Sunday, August 26th
Universal Studios just made my entire year. Where do I even begin? First off, theme parks are my favorite past time. This is not your average roller coaster ride at 6 Flags or Disneyland, this is “The Entertainment Capital of L.A.” Think about all your favorite movies, but you get to experience them IRL. The weather was perfect: not too hot, and not too cold. Even driving into the parking lot was a beauty in itself. You could see all of Hollywood on the other side.
Sadly, we arrive only to find out we had 1.5 hours to enjoy the park. I was just wrapping up work when my babygirl Valerie came and picked me up. I literally asked her the day prior to check park hours and of course, Yelp reveals it’s open until 10pm on Sundays. As we enter, we’re told the park was closing at 7pm. This was the first Sunday with the new hours since school started. We were shook! My schedule has been insane so finding a date and time to actually visit the park was the most difficult part, but all you can do in the moment is make the best of it.
All I can say is, invest in a Universal Express pass. Those things are a gamechanger. Unless you’re with a huge group and enjoying each other’s company, get this pass. You can surpass any line, which has on average a wait time of 45 minutes. The goal today was to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which honestly surpassed our expectations. It’s literally its own theme park within a theme park. If you like Harry Potter in the slightest, this is a must. There’s so much to do and see. The attention to detail was unmatched. From the Butterbeer™ flavored hard pack ice cream to the exact replicas of the castles, this is a real-life playground for both kids and adults.
First order of business: get on a ride. We hop on the Flight of the Hippogriff, which was a little kiddie rollercoaster to warm you up for the big daddy: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The description doesn’t even do it justice: “Make your way through Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Then soar above the castle grounds as you join Harry Potter™ and his friends on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, coming face-to-face with magical creatures.”
The ride/simulator takes you through the entire castle: Dumbledore’s office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor™ common room, the Room of Requirement, etc. I can’t even articulate in words how fun this ride is, you just have to experience it for yourself. It’s 4D interactive, so you feel everything from the gigantic spider’s snot to the smoke from the spell that’s casted on you. We would have gone on it 10x if we weren’t pressed for time.
I also loved how you could see holograms of the actual characters from the movie, including Harry, Hermoine, and the whole gang. They literally say bye to you as you hop off. I don’t want to give it all away, but I highly suggest you make it here. Unfortunately, we missed The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle which sees all four castles transform into this incredible light show, but it returns September 1 to 3! GO.
We also greatly enjoyed Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest, which we found out had only been open for 2 weeks. We also caught the Simpsons ride and Descipable Me, which turned us into minions. I fucking love this place. We tried to go to Jurassic Park on the Lower Lot, but they were definitely trying to close shop.
— Shirley Ju (@shirju) August 27, 2018
We walked through the gift shops afterward which was an adventure in itself. If you’re easily amused, you will thrive here. We ended up stopping by Popcornopolis in the CityWalk afterward and bought 4 bags. A true YOLO. They also just opened VooDoo Doughnuts here, which used to only be available in Portland. Basically, treat yourself and spend a whole day here. #SelfCare.