8 Ways To Harry Potter Your Summer At Universal (Including Butterbeer Ice Cream)

Harry Potter
The train conductor with his fans in front of the Hogwarts Express, at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Hollywood. (Mike Roe/LAist)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the magical (pun super intended) mini-theme park within a park at Universal Studios Hollywood. We went to check out their newest touches for the summer, along with the usual boy wizard wonderment.

Here's what you need to check out next time you hop a broomstick there:

Butterbeer Ice Cream

Butterbeer ice cream
Butterbeer ice cream. We ate all the butterbeer ice cream. (Mike Roe/LAist)

They've distilled the flavor of butterbeer (butterscotch plus shortbread) into ice cream. It's like their previous invention, frozen butterbeer, except the butterscotch flavor is subtler and you get more vanilla ice creaminess.

They've had hot butterbeer, cold butterbeer, frozen butterbeer, and now ice cream — looking forward to them marketing butterbeer solid ice next! (They do already have butterbeer fudge and butterbeer potted cream, so they're clearly experimenting with more solid butterbeer experiences.)

If you want more on which version of butterbeer is the ultimate, check out this video from Theme Park Insider:

Use Your Magic Wand

Harry Potter wands
You too can be Harry Potter! On a limited, real-world scale! (Mike Roe/LAist)

The interactive Harry Potter wands at Universal aren't cheap — they'll run you 50 bucks — but they try to make it worth your while. Along with a nice case and a cool map with spell instructions, there are 15 locations throughout Hogsmeade (aka the Wizarding World town, aka Harry Potter Land, aka you get it) where you can wave the wand and make something magical happen.

You have to do it in just the right shape for the right spell, but you might get to make a creature appear, send papers flying, and more. They've just added two new spells: Incendio, allowing you to make flames appear, and Alohomora, which unlocks the locks on a secret door.

Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey

The trademark attraction of Wizarding World is still a blast, even after they dropped the 3-D a couple years ago to avoid keeping riders from getting sick to their stomach after too much butterbeer.

Ahem, we may have experienced this even with the regular ride after our butterbeer taste test.

But it's a great trip through trademark Harry Potter experiences, with a dragon, spiders, Dementors, the Womping Willow coming disturbingly close and making you feel like you might be smashed (though that might just be me), and more.

Ollivanders

Ironically, the wait for this can sometimes exceed that of even the actual rides (see above). If you aren't actually going to buy a wand, though, this may be the closest you get. You'll see a ceremony where a wand chooses its wizard (aka usually an adorable child in the audience), and it's fun for the whole family.

Hogwarts Castle's Night Lights

Guess who's back? Back again? They've rotated this attraction in and out, but it's back for the summer. This show is a nighttime closing experience — like the Potter version of Disneyland's fireworks. You'll see a light show detailing the stories of the four houses of Hogwarts, so get ready to root for Gryffindor (or Slytherin, you do you, we don't control your life). It's even backed up by a special musical arrangement from John Williams, based on his original movie scores.

Wear The Gear

Walk around Hogsmeade and you'll see plenty of fans decked out in their wizards' best, from T-shirts to robes. New for the season, they've got replicas of both Hermione's Yule Ball dress, as well as Professor Snape's robe, in case you want to communicate to everyone that you're up to something dark and terrifying.

And if you don't want to suit up, there are plenty of other pieces of the Harry Potter world you can enjoy here, from getting your own owl to taking a peek at the Monster Book of Monsters. (Watch out — it bites! Or, well, tries to.)

The Mirror Loves You

While you're trying on a new robe, you can also check out Madam Malkin's Talking Mirror — it's a new addition, with the mirror offering compliments on you and your look and just your general vibe, you know?

Hip To The Hippogriff

The Flight of the Hippogriff is a short rollercoaster, but it's not just for kids. You'll get an up-close look at the world of the Hippogriff while still moving very very fast. It's the perfect coaster for those who may be a little scared of a bigger rollercoaster like those at Six Flags, or even like the Incredicoaster over at California Adventure.

BONUS! Kung Fu Panda At The Dreamworks Theatre

This has nothing to do with Harry Potter, but it's right outside Wizarding World and is the newest attraction at Universal. They've replaced the Shrek 4-D show. The new version pays tribute to both the success of Dreamworks, with awards on exhibit and posters from their dozens of films over the years, while putting the focus on Kung Fu Panda. But you'll get cameos from Shrek and other Dreamworks characters on the way in. The new show is less 4-D — no glasses involved — but there are still some surprises in store inside this special theater.

What do you want to see at Wizarding World or Universal in general this summer? Let us know in the comments or on social media.


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