When we visited Los Angeles last month, we spent a day at Universal Studios Hollywood. The biggest attraction at the park is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you should definitely plan a visit.
Your First Stop at Universal Studios
I recommend getting to Universal Studios as early as you can and going straight to Harry Potter world before it gets too crowded. You’ll quickly realize that almost everyone has the same idea. Once you’ve stepped foot into Hogsmeade, you’ll be warmly greeted by the train conductor of the Hogwarts Express. He’s a friendly guy who will happily pose for photos and selfies.
Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey
Even though we were tempted to browse the shops, we hurried over to Hogswart Castle to take advantage of the shorter morning lines for the Forbidden Journey ride. It was a 20-minute wait, but there are plenty of themed decorations inside the castle to keep you entertained along the way. The ride itself is really fun, but I thought the dementors were kind of cartoonish. If you plan on going for another round, take the single rider line. We walked straight onto the ride for round two and round three.
Vegan & Vegetarian Options
I know you’re going to ask me if I tried the butterbeer. Sadly, I did not as it comes with a dairy-based whipped cream, and they will not serve it without the topping. I also hear that it’s insanely sweet, which doesn’t sound very appealing to me. There’s supposed to be a vegan butterscotch soda available in some of the Hogsmeade shops, but I didn’t spot it while I was there. There’s also a pumpkin juice that is made of real pumpkin (not just some random squash) if you’re looking for another vegan friendly option.
There’s a Peta article circulating the interwebs that mentions veggie dining options. One of the restaurants is supposed to have a vegetarian plate (that can be made vegan if you omit a couple ingredients), but I didn’t spot that on any menus when I visited and didn’t feel like waiting in line to ask about it.
The Shops of Hogsmeade
We didn’t do any shopping, but it was fun to browse the shops. From chocolate frogs to wizard robes, everything that you’ve read about in J.K. Rowling’s books and seen in the movies is here. (Yes, Honeydukes does have some vegan treats! You just have to check the ingredients carefully.) Some folks even dress up in their wizarding outfits to hang out in the park. Don’t confuse them with the performers of the frog choir, which was quite entertaining.
If you splurged on an interactive wand at Ollivanders, look for the gold medallions on the ground that mark magic spots for you to use your wand. Or you could just hang out near the gold medallions until some kid with a wand happens to wander over.
Hogsmeade in the Evening
Before you leave the park, stop by Hogsmeade again for the evening experience. We popped into Ollivanders wand shop to take a peek and managed to catch part of the Triwizard rally performance too. Not a bad day with Harry Potter and friends!