|Soft Open Prep: it took about 2 hours after open to get Hogsmede running.|
So, I was up to something special this Saturday. I decided to go to Universal Studios, and see how Hogsmede and Hogwarts were doing. And they were open. So, I, as your loyal... whatever I am, decided to share the information, as well as provide a quick difference between the two coasts I've visited.
So let's get started after the break!
Before discussing Hogsmede in any detail, it's probably best to get some basic facts out of the way in regards to the park itself and the costs. Universal Hollywood is a LOT smaller and more space-conscious than its sister parks out east. There aren't as many attractions, and there is just one park. In all honesty, you probably can do every ride at least once in a day if that is your goal, even though the park's hours of operation may be fairly short the day you go(9am-6pm in February). Rides are commonly open an hour past park "closing." Rather, that was the case when I went, your experience may vary). There aren't many lands, and to be honest, the bane of your existence will not be locals but tour groups from outside the U.S. (tour groups=congestion. Congestion=BAD TIMES). While it's a problem at other parks-I'm looking at you Disneyland- it's not as pronounced as it is at Universal.
The second thing that bears mentioning is how Universal Hollywood is a functioning movie studio. You can sign up for VIP tours of the Backlot (with unlimited line-cutting privileges) and while it's costly, at $229 the day I had gone, it's not a terrible cost for what it gets you (a private tour where you can walk through sets and get a meal cooked by Universal's executive chef). You don't need to get the VIP tour if you want to see the backlot though, as the backlot is open and has times posted for tours in English, Spanish, and Mandarin.
|The Amex Lounge... VERY comfy.|
|Ollivander's Do NOT lean against the wall.|
There are 3 hidden doors there.
|The Front of the Line Portrait Room|
The ride is rough. When they say no loose objects, and indeed they encourage people to place all loose objects in the lockers provided before getting in line, or to leave it with someone that won't be riding, they do mean it. My brother got queasy after one go round, and when I did ride with cellphone in pocket, I could feel it shifting a wee bit. Thus I may suggest, if you do wish to take pictures while in line, consider getting a small bag (Dobby may suggest a sock) that you may tie up and attach to your belt or a belt loop and slip into your pocket. Either that, or stuff your pocket so securely that it is bulging and nothing will slip out.
Yet, I will say the best feature of the land, oddly enough, is the cast that Universal has in the land. I cannot state how much I enjoyed the gentle prods of "ah... Slytherin" I got. Needless to say, I went in, wearing the house emblem large and proud. It seems like they will comment on your house, and I have to say I enjoyed that as much as going through Hogwarts and it's quite fun to play along. Likewise, they will happily break character to help you if you need it, to explain the mundane, muggle parts of the land. I honestly had a few fun back and forths between myself and staff, with one notable one during my trip to the Owl Post (HI PUPPY, CAT, ASPHODEL, RUNA, MG, and NEWT).
With all that being said, if you are in the Southern California area PRIOR to April 7. Go to Universal Studios Hollywood. This may be your best chance to enjoy everything at the park, with minimal wait times.
|Hope to see you soon!|