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Magical Experiences

How to Take a 360-degree Tour of the Wizarding World in Hollywood

Stuck at home and dreaming of the magical world? Me too – it would be a welcome break from the real world right now! But wait… we have muggle technology that helps us travel around the world: virtual reality! What if we took a virtual 360-degree tour of the Wizarding World?

Before the Wizarding World of Hollywood opened to the public in early 2016, NBC Los Angeles chief photographer Sean Browning took his Ricoh Theta 360-camera into the park to give us a sneak peek. These 360-photos originally appeared on the NBCLA website; I’ve organized them here into a ‘walking’ VR 360Β° tour of the Wizarding World in Hollywood that you can enjoy at home.

If you’re ready to start my 360-degree tour of the Wizarding World, here’s what to do:

  1. Start the Wizarding World playlist at right. These are some of the songs you would here if you were at Harry Potter world in real life! (It works best if you open the Spotify app!)
  2. You can either open this article on your smartphone phone and navigate it using a VR headset, or do it on your computer. (I set it so that only the first three 360Β° photos/videos open automatically – you have to click to play the rest. This helps the article load faster.)
  3. Pour yourself a mug of Butterbeer. (Need to make some? I have the best Butterbeer recipe coming soon!)
  4. Grab your wand and let’s go! (Don’t have a wand? I have a guide on where to buy your wand coming soon!)

Let’s begin – Locomotor imagination!

Step 1. Do Some Magic in Hogsmeade

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Like I said, you need your wand when you visit the Wizarding World! That’s because there are 9 magic spots around Hogsmeade where you can use an interactive wand to do magic – (almost) real magic! If you find yourself struggling, there are also Hogsmeade staff available to help you get your swish and flick (or other appropriate wand movement) perfect.

Step 2. Window-Shop at Dervish & Banges

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Peering through the window of Dervish & Banges, you’ll see plenty of wizarding wardrobes, accessories, and other equipment. It’s up to you whether you spend your galleons here or save them for later on this virtual tour!

(Obviously the tour is virtual so the galleons are virtual too!)

Step 3. People-Watch at Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Scene of high drama, Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop is a great spot to do some people watching along Hogsmeade’s High Street. You might see people trying on robes at Madam Malkin’s, queued up to attend a wand ceremony at Ollivander’s, or strolling along the street looking for something else.

Step 4. Stock Up at Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

At Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, you can find some of the more obscure items you might need for more obscure branches of magic – think crystal balls for Divination, moon charts for Astronomy, and crystal phials for Potions.

Step 5. Get Your First View of Hogwarts at the Top of Hogsmeade High Street

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

As you reach the top of Hogsmeade High Street, you’ll be treated to a full view of Hogwarts Castle for the first time. You can even stop by the Magic Neep Cart for a pick-me-up; they sell fresh fruit snacks and drinks like Gillywater and pumpkin juice.

⚑️Pro Trivia: The Magic Neep Cart is the only part of the Wizarding World that was not inspired by the Harry Potter books or films. It’s a completely unique creation!

Step 6. Watch the Beauxbatons Performance

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

As you start making your way toward Hogwarts, don’t be surprised if you find yourself distracted. After all, the girls of Beauxbatons and the boys of Durmstrang are pretty much just eye candy for the Harry Potter characters… and the audience too!

Step 7. Meet the Frog Choir

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

You might also meet the Frog Choir before you reach Hogwarts. These students are masters of, as Dumbledore says, “music – a magic beynod all we do here!” The frogs and their handlers regularly put on shows for witches, wizards, and muggles visiting the Wizarding World.

Step 8. Pass through the Gates of Hogwarts

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

At long last, you’ll reach the wrought-iron entrance gates flanked by statues of winged boars – you’ve arrived at Hogwarts at last! Look up and take in the turrets and towers of the castle. It really does seem like there’s magic holding it all together, doesn’t it?

Step 9. Ride Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey

Once you’ve entered and made your way through Hogwarts Castle, you’ll set out on an epic journey with Harry as your guide. Just like in real life, this 360-degree ride video can be a little nausea inducing… but it’s also thrilling if you love these kinds of rides!

Step 10. Snag Contraband in Filch’s Emporium

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

If you haven’t spent all your galleons, here’s a good opportunity: Filch’s Emporium is right at the end of the Forbidden Journey ride before you exit Hogwarts Castle. You can find great Hogwarts and House gear here, as well as some items that aren’t exactly “allowed” at Hogwarts – which means they’re way more fun!

Step 11. Ride Flight of the Hippogriff

Climb aboard Buckbeak’s back and take a ride around the paddock and Hagrid’s Hut. This is a short ride – only about 45 seconds – but you get some epic views of Hogwarts castle and the surrounding ‘British’ countryside.

Step 12. Grab a Bite at The Three Broomsticks

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

After a day of adventure, the best place to relax and refuel is The Three Broomsticks. My favorite dish on the menu is the bangers and mash, but they have other British favorites too like pies and fish & chips.

While you sit and eat, be sure to look around – including up! There are some incredible complicated (dare I say magic?) walkways to the pub’s upstairs rooms…

Step 13. Unwind with a Pint at the Hog’s Head

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Whether you want a pint of Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, or the exclusive Hog’s Head Brew you can only get at the Wizarding World, there’s no better place than the admittedly seedy Hog’s Head pub. Just keep an eye out for goat droppings on the floor!

After that, it’s time to take off the muggle VR headset, set down the wand, and step back into the real world. I’m bummed too – just like when I visit the Wizarding World in real life, I don’t want it to end either!

Did you enjoy this 360-degree tour of the Wizarding World? I’d love your feedback in the comments.

? And the Triwizard Trophy goes to…: Special thanks again to Sean Browning for sharing the magic of the Wizarding World with this 360Β° photos!

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