Universal Studios Hollywood: Springfield, Hogsmeade & That Time I Met Gru

I’m a Potterhead and proud.

When I was a kid we went on a family camping trip to Aberystwyth, and if my memory serves me correctly (50/50 chance of that), my brother won some money playing Bingo and part of the rules going in was that if either of us won, we had to share with the other. I think he bought a PlayStation game with his dollar. I bought the first few Harry Potter books.

Since then, I’ve been hooked.

hogwarts

I’ve read all seven books so many times that my copy of Goblet of Fire is actually missing 4 pages due to my over-excited page-turning technique. When I went to Peru in 2011, the first thing I did on my return to the UK was go to the cinema with my stepdad and sister to see the final Harry Potter film in cinemas. That was emosh.

These days my fourteen-year old sister claims to like HP more than me despite having NEVER READ ANY OF THE BOOKS (!!!!!!) and I get way too defensive about it.

My ex even took me to Warner Bros Studio just outside of London for Valentine’s Day. Very romantic, no? We didn’t actually go on the day so we weren’t quite at Cho and Harry at Madam Puddifoot’s level of romantic but yeah, the intent was there. Do you know what wasn’t there, though? The bloomin’ Hogwarts Express which they unveiled literally 5 days after we went. Not good, WB, not good.

So with all that being said, it’s safe to say I’d be lying if I said Harry Potter wasn’t the only reason I wanted to go to Universal Studios.

hogsmeade-entrance

Springfield seemed cool but I figured I could’ve lived without. The Studio Tour looked interesting enough but I’m pretty sure I have some faded memories buried in the back of my brain of the exact same tour at Universal Studios Orlando when I was 4. And did I really need more memories of the same thing?

I wanted Harry Potter and I didn’t care about the rest of it.

And you know what?

It didn’t disappoint.

The whole Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of the park was AMAZING. Soooooo damn amazing I sort of wanted to cry. In fact I may have shed a sneaky tear or two while browsing the wares on offer at Dervish & Banges, although that was probs because I saw a picture of Dobby and it all got too much.

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The attention to detail and minor little things they have there are just too freaking cool, from fake packaging and shop displays and owls to the train conductor’s appallingly bad English accent. No one outside of Downton Abbey actually sounds like that pal. It legitimately felt like I was in the actual world of Harry Potter.

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August 18th 2016 will forever be remembered as the day that pre-teen Rhiannon’s dreams came true.

They had pretty much all the main shops mentioned in the books at Hogsmeade and a couple which must have got lost on their way to Diagon Alley (I’m talking to you Mr Ollivander!), but sketchy geography can be forgiven in this case just because Harry Potter <3

the-hogs-headollivandersdervish-banges

Undoubtedly the best shop was the co-op set up between Honeydukes and Zonko’s. In regards to the selection of magical edibles available at Honeydukes, it was pretty much exactly the same as what’s on offer at the Warner Bros Studio in UK, but it’s the setup which would make any Potter fan squeal with delight.

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It’s colourful and magical and like being in an actual dream. I would live there. I would quite happily set up my tent in Honeydukes and never leave.

As happy as I was to finally have made it to Hogsmeade, to sit outside the Three Broomsticks and watch all the Muggles on their way, to eat a sugar quill and Chocolate Frog and to for the Triwizard Champions, I actually had just as much fun everywhere else in the park.

Springfield was especially awesome.

welcome-to-springfield

With it being right next door to Hogsmeade (asdjaibfiaefbaeb!!!) I spent most of the day wandering between the two, alternating between trying to catch all the different Simpsons for photo ops and trying to talk myself out of buying a wand.

I’m not a huge Simpsons fan by any stretch of the imagination.

I enjoy watching it on TV, and I loooove Simpsons Tapped Out (or I loved in the past tense seeing as my current phone is a meagre 8GB and has no room for fun *cry*) but I’m not a “name all of Homer’s cousins” kind of guy gal. That didn’t stop me fangirling over the characters, though, and I will stand with my head held high, chest puffed out and a goofy grin on my face and say that I successfully managed to snap a picture with every character who came out to play.

I’m basically a Simpson now.

homer-simpsonmarge-simpsonbart-and-lisasideshow-bobkrusty-the-clown

No photo will ever top me and Krusty *insert heart eyes emoji here*.

You know on TV shows and films where the person is watching TV and then they step through the screen into their TV set and WOW THEY’RE A TV STAR?? I can’t think of any specific examples, but you get me, I know you get me.

Well that’s what it felt like in Springfield.

krustyland

It was the most surreal thing.

They had a whole bunch of different dining opportunities, brought to life from the show such as Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Moe’s Tavern, The Duff Brewery, Krusty Burger and loads more I can’t even stop to remember them all!

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Springfield isn’t exactly vegetarian-friendly mind, unless you like donuts and fries. And let’s be real here, who doesn’t like donuts and fries?!

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In the same way that the shops in Hogsmeade brought to life the bits and bobs from the Harry Potter world, the Simpsons merch available at the Kwik-E-Mart was so much fun. You could even get actual Duff beer. Like, it’s a real thing!

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Although there was only 1 actual ride in Springfield (this seemed to be the case for all ‘themes’ in the park bar Harry Potter which got 2 rides), in keeping with the Krustyland décor, there were plenty of fairground stalls to try your hand at – ring toss, basketball, the usuals.

And if you hang around at night, you might be lucky enough to catch sight of an escaped convict…

springfield-penetentiary

After Hogsmeade and Springfield, I thought my day of stepping into fictional worlds couldn’t possibly get any better.

And then I met Gru…

gru-and-minionI love Gru.

Despicable Me in general is just *heart eyes* but Gru in particular is like the anti-hero that everybody needed in their life but didn’t realise until he came along. Minions are adorable – I love minions – but where would they be without Gru, huh? I think we all know the answer to that! (Psst, if you don’t know the answer, you might wanna get a birra Despicable Me 2 in your life).

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So yeah, I met Gru and it was delightful. He was delightful. Yeah, I had to queue up with a bunch of kids shorter than my waist who were dizzy with excitement at the prospect of meeting their minion idol, and yeah it was a bit of a what the heck am I doing moment and yeah, one bambino did ask his mama why the lady was having her photo taken alone BUT Gru was worth it.

I sent the picture to my brother to show his minion-loving offspring, and he replied with “Are you alone? Because this is one of the saddest thins I’ve ever seen if so hahaha“.

But as they say, to be a minion is to live your best life.

And I’m a sworn minion now.

minion-propaganda-2minion-propaganda-3minion-propaganda

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9 Comments

  1. 16th September 2016 / 5:13 pm

    I’ve been to the Warner Bros Studio Tour (also minus the Hogwarts Express) but I would love to go to Universal purely for Harry Potter! Your pictures just make me that bit more excited about visiting sometime in the future. Between Hogsmeade and Hogwarts the wizarding world is a ton more fun than the real world!

    • 16th September 2016 / 6:03 pm

      Oh you’re so right about that! And Universal Studios was amazing – definitely worth the cost of the flight, accommodation AND park ticket just to pretend you’re a wizard for half a day <3
      I'm still bitter about missing the Hogwarts Express, though and am already mentally planning my triumphant return to WB Studios when I'm back home.

  2. 17th September 2016 / 9:01 am

    I have to go there! I love Harry Potter so I too would go for that reason only. Your photos really make me jealous. I want to meet all those amazing characters. And I think going alone isn’t that sad 🙂

    • 18th September 2016 / 4:37 am

      It’s so amazing, you really must go some day! Yeah, I don’t really think it’s sad either, and I actually wasn’t the only one wandering around alone all day.

  3. LC
    16th March 2017 / 4:57 am

    I enjoyed it a lot when I went too, particularly because I just didn’t like the WB exhibit (no idea why, as immensely enjoyed the scraps of the set they brought out to exhibit in Oz a few years ago). I have to say however, that the Jurassic Park ride was the highlight of my trip there. Dinosaurs AND you got soaked!

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:36 pm

      It malfunctioned when I went on it so I think I missed out on one part of it. But then they gave us a password (Rattata) to jump the queue the next time which I completely forgot about haha.

  4. kerri copeland
    30th March 2017 / 10:46 am

    im confused im staying in la for 4 days in august and dont know if to do disney land, universal studios or be cheeky and do both lol.
    this hasnt helped lol i want to do n=both now haha

    • rhiydwi
      30th March 2017 / 5:35 pm

      You could totally do both if you really wanted to! I did! I flew in on the Wednesday night, visited Universal on the Thursday, went sightseeing around Hollywood on the Friday, transferred to Anaheim on the Saturday, visited Disneyland on the Sunday and flew out late that night! It was rushed and I missed a lot of the main sites in LA, but Disneyland/Universal were my reasons for going so I was okay with that 🙂

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