Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Last holidays I had the amazing chance to spend some days in Los Angeles. As I was going to be there during Christmas, I wanted to think ahead what to do on Christmas day taking into consideration that most places are closed. I was glad to find out that Universal Studios would be open on the 25th and so without second thoughts I booked tickets online for that date. I couldn’t believe that I was going to spend Christmas Harry Potter style. It couldn’t get more perfect.

Here I share with you some recommendations:

The earlier you arrive the better:

As Universal Studios opens its doors at 9 am, I highly recommend you to get there as soon as it opens so that you can make the most of your time there. And also take into account that it gets busier every hour and if you don’t have a VIP ticket you’ll have to endure long wait lines for the rides.

Download the universal studio’s app:

It will give you all the information you need regarding wait times and special shows plus interactive maps.

Hogwarts, your first stop:

Once you step into Universal you’ll find attractive stores and other sections of the park such as the Simpson’s or The World-Famous Studio Tour. You’ll have time for all that, so I encourage you to head first to Hogwarts where you’ll find Harry Potter’s most popular ride: The Forbidden Journey.

It’s a motion simulation ride that will give you the thrills. The ride itself is not very long, what is long is the waiting time (for me it was more than an hour).  The good thing is that as you get closer to the ride, you get to step into the castle’s corridors and classrooms making your wait more bearable.

After the castle, meet the hippogriff:

Once you step out of the castle you have another ride: The Flight of the Hippogriff.

This one is a low-intensity (child-friendly) roller coaster. The waiting time is shorter and you get to see Hagrid’s hut exterior.

Lunch at the Three Broomsticks:

So, if you arrived at Universal at 9 and you did the two main rides, that means that it’s way past noon and you are starving.

Fortunately, Hogsmeade has the place for you. Inside the Three Broomsticks, you’ll find an English style menu: fish and chips, Shepherd’s Pie and of course, the famous butterbeer (only for people who can bear highly sweet beverages). I must go ahead and say that this is not a very cheap tavern (obviously), the food isn’t exactly delicious either, but the place inside is spectacularly set. It really makes you feel inside Harry Potter’s world.

enjoy Hogsmeade:

After a hearty lunch, just have fun walking around Hogsmeade.

There are several attractions happening every hour. You can get to see Beauxbatons Academy’s girls making their elegant presentation, Hogwarts student’s choir singing with their huge frogs or even, during some evenings, enjoy a magical snowfall.

There are several stores with original merchandising (you can even buy Hermione’s famous gown).

Don’t forget to visit Ollivanders and see how a wand chooses its wizard and even cast your own spells.

the grand finale:

At nighttime (during selected dates) there is a light and music show outside the castle that takes your breath away. It’s certainly a glorious ending to a perfect day.

Goodbye Hogwarts, see you next time in Orlando…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wizard’s Guide to Edinburgh

‘I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me.’

Last May I traveled from London to Edinburgh with the idea of visiting places related to Harry Potter’s world.

I took the train at London’s King’s Cross just like every regular Hogwarts student and arrived 4 hours later at Waverley station in Edinburgh.

London's King's Cross

As I only had a few hours in the city I made a list of all the places I wanted to visit.

Here I share with you my Harry Potter schedule in Edinburgh:

Breakfast at the elephant house

the elephant house edinburgh

This nice café located on 21 George IV Bridge was one of the first places where J.K. Rowling wrote her famous books. With a beautiful view of the Edinburgh Castle and a menu packed with delicious cakes (I recommend the purple velvet cake, it was magical) this café is an indispensable stop for every Harry Potter fan.

the elephant house purple velvet cake edinburgh

Open every day from 8 am to 10 pm, the place is often crowded, and as it doesn’t accept reservations, you’ll probably have to wait in line for some minutes.

the elephant house edinburgh

Once you are there don’t forget to visit the toilets. They are completely covered with writings from the visitors. It’s insane.

the elephant house toilets edinburgh

AFTERNOON IN Victoria Street

victoria street edinburgh

Located in the Old Town, this picturesque street with colorful buildings is said to have been the main source of inspiration for Diagon Alley. Many of its stores sell Harry Potter merchandise.

SHOPPING AT museum context

museum context edinburgh

Located in Victoria Street, Museum Context is a store that sells everything a wizard could need.

museum context edinburgh

The store is beautifully decorated and there is a place where you can take a picture of yourself as a Hogwarts student.

museum context edinburgh

DUSK AT Greyfriars kirkyard

Greyfriars kirkyard edinburgh

This cemetery is one of the spookiest in Edinburgh. Its infamous history dates back to the 16th century.

Greyfriars kirkyard edinburgh

It is known that J.K. Rowling based some of her famous characters on the names written on the tombs.

Greyfriars kirkyard edinburgh

Of course some of the names popped up later…

There are several ghost tours that visit this cemetery at night. I recommend City of the Dead Tours. They cost £13 and last 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Greyfriars kirkyard edinburgh

LATE NIGHT DRINKS AT PERILOUS POTIONS BY THE POP UP GEEKS

PERILOUS POTIONS BY THE POP UP GEEKS

The Pop Up Geeks is a bar located in 27 East Market Street that changes its theme every 3 months. During my trip, I was lucky to visit it during its last night as a Harry Potter themed bar.

PERILOUS POTIONS BY THE POP UP GEEKS

Once I selected a cocktail from the menu, I was given a tray with different tubes with ingredients and the instructions to make the drink.

PERILOUS POTIONS BY THE POP UP GEEKS

IF YOU PLAN TO STAY OVERNIGHT:

I recommend staying at the Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel as it is a low-cost option and it is very well located. It offers both single and shared rooms. The hostel is equipped with a self-catering kitchen and a lounge.