FINALLY! The Butterbeer is flowing on the west coast! Yes, Universal Studios surprised park guests and more than a few persistent Potter fans to a peek inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood. With an official opening date of April 7th, 2016, the Universal creative team previewed the land close to two months ahead of schedule to the delight of those lucky enough to be at the park.
This was the first Technical Rehearsal (or soft opening). That means that there are no official guarantees that any or all of the land will be open on at any time between now and the official opening in April. At any time between now and opening, you might have a chance to experience some of the new, magical delights the land has to offer. Though, since things went VERY well on Friday, we can assume that this may become a regular thing very quickly.
This article is not a review (too soon for that), it is a photo collection separated by the different things to see and do in this brand new area of the park. We’ll have more of a review for you once the land settles into a regular operating schedule. And we hope to bring you a more detailed look at the various aspects of the land in the days and weeks to come.
We arrived at the park upon opening at 9am on Friday (Feb 12) and waited for the possibility of soft openings (or Tech Rehearsals as Universal calls them) . Universal was making announcements that technical rehearsals could happen at any time but that there was no guarantee. The land finally did open at 3pm. It was a long 6 hour wait in the heat, but well worth it.
The first thing you see when you enter the Wizarding World is Hogsmeade village. It’s a collection of shops, food and beverage experiences.
The land looks a LOT like its sister in Orlando.
Honeydukes is a visual feast. Lots of eye candy in here . . . and real candy too.
You’ll see some really amazing things in the animated windows. Take your time to stop and look at each one. Some of them are fantastic on their own (as this one below) and others need the help of a wizard to wave an interactive wand (which you can buy at Olivander’s)
Here in Hollywood, Zonks joke shop is just a small wall at the back of Honeydukes, not a full sized shop. Space in the Hollywood Wizarding World is at a premium, so not all of the shops from Orlando made a full appearance here.
Hog’s Head Tavern
Get your Butterbeer here folks. Do you like it regular, frozen or hot? Half the fun is figuring that out for yourself.
The Three Broomsticks
The restaurant in the land offers British pub food.
Flight of the Hippogriff
This is a kiddie coaster. Unless there is no line, you may wish to spend your time enjoying the rest of the land
The Frog Choir
Wonderful voices and fun performance on the main stage across from the entry to the Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter.
Olivander’s Wand Shop
There are two show rooms for Olivander’s here, but the line still moves slowly. If this is important, you may wish to make this your first stop, even before the main attraction.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
The detail work is stunning and the queue offers all the important show scenes of the Florida version. The ride itself is the same AMAZING attraction as in Orlando, but with the video segments now in 3D.
The exterior portion of the queue offers a large covered portion in Professor Sprout’s greenhouse.
The interior portion of the queue is almost like a ride itself. Even if you just walk through the queue and never get on the attraction, you’ll be amazed.
The land is an exciting move for Universal Studios Hollywood as they embark on a magical journey to transform the park into a don’t miss destination. There will be kinks to work out between now and opening, that is what tech rehearsals are for. From what we saw, they are doing quite well.
Congratulations to Universal Studios Hollywood on a fine tech rehearsal. We hope they become a regular daily thing until the land finally opens in April.
This is going to be the hottest ticket in town this summer. If you get lucky, you might catch a technical rehearsal of the Wizarding World before the big crowds arrive this spring.
Much thanks to Dustysage for supplemental photos and video.