Only one day for Harry Potter and all that Universal has to offer? Here's how to make it worth your while.
A trip to Los Angeles isn’t complete without a stop at Universal Studios Hollywood, especially since it has added The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to its lineup.
Even if your time is limited, it’s worth earmarking a day to visiting this very Hollywood theme park. Here’s how you can make the most of your visit, even if you’re not a theme-park pro.
Buy your tickets online in advance. You’ll save $10–$20 on admission, skip the ticket-holder line and receive early park admission one hour before the park opens to everyone else.
Bookmark Universal’s website on your phone. It has a great mobile site — you can even buy your “advance” tickets that morning and flash your phone at the gate to breeze into the park. The site includes a map of the park and wait times for all rides to help fit your favorites into a single day.
Start early. Arrive at 8 a.m. for early admission. Head directly to newest, most popular attractions first (i.e. anything Harry Potter-themed). I suggest starting with “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” — a cool attraction and ride in one — before the lines get super-long. Skip the tiny Hippogriff ride unless you are traveling with kids under 10, or you’re a superfan.
Hit the biggies. After you’ve spent some time in Hogsmeade, head to the lower level of the park via the escalators to hit the big-action rides that develop the longest lines as the day goes on. Don’t miss: Jurassic Park, Transformers and Revenge of the Mummy. After you check those off, return to the upper lot for the Studio Tour — it’s slightly cheesy, but you don’t want to miss Bruce from “Jaws.”
Finish off your list. Once you’ve got all of the “must-rides” under your belt, check out your second-string. There’s a Simpsons ride, a new Walking Dead attraction and more. Or head back to Hogsmeade, where you can shop for wands at Ollivanders, or grab a butter beer (or something a little stronger) at Three Broomsticks. Be sure to visit all the gift shops, and even the restrooms, as they all pay homage to the Harry Potter series in different ways.
Eat later. Except for a quick lunch or snack at one of the themed restaurants (I went for a Krusty Burger, washed down with an ice-cold Duff beer), save dining and souvenir shopping for the end of your day at the Universal Studios City Walk. It’s open much later than the park and really lights up at night, offering many nicer sit-down dining options as well as shopping.