One of the coolest things you can do at Universal Studios Hollywood doesn't require one second of line waiting.
The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter have been turned on once again for a limited time this summer. It's an enchanting capper to a day at the park after trying one of the two new magic wand installations (there are now 15 wand spots in the Wizarding World, FYI).
The show begins once the sun sets. That's when the crowds begin gathering in Hogsmeade Village, angling for the best view. While there's clear lines of sight from just about every spot in that section of the park, don't dawdle too long in Zonko's Joke Shop or you'll find yourself in the back of a sea of humanity. People start claiming spots for the first light show 30 minutes before it starts. The best spots, if you can squeeze in, are at the Frog Choir — not only a great view but the stage risers give those who are vertically-challenged (raises hand) a nice boost. Also, if you go with small kids, it's a good spot to have them sit down for a minute.
Once you've found your place, and hopefully you're wearing comfy sneakers, settle in. The show actually begins with the castle going dark, as the opening notes of the special musical arrangement composed by the man behind the music of the Harry Potter films, Oscar-winning legend John Williams. It's conducted by William Ross and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra specifically for this experience.
Then, the magic begins. The combination lights display and special FX projection create images that specifically spotlight the four houses of Hogwarts: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. It's fun to hear the fans of particular houses geek out when certain images pop up on the castle facade. The night SYFY WIRE checked out the lights, the Draco Malfoy fan club was particularly well represented when House Slytherin was showcased.
The show uses mapping technology to incorporate the design of the castle for projecting the images from each house. Combined with the 360-degree surround-sound system, it delivers a truly unique theme park experience.
The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle will illuminate Universal Studios Hollywood through August 19. The lights begin at 9PM and run every 15 minutes until the park closes.