If you’re still waiting for your acceptance letter from Hogwarts, chances are you’ve always dreamed of spending the holidays in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — and now Universal Studios is ready to bring those dreams to life.
Beginning Nov. 24 at Universal Studios Hollywood (the festivities kicked off at the Orlando theme parks on Nov. 18) and continuing through Jan. 8, you can get a taste of a snowy British Christmas without the chilly weather.
Hogsmeade has been transformed into a winter wonderland — complete with festively decorated storefront displays, holiday merch and, of course, the much-anticipated return of hot Butterbeer (which, if you’re anything like this writer, will send you on a sugar high that would make a Hippogriff jealous).
Press got an early sneak peek at the Wizarding World’s makeover last week, complete with a preview of the whimsical light projection that will be superimposed on Hogwarts Castle multiple times a night, pairing the iconic music from the Harry Potter films with images of caroling ghosts, broomstick-riding students, glittering trees and maybe even a firework or two.
Visitors will also be treated (if that’s the right word, depending on your tolerance for singing amphibians) to a performance from Hogwarts’ a capella Frog Choir — first seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — as they perform a variety of Harry Potter-themed Christmas carols. (Pity the human members of the choir festively decked out in their winter robes and scarves, since the weather in LA is expected to hit the mid 80s over Thanksgiving weekend.)
In addition to the Butterbeer in its hot, cold and frozen iterations, the parks are also serving up a hearty holiday dinner including roast turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, pigs in blankets, braised red cabbage, and roasted potatoes, along with the festive British staple of Christmas Pudding for dessert.
And if you’re wondering what to get the Potterhead in your life this Christmas, Universal has rolled out an eye-popping array of holiday-themed gifts to spend your galleons on, from ornaments and stockings to snow globes and winter wear.
That includes special baubles to represent each of Hogwarts’ four houses, and plenty of Hogwarts Express-themed keepsakes, including replica trains and tickets. Universal has also introduced four new interactive wands for the season, based on the characters of Cho Chang, Cedric Diggory and Yaxley, as well as a Death Eater wand. The holidays also ring in a selection of new robes, including a replica of Professor Snape’s ensemble, and a Gryffindor Quidditch outfit. Madam Malkin would approve.
Wandering through all the recognizable shops from the films and books is always a joy, but it’s particularly charming when the storefronts are decked out with holiday wreaths, their snow-capped rooftops twinkling as day turns to night.
Best of all, you don’t need a broomstick, Floo powder or a portkey to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — just a ticket to Universal Studios.