Wizarding World of Harry Potter Soft-Opens at Universal Studios Hollywood

February 12, 2016, 7:29 PM · Shortly before 3 this afternoon, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter soft-opened to visitors for the first time at Universal Studios Hollywood.

A crowds of about 300 visitors had gathered in a holding area, some waiting there since the park had opened at 9am. Those waiting were given the first entry passes into the new land, with other park guests admitted after that. Which resulted in wait time throughout the park evaporating as thousands of fans rushed into Hogsmeade.

This wasn't a half-hearted soft open, either. All locations in the Wizarding World were open and functional, including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the Flying Hippogriff, the Three Broomsticks, the Hog's Head Pub, Ollivander's, and all the stores. Even the "magic" windows were operational, allowing visitors to case spells with Universal's interactive wands. (I brought the one I got in Orlando.)

Having spent much of the day waiting, I started my visit in The Three Broomsticks.

The bangers and mash ($12.99) were even better than the ones in the Leaky Cauldron at Universal Orlando's Diagon Alley. And I'll give a big thumbs-up to the Butterbeer Potter Cream dessert ($5.29). And, of course, there's this...

After The Three Broomsticks, I warmed up for Forbidden Journey with a trip on Universal Studios Hollywood's first outdoor roller coaster, The Flying Hippogriff.

But the land's signature attraction, of course, is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is presented here in 3D. Of course, there are a few changes in the queue, too.

Once inside, I opted to skip the hour-long wait by using the convenient single-rider lane, which took me straight to the Gryffindor common room, then into the Room of Requirement. The 3D glasses here were the standard model found on rides such as Transformers, and not the custom Quidditch goggles found at Universal Studios Japan. I found the glasses a hassle on the ride, as they kept sliding off my nose as my flying bench swirled through the attraction. Perhaps Universal will get the better-fitting goggle-style glasses in stock by the land's official opening on April 7.

The 3D version of the film didn't do anything for me over the traditional version at Universal Orlando. It seemed a bit oversaturated at times, and the 3D didn't really "pop" - still seeming two dimensional in comparison with the abundant practical sets and effects in the ride.

If you are visiting Universal Studios Hollywood this weekend, use the hashtag #PotterWatch on social media to ket other visitors know when the Wizarding World is open. As will all "technical rehearsals," openings are not guaranteed, and attractions might open or close at any time.

Replies (13)

February 14, 2016 at 12:09 PM · Was there today, and it was great. I got there at around 3:00 and got straight into the land. I didn't have the problem of the glasses sliding off my face, but was really hoping they would of had the quidditch goggles. They did say they would have them, but didn't. :( They probably will have them for the grand opening.
February 12, 2016 at 10:12 PM · This looks like a great area and I can't wait to check it out. However, it sounds like the soft opening period may not be a good time to visit if you aren't a passholder. If they get to where it is consistently open all day before spring break hits I may go check it out, but otherwise I'll likely wait until the fall when crowds should hopefully be manageable.
February 13, 2016 at 9:48 AM · Does the ride have lockers like the one in Orlando, or are you allowed to carry bags and backpacks on the ride?
February 13, 2016 at 10:45 AM · Robert, am I correct in reading that the park opened at 9 am and they started letting the line into Hogsmeade around 3?

That's almost six hours waiting in line on a pretty warm day.

What does a seasoned theme park visitor do to pass the time? Do work and check the news on your laptop or smart phone?

February 13, 2016 at 11:11 AM · Locker situation is the same as in Orlando.

There was a mostly shaded designated holding area next to Animal Actors for people who wished to wait, but people were coming and going from it all day. There was no formal "line" per se.

For most of the day, there were about 100 people in there, but the crowd swelled to about 300 (which was the waiting area's capacity) after 2pm. Universal team members were there throughout the day, water and ice cream vendors came by from time to time, and at one point, a team member even handed out small bags of free jelly beans to everyone waiting.

February 13, 2016 at 5:15 PM · Any news on the new "Main Street" entrance of USH? I find that more interesting than a 3rd copy of a themed land.
February 13, 2016 at 8:23 PM · It seems Universal is doing a great job of "plussing" its cloned rides and lands, especially at USH. Despicable Me-plussed. Simpsons-plussed. The new entrance area-plussed. Can the same be said about The Wizarding World at USH?
February 13, 2016 at 9:46 PM · The new Universal Main Street will have a few Harry Potter and Universal film stores. Just like what you'll expect. Some new restaurants too.
February 15, 2016 at 12:56 AM · I've heard the Quidditch goggles are coming to the park. It sounds like Universal just hasn't gotten them yet, but will in two weeks. They're temporarily borrowing the Transformers Goggles.
February 15, 2016 at 4:50 AM · So what I'm getting here is that the 3D conversion isn't adding anything new and kinda takes away from the experience. Of course. Here's a huge problem I have with Universal; they make the best 3D rides out there (and this is coming straight from the mouth of a Disney fanboy!) but they seem to be overly dependent on that mechanic nowadays. It almost feels like they're afraid that every time they build a big new ride they have to make it 3D! Forbidden Journey doesn't need 3D. It was already a perfect ride without it. I'm not saying that USH's Forbidden Journey is bad, I'm sure it's still a pretty good ride, but from what Robert's saying it sounds like the 3D conversion is lowering the quality a bit. And I personally don't take that as a good sign.
February 15, 2016 at 12:01 PM · Robert - What percent do you think this will bump Hollywood Studios up to regarding Attendance for 2016?
February 15, 2016 at 7:20 PM · Even with Harry Potter, I feel like Disneyland fans living in Orange County are going to continue their APs, just because Disneyland is a great place to just hang out. Universal and City Walk are nice too, but I don't think OC residents are going to trade passes just to make a longer trip up the 5. Now for people living closer to Universal, it may be a different story, and that's probably a lot of people.
February 17, 2016 at 4:52 AM · Do u think it will be soft open for everyday until April?

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