I was at work and not taking the day off. The reason, I explained, was that I would be taking off the Friday after to go to Universal Studios for the day with my family! I am fortunate to share my birthday (May 18th) with my amazing grandfather. About a month before our birthday, he asked me what I thought of him taking the family on a trip to Hogwarts, and my reaction was beyond enthusiastic! The day arrived, and I excitedly put on my Deathly Hallows necklace.
There were 13 (yes, 13!) of my family members joining for the day! It was sure to be a crazy, disorganized, yet unbelievably fun mess. Once everyone had arrived, we all headed inside and straight for Hogsmeade!
Standing at the entrance for the previously-fictional town in Scotland, I can’t explain to you how excited I was! Seeing the names for shops that I had only read about or seen in movies come to life before my eyes was extremely overwhelming. It was exactly as I had imagined and so much more. I marveled at Zonko’s and Honeydukes, dreamed of grabbing a pint in the Hog’s Head or some fish and chips from the Three Broomsticks, and just took it all in. What I really wanted to see come to life, though, was the dazzling Hogwarts castle. I grabbed my cousin Ethan and we speed-walked towards it. I teared up as I saw it in all its glory.
We hopped in line for “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” as our moms got us Butterbeers! Ethan has only read the first four books, so he was asking me a lot of Harry Potter trivia, which I happily answered. By some miracle, our moms were able to meet up with us with the frosty drinks. I took my first sip and was in heaven. I had previously tried a Butterbeer from the “Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour” in London and was unimpressed. But where that one lacked, this rendition made up for it. It was a slushie drink, tasting of cream soda and butterscotch. My mom got me one in a souvenir glass, which I now cherish.
After 45 minutes of waiting, we were finally allowed inside of the castle! Although the line didn’t end there, the rest was well worth the wait. The line took you through memorable portions of the castle, such as Dumbledore’s office and the “Defense Against the Dark Arts” classroom! Here are a couple snapshots I took inside the castle!
We finally got to go on the ride! It was a 3D, virtual reality-type ride, that took you through iconic scenes and allowed you to fight notable monsters throughout the series! I won’t give anything away, as you all should go on it, but it was definitely a ton of fun and worth the long wait! Although be warned if you have motion sickness, as you may not do too well (like my cousin Andrew…such a bummer).
After that, it was time to eat lunch. If it were up to me, I would’ve chosen to eat at the Three Broomsticks, but due to the large number of people, we grabbed a quick bite elsewhere. We then all headed on the Studio Backlot Tour, which we were sure would not cause any motion sickness. If you have never been to Universal Studios in Hollywood, I would highly recommend checking this ride out! It shows you some behind-the-scenes magic of movie making, including well-known movie and TV sets. I loved watching my cousins’ faces seeing it all for the first time.
We then split up. A few of us decided to ride the “Flight of the Hippogriff,” a small roller coaster. In my honest opinion, it was quite underwhelming. Just as I started to get into the ride, it ended. Oh well! My mom then indulged my childhood fantasies and came with me to fully explore Hogsmeade. My grandpa had borrowed an interactive wand from a friend of his, so I walked around to cast spells! It was then that I realized I wanted my own interactive wand. (My grandpa promised to buy me one as my birthday present once we went into Ollivander’s Wand Shop.) As we wandered around, I also went into all of the shops! I bought myself a Hufflepuff headband to show my house pride! Here are a few photos!
Although I hadn’t quite received my fill of Hogsmeade, I headed out to ride a few more rides with my mom, cousin Ethan, and my aunt (his mom) Debra. As Ethan had never been to the park before, and he loves roller coaster and fast rides, I went with him on Jurassic Park, a Universal must! Fortunately we were sat in the back and did not get too wet from the drop! We also went with our moms on The Mummy, the Transformers ride, and the Simpsons ride. We were definitely the thrill-seekers of the group. We then hopped back over to Hogsmeade for the final shop I needed to see: Ollivander’s!
I won’t give anything away about the wand shop, but it was incredible! I ended up receiving a wand made of Holly with a unicorn hair core!
Ethan and I went around trying out all of the spells we could on my new wand (although it worked better for me, as it was MY wand–kidding!). Here’s me testing out my new wand! Obviously it takes a bit of practice, but clearly I’m a witch.
We then headed towards the front of the park, where I bought my SEASON PASS! YES! I will be returning to Harry Potter World again!
Then it was time for dinner with the family. A few additional family members joined, making our group a solid 17. We ate at “Saddle Ranch Chop House,” located right at the entrance to the park. My phone died right as we sat down for dinner, but it was a really lovely celebration with the whole family!
What a fantastic birthday celebration! I cannot wait to return to the Wizarding World many more times with friends, so stay tuned for those!
-Girl in Los Angeles 🙂