Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Review – Univeral Studios Hollywood California

When Universal Opened up their new Wizarding World of Harry Potter they knew they would have a huge hit on their hands and needed a Showcase ride to go with the new Area of the park. This came in the form of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. An ultra-high-tech Robocoaster that blends old-school theming and immersive 4K screens that provide the illusion of riding broomsticks around the Hogwarts Castle.

Our Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Review takes a look at the ride and lets you know what to expect and if the ride is worth the queue. Let’s be honest though most people are going to ride this whatever we say this is all a bit for your information only.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Review

Ride Data

  • Location – Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Upper Lot, Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Type – Dark Ride – RoboCoaster
  • Duration – 4:06 Mins
  • Height Restriction – 48 in (122 cm)
  • Average Queue time – 30 mins – 2 hrs
  • Single Rider – Yes
  • Additional Info – No Loose Items, Free Lockers.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Exhilaration
  • Fun
  • Smoothness and Comfort
  • Uniqueness and Theming
  • Value for Time

What to Expect

The Ride is built into the huge recreation of Hogwarts Castle that provides a stunning backdrop to the Hogsmeade village. So to get to the ride simply head toward the Castle and through the gates.

You are not allowed bags or any loose items on the ride, but they provide lockers free of charge for the duration of the queue and ride, If you attempt to ride with bags, etc you will be stopped and directed to the lockers before entering the ride.


The Experience starts in the Queue line as you explore the Hogwarts Castle. When the Queues are long, a large part of the queue ends up in a pen inside the Mandrake greenhouse. However this is dressed up though, it’s a dull zigzagging queue line that must simply be endured. And If the Queues are extremely long there is a maze of queue space outside the castle which is even duller.

Eventually (or quite quickly if the queues are light) you will enter the castle properly from the rear and the “Tour” begins. You will encounter multiple scenes from the film including the Hall of Mirrors, The Headmasters Quarters, and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. In most of these locations, Digital images reveal the storyline of the ride and help set the scene. There are also tons of replica artifacts around the castle for you to look out for and spot.

The Queue is one of the best-themed queues around and when the queues are light it’s annoying to be rushed through, but when heavy you have MORE than enough time to take it all in. Sometimes the queue is so slow the set pieces repeat over and over while you are still there ruining the illusion a little.

Eventually, after getting a safety briefing from none other than the sorting hat! you get to the room of requirement and the floating candles where you board the Magical “Enchanted Benches”. These seat 4 people in a single row and are continuously loaded. The ride uses overhead shoulder restraints which fit very snuggly.

Ride Experience

The Ride Starts off with you meeting Hermione who provides you with a little floo powder as you blast off into your forbidden journey around the castle.

We don’t want to provide any spoilers here so will discuss more the mechanics of the ride who you might meet and what the ride looks and feels like. There is a set story and it’s great fun from that point of view but there is no need to spoil it here.

The Ride operates with the benches attached to the end of a robotic arm that rides around on a track. The best way to understand the ride is to look left and right during the ride to see the other benches before and after you. The Ride basically has two modes that it switches between.

You are either being hurled around a real mock-up of the castle interior, complete with models and replicas of characters and beasties from the Series. Think Aragog, Hungarian Horntail Dragon, and Dementors. Here the action is real and intense. You are never twirled upside down, but quite close. Effects of light wind and steam are surprisingly effective in conjuring up illusions such as being roasted alive by a Dragon!

It’s all a bit, tacky and not really high tech but it’s a whole lot of fun. And it raises plenty of smiles and screams of shock.

The Second mode is the Simulator mode. These are nearly seamlessly blended into the action and there are three sections where the ride turns simulator. These are really convincing digital animations of you flying your broomstick around the vicinity of the castle. This is where the money and the high-tech come in and the feeling of flight is really quite believable. You know you are not flying but the primitive part of your brain is not so sure.

It’s not the BEST motion Simulator we have been on but it’s right up there.

After around 4 mins you have completed the journey and surprisingly everything turned out OK and you are back at the castle to cheers and adulation from the teaching staff (Despite you breaking out against all school rules!) Here you exit the Benches and head out of the castle where you obviously join the single rider queue for another go!


Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey had a lot to live up to and a lot of expectation as the Showpiece of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the hopes on which Universal had on reviving the faltering fortunes of its theme park division. We think it more than lived up to this billing.

It falls short of being the greatest ride of all time but is a solid and fun experience that is generally excellent at convincing your brain you really are riding a broom. It’s incredibly strong theming is both its greatest strength and its biggest weakness. To a Potter Fan, it’s heaven but its reliance on this would probably make the ride disappointing to someone with little to no interest in the franchise.

It never pretends to be anything but a Heavily-themed Harry Potter experience, however, and as we are BIG Harry Potter fans we love it and will judge it on this basis. After all, if you head to a Harry Potter world and ride a Harry Potter Ride you really should expect some strong theming.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Exhilaration
  • Fun
  • Smoothness and Comfort
  • Uniqueness and Theming
  • Value for Time

Have Your Say

Have you Ridden Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey? What did you think? Does it live up to the hype? let us know in the comments below. Also if you have any questions about the ride just fire away below. Maybe you are just excited to be heading to the park to experience it and want to let us know! Feel free, and then come back and let us know how it went.

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