8 insanely cool (and secret) facts about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in LA

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens in LA
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens in LA

Harry Potter has arrived in at Universal Studios Hollywood and it feels way more exciting than Harry Potter winning his first Triwizard Tournament task.

AOL jumped behind-the-scenes of the park for a special grand opening experience and caught up with Alan Gilmore, Supervising Art Director for "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," to get all the details on things that devout Potter fans should watch out for.

Here are all the insanely cool, magical things in the park that will make you want to take the floo system or a portkey straight over to Universal.

Hogwarts castle
Hogwarts castle

1. Hogwarts is basically the most magical thing to hit the LA skyline since the Hollywood sign: After years of wishing we could be whisked away to England to see Hogwarts Castle in real life, and several more years knowing that a replication was in Orlando, the famous monument has found a home in Los Angeles' skyline -- and it is spectacular. The magical wizarding school towers over the snow-capped village of Hogsmeade and looks incredible at any time of the day, but in the evening is when it really sparkles. Harry Potter's home is cast with a candlelit glow in the evening and for special occasions, a magical light show overtakes the castle grounds sending witches and wizards zooming around. Trust us, you'll be spellbound.

"The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios Hollywood opens April 7, 2016
"The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios Hollywood opens April 7, 2016

2. Superfans can spot real props from the movies: With a keen eye, you can see some of the real props from the film, but as Alan Gilmore, Supervising Art Director for "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" pointed out, the real props blend in very well with masterful recreations of the set. "In the train station, we have the luggage racks. In the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, we have the desks from the school, and they're the desks that the students actually sat in. We also have a chalkboard in there -- it's really interesting. If you look at it closely, it actually has feet," he shared. "It's those quirky details that are very authentic to Scottish and English design. Hagrid's motorcycle is one of the real motorcycle's from the film."

Items inside the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom within Hogwarts castle
Items inside the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom within Hogwarts castle

3. The rides really are magical: The "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" ride is quite possibly the best ride to hit a theme park in the last decade. Ever wanted to play Quidditch with Harry and Ron, or try and out-fly a fire-breathing dragon? Here's your chance. The ride, buried deep inside Hogwarts Castle, combines a 3-D experience with a robotics ride system that makes you feel like you're flying. You''ll zoom over the Hogwarts grounds, hit the Quidditch pitch, duel with dragons, and be hailed a hero by the time you hit the Great Hall. It really does feel like magic. The "Flight of the Hippogriff" roller coaster is better suited for a younger audience with an easy thrill that lasts less than 30 seconds.

Hogwarts castle, with a view of Flight of the Hippogriff, Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster
Hogwarts castle, with a view of Flight of the Hippogriff, Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster

4. The Secret Rooms in the Park: While we hoped there were secret rooms, Gilmore set the record straight. "The story we're telling is really what you can see. We want you to believe that there are secret rooms," he shared. We do have to correct him here though -- as we found out that there is one secret room, but we're not sure you actually want to visit it. If you exit the high-flying "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" ride and feel like you swallowed way too much gillyweed (aka you're a touch nauseated) there's a secret room that's designated for people feeling sick. If you actually get sick on the ride you earn yourself a free pair of gym clothes from the Hogwarts' staff.

Photo by David Sprague
Photo by David Sprague

5. Pack on the pounds with the delicious food: If pub fare is your thing, you're in luck because Hogsmeade has it on lock. The Butterbeer is just as tasty as you'd imagine (we recommend the frozen version) and it's completely non-alcoholic. Kick back a pint at The Three Broomsticks and gorge yourself on high-end theme park food like bubble and squeak (which was basically a crab cake), fish and chips, Shepherd's Pie, English soda bread and more. And leave room for the sticky toffee pudding.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter WWoHPSubmissions to People Magazine for publicity
Wizarding World of Harry Potter WWoHPSubmissions to People Magazine for publicity

6. Ollivander's Wand Shop Experience: They say the wand picks the wizard, and that's pretty much the case. Lucky kids can step through a secret door in the shop and a wizard helps you find your wand (or the wand picks you). The characters in the store really get into the scene, making it a very real experience. Plus, something super cool happens at the end.

7. Honeydukes, Zonko's Joke Shop and more shopping fun: The famous candy story, Honeydukes, is just one of the many cool shops floating around Hogsmeade. You can also stop in at the Owl Post, Zonko's Joke Shop, Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods. And each shop has it's own authentic architecture and details. Make sure to look up in all the stores -- most of them are packed nearly to the ceiling with wizarding goods.

8. Gryffindor Common Room + Dumbledore's Office in Hogwarts Castle: From the outside, the castle is breathtaking, but the inside is even better. Wander the halls that Potter and his pals did and look out for rooms like the stairway to Dumbledore's office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and the Gryffindor Common Room, which is filled with all the talking paintings. Listen closely to the conversation that the paintings have. And don't miss taking a gander into the Pensieve in Dumbledore's office.

The Portrait Gallery located inside Hogwarts castle
The Portrait Gallery located inside Hogwarts castle

PHOTOS: Check out more cool photos from the Wizarding World