You know that thing we refer to as a birthday? Well, I just had one of those. And to celebrate, the hubby and I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Not that other Harry Potter World in Florida. The one in California that is 40.7 miles from our house but took us over 90 minutes to get there (thank you L.A. rush hour traffic).
Since Harry Potter World is pretty new (opened last month in April), and we figured we’d only do this once, we splurged and went with the VIP Experience. The price varies by day, but it is still pretty expensive (IMO) regardless of weekday or weekend. Again, we figured we’d only do this once.
Was the VIP Experience worth it? First, let me tell you what in includes.
- Valet parking. (Who doesn’t like valet parking?)
- VIP-only lounge with continental breakfast upon arrival. (Was pretty delish.)
- Pouches with sunscreen, mints, hand wipes, water bottle holder thingy. (Nice touch. I used the sunscreen. Ross had a mint.)
- Our group started in the park (depending on tour time, it could start with the back lot tour).
- Tour guide, ours was Donald, walks you through the park, stops here and there to point things out and give history, takes you to the front of the line at rides. If your group sees a show, you get reserved seating. (We didn’t see a show with our group.)
- Lunch in a private restaurant, buffet style. Lunch was decent. Ross and I both made two trips to the buffet line. If you’re a meat eater (we’re veggies), there are a LOT more options, and they looked pretty good. But there was enough to eat for vegetarians as well. And dessert of course.
- Then came the back lot tour. This was pretty much the same as the regular tour, but with a couple added things. We got to see a practical indoor set, tour the props department and walk around the outdoor sets.
- After the tour, Donald took us back into the theme park for more rides for about another hour. Ross and I split away during this part to head back to Harry Potter.
Verdict? If you’ve never been to Universal Studios before, the VIP Experience would be worth it. You’re with the tour guide for about 7 hours. If you’ve been before (which we had a couple of times), perhaps not. But it was obviously nice to be walked to the front of the line at each ride, which saved us 15 to 45 minutes each time, depending on the attraction.
Now, what did I think of Harry Potter World, which is the only reason I went? It was fun, but definitely not as big as I expected it to be. Seems like they always make things look bigger in the ads. Did I enjoy myself? Sure. Was I blown away? No. Was it worth it? Of course. I loved the frozen butter beer. The buildings and facades were great. The wand shop was overwhelming. I got a cool Harry Potter shirt. The rides, all two of them, were okay. I’d heard so much about people getting motion sickness on the”Forbidden Journey” ride and I was a bit nervous about that. It didn’t bother me one bit, but I could definitely see how some people wouldn’t like it. Also, I think it’s a little high on the scary factor for young kids.
The park closed at 7 on the day we went, which kind of surprised me. But by the time it closed, Ross and I were definitely ready to go home. We’re a couple of old fogies now. He even commented on the drive home that he may be over theme parks. Gasp!
Photos from the day
(click to enlarge and browse through)
What do you think? Would you go for the VIP Experience? Do you love theme parks that much? Do you love Harry Potter that much?