The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA has added some new features for muggles and wizards alike to enjoy: the addition of Butterbeer hard ice cream to the menu and two new interactive spells that can be activated around Hogsmeade with special wands purchased at the park. We also got a look at the “Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts” show.
Keep reading for our thoughts on these new additions, and scroll through the slideshow below for a peek at everything we saw.
Another Twist on Butterbeer
There are already numerous ways to consume the butterscotch flavored treat with foamy caramel topping. You can order it as a beverage served cold, hot, or as an ice slushie. There’s also Butterbeer fudge and Butterbeer potted cream. You could also get Butterbeer soft serve ice cream cones, and if that wasn’t enough, now there’s Butterbeer hard ice cream served in tiny tubs.
The pink tubs, branded with the logo of the fictitious Hogsmeade sweet-maker shop Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, contain six ounces of the cold treat. A peek inside shows off what looked like a vanilla base with swirls of butterscotch. The amount of Butterbeer flavoring varies from item to item, and this one had a noticeably lighter amount where it tasted like vanilla ice cream with a subtle hint of butterscotch. Definitely not the go-to item for your first exposure to Butterbeer, but if you’ve sampled the others and want a lighter alternative, this is for you.
Trying Out Two New Spells
Throughout the park, there are special markers on the ground that show you where to stand and point your wand and how to move it in a specific motion to activate a spell effect. For example, if you point your wand at a plate of desserts displayed in a window and perform the motion for “Locomotor,” the plate will start rotating in a circle, and then following it up with the motion for “Arresto Momentum” will make it stop. These only work with special wands purchased in the park, of course. As cool as it can be to experience the thrill of casting a spell, sometimes the motion detector sensor can be quite finicky, leading to multiple failed attempts before it actually registers. Luckily, there are staff members on hand to step in and give you some Hermione-style advice in order to help you pull it off.
Both of the new spells are decidedly more showy than the pre-existing spells.
The first is “Alohomora,” which unlocks doors. While it may not sound that exciting, it’s staged in a fun way. Using the spell on a large door with an elaborate locking system will cause the mechanisms to spin and slide open, but upon doing so, you’ll hear a loud banging on the other side followed by a dull roar and smoke coming from underneath the door, at which point the locking mechanisms react to whatever dragon is trying to come through and snap back into place. Maybe it’s better we don’t open this door.
The other one is the fire-conjuring spell “Incendio.” Point your wand at a chimney atop a nearby building and watch as a stream of fire spews out the top. Again, it usually takes a few tries to get it to activate, but getting to turn a chimney into a flamethrower is definitely worth the wait.
If you saw the elaborate “Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” light show that Universal Studios debuted last winter, the theme park’s summer evening illuminations can’t help but feel a little anticlimactic. The light show projected onto the side of Hogwarts castle is a celebration of the four Hogwarts houses – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin, as if you need reminding – that sees lions, eagles, badgers, and snakes weaving their way across the turrets and parapets of Hogwarts, while the Sorting Hat gives us a crash course in the virtues of each group.
But while the Christmas show effectively built a mood, beginning with a spine-tingling chorus of caroling ghosts before taking viewers through several distinct “scenes” (including students decorating the castle on broomsticks, a Christmas ball, and a wicked Fred and George Weasley prank), Nighttime Lights is a bit of a one-trick hippogriff, clocking in at less than five minutes and featuring no recognizable character cameos. If you happen to be at the park when the lights go dim, it’ll give you a chance to let your butterbeer settle, but if you’re thinking of visiting the park just to take in the spectacle, it’s definitely missing that magic touch.