New Highlights from Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood

Check out a special tour of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood…and the glowing advanced review.

Although this new Wizarding World is the fourth one that Universal has opened (the first three being Wizarding World in Universal’s Islands of Adventure [Orlando], the Diagon Alley extension in Universal Studios Orlando, and another Wizarding World in Universal Studios Japan), apparently it has its own charms. Yes, it’s very similar to the one in Orlando, and Alan Gilmore, supervising art director for the films and the parks, said, “It takes a really keen eye to spot the differences. It’s generally the same, but there’s a little more detail in a few places.”

This isn’t surprising. The original Wizarding World has been open for five and a half years, and while Universal Orlando made a lot of changes and improvements when they added Diagon Alley, they’ve had a lot of time to really get things right with this new park.

Image Courtesy of David Sprague/Universal Studios Hollywood

According to Gizmodo, who got a special preview tour, there’s an entirely new street (which they’ve nicknamed “the Town Wall”) along one side of Hogsmeade. And at this Wizarding World, you don’t have to board the Hogwarts Express to get some pictures – there’s a replica of the train that includes a cabin where park-goers can take pictures. On top of that, the luggage racks on the train are the same ones that were used in the films! Of course there are film props scattered through all of the other Wizarding Worlds, too, but it’s always exciting to hear about the new ones, am I right?

For instance, instead of Hermione’s Yule Ball dress being displayed in Gladrags, Wizarding World Hollywood boasts Cho Chang’s gown. And if you visit and happen to pass through/by the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom in Hogwarts, eye those desks and that chalkboard – they’re the ones used in the movies, as well!

Image Courtesy of David Sprague/Universal Studios Hollywood

While most of the shops are the same ones you can find at the other Wizarding World parks, the layouts are slightly different (Gizmodo called the changes “slight extensions and tweaks”, and I hope this means that they’re not as crowded, because that’s my only [minor] complaint about the Universal Orlando shops). However, there are two new shops that I suddenly find myself dying to see – Gladrags Wizardware and Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment. I can’t even imagine the park-exclusive items fans will find in these new stores!

One slight disappointment for me, as I’ve been to Wizarding World in Orlando, is that Hollywood’s version only has two rides, both of which can be found in the original park – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. However, Forbidden Journey in California now has a 3D aspect, and Flight of the Hippogriff is an entirely new ride rather than a prior attraction that was simply refurbished.

That said, when I visited Wizarding World Orlando for the second time, I only went on one ride, because let’s be honest…the best part about these parks is the immersive experience. Gilmore told Gizmodo, “We treat it like a live movie. So we storyboard it, we create all the views. It’s very important for us that it’s not too convenient. When you walk in we don’t want you to see everything straight away. It’s about the reveal. Lots of reveals. It’s a storytelling journey.”

Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood opens on April 7th, 2016.