adventuring with ashley: the wizarding world of harry potter, hollywood.

adventuring with ashley: the wizarding world of harry potter, hollywood.

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for my birthday at the end of march, my parents took me to the wizarding world of harry potter at universal studios hollywood! i have been a lifelong fan of harry potter (literally – i was so young when i was introduced to the series that i wasn’t able to read them myself) and have been wanting to go since the park opened in 2016. here’s my guide to navigating the park! 

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what to ride 

there are only two rides in the wizarding world portion of the park, but they are both great! the first i went on, flight of the hippogriff is a fun little roller coaster. it wasn’t a huge thrill to go on as an adult, but all of the kids sitting around me had a great time! it is only about 90 seconds long and was a great introduction to the magic that the rest of the park brings.

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the second ride, harry potter and the forbidden journey, is a stop motion ride typical of what universal has become known for, and is the perfect ride and experience for an avid harry potter fan. we waited in line for over an hour, but it was so worth it as the ride touches on so many memorable moments of the harry potter series. even waiting in line takes you through the castle grounds and through parts of the castle, so you are never bored and there was so much thought put into all of the details! i will say to avoid this one if you get motion sick easily, it is quite a long ride and you will get nauseous (i was towards the end, but i would still go on it again if i have the opportunity to go back!)

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where to shop 

the shops were honestly my favorite part of the whole experience. they have so many places that are authentic to hogsmeade in the movies and books, and i absolutely loved it!

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if you’re feeling like a sweet treat, you can go to honeyduke’s for a chocolate frog, pumpkin pasties, or even dumbledore’s favorite lemon drops. i ended up purchasing a chocolate frog to take home with me and the box it came in is so intricately detailed, and they even come with a famous wizard or witch collectible card! i got helga hufflepuff in my box.

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if you’re looking for something fun and lighthearted, you can check out zonko’s joke shop. they had plenty of jokes and toys that would be fun for the whole family!

anyone looking for a wand should go to ollivander’s wand shop. it was the most crowded shop i went into all day, but it was absolutely magical! all of the walls are lined with shelves that have boxes upon boxes of wands from every single character you can think of. you can look at them before you purchase and you can even conjure up a little ~magic~ throughout various places in the park if you decide to purchase!

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there are also multiple gift shops with a variety of harry potter swag, like house sweatshirts and t shirts, death eater garb, home decor, and a whole lot more! i had been obsessed with these crewneck sweatshirts that have the house names in collegiate lettering, so i had to pick a ravenclaw one up. i also got my housemate a whiskey glass with the hogwarts crest on it for his birthday that was earlier in the month, and my boyfriend a huge mug that looks like the marauder’s map.

where to eat 

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if you want the whole harry potter experience, i definitely recommend staying inside wizarding world to grab a bite to eat. the only restaurant is the three broomsticks, and the wait may be long, but it is so worth it! i decided to eat whatever i felt like that day as it was my birthday and i wanted to be able to experience this magical place to the fullest. the food was so much better than theme park food! it was all traditional british dishes, so things like fish and chips, and bangers and mash. my mom and i both got the fish and chips and it was so good and filling! you can also get butter beer or pumpkin juice here, so i would skip the line for the butterbeer cart outside if you plan on getting food at the three broomsticks. i got the normal butterbeer and it was delicious but so sugary!

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and that’s it! it’s such a small portion of the park in hollywood but every little corner has so much detail that i really enjoyed spending an entire day there experiencing harry potter’s world in real life. 

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dress: lush | jacket/tights/shoes: h&m | bag: nordstrom bp 
working retail after graduation. 

working retail after graduation. 

It’s not ideal, but many people my age have found ourselves working in a service industry after graduating college. I, for one, have been working retail pretty consistently in the 10 months since I graduated, and many of my friends have found themselves in the same boat. The truth of the matter is, it’s pretty hard to find an entry level job right after graduation unless you have some unreal connections, especially if you left school with a liberal arts degree like I did. A lot of those entry level positions are being swapped out for unpaid internships and the idea that you need to work your way up from there. But unpaid internships don’t pay the bills, and not everyone has the luxury of being able to move back home with their parents or have some way of subsidizing their rent and bills while they work for no pay.

I get asked all the time why I’m still working retail and why I don’t have a “real job.” The truth of the matter is that I can afford to live on my own for the most part with my wages from my  retail job. I also work a (thankfully paid!) internship that is closer to the field that I want to be in. They’re not always glamorous  between the two I am able to live on my own and afford all of my necessities. I am grateful to live in a part of the country with one of the highest minimum wages, but I also live in the part of the country with the highest cost of living and highest taxes, so I feel as though these balance out and I would be making proportionally the same as someone living in a different part of the country who makes a lower wage, but would have cheaper rent and cheaper taxes.

It’s really not something that should be seen as shameful, although that’s how its viewed by so many people. I don’t see anything wrong with working a job that gives you life skills that other employers are happy to see you have, that allows you the ability to live on your own (or if you’re living at home – allows you to put a bunch of money in savings to make things easier for you in the long run), and honestly allows you to network with a group of coworkers who may know someone in your desired field. I have friends who have gotten their current jobs in fields that they really wanted to end up in through people they met at their service industry job. We all have to do what we need to do to be able to love our lives, so lets stop putting each other down and start supporting each other for surviving and thriving!