Winter is almost here, which means that the tradition of Harry Potter marathons aren’t far behind it. For some odd reason, cups of butter beer are craved way more than mugs of hot chocolate during this time of year; for when snowed-in days are celebrated with everyone’s favourite HP film “The Prisoner of Azkaban.” Harry Potter, with it’s themes of friendship and bravery, has always been similar to the themes of our favourite winter holiday. We always tend to gather with our family and watch Harry get compelled by soul-sucking dementors and evil wizards who have wanted him dead since birth - because what’s more Christmas than that?!
While most believe that the vast vibes of Harry Potter are found in London, the state of California offer just as much memorabilia and activities that centre around everyone’s beloved wizard. Of course, most of them are in Universal Studios and the Warner Brothers lot, but let’s try to be creative.
Test Your Direction At Exit Game
The world of Harry Potter always seems like a fun one, but with a constant villain and his army always lurking throughout the films, we tend to forget how bloody difficult it would be to actually survive it all. Sure, most of them end up doing, but does anyone else know what they would do if they were trapped in a washroom with a massive troll?!
At Exit Game escape rooms in Los Angeles, young Hogwarts students get the chance to experience the difficulty of the wizarding world without the actual chance of not surviving it. The room, called “The School Of Sorcery”, gives customers one hour to finish magical exams and prove their abilities within the castle. Currently there is only a 38% pass rate, but if you’re playing with the Hermione Grangers of the world, I’m sure you’ll do just fine.
Find The Cast Member's Handprints At TCL Chinese Theatre
Who doesn’t know about the legendary TCL Chinese Theatres?! Located along the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6925 Hollywood Blvd., the theatre has been quite the landmark for being the closest thing when it comes to touching your favourite celebrity (though the concrete). There are hundreds of Hollywood star handprints, footprints, and autographs - and three of them belong to the core cast members of the Harry Potter franchise.
In the summer of 2007, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ronald Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) had the honour to have their handprints forever instoned at the TCL theatre along with the wands they used during the series. After visiting the theatre, you can finally say you got a selfie with them. I’m sure it counts.
Fly The Flight Of The Hippogriff At Universal Studios
I’m not sure about you, but Buckbeak the Hippogriff was my all-time favourite part of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (remember, this was before we knew Sirius Black was a badass bitch). Buckbeak was pretty wild and had quite the temper, but he ultimately ended up being one of the reasons why Harry and Hermione survived that whole time-travel stint they had gotten themselves into.
That’s right, Buckbeak is a hero - no need for an execution, Malfoy!!! At Hollywood’s Universal Studios, you get the chance to check out Buckbeak in person as you pass by Hagrid’s hut (but remember to use the proper etiquette when approaching). If he ends up liking you, don’t be afraid to get on his back for a ride - he’ll be nice to you but only if you’re nice back.
Get Into Some Serious HP Vibes At The Magic Castle
We’ve all dreamt about the day we would receive our Hogwarts enrollment letter in the mail, but unfortunately, living in a protected muggle world doesn’t allow for such sorcery to occur. At The Magic Castle, a clubhouse of the Academy of Magical Arts, you can experience your own kind of night in Hogwarts at a wizard-inspired venue in the heart of Los Angeles.
A private clubhouse that only allows entrance to members and their guests, the Magic Castle is an exclusive invitation to a magical night that features shows that range from miracles to full stage illusions. Also filled with memorabilia and a number of interesting bars, the Magic Castle is a chance to feel like a magician within the muggle world.
Have A Drink At Hog's Head Pub
One pint of Butterbeer, please! You may recognize the setting of Hog’s Head Pub from the Harry Potter films, but they’re not exactly in the laid-back, fun atmosphere that’s offered in Universal Studios Hollywood. Used as a hiding place for Dumbledore’s Army to travel to the Room of Requirement, Hog’s Head Inn was quite an important contribution to the win at the Battle of Hogwarts, but you won’t find anything but fun and drinks at the one in Universal Studios.
A pub in the back of Three Broomsticks, Hog’s Head Pub is a perfect joint to relax after a day of walking around the Hollywood theme park. Along with domestic and imported beers, the pub also serves Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, a Hog’s Head Brew, and mixed drinks filled with some fancy and magical spirits.
Get Lost At Watson Adventures
It is quite the coincidence that a Harry Potter themed scavenger hunt is operated by a company called Watson Adventures, but that should just guarantee how magical fun even a basic muggle will have playing this game.
Along with the occasional wizard who would like to play, all are welcome to embark on a hunt that’s inspired by one of Harry’s many adventures within the films. Located at the Getty Center, players can expect surprises new discoveries of the museum with a magical twist.
Take The Warner Brothers Tour In Los Angeles
When people think about the Warner Brothers studio tour in Los Angeles, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the coffee shop that was constantly featured in Friends. And, sure, it’s cool that Jennifer Aniston sat on that couch before - but I’ve been in a coffee shop before. You know what I haven’t been in? An exhibit with the clothes and props actually used by the cast of Harry Potter. Now, that’s cool. So, you know, go check it out Muggles!
Grab A Treat At Sweet! Hollywood
“Anything from the trolley?!” I mean come on, how many times have you imagined hearing those words? With chocolate frogs that suddenly animate and jump out of windows to flavourful jelly beans that taste like the worst of our nightmares, the treats that are featured in the Harry Potter films are one of the many reasons why it’s so magical.
At Sweet! Hollywood, a dessert shop located near the TCL Chinese Theatre, you can choose from a wide selection of Harry Potter inspired snacks within a store that’s much bigger than the typical train trolley. Admittedly, I’m not sure if the chocolate frogs actually come to life anymore - you’ll have to double check with the employees.
Check Out The Last Bookstore
I feel as though J.K. Rowling should have authority over every single book that is printed and published. I mean, imagine a world where a genius like herself was in charge of every text you read? That kind of sounds like censorship, but if it’s censorship controlled by the creator of Harry Potter, than I am here for it.
Starting out as a novel franchise, Harry Potter is a huge inspiration for every other YA saga that came out after that *cough* Twilight and The Hunger Game series *cough* so a unique bookstore in the heart of LA seems like a pretty cool and HP-inspired experience. A multilevel venue filled with local art and interesting arcs of books, the Last Bookstore will give you memories of the first time you saw Hogwart’s library on the big screen.
Buy A Joke At Zonko's Joke Shop
The ideal place for those who solemnly swear they’re up to no good, Zonko’s Joke Shop is a destination where all of your Fred and George Weasley dreams will truly come true. A place that outshines even Willy Wonka and his basic ass chocolate factory (I mean, come on, a river of chocolate is so 2005), this is a place you have to visit when walking around Universal Studios Hollywood.
From props such as Extendable Ears, Screaming Yo-yos, Pygmy Puffs and Nosebleed - yes, Nosebleed - Nougat, customers can spend hours within this Harry Potter inspired joke shop.
Get Your First Wand At Ollivanders
Other than platform 9 and 3 quarters, Ollivanders was kind of the first glimpse that audience members got as to how big the wizarding world of Harry Potter really was. A maker of fine wands since 382 BC, you can check out the iconic shop for yourself at this remodelled venue in Universal Studios Hollywood (if you haven’t caught on by now, just visit the theme park if you want all the really good HP stuff).
Set as an interactive experience, watch as a wand chooses a wizard - though don’t expect wind and magic to suddenly surround you as you pick one. Whether you want an original Ollivanders wand or a replica of a wand from the Harry Potter series, a visit here is definitely something you must do when checking out all the go-to stops in California.