Theme Park Insider

An Insider's Tour of the Wizarding World Hollywood

April 2, 2016, 9:13 PM · We're just a few days away from the official grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. Universal's fourth Harry Potter land follows Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley at the Universal Orlando Resort and the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Japan. The land has been in soft-open "technical rehearsals" since February, but Universal will celebrate the land's opening with a big media event on Tuesday night ahead of the official opening to the public early Thursday morning.

To get you ready for the official debut of the new land, we've put together this video tour, which includes advice from Alan Gilmore, Art Director for the Harry Potter films and creative consultant to Universal, on what he suggests first-timers do when visiting the new land.

If you've visited the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure park, you might notice a few differences between that version of Hogsmeade village and the Wizarding World Hollywood. The biggest is the absence of the Dragon Challenge B&M Inverted coasters in Hollywood. But Hollywood's Wizarding World offers the 3D version of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which debuted in 2014 at Universal Studios Japan. Other differences include:

For your reference, here is the complete line-up of everything in Universal Studios Hollywood's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Attractions:

Shows:

Food and Beverages:

Shops:

Theme Park Insider will cover all the media events this week at the Wizarding World Hollywood, including the Tuesday night celebration, actor and creator interviews on Wednesday morning, and the public opening moment early Thursday. Follow us on Twitter, on Instagram and on YouTube for coverage, as well as here on ThemeParkInsider.com.

More Coverage of the Wizarding World Hollywood:

Replies (6)

April 3, 2016 at 9:46 AM · I attended The Wizarding World in Hollywood last week and although I for the most part enjoyed the visit, it seems that they have ignored at least one of the lessons of their park in Orlando. Although I have ridden The Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter many times in Florida, I was ejected from the Hollywood ride.

Yes, once again size matters.

When I arrived at the gates of the attraction there were no warnings about sizing and the attraction's seats and no test chair in sight. I got all the way to sitting in the ride vehicle before I was thrown off for being too large.

After being marched off the ride and taken backstage (by security!) was I presented with a test chair. And it was only then I was informed I was too large be able to ride.

It's Orlando all over again, but worse since there are no warnings posted and the attendants simply encouraged me to keep moving into the attraction. Although the safety concerns about the ride's restraints are completely valid, I saw no indications that they were an issue that would affect my ability to experience the attraction. I eventually found the chairs riders are supposed to test themselves on outside, hidden around the corner of the gate, well out of plain sight.

I recall Universal Studios Orlando getting a lot of negative attention when they opened The Forbidden Journey and ended up tossing people off the ride. They solved that problem eventually by installing special chairs to accommodate larger guests. And I have made use of those chairs every time I rode The Forbidden Journey. Why Hollywood seems to be determined to put itself through the same grief and not taken the lesson learned down south is perplexing. It would be so simple just to replicate the ride as it currently runs in Orlando.

According to one of the employees I spoke to there, during the soft opening they are currently ejecting people from the ride every 10 to 15 minutes. That undoubtedly doesn't include people that attendants might be stopping at the gate (though I was neither stopped nor advised). And this rate is bound to go up once the Wizarding World starts attracting huge crowds following its official opening.

Universal has done a superb job bringing The Wizarding World to Hollywood. Considering the small space they had to work in it is truly outstanding. The design, the theming and atmosphere are authentic and fun.

But if you are a larger than average person be prepared to be disappointed if you plan on riding the park's headline attraction.

April 3, 2016 at 2:51 PM · There are warnings and two lap bar check stations (one at the entrance and at the "merge" point in line) in Florida. You can fault training (though, Hollywood is new to this process), but you can't fault the designers of the ride.
April 3, 2016 at 10:06 PM · Having just visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter last week, I would suggest the following for visitors (assuming you enter the land at opening or earlier):

1. If you want to do the Ollivander's show, do that first. Even with two theaters, that attraction consistently had double the wait of Forbidden Journey.
2. After the show, ride the two rides. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is an outstanding dark ride and will draw long lines, but the queue is an attraction itself and single rider is always an option. Flight of the Hippogriff is a basic family coaster but is still worth a ride if the line is reasonable.
3. Once you are done with the rides, go purchase a wand if you didn't do that earlier and explore the interactive elements of the land. After Forbidden Journey, this is the best part of the area and can entertain Potter fans for 45 minutes or so.
4. Use your remaining time in the land for shopping, browsing, etc. and end with an early lunch at Three Broomsticks (queue up by 11:15 A.M.). On a typical day, if you reserve your ticket in advance and have early entry to the land, you should have no problem completing everything by noon. The land isn't that big, and even with the land open to everyone I was only seeing 20-30 minute waits for the rides, so I doubt you'll be facing the chaos in Orlando.

One more recommendation...If you have visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida or Japan, I strongly recommend against rushing out to the version in California. While I haven't visited the Florida incarnation, everything I have seen and heard leads me to believe that other than the absence of Dragon Challenge, the two lands are 90+% identical. With the prices USH currently charges, give it a year or two before visiting so that not only will crowds be lower but the park will have more new attractions as well.

April 4, 2016 at 4:12 AM · @Anonymous

It was probably early in its soft opening when you went. Now nearing it's grand opening the team members have been stopping everyone that may not be able to ride.

I myself am a plus size but I managed to squeeze myself into those chairs. Facing the ride vehicles, the far right seat seems to be bigger as when I rode it trying out one of the middle seats I was almost ejected from the ride.

For the record there seems to be 3 test seats. At the entrance to the ride to the right there are two test seats. Funny enough when I try to sit in the seat to the right I can't even pull down the restraints as my arm gets pinched between it and the divider. Sitting on the left hand side I can pull it down comfortably and just barely get the green light on. The last one is inside the queue right before the ride and with that one I fit rather comfortably and have little problems getting the green.

April 4, 2016 at 1:04 PM · The designers of the The Forbidden Journey provided an accommodation for larger riders years ago. For whatever reason the decision was made not to include this accommodation in the current Hollywood version. So, yes. You can blame the designers.
April 4, 2016 at 5:08 PM · Hi Robert! Would you happen to know if they are live streaming the Red Carpet gala for WWoHP tomorrow night? If so, what time?

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