Though we've still got about two months to go until the west coast version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter officially opens its gates on April 7th, yesterday fans at Universal Studios Hollywood were able to get a sneak peek at this new area during an extensive soft opening period that lasted most of the operating day and allowed guests to experience both of this area's rides (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey as well as Flight of the Hippogriff) as well as all of the shops, restaurants and shows that are a part of this new area.
Though the area physically has a lot in common with it's Floridian predecessor, there's are a few things about this new land that are different as well. Here's everything you need to know right now about this new land:
1. It’s got a LOT in common with Hogsmeade in Orlando
We'll get the obvious out of the way first. From looks alone, the newest Wizarding World of Harry Potter looks a lot like Hogsmeade in Orlando. From the the snow-capped buildings surrounding the entrance, to the Flight of the Hippogriff on the side, and even the faraway image of Hogwarts looming in the distance those who have visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando (or Japan) will definitely feel some deja vu stepping into this new area. In addition to the similar visuals, many of the shops as well as the Three Broomsticks and Hog's Head Tavern have been recreated here and are almost a carbon copy of their Florida counterparts. Even the shows performed at this new location (the Frog Choir and the Triwizard Spirit Rally) have both been essentially copy and pasted from Florida.
However, even though this new land has quite a lot in common with the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter, those who look closer will notice some key differences that will set this land apart from its predecessor in Florida
2. This is the first version of Hogsmeade to be built with interactive wands in mind
When the interactive wand feature debuted in 2014 at Universal Orlando Resort's Diagon Alley, fans were amazed at how seamlessly the wand feature was integrated into this new land. In an effort to provide some continuity, a few interactive spell locations were also added in Hogsmeade as well right before Diagon Alley opened. While these bonus spells provided a fun little diversion in the original Wizarding World location, they were few in number and the effects couldn’t exactly match up to their counterparts in Diagon Alley, since the original Wizarding World location wasn't built with these types of interactive spells in mind.
However, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood is the first Hogsmeade-based Wizarding World purposefully built with the intent to include interactive spells. That means that there are more spells to discover (including several that are exclusive to this location), and the actual effects for each spell are better integrated with their environment (and in many cases better executed) than those in Orlando's Hogsmeade area.
3. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a little different
While the core experience of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey remains the same at the newest Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there have been a few enhancements that will make this ride a bit of an upgrade from its Orlando Cousin. The most noticeable change is the switch from 2D to 3D. Though Universal Studios Japan features a 3D version of this ride, the original in Orlando still retains its 2D film portion.
In addition to the 3D conversion, there are a couple other changes that have been reported by guests online, including an enhanced dementor scene and a few bonus film-inspired additions to the queue as well. It has also been reported that the outdoor portion of the queue is much longer, which may make long waits in the California sunshine this summer an especially sticky endeavor.