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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Apr 4, 2017

Enjoying Our Family's Visit To The Fabulous Universal Hollywood Studios And The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

WE'RE CURRENTLY on vacation in Los Angeles and we just made our third visit to the Universal Studios. We first visited it in 2005, then in 2010 and we've also been to the Universal Studios in Singapore three years ago, but our latest visit in their actual Hollywood studios is really the best because of their latest attraction, the Harry Potter village called "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter".

Universal is really one of the best theme parks ever as it is a real working movie studio that has the best programs and fantastic rides for the entire family. Our son Mario Miguel and his family enjoyed our whole day's stay in Universal Studios as it also has good restaurants, shops and cinemas at the adjacent CityWalk.

In the Harry Potter village, you'd see the Hogwarts Express train as you enter it and this helps transport you to the magical world of wizards, giving you a fun photo opportunity. From there, you can see the various shops of Hogsmeade where they offer a lot of stuff about wizards. Hogsmeade looks an ancient Scottish village with snow capped rooftops and icicles while music from the Harry Potter films is heard in the air to help make you feel that you're really into Hogsmeade.

Inside the Hogwarts Castle, you will be transported into a world of magical thrills. The entire ride called Forbidden Journey is beautifully conceived and even more spectacularly executed. You get the feel that you are actually riding on one of those flying broomsticks and competing in a Quidditch match with Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione.

You also get to face fire-breathing dragons, have a close encounter with giant skeletons and the Whomping Willow. Before the ride, you get to encounter all the other important characters in the books, some of whom are part of the talking portraits that adorn the corridors. And you also get to visit the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, the Room of Requirement and the office of Dumbledore.

You don't have to be a die hard Harry Potter fan to appreciate this theme park attraction, but it helps if you've read the books or seen any of the eight Harry Potter movies. But for true blue Harry Potter fans, this will be a super cool dream come true that they'll surely appreciate a lot. There are also Harry Potter attractions in Disney World in Orlando and in Osaka, Japan, but we're told the one in Hollywood is the best of all.

But the park has a lot of other attractions to offer. You can enter the world of the Simpsons and visit their town, Springfield, with the Krustyland ride. Fans of the Minions will enjoy the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride.

Other rides are the Jurassic Park ride where you encounter all sorts of dinosaurs and the Transformers 3-D Ride. There are shows like "Special Effects" show (replacing the "Backdraft" attraction we saw before), "Animal Actors" show and the "Shrek" 4D show.

We also enjoyed the studio back lot tour immensely, taking you to actual sound stages and giving an amazing experience on how they actually do earthquakes, flashfloods, rain effects and car crashes. We get to visit the sets of many iconic shows, like "Desperate Housewives", "Psycho/ Bates Motel", "War of the Worlds", "Kong", "Jurassic Park" and the finale is really awesome featuring "The Fast and the Furious" cast. It succeeds in making you feel that you are really part of a "Fast and the Furious" car chase sequence in 3D, with you racing with Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, The Rock and Michelle Rodriguez.

There are just so many attractions that it's impossible for you to see all of them in just one whole day, especially when you consider the fact that the queues are so long and you have to wait for anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour when you line up. But still, it's all worth it.