Let’s go on a virtual shopping spree at Universal’s new Wizarding World
Join me as I embark on a virtual shopping spree in the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Wizarding World West is currently in “soft opening” mode, which means the highly-anticipated themed land is sporadically open in advance of the official grand opening on April 7.
I spent three hours in the new themed land on a recent weekday morning making a four-minute Snapchat video of my shopping adventures. I basically got one of everything I wanted -- kind of like Oprah’s favorite things.
L.A. Times theme park blogger Brady MacDonald explores the shops at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
I focused on the eight shops in the new land that sell only merchandise linked to the Harry Potter universe. If you’re interested, you can check out my earlier articles on the Three Broomsticks restaurant and the attractions in the land.
A warning to first-time Wizarding World shoppers: The stores are tiny by retail standards and especially so with the crowds streaming into the new Potterverse. Author J.K. Rowling insisted the Wizarding World shops be of the same size and scale of the movie versions -- for the sake of authenticity. Be prepared to rub shoulders in extremely tight confines.
I’ll keep a tally of how much I spend in every shop and ring up a grand total at the end of my spree. Join me as I max out the credit card on Pottermania.
Honeydukes Homemade Sweets
The brilliant green sweet shop with the black-and-white checkered floor sells candy featured in the Potter books and movies.
Like most people, the first item I reached for was the $10.95 Chocolate Frogs in the pointy-topped pentagon-shaped box. The milk chocolate frog doesn’t hop as it does in the movies, but the box does include a wizard trading card.
The next most popular item in Honeydukes are the $10.95 Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, which are essentially identical to muggle jelly beans except for one key difference: the flavors. Just like in the books and movies, the beans come in basic flavors such as banana, lemon and apple, strange ones such as soap, rotten egg and grass, and disgusting ones such as earwax, vomit and bogies (British for booger).
Also in my basket: $7.95 Peppermint Toads (no, they don’t hop in your stomach), $9.95 Queen Bee Fizzing Whizzbees (no, they don’t make you levitate) and $9.95 Exploding Bon Bons (no, they aren’t made with coconut dynamite).
Next time I stop in at Honeydukes, I’ll look for Acid Pops, Cockroach Cluster, Nosebleed Nougat, Ice Mice and Sugared Butterfly Wings.
Honeydukes total: $49.75 plus tax
Zonko’s Joke Shop
The vibrant red joke shop with the motion-activated surprises sells tricks and toys featured in the Potter books and movies.
Probably my favorite item on my shopping spree was the $6.95 jar of U-No-Poo. The green-candy-coated milk chocolate delights are the “constipation sensation that’s gripping the nation.”
Created by Fred and George Weasley, the Extendable Ear was designed for listening in on private conversations. The $22.95 oversized ear is attached by a 12-foot cord to a battery-powered listening device.
Also in my basket: a $14.95 Sneakoscope (which lights up, spins and whistles at any sign of deceit), a $13.95 Screaming Yo-yo (since banned at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) and $14.95 Wizard playing cards (perfect for monthly poker games).
Noticeably missing from Zonko’s: Dungbombs and Nose-Biting Teacups.
Zonko’s total: $73.75
Dervish and Banges
The gift shop sells magical items and Hogwarts clothing based on the Potter books and movies, but I mostly focused on the Quidditch supplies at Dervish and Banges.
The Nimbus 2000, Nimbus 2001 and Firebolt brooms appear to fly overhead in the second story area of the shop.
I ended up with a $21.95 Nerf-like version of the Quaffle ball, a $18.95 winged Golden Snitch and a $34.95 Quidditch broom. The shop displayed higher-quality brooms that weren’t for sale.
The funnest item for sale in any of the shops had to be the $34.95 Monster Book of Monsters. The vicious textbook used in the Care of Magical Creatures class attacks anyone who opens it. The version sold at Dervish and Banges turns into a furiously chomping beast at the slightest touch until a kind soul gently strokes its spine.
The tennis ball-sized $14.95 Remembrall that fills with smoke whenever something is forgotten in the movies glows red when you push a button on the toy version.
I splurged on the $109.95 Slytherin house sweater, which is made in Scotland -- unlike most of the other items sold in Wizarding World, which are manufactured in China and Taiwan.
The bigger ticket items helped put the biggest dent yet in my credit card.
Dervish and Banges total: $235.70
The small shop is filled with animatronic owls that roost in the upper shelves. In the books and movies, the owls deliver mail to people in the wizarding world.
Muggles can get a letter stamped with a Hogsmeade postmark at a station in the center of the store.
I went for the life-size version of Harry Potter’s Hedwig owl. The $36.95 white plush puppet with speckled wings has a head that rotates.
With only one item in my shopping basket, I escaped from the Owl Post with the lightest hit yet on my virtual wallet.
Owl Post total: $36.95
With locations in London, Paris and Hogsmeade, Gladrags has been dressing the elegant wizard since 1750.
In “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger drop into Gladrags to buy a pair of socks for Dobby the house elf.
You won’t find the Hogsmeade clothing store at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida. The first location in the muggle world opened at Wizarding World in Universal Studios Japan. At the Hollywood location, a dress such as the one Hermione wore to the Yule Ball is displayed in the Gladrags shop window.
I did all my back-to-school shopping at Gladrags for my first year at Hogwarts: $109.95 green-trimmed Slytherin house robe (to show my true colors), $89.95 H for Harry sweater (just like the one sent by Molly Weasley at Christmas), $36.95 Gryffindor red and gold house scarf (for my daughter, Hannah) and a $29.95 pointy black student hat.
And we have a new front-runner for the most expensive stop on my virtual shopping spree.
Gladrags total: $266.80
Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment
Filled with crystal balls, telescopes and armillary spheres, the astrologically-themed Wiseacre’s feels out of place in Hollywood’s version of Hogsmeade. From a storytelling standpoint, the shop belongs in Diagon Alley, like it is in Universal Studios Orlando.
Even the merchandise -- mostly Hogwarts Express collectibles -- feels a bit out of place. The full-size replica of the steam locomotive is located at the opposite end of the themed land.
None of that stopped me from loading up on Hogwarts Express gear, including a $24.95 red 9 3/4 T-shirt, a $10.95 gold-embossed London-to-Hogsmeade ticket, a $24.95 engineer cap and a $48.95 locomotive bank (where I should probably be putting my money rather than spending it all at Wizarding World).
Wiseacre’s total: $109.80
Ollivanders Wand Shop
Maker of fine wands since 382 B.C., Ollivanders is stocked floor to ceiling with haphazard shelves filled with boxes of magic wands.
Most visitors will enter the shop after exiting a short interactive show where “the wand chooses the wizard.” I snuck in the back door where they were still more than glad to take my money.
Once again, Ollivanders would be more accurately located in Diagon Alley, but Universal would never pass up the opportunity to rev up this money-making machine. Rowling has since said it would make sense that there would be an Ollivanders satellite location in Hogsmeade.
The bustling shop sells 68 wands based on the originals used by wizard and witch characters in the movies. Of those, 27 are interactive wands that activate animatronic window displays throughout the land.
I went for a $39.95 non-interactive version of Bellatrix Lestrange’s talon-like wand with a walnut shaft and dragon heartstring core. For the $47.95 interactive wand, I chose Lord Voldemort’s bone-handled weapon (mostly for the fear it would instill when I used it throughout the land).
Ollivanders total: $87.90
Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods
The gift shop at the exit to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey dark ride sells many of the same Hogwarts souvenirs found in the other stores as well as replica props from the Potter films. Most of the high-end items are behind the main cashier stand.
The $75 replica of the dagger Bellatrix Lestrange held to Hermione’s throat in Malfoy Manor comes in a felt-lined box. The $100 replica of the Sorcerer’s Stone is housed under a glass dome between gold screw pegs.
The $125 Triwizard Cup with a trio of pewter dragon head handles looks just like the trophy awarded to the winner of the deadly interscholastic tournament. (The shop also sells a $19.95 plastic version of the cup.)
The $125 replica of Lucius Malfoy’s walking stick includes the 1,000-year-old snake-headed wand concealed within the cane.
The $200 Sword of Gryffindor was by far the coolest item sold at Wizarding World. The ruby-encrusted 3-foot-long stainless steel sword is mounted in a wood frame suitable for hanging.
And the biggest ticket item of all? The $400 Wizard Chess set that replicates the enchanted and barbaric board game.
Filch’s was expensive. I spent more there than I did at all the other places combined.
Filch’s total: $1,025
So what kind of damage did I do to my virtual bank account? All told I spent $1,885.65 in a little over three hours. The best part of a virtual shopping spree is that it doesn’t cost anything and I don’t have to take anything back.
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