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Vote of the week: When will the Wizarding World of Harry Potter open?

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Published: February 19, 2010 at 1:14 AM

Universal Orlando's announcement Thursday that it is now selling travel packages to see its much-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter starting May 28... but that May 28 isn't the opening date for the new land... raises the question:

When will the Wizarding World of Harry Potter open at Universal's Islands of Adventure?

Obviously, it will be open sometime before May 28. (I can't imagine Universal risking PR disaster as well as massive "make good" expenses by committing to the May 28 date if it were not certain the land would be ready by then.) And given the buzz coming out of Orlando now - contractors wrapping up work, new employees being hired - an opening could come weeks before the May 28 deadline.

And yet, all Universal's committed to is... "Spring 2010."

But there is a hint out there, a clue that might provide a bookend to the May 28 "latest possible opening" date.

It's been widely reported online that Dueling Dragons will be closed between Feb. 27 and March 16. This is the roller coaster that will be rethemed to Dragon Challenge in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Now, if that report is accurate, that means that Dragon Challenge would be opening on March 17, correct? I mean, Universal wouldn't take the ride down for rehab then reopen it as Dueling Dragons again, would it? What would be the point of that?

So if that rumor is correct, then we're talking Dragon Challenge being open on March 17. That, then, would be the "earliest possible opening" date for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Before people get their hopes up, let me say that I could see Universal opening the Harry Potter land in stages, with the highlight attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (the robocoaster dark ride inside Hogwarts Castle), opening last. But when would that be? While I can see the land opening in stages, I can't see taking two and a half months between opening Dragon Challenge and Forbidden Journey.

That said, Universal could do what Disney often does and run the ride for several weeks before doing a press event and declaring it officially "open" on the 27th or 28th. But given the secrecy around Forbidden Journey, and the fact that details will be published widely online within minutes of the first iPhone-carrying riders getting off the thing, I can't imagine that Universal wouldn't want to get the press coverage going pretty quickly after the ride was operational.

If I had to bet on this... well, I wouldn't. But I would throw this open to Theme Park Insider readers to take a guess, as a vote of the week. :-)

The dates given are the Fridays between March 17 and May 28. And by "open," let's say that we mean that Forbidden Journey is open to park visitors (not just employees or invited guests) when the rest of the park opens in the morning. Please explain your guess, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From 212.240.35.34 on February 19, 2010 at 6:45 AM
I said 7th may. Wishful thinking on my part as I arrive in Orlando for 2 weeks starting 3rd May. Oh plllleeeeaaasssseee be open!!!!
From Joshua Counsil on February 19, 2010 at 6:57 AM
My choice was not present: after May 28.
From Anthony Murphy on February 19, 2010 at 7:34 AM
I would say May 28th just to make sure the thing doesn't break down (now that would be bad)
From Amanda Jenkins on February 19, 2010 at 8:02 AM
I think they will open it on March 19th. I don't think they will really let the public know about it, just allow those already visiting the park to try it out. After seeing if there are any problems (remembering RRR), then they will close it down again. I have a feeling that they will have to delay the grand opening after they see all the bugs that have yet to be smoothed over.

I really, REALLY hope though that I am wrong in my prediction for those who are planning their vacations around this.

From jenny orlando on February 19, 2010 at 8:40 AM
I applied for a job at Universal Potter and got called in for an interview for a Team Captain position. They asked me to come back for a 2nd interview (gace me a confiormed date) and later I got a strange call from UNiversal asking me if I would consider other jobs at the Park. I said yes but was puzzled? Then I got another call telling me the Team Captain jobs were gone and would I still be interested in a sales job. I was confused but said yes. This week I had the 2nd interview and the HR woman interviewing me let it slip out that Universal knew all along they were only hiring internally for Team Captain jobs (hiring best workers from Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios)and the only jobs they were offering "outsiders" were sales jobs paying minimum wage. I think $7.25 hr. Needless to say this slightly sours my view of the Potter Park.
From 216.64.80.82 on February 19, 2010 at 9:37 AM
Speaking of which, I heard rumblings that they weren't getting enough interest from people already working there so they are having to hire quite a few from outside. Word is that even people working at Blue Man don't want to work Potterland.

I voted for May 14th for the grand opening which will give them 2 weeks for all the press stuff to get done. After that, all us regular folks will jam the place.

From James Rao on February 19, 2010 at 11:01 AM
Makes no sense...why wouldn't you want to work the Potter area? Too crowded, maybe? If I were at Universal I would fight tooth and claw to be on the bleeding edge of something new!
From 216.64.80.82 on February 19, 2010 at 11:35 AM
The crowds are probably a major factor in them not being too keen on working in that area. There's going to be so many people that the lines will be insane with really cranky guests, a lot of whom will give cast members grief. Most of them just don't want to deal with it and if they're HP fans to begin with, they don't want their HP vibe ruined.

And I can't wait for the screeching by the parents who get irate about their 46 inch child not being allowed to ride the 48" ride.

"what do you mean my child's too short, I don't care about your rules, I want them to ride! You're ruining my vacation!!"

And off they go to Guest Relations to complain about it.

From 4.36.109.30 on February 19, 2010 at 11:50 AM
I personally know several people from Blue Man Group who have applied to Harry Potter. It's not that no one currently at Universal wanted to work at WWoHP, it's that they all procrastinated until it was almost too late!
From 97.103.132.105 on February 19, 2010 at 11:51 AM
I think is gone be open durin Abril mardi gra is gone be over during that time. Nobody noticed that right behind mib their a contruction going on
From steve lee on February 19, 2010 at 12:35 PM
Maybe people are being cautious. Would you want to work on a brand spanking new ride that possibly...doesn't work? I can't imagine the folks over at HRRR enjoy it when that ride screws up.
From Stephen Landsman on February 19, 2010 at 9:21 PM
I heard from an Universal employee that the vacation packages start May 28th and that by law the attraction must be running 30 days prior to that. So I'm guessing April 23rd because the 30th is legally too late. I CAN'T WAIT!!
From 76.29.130.3 on February 19, 2010 at 11:56 PM
I picked april 23rd. I figure they'll wait until after easter crowds and after the Mardi Gras event. That way locals that go to Mardi Gras will still come back for potter
From 76.29.130.3 on February 20, 2010 at 12:04 AM
You must have never worked in a theme park Mr. Lee. Most cast members love when the ride "breaks down". Unless you are stuck greeting you get a nice break. :-)

Also, Most cast members are like Mr. Rao. They would love to open new attractions, lands, parks..etc. It's bragging rights.. part of the "I was there when..." mentality.

From steve lee on February 20, 2010 at 9:47 PM
To "76.29.130.3" First off, get a freaking profile. Anonymous posts are for trolls. While I'm sure some folks love the downtime, I was thinking more of the people who have to directly deal with the GP and their seething anger when the attraction goes down.
From Robert Niles on February 20, 2010 at 11:30 PM
Usually, the opening crew at a major attraction gets some swag. That's usually a pretty popular incentive to sign up. Plus, you get extra training time before the attraction opens - which is time on the clock when you don't have to deal with guests. Finally, new attractions are crawling with supervisors, so if you're trying to get noticed for a promotion, you need to be on opening crews.

That said, the hubbub isn't some folks' style. I knew plenty of people who wouldn't get close to new attractions. They preferred to work the same places, with the same people, on the same shift.

Fortunately, popular theme parks tend to have plenty of shifts to accommodate both types of people. :-)

From 24.46.190.96 on February 21, 2010 at 8:01 AM
I just got back from Islands of Adventure and we rode Dueling Dragons, whose queue line is interrupted by the construction for Harry. We got a pretty decent view of the construction. It does not appear to be even close to completion! But it looks amazing, I must admit.
From 68.196.52.56 on February 22, 2010 at 1:53 PM
im going march 16th - 22nd. i really hope its open by then!
From 69.176.129.39 on February 22, 2010 at 2:24 PM
I'm guessing they will have a soft opening for the guests that are staying on their resort properties. Disney had a similar idea when they opened animal kingdom. My family was staying on the grounds and we were invited to go to the park for free. Some of the rides were open, while others like the main attraction, the tree of life, were not open. I would expect something similar from universal.
From Carrie Hood on February 23, 2010 at 10:56 AM
I'd be willing to bet they pull a "Soft open" for testing and any last minute fixes. Which if I where to make a bet it'll be mostly employees(Plus friends and family) and perhaps later pass holders. That's normally what the parks do to get any kinks worked out plus normally it's where they snag stock commercial footage for rides.

I'd have to say Dragon Challenge/Dueling Dragons will open to the public because it's impossible to hide and the coasters and to IOA are a huge draw. Taking one down can hurt attendance even though the time frame they're using is one of the least busy times for the parks.

My best bet, provided the soft open goes well and no massive issues happen... pick the most common week of spring break.. that'll be open.

From 94.225.29.200 on February 23, 2010 at 1:15 PM
My guess or let's call it a wish was april 2nd, because we'll be in Orlando coming from Belgium, Europe. And it would be really great to experience this theme.

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