Two Days with Harry - Universal Review


Not of This World
Feb 18, 2014
Thought I'd leave a review and some stories about Universal Hollywood. Especially since you can't seem to find anything on the web about USH. We wanted to do USH this year since the kids are way into Harry Potter...and we didn't want to brave the reservation or crowds for Star Wars land. We did a two days at USH, and then went to Great Wolf Lodge for two nights. Here's the story:

First, we stayed at the Sheraton hotel. It's a very nice lobby and the rooms are very fancy. That said, our balcony had a bag of dirty diapers and a mound of strawberry jam when we arrived, so we asked and were allowed to move to another room on the 3rd floor (which is the same as the lobby). They do have a shuttle that goes to the park, but you really don't need it. We stay at the Disneyland HoJo a lot, and the walk from the Sheraton to USH is about half that walk. But it is uphill/downhill, so stroller pushing may be a pain. Also, the rooms are VERY small. We usually get a double queen, but this place barely had room for the twin air mattress for our 3rd child. We were joking about "going back to our cruise ship room". Yeah. That small.

As for the parks. First, security is AMAZING!!! Hey Disney, take a lesson from USH. We had the early entry tickets, so the first day we arrived at 9:10. We walked through security. I thought it was because we got there so early. But the next day we got a late start and made it at 9:35 and figured we'd get some normal entry traffic. Nope. I had one person ahead of me. No 20-40 minute wait. No line that stretched a city block. It was a breeze. For that alone, I love USH.

As for the park, it was really well done. First rate. We of course went to Hogsmeade first. The early entry really paid off. We were able to hit Forbidden Journey twice before it was 10am. Then walked over to Hippogriff and waiting maybe 10 minutes. As for the ride Forbidden Journey, you can put your backpacks and purses into lockers for free up to two hours. Just use your fingerprints. Super easy!!! The ride itself was very well done. My kids thought it was the best ride ever. Me....between it's motions and screens made me sea-sick. And I NEVER get sick on simulators like Star Tours. But this one did me in. Especially riding it two times in a row. I was feeling bad for at least an hour. But my wife who has trouble with Star Tours at times had no trouble at all. The only time I get seasick is when I do little ocean boats on a whale cruise and this ride. So if you get boat-sick, be prepared.
USH castle.jpg
USH Griffin.jpg
USH Sorting hat.jpg

We had lunch at Three Broomsticks, which had gluten free food for my wife. She had a good experience there. I had a chicken, cheese and bacon "toastie", which is seasonal. It was good.

We spent a lot of time in Hogsmeade the first day. Olivanders was on the list and the kids loved the wand ceremony they have. Then picking out their own wand was really special. Also, we got the interactive wands. And while they can be tempermental and not always work right, the kids enjoyed them for the two days we were there. I just carried them in my backpack when we weren't in Hogsmeade.
USH us at hogwarts.jpg

I'll continue the rest of the review in a few days.
Last edited:
Alright, next part. So we hit Hogsmeade early at 9:30am and were there until probably 1pm. We really enjoyed the area, and especially the live entertainment which was an a capella group with singing frogs on pillows. At that point, we went on the Studio Tour, which was really well done. With the Kong 3D area and some of the old sets everywhere (Matlock, Munsters, Nacho Libre), it was very cool. And you will get a little wet.

And did I mention, it was in the 70s the two days we were there, so it was never hot. In fact, it was kinda cold in the evenings!

We then went down to the lower lot, which was around 2:30 or 3pm. By that time, the Transformers and Mummy ride had lines 45-55 minutes long. We learned the next day to head there as soon as the lower lot opens and the lines are shorter. Both rides were really good. But the best part was when I got my photo with Optimus Prime. Folks, this is no ordinary photo op. The characters somehow interact with you. I had a Boston RedSox shirt on and Optimus used that to talk back and forth with me. He dropped lines like "The Curse of the Bambino is over, just like the Decepticons", and "When the RedSox and Autobots get together, we always park the car in Harvard Yard". It was like he had been a RedSox fan all his life!!! Definitely my favorite part of the trip, being a Transformer fan since they came out in 1984.

The bummer of the trip was that Jurassic World wasn't open. They keep advertising that it opens this summer, but they had walls up the whole time. My friends, who is there this week, said the walls came down yesterday, but there were still barriers all around and obvious construction still going on. You'd think they'd want to compete with DL and the Star Wars stuff, but they dropped the ball on this one.

We then went back up and hit the Minion ride. Honestly, hope for a long line, because the TV video while you're in line is hilarious! And when you go into the main waiting room, same. Funny. The ride is just ok - a giant screen with lots of moving seats. The ride then dumps you into a gift shop, which leads to this huge area called Super Silly Land, based off of the movie Despicable Me. Lots of slides and a water-based play area. Great for kids to cool off if it happens to be warm.

We had some ice cream in the Springfield area. I had the Everything But The Kitchen Sink, which was good. But they use soft serve, not real ice cream, so that was a bummer.

We then went back to Hogsmeade as the lines there in the evening were really really short. We did both of the rides again, and the kids ran around with their magic wands doing all the tricks. We did Forbidden Journey and got in line right 6:58 (park closed at 7) and we walked all the way through the line to the ride itself. We were the last ones on!

After that, we wandered the very empty streets of Hogsmeade and got some great photos. I'll attach them, since I don't know how to paste them on the actual post since the latest upgrade.

We walked out close to 45 minutes after the park closed. But that's how we always roll. Whether it's a theme park or church or a concert, we always linger and in that last group to leave.

Next post will be Day 2, which includes all of the shows....and the worst attraction at USH.USH CastleEvening.jpg
USH Hogsmeade1.jpgUSH Hogsmeade2.jpg


  • USH CastleEvening.jpg
    USH CastleEvening.jpg
    100.3 KB · Views: 0
  • USH Hogsmeade1.jpg
    USH Hogsmeade1.jpg
    112.7 KB · Views: 0
  • USH Hogsmeade2.jpg
    USH Hogsmeade2.jpg
    94.3 KB · Views: 0
This is great! Thank you for the review and update, the photos got me excited for my trip later this year.
On to Day 2, where the shows took the center stage. Anyone who says USH is a one day park is wrong, IMHO. On Day 1, we weren't able to do a few attractions and none of the shows. To me, that's where Day 2 kicks in.

Of course, with early entry, we headed straight for Forbidden Journey. We were a little late, but beat the main rush. Still, it slowed us down early on with waits getting large fast for the Harry Potter area. So....get that online early entry and then take advantage of it. Get there 10-15 before the early entry gate opens (on the left side).

Back to Hogsmeade, most of you will be coming to see this area, so it'll be the first stop. And if you have any crazy Harry-heads in the family, get plenty of good pics in front of "famous" places from the movies.
USH Melody Slyth.jpg

This time, we headed down to the Lower Lot about 15 minutes after it opened. Smart move as lines that were close to an hour the day before in the middle of the day were now 15-30 minutes. Also, we love all the movie characters down there. Of course, the Transformers are down there. But several "Mummy" characters were there, including .... the Mummy. He/She/It was very well done and played the grunting and growling part very well. The strange thing is anyone can take pictures with them. You even find them wandering around with no one wanting to take pictures. Something you'll never see at Disney.
USH Mummy.jpg

Time for shows!!!! We did the behind the scenes Hollywood Special Effects show. That was really a lot of fun and very funny. There's plenty of seats and all of them pretty good.

For lunch, I took my son to Cletus' Chicken Shack for lunch while my wife found some Gluten Free food. I ordered the Chicken and Waffle sandwich...which is now my favorite counter service meal of ALL theme parks. If you like waffles and you like fried chicken you need to get this. Don't worry. You'll walk off the calories. And the cholesterol won't getcha for another 20 years.
USH Chicken&Waffle.JPG

Next, we went to the Hollywood Animal Actors show. My kids really loved this, and I was laughing at a lot of the stuff. Definitely worth seeing. They even have one of the dogs from the movie Space Buddies, which was a series of movies my kids grew up on. This dog played Butterball on the movie...but he was all grown up, of course. You can take photos with some of the animals afterwards, so my kids can say they got their pic taking with a movie star!
USH Butterball.jpg

I don't have any pictures, but the Water World show was really great. The actors get the crowd into it before hand, so come early. And you WILL get wet in the splash zones, but it's a fun wet. All of the stunts were great and the banter between characters is close to the movie, but current and fun. This is a MUST for a USH trip.

Afterwards, we were getting a tad warm, so we went and spent BIG money for the Butterbeers in Hogsmeade. Yes, they're pricey. But man, they're good. A butterscotch cream soda with vanilla cream on top. We got the frosty kind. So good and cools you down big time. But beware. You WILL get a Cold Headache. We all did and everyone around us did, too. Still...worth it.
USH Butterbeer.jpg

We finally got to do The Simpsons Ride, which is yet another simulator. It's well done and has a lot of stuff going on. And you WILL laugh and maybe get a little wet. Still, it doesn't quite make sense that it has a 45-60 minute line all day.

And now....for the WORST attraction and USH. It is without a doubt Kung Fu Panda. First of all, no one really cares about this set of movies. They were OK, but never really great...and maybe not good. So why build an attraction around it??? Who knows. But you sit in a seat that swivels you like a simulator, all while watching Kung Fu Panda on the screen. It does have some wall projections that make it interesting. And you can tell they put a lot of work into it. But this really needs to be another movie set in this attraction for it to be any good.

Of course, we ended the day in Hogsmeade. The kids got out their wands and did all of the magic spells again.
USH wands.jpg

They then went shopping around the area and naturally did the rides again. Because of the motion sickness, I sat out. However, I got to sit at some tables they were setting up for a special event later that evening. I pulled out a book and read for about 45 minutes sitting in the World of Harry Potter. It definitely did lend some ambiance to my reading. You should definitely try it!

Once we were finished, we headed out. This is when the trip unfortunately went bad. First, we ate at a nearby place called Sun Cafe'. We went there because it had good gluten free reviews (for my wife). However, don't EVER bring your kids there. The food is road muffins. All vegan, which for me means all nasty. I could barely stomach it. And the kids hated it. I walked out and took them to McDonalds.

We then went for a two night stay at Great Wolf Lodge. That happens to be our favorite place, with big rooms and fun waterslides. Unfortunately, the next day (my birthday), I spent 5 hours at Children's Hospital of OC after my son fell on a watery area and broke his thumb. That certainly ended his fun there. But we'll be back for sure.

But looking back at the trip, USH was amazing. Definitely worth your time and money to check it out a few days.

Thanks for the great review. I am going with grandkids for just one day in August. I did get the Express Pass in hopes of getting most things done in one day. Will put Kung Fu Panda on the bottom of the priority list.
Great review, thank you. I agree with you that it is best to spend 2 days as then you can take your time, explore, and revisit attractions/rides as feel like.
Really enjoyed the review! We also noticed last time we were there that HP land emptied out in the afternoon, so clearly that is the right time to be there! Lovely pics too😊


Dreams Unlimited Travel is committed to providing you with the very best vacation planning experience possible. Our Vacation Planners are experts and will share their honest advice to help you have a magical vacation.

Let us help you with your next Disney Vacation!