As theme park fans around the world have watched the opening of Diagon Alley in Orlando this month with huge interest and enthusiasm, eyes shift back to the construction well underway at Universal Studios Hollywood on its own Wizarding World of Harry Potter construction as we blast into the heat of summer!
Rising from behind existing park attractions, the skeletal frames of what will be Hogsmeade dominate the skyline of Universal’s Upper Lot. From Shrek all the way around to the entrance of the Studio Tour, the peaks of Hogsmeade are very visible (not to be mistaken with the new Simpsons/Springfield structures going up as well directly across from that attraction) and have people buzzing.
One tourist could be overheard saying, “Oh look! They must be building a new movie set!” as she walked across the Studio Tour bridge at the top of the escalators to the tram loading/unloading area. Of course, she was mistaken – the monolithic structure that fills the area behind the tram load/unload is the main show building for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which will be the anchor attraction for the Wizarding World area.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (in case you’re not familiar with the attraction or first iteration from Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando) is going to live in a massive show building, which is where the main portion of the queue is contained, and the stunning rock work and Hogwarts castle will exist on top of. The building is so large that it is already completely visible from the nearby 134 Freeway; there is no doubt that muggles will have a clear and unobstructed view of Hogwarts from well outside Universal Studios Hollywood.
From the Studio Tour load/unload area, you can see that there is a lot of distance between the first steel frames of Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Journey show building; this would suggest that as construction moves further along, we will see a “phase two” of Hogsmeade take shape to connect the two now-vertical portions of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It also suggests that ample room may have been given for a secondary attraction in the land; some theme park sites are speculating that California will also receive a Flight of the Hippogriff family roller coaster, just as the WWOHP area in Orlando has. That is nothing more than speculation at this point, but it is definitely out there among fans as they discuss this project.
It will also be interesting to see if California gets a larger Ollivanders Wand Shop than the original Wizarding World in Florida, to meet the demand of enthusiastic Southern California guests that will be wanting their own piece of the magic. Again, mere speculation – but it would seem logical, considering how popular Ollivanders is at Islands of Adventure.
The entryway to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter appears to be across from the newly-opened Pink’s Hot Dogs, almost directly behind the Flintstone’s Bar-B-Q; if that’s the case, we imagine that the food location will soon go the way of the dinosaur. Quite possibly, this may be the last summer for the Flintstone’s eatery at Universal Hollywood.
It’s a very exciting time here in Southern California for theme park fans! We love watching this largest growth spurt in the history of Universal Studios Hollywood. While 2016 seems impossibly far off, it won’t be long before we all stand with Butterbeer in hand, marveling at the snow-capped buildings of Hogsmeade. It’ll come sooner than later, we promise.
And when those gates do open… it’s going to be nothing short of magical!
TPAers, sound off! Are you excited for California’s very own Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Have you been to the original in Orlando? What’s your favorite part, or what are you most looking forward to when it opens here at Universal Studios Hollywood? Share your thoughts below with other theme park fans!