Photo courtesy of Coleman Communications
Photo courtesy of Coleman Communications

By Michael P Coleman

Long before I arrived at Universal Studios Hollywood’s enchanting new Harry Potter-themed show, Dark Arts At Hogwarts Castle, I was entranced.

The park itself is an eye-popping wonder.  From the themed parking areas (my favorite is “Jurassic Parking”) to the expansive City Walk, my mouth was agape before I’d made it to the park’s front gate.  There, that iconic Universal Studios globe and a stroll down an honest-to-goodness red carpet prompted a smile.

As the Dark Arts show requires…well, dark…I spent the day enjoying a few other attractions.  The Mummy ride provides a few jolts, and the tour of Universal’s legendary front and back lots never disappoints.  But buckle up and grab a pair of 3-D glasses for that “tour,” thanks to The Fast And The Furious and King Kong

Singing with DonkeyAnd, oh yeah:  I sang a duet with “Donkey” from Shrek!  “Thank you Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin!” by Sly & The Family Stone!  The crowd LOVED us!  If this writing thing doesn’t work out, I may look into hitting the road.

But the attraction that brought me back to Hollywood was Universal’s new Dark Arts At Hogwarts Castle, and park staff had advised me to queue up early for the first of the evening’s shows. I’m glad I took that advice.  By 7:30pm, Harry Potter fans were beginning to gather in front of the stage across from Hogwarts.  Not long after that, hundreds more gathered outside of Hogsmeade for subsequent shows. 

Speaking of Hogsmeade, if you’re a Harry Potter fan and you’ve not seen the entire area, you have to.  Universal Studios Hollywood has left no cobblestone unturned.  Upon walking in, you feel as if you’ve been transported directly into one of J K Rowling’s magical books.  You can buy a wand at Ollivanders, check for your mail at the Owl Post, enjoy a cup of butterbeer, and grab some cash and Gringotts Wizarding Bank.

Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle debuted to the public Saturday night, and I waited over an hour for it to start.  In this case, it was more than worth the wait.  A combination of lights, music, and special effects unleash the very darkest elements from Rowling’s world, including Dementors, Death Eaters, and good ol’ Voldermort himself, on Hogwarts Castle.  The musical score is riveting, and the light show is mesmerizing.

Just as in Rowling’s books and movies, when you think all is lost, a well-placed Patronus charm lights the way. The crowd cheered throughout the show.  A 50-ish year old woman who’d travelled from Brazil to see the show stood next to me crying during the finale.  And don’t leave after the music ends and the street lights are back on.  The show continues for the next several minutes…

This show is BRILLIANT! 

Dark Arts At Hogwarts Castle runs through April 28, but returns May 25-27.  Click here for more information on the show, and on Universal Studios Hollywood. 



Mike Coleman headshotonly nologo 300Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or click here to follow him on Twitter.  

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