8 magical ways to enjoy Hogsmeade & Hogwarts at Universal Studios Hollywood

After years of anticipation, Hogwarts opened its doors in 2016 to the Muggles of Southern California. (That’s you, unless you happen to be a wizard or witch.) Fans can see J.K. Rowling’s creations brought to life, including Honeydukes sweets, frosty sweet butterbeers, interactive wands, a real talking Sorting Hat, and much more. Once they’re done kitting themselves out in appropriate wizarding gear and feasting on British fare in the snowy village of Hogsmeade, visitors can head up to Hogwarts castle itself for a remarkable journey they won’t soon forget.

There’s a massive amount to see in the immersive land, so we’ve put together a handy guide for Muggles on some of the highlights of shopping, eating, and riding to try during their first visit. It’s only a taste, though—the world of magic is brimming with too many discoveries to be fully experienced in just one trip.

Spellbinding shops


1. Bond with a Wand at Ollivanders: The famed wandmaker’s shop, one of Harry Potter’s first stops after discovering his wizarding heritage, can be a member’s first stop as well. The experience starts with a master wandkeeper demonstrating how a wand truly chooses the wizard, before visitors explore the rest of the shop to see what wand might choose them. Options include replicas of wands popularized by famous (and infamous) wizards and witches, interactive wands that fit the user’s personality and perform magic around Hogsmeade, and toy wands for aspiring young wizards.
INSIDER INFO:  Models like Harry Potter’s holly-with-phoenix-feather or Hermione’s vine-with-dragon-heartstring are obviously fan favorites, but members looking for a wand that chooses them should look to the display cases along the shop’s windows. There, they can see what type of wood best complements their personal wizard personality, whether it's the patience of ivy, the renewal of vine, the learnedness of reed, or another material. These wands are the only ones that can perform magic around Hogsmeade.


2. Kit Yourself Out at Dervish and Banges: This Hogsmeade shop, once known only as a purveyor of magical instruments like the Sneakoscope, has since expanded its offerings and become more of a wizarding department store. Members can find all sorts of magical goods here, from Hogwarts apparel themed after every house, to the ever-handy Remembrall, to the very informative and very dangerous Monster Book of Monsters. It’s also a one-stop shop for Quidditch sporting goods, including all the Bludgers, Quaffles, and Golden Snitches needed to set up your own Quidditch league. Overhead, observant visitors can spot Nimbus 2000, Nimbus 2001, and Firebolt broomsticks idly bobbing in midair, each awaiting a rider.
INSIDER INFO:  Visitors to Dervish and Banges won't want to miss out on the next-door Owl Post. It sells all manner of Hogwarts-themed stationery, as expected, but what’s not immediately obvious is that it’s actually a fully functioning post office, complete with its own stamps. Mail a postcard to friends and family to let them know how your visit to Hogsmeade is going, or send out invitations for a special occasion with that extra Hogwarts touch.


3. Peruse Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods: Located underneath Hogwarts castle, this shop holds all the goods that caretaker and disciplinarian Argus Filch has collected from students over the years. The star of the show is the interactive Marauder’s Map. With the included wand, ne’er-do-wells can see where Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and Professor Snape are on the Hogwarts grounds by watching their illuminated footsteps. Of course, they’ll need to solemnly swear that they are up to no good before the map will share its secrets. Other confiscated items for sale include leather journals, Omnioculars, and Cornish pixies.
INSIDER INFO:  There’s another familiar item at Filch’s Emporium: The Sorting Hat. If members aren’t already sure which house they belong to (or perhaps they doubt a family member who insists that they could never be a Hufflepuff), a quick visit to the emporium to try out the animated, talking Sorting Hat can clear up the confusion. Eagle-eyed shoppers can also check out the shop's back shelves, where some familiar names adorn boxes of confiscated goods.
Enchanting eats


4. Quaff a Cold Butterbeer or Two: The iconic butterscotch drink is in ample supply around Hogsmeade, both in the Three Broomsticks tavern and at various street stalls. It lives up to its name (minus the alcohol) with a sugary sweet butterscotch flavor, a hint of nutmeg, and a refreshing finish.
INSIDER INFO: There’s more than one way to enjoy your butterbeer. A “regular” butterbeer comes chilled in a plastic cup or a collectible mug, but members can also request a “frozen” butterbeer that’s served in a cup with slush ice, a great way to cool down on summer days when Hogsmeade may be warmer than its snow-covered rooftops suggest.


5. Tuck In at Three Broomsticks: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has brought more than magic to Universal Studios Hollywood; it’s also brought some uniquely British cuisine. Members who get an early start to their visit can enjoy a traditional British breakfast complete with baked beans, mushrooms, a baked potato, and a slice of blood sausage. Lunch and dinner feature even more fare from the isles, including such favorites as bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, and fish and chips. Got a family to feed? Consider the Great Feast, a platter of chicken, ribs, corn, and potatoes that has enough food for four. For dessert, take a look at the sticky toffee pudding.
INSIDER INFO: Beyond the nosh, eating at the Three Broomsticks is a treat in itself. The tavern is built to resemble real centuries-old inns in Europe, from the way the walls have settled unevenly on the foundation, to the worn wooden roof, to how water appears to have seeped through and stained the stones over time. Take a moment to sit back and look around, and you’ll feel you’ve been transported across the Atlantic.


6. Indulge with Honeydukes Sweets: Whether you’re looking for a snack, an after-dinner treat, or a gift for a Muggle back home, Honeydukes has something to salivate over. Almost all the favorites from the books are represented: Fizzing Whizbees, Fudge Flies, Peppermint Toads, and of course, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans. Want to start your wizard trading card collection? Pick up one of Honeydukes’ famous Chocolate Frogs, each of which comes with a card. There’s also an array of pastries and fudges, including the treacle fudge Ron used to recover from his backfired slug-vomiting curse.
INSIDER INFO: Honeydukes shares a storefront with another famous Hogsmeade shop, Zonko’s Joke Shop, a favorite haunt of Fred and George Weasley. Zonko’s is tucked away at the building’s north end, so visitors may not realize it’s there, but it’s not to be missed. Members can purchase their very own Decoy Detonators and Extendable Ears for whatever mischief they’d like, while Dr. Filibuster’s Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Fireworks sit on a higher shelf, sadly unavailable for purchase.
Riveting rides


7. Soar with a Hippogriff: Make your way toward Hogwarts castle and you’ll find Flight of the Hippogriff, a roller coaster that invites Muggles to embark on their first training flight aboard one of the magical beasts. Hippogriffs are proud creatures, so members should heed Hagrid’s instructions and show respect by bowing politely before the ride begins (maintaining eye contact without blinking is a good idea as well). Then hang onto your wicker basket seat through the soaring climbs and swooping dips to earn your wings as a hippogriff rider!
INSIDER INFO: Since the ride is located on the Care of Magical Creatures grounds, it’s worth taking your time to see the sights before getting on the ride. The biggest draw is Hagrid’s hut, from which members can hear Fang’s barking and whining. Also present is the enchanted motorcycle and sidecar that Hagrid flew to deliver baby Harry Potter to Privet Drive.


8. Join Harry Potter on a Forbidden Journey: If Muggles were allowed to tour Hogwarts for a day, would you go? That’s the premise of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the ride housed inside Hogwarts Castle. Rather than let their guests be bored silly by ghostly Professor Binns’ planned history lecture, Harry, Ron, and Hermione try to sneak them off to a Quidditch match. When things don’t go as planned, riders end up seeing far more of the magical world than they bargained for.
INSIDER INFO: The path to the ride is an experience in itself—this is Hogwarts, after all. One visit isn’t enough time to pick out all the familiar sights: the Mirror of Erised, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Pensieve in Dumbledore’s office, bickering portraits, and much, much more. So much, in fact, that there's a separate line for visitors who just want to tour Hogwarts without going on the ride. Of particular interest are the House Cup score-keeping hourglasses near the entrance into the castle, where visitors can see which house is in the lead; and the blackboard in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, which outlines how to perform the Patronus Charm. (Not that there would be any need for a Patronus at a Quidditch match … right?)

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