Hi. We're Brian, Lara, Casey, and Sam — four diehard Potterheads, and as you can tell by this picture, a Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor, respectively.
High-achieving Hogwarts students that we are, we decided to get a sneak peak into Universal Studios Hollywood's Wizarding World of Harry Potter, set to open April 7.
The catch? We're going to give you the scoop on the new theme park from the perspective of our respective houses. Because THAT'S how we manage our mischief.
Whether it's stations throughout the park where you're able to perform "magic" with your wand...
...personalized instructions for how to figure out which wand to spend your galleons (JK, dollars) on at Ollivanders...
...or storefronts that will make you feel, despite the California heat, that you've been transported to Hogsmeade in the Scottish Highlands...
...the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is so detailed and accurate that it feels more like you've stepped onto a film set and less like a theme park.
But how does it stack up to the discerning eyes of four Hogwarts students?
Here's what we had to say:
Lara (Slytherin): You'll feel just like you're at Hogwarts, especially in the entrance of the Forbidden Journey ride, aka THE SLYTHERIN COMMON ROOM. You won't see as much Slytherin paraphernalia as there should be, but by this point you're used to people underappreciating the sheer greatness of your house. Grab a cup of frozen (NOT LIQUID) Butterbeer and a Cauldron Cake, and watch the Muggles parade about. It'll be one of the best days of your life.
Sam (Gryffindor): Listen, this ain't no ordinary theme park. You really, really feel like you're in the world of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I half-expected Filch to pop out from around the corner and yell at me for touching something while I was waiting in line in the Hogwarts Castle. The detail and accuracy to the books and movies is so good — you can even hear Moaning Myrtle gurgling away in the restrooms — that even Muggles will feel at home. But really, I knew the park felt accurate when I saw Gryffindor leading in the House Cup standings while in line for a ride.
Casey (Hufflepuff): There was bird crap painted onto the floor of the Owlery, so, yeah, I'd say the theme park gets full marks for accuracy. Everything was so on point that I pretty much felt like I was walking through one of the movies. IT WAS THAT REAL, GUYS.
Brian (Ravenclaw): The minute I walked through the entrance I felt transported to Hogsmeade and I instantly wanted to grab a Butterbeer and to head over to Tomes and Scrolls — to search for a wizarding classic, of course. Sadly, that storefront is only a façade. The wonderful thing about the whole land is that it is full of so many magical hidden gems — like Cho Chang's Yule Ball gown on display at Gladrags Wizardwear — that just walking around, exploring, and taking it all in is thrilling enough.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter features two rides: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Flight of the Hippogriff.
Perhaps even MORE exciting to true Potterheads is that you're able to explore the depths of Hogwarts castle while you're in line for the Forbidden Journey... which helps out when you're braving long lines for the ride.
Here's what we had to say:
Lara (Slytherin): I think a Slytherin would enjoy the Forbidden Journey while realizing that it was complete bollocks that Gryffindors somehow always win the big prize in the end. All Slytherins know who the real Quidditch masters are... and they aren't Gryffs. The entrance to the ride is literally our common room, so you'll feel right at home, albeit a bit chilly. Beyond that, it's a fun ride unless you get queasy like Weasley vomiting slugs. The roller coaster is fun and will remind you of flying your broomstick during yet another Quidditch victory. Ride it again and again, because one time simply won't be enough.
Sam (Gryffindor): Gryffindors are known for their bravery and sense of adventure. Unfortunately, that might make me the harshest critic of these rides. The Flight of the Hippogriff lasts *MAYBE* 30 seconds, if that, which is probably how long Malfoy could last on a Hippogriff... but Gryffindors would certainly last longer. The Forbidden Journey is a way better attraction, and I even found myself screaming along (in a totally fun way) throughout the ride. I guess the fact you won't be spending too long on rides just means you can spend that extra time drinking Butterbeer?
Casey (Hufflepuff): First things first: The Forbidden Journey did make me feel nauseated, but I didn't throw up. Now that that's out of the way, THE RIDE WAS AWESOME. Well, the "ride" was awesome if we're talking about the queue where you walk to the ride, because that's where I saw Helga Hufflepuff. Her portrait was chillin' with the other Hogwarts founders' portraits and they were just chattin' and stuff. And, 'Puffs, Helga is great. She's just casually holding her cup of tea and rolling her eyes at everything Salazar Slytherin says. Yaaass, queen, yaaass.
Brian (Ravenclaw): I think any Ravenclaw would probably question why the Flight of the Hippogriff even exists — it's way too short, like shorter than Peter Pettigrew's left ring finger. My advice is to just leave it to the children, Muggles, and Hufflepuffs to enjoy if the line looks long. On the other hand, DO NOT MISS the Forbidden Journey. It's a fast-paced ride that will leave you wanting more. Even the queue (a walk through Hogwarts itself) is amazing and makes waiting in line totally worth it. But be warned: You might not want to fill up with food and Butterbeers at the Three Broomsticks before riding this, or you could come out looking like someone cast a slug-vomiting charm on you.
OK, let's get address the Snargaluff in the room: As excited as you might be for the rides, the FOOD is equally as important to the Wizarding World. Luckily, Universal doesn't disappoint.
And it's not just Butterbeer! The Three Broomsticks and the Hog's Head offer delightful food and beverage options that would satisfy even Ron's stomach...
...and just stepping foot in Honeydukes makes you feel like you're at risk for a cavity so bad even Madam Pomfrey couldn't cure it.
Here's what we had to say:
Lara (Slytherin): The food tastes just like hundreds of house elves spent hours cooking it all. It's delectable. Go hungry, and don't get a full stomach eating floating desserts in the halls before. And definitely think about trying the fish and chips in the Three Broomsticks. There is nothing better for a house with a common room near a lake.
Sam (Gryffindor): Lara and I got to try some of the food from the Three Broomsticks, and boy is it AMAZING. Even better is the fact that the Hog's Head serves REAL beer, so if you need a stronger buzz than Butterbeer can offer...you're covered. And that sounds like something the Weasley twins would be interested in. But really, I'm here to satiate my sweet tooth, and that's where Butterbeer comes in. As detailed as the park is, and as much as I liked the rides...my absolute FAVORITE part of the park was enjoying an ice-cold Butterbeer.
Casey (Hufflepuff): I can still feel the butter on my lips from the Butterbeer. It was basically my Chapstick for the day. (Take me back.) Basically, the experience inside the Three Broomsticks and Hog's Head is so cozy and warm that I wish I could have stayed there all day, but "we had things to see and do." Honestly, I just wanted to sit at the bar and let my face fall into a platter of sticky toffee pudding, chocolate potted cream, and chocolate trifle. Is that too much to ask?
Brian (Ravenclaw): I honestly had a hard time choosing whether I like my Butterbeer better frozen or liquid! And I still don't have an answer. They were both pure sugary deliciousness, I felt like a Hufflepuff the way I devoured them. And if you have a sweet tooth, then a visit to Honeydukes should be on the top of your list. The store is pure bliss and stocked with everything from Chocolate Frogs and Fizzing Whizbees to Pumpkin Juice and Chocolate Wands.
Here's what we had to say:
Lara (Slytherin): Overall, Slytherins will LOVE the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They'll be able to enjoy their favorite foods, make fun of Hufflepuffs, and get some new house gear. They'll also really enjoy being able to use their specialized wands throughout the park and drinking so much Butterbeer that their stomachs end up hurting. And at the end of the day, that's all we can ask for.
Sam (Gryffindor): While the new land at Universal may be small with just two rides (and one of them might only be thrilling to Hufflepuffs), it packs a punch. I think even Gryffindors AND Slytherins can agree on the fact that while the area has room to grow (literally), it still is a truly magical experience for wizards and Muggles alike. And really, how can you go wrong when there's Butterbeer involved?
Casey (Hufflepuff): Ugh, magic. I love it. The experience of visiting the park was just so surreal and rewarding. Sure, my fellow Hogwarts students laughed at me when I couldn't figure out how to use the darn interactive wands. But, hey, I was basically hanging out in J.K. Rowling's brain for a day, and that's all I could have asked for.
Brian (Ravenclaw): I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Just thinking about it makes me wish I could Apparate there right now. It is so immersive that you completely forget that you're actually in the middle of a theme park in Southern California. Plus, it's a land that you can definitely visit over and over and discover new hidden little details each time, something both wizards and Muggles will be able to appreciate.