Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter


If films equal Hollywood, then Hollywood definitely equals Universal Studios.

That’s the only maths I will ever do. (I realise this is not maths. Please do not email me explaining the concept, you will only be disappointed by my howls of pain).

There was only one reason that Universal Studios was a non-negotiable entry on my Los Angeles list. That reason is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Now, I’ve been told (at length) that California’s Hogsmeade has nothing on Orlando’s Diagon Alley (thanks Heloise).

But you take what you can get and Hogsmeade is by no means disappointing. Now, let’s talk about Universal Studios LA as an awesome day out.


Before you even get through the gates there’s fun to be had on the City Walk. You know, that bit that leads up to metal detectors and ticketing booths. It’s like America threw up on one street and you get to reap the benefits.

Now that you have that mental picture I can explain myself. Every single American food chain that you can think of is there: the Hard Rock Cafe, Voodoo Doughnuts, Smash Burger, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Cinnabon and Johnny Rocket’s.


If you’re keen on partying after a day at Universal, there are three nightclubs out there (come on, get your parking money’s worth!). Maybe you want to catch a movie? Head to the 19-screen IMAX theatre. Otherwise you can go shopping in the clothes, shoes, accessories and souvenir shops.

Now, are you caffeinated? Pastried? Ready to hit the main attraction? Let’s get in there!


We made a beeline for Hogsmeade first up because it’s always the busiest spot. To say that I was excited is a huge understatement.

There’s so much to see and do that it takes a little bit to decide exactly where you’re going. You can have a photo with the conductor of the Hogwarts Express – an English gentleman who looks and acts the part.


The town winds it’s way up to Hogwarts itself, though the little village. You can visit Honeydukes Homemade Sweets for lollies like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, Zonko’s Joke Shop and Dervish and Banges for your Monster Book of Monsters and Hogwarts gear.


Be warned though, the shops are the same size as those shown in the Harry Potter movies, on J.K. Rowling’s insistence. So it can get a bit crowded, but it also feels very authentic while you’re witnessing a wand selection at Ollivander’s Wand Shop.

Then it’s off to Gladrags Wizardwear for your school robes, hats and jumpers. We all know that the wand chooses the wizard, and in Ollivander’s there are 68 different types that may choose you. Don’t forget to swing by Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated goods either.


We returned to Hogsmeade a bit later for lunch at the Three Broomsticks and to try the Butterbeer. I wish it was an actual drink available everywhere, because if it was, I’d have diabetes by now. It is so good! I think that it’s creaming soda with marshmallow on top. In any case, it’s fantastic.

And then there are the rides. If you don’t want to be waiting all day in these lines, get in early and do these rides first, you’ll be happy that you did.


Fancy a stroll through Springfield? C’mon then!

The longest-running American sitcom was not viewed as quality television in my childhood household. Whenever the opening sequence blared from channel 10, dad would roll his eyes and utter some variation on “not this rubbish”. Before swiftly changing the channel to yet another news bulletin.


So I’m not as up-to-speed as the rest of the world when it comes to The Simpsons.

But Springfield is a pretty cool spot in Universal – there’s Moe’s Tavern, the Kwik-E-Mart and Cletus’ Chicken Shack – to name a few. The real gem here is the Krustyland ride.


An animated roller coaster that’s projected in front of you on an 80-foot diametre domed screen to make it look like you’re flying through the air. The coaster car does all the jerking, dropping and rising that you expect from a roller coaster.

This isn’t a ride for the feint-hearted, by the way, but it’s fun.


You can’t go to Universal Studios without doing the lot tour! It’s a must, and it’s a nice break from standing in lines. You basically sit in a tram and get driven around the backlot.

If you need it, they have special Mandarin and Spanish-speaking trams. Well, the trams don’t talk. You catch my poorly-worded drift.

I won’t spoil it for you but you get to see 13 city blocks featured in many movies, including the clocktower from Back to the Future, which had to be redesigned for other movies because it kept getting spotted by eagle-eyed movie buffs.


Ever wondered what the aftermath of a plane crashing into a suburb looks like? I hope you haven’t. But Universal helpfully provides you with a drive-through view of the War of the Worlds crash.



Desperate Housewives tragics get an up-close view of Wisteria Lane and horror buffs aren’t forgotten, with a little visit to the legendary Bates Motel from Psycho and an appearance from Norman himself.


Luckily, Mr M made me watch Jaws last year so I was familiar with Amity Island. What I wasn’t prepared for though, were the special effects. These I really won’t spoil for you, suffice to say, it’s worth the tram ride.


I could go on and on about Universal Studios. There’s Waterworld, The Walking Dead attraction, Despicable Me, Super Silly Fun Land, Transformers, Jurassic Park, The Mummy, Shrek and the special effects show.

Universal Studios is well worth the price of admission, so get amongst it!

Harry Potter | Wizarding World of Harry Potter | Universal Studios | California | Harry Potter Universal | Universal Studios Harry Potter | Aussie | Expat | Aussie Expat in US | expat life
Pin me for later!


30 thoughts on “Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  1. Thank you for not writing Math. I love the Aussie version. I have actually been on that Universal studio tour. The special effects were fantastic. The characters I had a pic taken with in 2006 were Fiona and Shrek. My grandkids thought I was cool.I think I bought a few souvenirs too. I did not go on any rides. Thanks for linking up today for #lifethisweek 25/52. Next Week: Halfway Review 2017.

    1. I can’t handle saying “math”. It sounds so “off” to me. Like saying “ground beef” instead of “mince”.
      Oh cool Denyse! I loved the special effects on the Universal Tour, I didn’t even know they would be in the tour, I thought it would be a little tour of sets and things. So it was so much more fun!
      I bought souvenirs for the littlies when we went to Disneyland last year and learnt my lesson. It’s crazy-expensive. I’ll bet your grandkids thought you were the best, being friends with Fiona and Shrek! Nice work 🙂

  2. Love that you loved your day at Universal, though I have to say the selection of American fare is, imho, sorely lacking in fact those are some of my most UN favorite restaurants in America… I do love Pinks (an LA institution) though, and they have one of those on the second level! We LOVE Butterbeer in our family, and I swear we bought annual passes just to go and get this delicious beverage whenever we feel like it! Can’t wait to see what’s next on your LA adventure list! Have you checked out Warner Bros Studio Tour yet? #citytripping

  3. Ahh reading your post made me so happy, because I recently moved to the Bay Area and have been DYING to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando FOREVER, but it feels so far away now! I’ve also always heard the Orlando version is the best, but with how easy it is to get down to LA there’s no way I’m not visiting here. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. It’s just a seven hour drive…. or an hour flight! So easy to get there and check out the west coast version. Then you can compare them for me later on when you get to Orlando 🙂

  4. I’d love to see Bates Motel but the Harry Potter studios would definitely be my first priority. I’ve been wanting to visit one of the HP worlds for ages!!!

  5. I’ve never been to Universal and I’ve never been to California. I’m ready to go to both! We often go to Florida, but I haven’t made it to Universal there either. I will someday. That Simpson’s area looks crazy!

  6. I see this in my future 🙂 Harry Potter World in Orlando is pretty amazing I have to say but this has the Simpsons and the old classic experiences like Jaws I saw many many years ago. This is the type of experience America does best isnt it? #FarawayFiles

  7. Haha, my dad had the exact same reaction to The Simpsons! I love the sound of this, Katherine. I’m not normally one for theme parks but the idea of going to Hogsmeade, selecting a wand at Ollivander’s and seeing Wisteria Lane? Seriously, I’d love it. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  8. We love Wizarding World! We’ve been to the one in Orlando, not L.A., and it blew us away. Talk about being transported. I have to say I could not deal with the Simpsons ride though..I was green when I walked out. Never again! #farawayfiles

    1. That Simpsons ride was a bit more than I imagined. But we all survived right? That’s the main thing 😉

  9. I’ve been wanting to go to Orlando’s Wizarding World since they opened, it looks like so much fun! I had no idea there was one in LA as well, I guess I’ve got options 🙂 #FarawayFiles

  10. “America threw up on one street…” Well that’s just sealed it for me! Brilliantly-written review – I do love your style 🙂

  11. WHOA! I DID NOT know that Harry Potter made it to Universal Studios LA!!! I’ve been dying to go to one of the Harry Potter theme parks. Hogsmead looks so cute! I’m actually headed back to LA this fall, so I’ll have to see if this is in my budget. It looks awesome! I wish there were some Harry Potter rides though, like in Orlando.

    1. I found out last year when one of my coworkers was talking non-stop about it. So of course I had to sneakily schedule another trip to LA. I really hope that it’s in your budget because it’s such a great experience. There are a couple Harry Potter rides in LA as well.

  12. I seriously can’t believe that I’ve never been to Universal Studios. My family always went to Disney (which don’t get me wrong is incredible), but I need to see this SOON. I’m obsessed with Harry Potter so this would be a dream come true for me ahah .. I love that it feels authentic and that they tried to keep everything as close to the movies as possible- I’m sure it makes it feel that much more special 😀

    1. You were so lucky to get to experience Disney as a kid! In Australia we all just dream about Disneyland and Disneyworld as kids. Unless your parents are rich and you score a trip there 😉
      You definitely have to get there for Harry Potter! You’ll totally adore it.

  13. I absolultely loved Universal Studios Orlando. It’s not even been a year since I went and I already want to go back,, but maybe I could switch it up and do LA! I have to admit though, the Hogsmede in Orlando blew my little mind! #farawayfiles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *