One moment you don’t want to miss during your visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood is your chance to mail a letter or postcard at The Owl Post. Here are a few tips to make your task easier.
Photo Credit: Universal Parks and Resorts
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You can’t miss The Owl Post, nestled snugly adjacent to the waiting area for the Hogwarts Express. This cozy and utterly unique shop carries a variety of postcards and stationery, writing implements, owl-themed toys and gifts, and even special The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (hereinafter “The Wizarding World”) stamps! Drop your postcards and letters into The Owl Post postbox, and they’ll be delivered with a Hogsmeade hand-stamp and a Universal City postmark. Photo Credit: Universal Parks and Resorts
But getting the most out of The Owl Post takes a little planning. In fact, I’m going to start this article with a short disclaimer: I was not prepared for my trip to The Owl Post on my recent visit to The Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood, and I was therefore not able to take advantage of this very special experience. This article is written with full and complete 20/20 hindsight – so that YOU won’t make the mistakes I made.
Tip 1. Choose your eligible receivers (friends and family who will receive your mail) before you leave home.
In this age of Facebook, Instagram, and email, we often don’t have “snail mail” (or should I now say “owl mail”?) addresses for many of our friends – and sometimes even for family members! And if we do have them, they’re often hidden away in an address book somewhere in a desk drawer or a word processing file. (Where were my addresses? In a WordPerfect data file I use for addressing Christmas cards. Where weren’t those addresses? In anything I had with me when I got to the park.) Photo Credit: Designed by Freepik
So, before you go to the park, select your eligible receivers and make sure you have current owl mail addresses for them. Do this early enough you can ask your Facebook friends for their addresses and get responses before you leave. Take a hard copy of the list, or place it in something accessible by your cell phone (such as a document in Dropbox, or in an email sent to yourself). I’ve even heard it suggested that you print the addresses on peel-and-stick mailing labels for super-quick addressing.
Tip 2. Make sure the list is divisible by ten, and that you and your children are included in the ten.
The Owl Post sells special Wizarding World of Harry Potter postage stamps in sets of ten, and packages of Wizarding World postcards in sets of ten. Coincidence? I think not. (While the shop also sells various sets of stationery, these seem to be more “take home” than “send from here” items, and I have no idea how many pieces are in each set.) Making your postcard list in multiples of ten makes everything come out even. Photo Credit: Designed by Freepik
What child wouldn’t love to receive a picture postcard of Hogwarts with a personal note on the back from “Ron”? Maybe something simple like, “Harry, Hermione, and I loved seeing you at Hogwarts today! Come back and visit again soon!” Certainly no child I know! So when listing your eligible receivers, remember to include the children visiting with you. And include yourself. You’re not immune to wizarding magic, either.
Tip 3. Get your cards hand-stamped with the special Hogsmeade “postmark” BEFORE you write them.
This is a tricky one. The Owl Post claims to give your mail an authentic Hogsmeade postmark. This is not quite correct. Your mail receives a real Hogsmeade hand-stamp made to look like a postmark. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to want it, and it looks great. It just isn’t the “real” over-the-postage-stamp postmark, which will be from Universal City, California. Photo Credit: Universal Parks and Resorts
(1.) The placement of the Hogsmeade / The Owl Post hand-stamp is in the upper center of the card. If you have your postcard hand-stamped after you write it, you may find the hand-stamp covers what you’ve written, making both the writing and the hand-stamp illegible. Play it safe – get the hand-stamp first!
(2.) The hand-stamp is an old-fashioned ink stamp and may take a few seconds to dry. Make sure to keep the hand-stamps on your cards separated during that time so they don’t smudge.
(3.) Also, the ink used by the hand-stamp may run if it gets wet. While getting caught in the rain isn’t as likely in Southern California as it is in Orlando, the Jurassic Park ride and even the tram ride (spitting dinosaurs? really?) may be dangerous.
Tip 4. Plan some “down time” in a comfortable place for writing.
You’ve seen the photo on the Universal Owl Post webpage: a young muggle girl writing a letter with a plume quill at the Owl Post Cashier’s window. I’ll tell you a secret: they take those photos when no guests are in the park. Photo Credit: Universal Parks and Resorts
Like all the shops in The Wizarding World, The Owl Post is likely to be crowded when you visit. Author G.D. Costa, in “The Independent Guide to Universal Studios Hollywood 2016,” advises that J.K. Rowling required that the small, cozy shops from her books remain small and cozy in the park. She quotes estimates that the capacity of The Wizarding World (the point at which the park allots guests times to come back) is only about 6,000 – while park capacity (the number of guests who want to get in The Wizarding World) can be up to 40,000!
So get that cozy image out of your mind – you’re not going to be able to find a place to write ten (or twenty or thirty) cards on that tiny post counter (at least not without causing a small riot). But, knowing this, you can plan ahead.
(1) If you’re planning a multi-day visit, buy your postcards and postage stamps and have them hand-stamped the first day of your trip, write them at the hotel that evening, and take them back to the park with you for mailing the second day.
(2) If the park is crowded and you have a wait to get into The Wizarding World, buy your postcards at the gift shop located at the park entrance (they’re exactly the same as the ones at The Owl Post), and write them during your first snack or meal break. When you (finally!) get into The Wizarding World, buy your Wizarding World postage stamps, get your hand-stamps, and mail the postcards. (Yes, you run the risk of an errant hand-stamp covering some text. Sorry!)
(3) If the park is uncrowded (yes, it does happen) and you have your run of The Wizarding World, buy your postcards and postage stamps and have them hand-stamped right before having lunch at The Three Broomsticks. Write your cards during your break, then run across the street to mail them when you’ve finished.
Tip 5. On a tight budget? There are ways to save a few pennies at The Owl Post.
Mail from The Owl Post is one of the least pricey souvenirs available at The Wizarding World. With a package of ten postcards priced under $15.00 and a page of ten stamps priced about the same, each one-of-a-kind souvenir costs less than $3.00. If you’re just sending a few postcards (ten or under), perhaps you can splurge on this one souvenir without breaking the bank. But there are ways to save. Photo Credit: Designed by Freepik
(1.) Make your own mailpiece. You can mail any card or letter from The Owl Post, so make your own special mail at home. With some creativity, the internet, and a printer, you can make your own themed postcards or special stationary and take them with you.
(2.) Take your own postage. You can use any legal USPS postage stamps to mail your letter or postcard at The Owl Post.
(3.) Buy postcards outside the park. You’re unlikely to find many Universal Studios postcards (although there have been licensed Harry Potter postcard books sold commercially), but you may find California and Hollywood postcards at a much lower price.
(4.) Don’t mail anything. Is this for a young child? Take your mailpiece (homemade or park-purchased) and have it hand-stamped at The Owl Post. Take it home with you. Print faux Potter postage off the internet and add it to the postcard. Voila! To a child it will look like a precious message arrived from Hogwarts!
And please, enjoy your visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and The Owl Post.
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