On Friday we woke up bright and early to drive the hour it took to get to Universal Studios Hollywood. This was the first time for all of us and we knew there were a few rides we were interested in, but none more than The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
And it did not disappoint. It was amazing. It actually felt like you had been transported to Hogwarts. Minus the 80 degree weather.
The Forbidden Journey was incredible. It was mostly 3D, with some fun turns and small drops, and everyone loved it. I got a tad motion sick during the ride, but if I just closed my eyes, it would pass quickly. I’m a huge weenie when it comes to drops, so if you’re debating whether you should jump on, let that be a good indicator: it’s not that bad.
Jackson got to try on the real Sorting Hat (which put him in Hufflepuff) and from there on out he only wanted Hufflepuff apparel. Cutest little Hufflepuff I know.
One of the Must Do’s on our list was to go to Ollivander’s and let the boys pick out wands. Before you go into the shop though, you can wait in line and get the full Wand Experience. (Or you can just go directly into the shop.) It’s almost like a skit where they show you how pick a wand…or rather…how the wand picks you. *wink, wink, to all the Potterheads out there*
The shop was insane and the employees really get into character and help you pick out your wand. (I got yelled at because I said Voldemort. He died, lady. Back up off me.)
There are 2 different types of wands you can purchase: interactive wands and regular wands. The interactive wands can actually be used in other shops to make “magic.” They are about $20 more than the regular wands and at the time, we were like, Yaaaaaaaaaas buy the interactive wands!
Buy ALL the interactive wands!
Everyone gets an interactive wand!
But looking back, it’s not necessary. The wands don’t work outside of Universal. Heck, the wands don’t work outside of Harry Potter World! So if I had to do it again, I’d skip the interactive wands and just save the $20. Actually, the $60 because we bought 3. *gulps*
Outside of Harry Potter World, we LOVED the Jurassic Park Ride. I was pretty hesitant at first. 80 foot drop? I’m good, thanks. But after the boys went on it, loved it, and wanted to go again, Huz convinced me to go as well. And it was pretty cool. (But that last drop is no joke.)
When we got off the ride, there was a velociraptor just walking around with a trainer, so we got a pic. He tried to eat our camera bag, but luckily not us.
We also loved the Back Lot Tour. It was fun seeing where some of our favorite movies were filmed (Back to the Future, anyone?) and some of the behind the scenes secrets.
For example, here’s the mini-model of the ship they used on King Kong.
After the tour, the kids were ready for food. There wasn’t a whole lot that caught our eye in Universal, but there was a ton to pick from just outside in CityWalk. (Is it “in” CityWalk? “At” CityWalk?) Regardless, there’s lots to choose from.
We ended up at Karl Strauss Brewing Company, which was a brewery with yummy burgers. Since it was a Friday afternoon it wasn’t busy and we walked right in and got a table. It was good and I’d definitely go again.
Universal was so different from Disneyland and this was one of the views from inside the park. You could see golf courses and studios and lots of California. And then you’d turn the other way and see Minions running around.
Speaking of Minions, that was a fun ride. As was Transformers. And Shrek.
All of those rides were 3D and it was more of you sitting in a chair that moves rather than an actual ride or coaster. I tend to do better with those attractions, because I HATE fast drops, so I was a happy camper.
Please excuse the messy hair but it was HOT. The only thing that made it better was Butterbeer from Hogsmeade. There are 2 kinds you can get: a regular drink or a frozen one. Do yourself a favor and get the frozen one. Soooooooo much better than the regular drink.
If you haven’t had Butterbeer, it’s mix of butterscotch and cream soda and the things that dreams are made of. It’s that good. It’s worth the park entrance tickets alone.
We got done with the park around 5:00pm and were ready to go back to the hotel. After a full day of walking around in the hot sun, our feet were tired. And once the boys heard there was a possibility of getting into the pool, they practically sprinted to the car. We were too tired to think about where to go for dinner, so we ended up at Taco Bell again.
But sometimes a warm Chicken Quesadilla in bed tastes better than any steak dinner.