A few months ago, Universal Studios Hollywood opened their version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, similar to the one in Orlando. I was lucky enough to visit a week ago and here are some awesome trivia bits I learned about the park partnered with some pictures I took there.
Hogwarts Seems Huge
Like the castles at Disney parks, Hogwarts is the main focal point of the attraction. To make it look particularly huge and impressive despite the fact that it's built at a quarter scale to what the "real" Hogwarts would be, the building takes advantage of forced perspective.
You Can Find Authentic Details at Every Turn
The winged birds at Hogwart's entrance are made from the same molds as the ones in the movie. The sweaters sold in the gift shop are made by the same company that produced the ones from the films. The broomsticks in the Three Broomsticks are made by the same team that made the ones for the films. It's kind of amazing how much effort they went into recreating the feeling of the films' settings.
Keep An Eye Out For Real Movie Props
Aside from perfect replicas of items in the movies, the park is actually home to a number of props actually used in the films. The earmuffs near the mandrake roots, the desks and chalkboard in the Dark Arts classroom, Cho Chang's dress from the Yule Ball, the carriage compartment in the Hogwart's Express train and, most notably, Hagrid's motorcycle are just a few of the real movie props you can spot in the park. They don't feature signs or any markers because the park's designers wanted the recreations and real props to all blend together seamlessly, making you really feel like you're in Hogsmeade and Hogwarts (and it works too).
The Hippogriffs Fly Faster in Hollywood
The park only has two rides, one of which, The Flight of the Hippogriff, is the only outdoorl roller coaster in Universal Studios Hollywood. Perhaps because it stands alone in the park, engineers decided it should be a little more amped up than the Orlando version -and as a result, it is slightly longer and faster than the East Coast counterpart.
Seeing Things A Little Differently
If you love 3D, you'll go bonkers over the park's other ride, the Forbidden Journey, as it incorporates moving track and practical effects with 3D technology to really emerge you into the world of Harry Potter. Of course, if 3D gives you a migraine or motion sickness, you'll probably prefer the Orlando version that uses ordinary 2D screens.
Did the Forbidden Journey Get to You?
Apparently enough people get sick on the Forbidden Journey that they actually have a hidden room for people to sit down and try to get past their motion sickness. If you happen to vomit on yourself, they even have some sort of gym clothes to give to you so you don't have to wear your gross vomit clothes the rest of the day. (No word on if these are fun branded gym clothes that could double as souvenirs.)
Some Magic Wands Actually Work
The wands at Ollivanders are pretty expensive, but if you're going to get one, you might consider spending the extra money for an interactive wand. These come with a map of Hogsmeade that include 11 places in the park that actually interact with your magic wand so you really can feel like a wizard.
Send A Letter Via The Owl Post
You might not actually be able to send mail with an owl (although the shops do sell some incredibility lifelike owl puppets that even howl), but you can send a letter at the Owl Post that will feature its own postage and postmark -and that's gotta be the next best thing.
So if you're in Hollywood, don't miss your chance to walk through the magical village of Hogsmeade -especially because doing so will also give you a chance to go to Springfield, which is just about as close to living in the Simpson's hometown as any human will ever get.
You can even try your hand at the Love Tester at Moe's while sipping on a Flamming Homer.