My kids and I love the Harry Potter books and movies. They’ve been an important part of childhood for my girls (both have dressed as Hermione more times than I can count) and the books mean a lot to me. They actually served as a distraction and an escape for me during some difficult times, so we all have pretty fond feelings, to say the least.
This past summer, we got the chance to visit Universal Studios in California. We’ve wanted to go there ever since they added their HP-themed attraction in 2015. Last June we made the trip and I can’t say enough good about “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” attraction at Universal. It by far surpassed my expectations! When we pulled into a spot in the nearby parking garage, my oldest daughter screamed and pointed. Startled, I looked in the direction she indicated, and saw what caused that reaction: the spires of Hogwarts castle. And I teared up. Just a little. 🙂
The attraction is amazing! You visit the streets of Hogsmeade, where you can buy a wand, chocolate frogs at Honeyduke’s, and hear Moaning Myrtle whine and moan in the “public conveniences” (aka bathrooms). Adorably-costumed performers sing and dance. Perfectly dressed employees all play their roles well, and it seems like every other visitor there, child or adult, is carrying a wand. The gorgeous replica of Hogwarts Castle houses the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride, and it’s no surprise to me that it’s won design awards. The motion ride is astonishing–the line first takes you through corridors and classrooms of Hogwarts, you meet Harry, Ron and Hermione, hear Dumbledore speak, and finally get on the actual ride, where you fly on broomsticks while fleeing dragons, dementors and the whomping willow. (Note to self: you are no longer young. Next time you go on that ride, don’t forget to take something for motion sickness or you will severely regret it).
Yeah, after a long day of Harry Potter-themed revelry, I was rather ill. But it was worth it. Oh, so worth it! The best part of all for me was the butterbeer. Merlin’s beard, it was delicious! They sell it frozen or unfrozen, and it comes topped with a sweet cream that’s delicious. Vendors abound on the streets of Hogsmeade, and you can also buy it at the Three Broomsticks, an eatery that sells traditional English fare. (Butterbeer potted cream is a dessert they offer there that I highly recommend).
So, if you get the chance to experience this place, just go. The travel, the cost of the entrance ticket to Universal Studios, even the motion sickness, are all worthwhile. Because butterbeer, that’s why! Because Harry Potter! Because Hermione’s Yule Ball dress is in a shop window and Moaning Myrtle is in the bathrooms, ready to torment you as you use the toilets. That’s why!
Here is one of my favorite copycat butterbeer recipes. I’ve tried several and like this for simplicity, ease of preparation and taste. Similar recipes are posted on a number of blogs and the ingredients are all nearly the same. You can find them easily. Today I’m sharing with you how I make my copycat butterbeer. Enjoy!
Frozen Butterbeer (Universal Studios Copycat Recipe)
1-2 liters cream soda
1 tub Cool Whip or 1-2 cups whipped cream
1 jar butterscotch ice cream topping
rum extract (0ptional)
- Freeze the soda until it’s about halfway solid. You want to be able to break it up easily. I usually pour one liter of the soda into ice cube trays and freeze for a couple of hours.
- Prep the topping by mixing two tablespoons of butterscotch topping into the cool whip or the whipped cream. Stir well.
- When ready to mix your butterbeer, remove the cubes of partially frozen cream soda from the ice trays and place into a container. Smash up the cubes a bit until you get a nice, slushy and half-frozen consistency. Add a few drops of rum extract if you want at this point.
- Pour this slush mixture into your glasses, filling them halfway. Then, pour a little more unfrozen cream soda on top to fill your glasses, leaving a bit of room for the cream.
- Finally, top your drink with some butterscotch-flavored cream, put on a Harry Potter movie or crack open one of the books, and enjoy.
*We’ve made this without freezing the cream soda. It tastes just as good. You can choose to simply add some rum extract to the soda, pour it over some ice and add the cream topping. Still delicious!