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It's official: Harry Potter opens at Universal Orlando on June 18

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Published: March 25, 2010 at 7:38 AM

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure will open - officially - on June 18, just making Universal's announced deadline of "Spring 2010."

Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure

No word yet on a soft opening in advance of that date, though a Universal spokesperson told the Orlando Sentinel that people who bought Harry Potter packages starting as early as May 28 would get the access they were promised.

Universal also confirmed details about the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which will take place in Hogwarts Castle. The queue will be part of the attraction (and so, no Universal Express access, at least initially) and begin the dungeons of the castle.

Universal confirmed that you are Muggles for this one, and will see talking portraits, the Gryffindor Common Room, Dumbledore's office,a qudditch match, dementors and the Forbidden Forest. You'll ride on "enchanted benches" (i.e. the Kuka robot arm) and get the safety spiel for the ride in the Gryffindor Common Room.

More details in a video and text press release from Universal:

The Story

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey draws you into the excitement and chaos of Harry's life. As you venture through Hogwarts castle, you meet Harry, Ron and Hermione who convince you to skip a planned lecture and follow them. Upon taking their advice, you travel by Floo powder, and begin the adventure as you soar over Hogwarts, narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, get pulled into a Quidditch match and more.

"Guests will experience firsthand a completely new adventure featuring the iconic characters, amazing creatures and recognizable locations they've only read in the books or seen in the films," said Thierry Coup, creative director for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Location
The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey experience starts as soon as you walk through the gates of Hogwarts. Within the towering Hogwarts castle, you explore a truly magical place. You journey through iconic locations taken from the films and take in the extraordinary detail of each scene. They include:

  • Dumbledore's office: Here, you meet the Headmaster as he welcomes you to Hogwarts
  • Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom: Where you first meet Harry, Ron and Hermione
  • Gryffindor common room: You meet three additional characters who prepare you for your journey
  • Room of Requirement: Here, with hundreds of floating candles above, you take your seat on an enchanted bench and begin the Forbidden Journey
  • Other locations: In addition, guests will pass through the Dungeon passageway and hallways of Hogwarts where they will have the chance to see hundreds of wizard portraits from the films, including several magical talking portraits created exclusively for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including the four founders of Hogwarts. Guests will even get a glimpse of the Sorting Hat.

The attraction's newly created ride system envelops guests in filmed action scenes and moves those scenes with them as they travel through the ride, allowing more time in the center of the adventure and with their favorite characters. This fusion of robotic technology and filmed scenes has never been achieved until now. In some cases, technology had to be invented to achieve the highest level of guest experience. The combination of pioneering, state-of-the-art technology, innovative filmmaking and surprises around every corner make this attraction the embodiment of the Harry Potter book and film series—and the future of theme park entertainment.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Quick Facts

  • Storyline: As you venture through Hogwarts, you meet Harry, Ron and Hermione, who convince you to skip a planned lecture and follow them. Upon taking their advice you travel by Floo powder, and begin your adventure as you soar over Hogwarts, narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, get pulled into a Quidditch match and more.
  • First-ever combination of advanced robotic ride system technology with innovative, immersive filmmaking
  • Award-winning composer John Williams oversaw the creation of the attraction's score
  • The queue includes the following Harry Potter book and film elements: Headmaster Dumbledore's office, Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Gryffindor common room, Room of Requirement, and the greenhouse; talking portraits including the Fat Lady and the never-before-seen four founders: Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw; the Sorting Hat, the One-Eyed Witch statue and the Mirror of Erised
  • Duration of ride: The full attraction experience, including the queue, takes about an hour
  • Number of scenes in the attraction: 12
  • Characters (featuring Harry Potter film talent): Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid and Draco Malfoy
    • You may also catch a glimpse of Fred and George Weasley, Ginny Weasley and Neville Longbottom

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on March 25, 2010 at 8:21 AM
May 2011: Universal, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens Tampa. Saving my pennies now.
From 38.104.98.62 on March 25, 2010 at 8:27 AM
I've been disappointed just recently upon learning that the Hogwart's "ride" is just another movie with moveable chairs. I had hoped for an honest-to-God "dark ride," given the seemingly humongous size of the show building. But now that I understand it to be just a swooping "bench" with movie footage all around, my enthusiasm for the whole project has gone sour. I would also have liked to have seen more attractions concentrated in the Harry Potter land - but that seems to be the theme park trend these days, lots of windowdressing, not enough substance. Just once, I'd like to see something on the scale of Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion or even Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye attempted again. These days, it all 3D movies and boring motion simulators.
From 216.81.240.241 on March 25, 2010 at 8:33 AM
Already booked a weekend two weeks before! Hoping for a soft opening when we are there.
From Brandon Mendoza on March 25, 2010 at 8:34 AM
Generally, I like to wait until a ride has been established for a bit as it's just like any technological product... they gotta work out any kinks that they may have missed.
From TH Creative on March 25, 2010 at 8:34 AM
CHECK IT OUT!

Only 3% are going on June 18th?!

OUTSTANDING!

That's when I am going. And based on the results of this survey I will apparently be the ONLY one there! I'll have the whole place to myself!

Woo Hoo!

From 83.87.145.8 on March 25, 2010 at 8:46 AM
Let me see. 100 people entered their vote in this poll. So if we consider that the annual base of visitors to Universal (say 6 million) than on the 18th June 120.000 people would show up (2% of 6 million)

(okay 7% is not interested, so 100.000 people)

Conclusion, you would be alone with 99.999 others :-)

From TH Creative on March 25, 2010 at 8:50 AM
I don't think Forbidden Journey is a "movie with moveable chairs."
From Anthony Murphy on March 25, 2010 at 8:54 AM
Going to California this year so its a no go for me!

Either way, I would have made the soft opening at best if our annual trip was to Flordia

From Mark Migliaccio on March 25, 2010 at 9:05 AM
well, i already have a trip planned to universal for the end of august, so it looks like i'll be there late summer. Sounds like it'll be fun.
From Brian L on March 25, 2010 at 9:14 AM
HHN is when I'll make my trip. Going to be interesting to see if the insanely light crowds I experienced last October will still hold up. Can't wait.
From Kathy Barr on March 25, 2010 at 9:54 AM
I'm disappointed about the opening date. Is June considered spring??? I thought for sure it would open sometime before May. My family and I are arriving the last week before Memorial day. I thought for sure they would of open Harry Potter then. Oh well maybe in another 2 years when we can save money for it :(
From TH Creative on March 25, 2010 at 9:57 AM
Ms. Barr,

This year the first day of summer 2010 is June 21, So yeah it's in the spring.

From Tyler Bell on March 25, 2010 at 10:24 AM
I live in Orlando,hopefully Im there one of the days it has a soft opening,or I may go the openining day.HP&tFBJ is a new style robocoaster that moves on track,it is not a moveable bench.
From Kathy Barr on March 25, 2010 at 10:26 AM
Well pardon me, June to me is summertime, but Thanks anyway for the info. It still disappointing about the opening date anyway.
From 212.240.35.34 on March 25, 2010 at 10:32 AM
Gutted!!! I miss the opening by a month. Still, on the plus side, I would think that a lot of people will hold off going until it opens so the lines should be shorter
From Sylvain Comeau on March 25, 2010 at 10:41 AM
Sounds amazing, but a one hour attraction? I thought Ellen's Energy Adventure was long. Make sure not to drink too much water before going in!
TH Creative, this is a highly anticipated opening in June. The place will be absolutely mobbed. Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you're not at the park at least an hour before rope drop, expect horrific wait times...
To the poster who complained about 3D attractions...I sympathize, but look at how awesome Spider-Man is. Forbidden Journey could be even more impressive. And from what I hear, it wasn't less expensive to create than a dark ride with AAs. They are doing it this way because 3D has much more limitless potential, when it comes to creating new experiences.
From Joshua Counsil on March 25, 2010 at 11:01 AM
Strangely, what excited me most about this update was that John Williams is composing the score.

JOHN WILLIAMS!!!

From Robert Niles on March 25, 2010 at 11:19 AM
Essentially, what you have here is a walk-through attraction leading up to a movie-based dark ride on a moving Kuka robot arm.

The use of a walk-through before the ride should help reduce guest frustration with the inevitable long wait for something this popular. Visitors will be able to "see something" and begin the attraction experience before they are loaded onto ride units. The use of pre-shows and themed queues to establish story is smart strategy that I love to see theme parks employ.

Unfortunately, the trend toward ride reservation systems moved parks away from developing themed queues in recent years. While those systems can be nice for the folks who figure out how to use them, I do enjoy the more deliberate pace of attractions that offer a narrative introduction, as well.

From 24.208.233.142 on March 25, 2010 at 12:05 PM
I do not believe it will just be a swaying bench in a movie, it was reported that warning signs in the que warn against "pushed, pulled, dropped, lifted, stopped, turned around"
From 71.202.253.249 on March 25, 2010 at 12:12 PM
I couldn't agree more that June 18 is not spring, in fact I am so upset I started a facebook group, I am hoping if enough people join they may do a "soft" opening in April for folks like me and my whole family who planned an April vacation last year just for this! My group is called JUNE 18TH IS NOT SPRING,VACATION RUINED, THANKS UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA
- even if they refuse to soft open at least we can vent :)
From Manny Barron on March 25, 2010 at 1:07 PM
How do soft openings work? More than likely I will be in orlando in early june before the 18th. So is the ride only open for part of the day? will we see the "final" version of the ride? Obviously i'm excited for this land and since I've never been to a soft opening i would like to know how they work for big attractions like this.
From 77.100.246.185 on March 25, 2010 at 3:00 PM
Can't believe it's so late!!! We're going from 4th-14th of July, luckily I've planned a whole day for just the Harry Potter attractions and a whole day for the rest of IOA. The ride sounds like a dream come true for me and my family though, but I'll be majorly disappointed if Neville Longbottom isn't on the ride at all!

I'm just scared Dragon Challenge/Duelling Dragons wait times are going to be really, really high because I want to ride both sides.

I think the actual ride portion is not going to be an hour, and therefore a lot of that time is almost like themed queues, but I'd imagine they'll be at least an hours wait to even get into the hour long 'ride experience'. Bad news for people with small children...

From Robert Niles on March 25, 2010 at 3:05 PM
You'll see a final version of the ride, if you get in. Typically in soft openings, the ride opens first to employees, then to passholders, then to the general public. At first, it's for a few hours at a time, but as days pass, the attraction moves toward normal operation, opening and closing with the park.

The early admission for hotel guests will be running by May 28. I suspect that the ride will be open for the public by then, but that the queue might be cut early in the afternoon or evening.

I also would expect the area to close a day or two in advance of a media event in order to prepare for that. So June 16 or 17 could be bad days to plan to get in on a soft open, unless you have one of the hotel packages.

From Joshua Counsil on March 25, 2010 at 3:18 PM
June 18 is in the spring in the Northwestern hemisphere.

http://solar-system-astronomy.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_first_day_of_summer

From Manny Barron on March 25, 2010 at 3:57 PM
Thanks a lot, Robert. I'll stay tuned in for more info.
From 64.237.244.99 on March 25, 2010 at 4:34 PM
Is going to be open at last. Is it me or Universal really did a poor job this last year? I remember that at the beginning they've said WWofHP would open January 2010. Which came and went and the Hollywood RRRC which just wouldn't open.

I remember planing a trip to see Hollywood RRRC and Manta but didn't do it, cause Universal didn't finished in time. June 18 Spring or Summer seems a little too late again, what i really hope it's that all works since it seems like it took them sometime to get Hollywood RRRC working right at first.

At least in me and my Family they lost clients this past year. It just wasn't enough new stuff to go. I think a lot of people delayed there trips. So i don't think these year there would be many empty days around IOA. I think, Horror Nights ,June 18 those not matter, cause ill bet a lot of people delayed there trips. I think ill be pack.

I love Universal but this last year i felt plenty of disappointment.

From 75.67.188.26 on March 25, 2010 at 7:46 PM
I booked with Universal vacations last month and got the Harry Potter Experience for the May 28th 'opening'. I called today and was told I would have access to all the HP attractions but the general public my have restricted access.
-G
From 68.53.163.73 on March 25, 2010 at 9:41 PM
I think Universal is handling this very very well. Yeah I don’t like the June 18th date anymore than the next guy but at least this time around then seem to be airing on the side of caution after the HRRR fiasco. I think with the June 18th date Universal is ensuring that they won’t have any delay issues to deal with this time around. I will be there in June. Originally we had planned to go June 16th and 17th but after the news today it looks like we will have to extend things one more day to make sure we get to experience the full Harry Potter extravaganza.

Finally, anyone who thinks that the forbidden Journey will be anything less than extraordinary I pity you. To quote Seth Meyers and Amy Poller form SNL ……”really” “Just another movie with moving Chairs….Really” You think Universal would sink this much time and money into a movie with moving chairs……….”really”

From Robert Niles on March 25, 2010 at 10:19 PM
FTW. Congratulations!
From Pyra Dong on March 26, 2010 at 10:42 AM
This is my time to pull out all my Universal Studios friend employee cards. "Oooo remember me? Yea we used to be friends! You still work at Universal Studios? Awesome! Well... you know how when new attractions come to Universal Studios there are soft openings...?"

I'm SURE there will be "soft" openings-- but USO would NEVER divulge a time when those start. It's the secret test runs or else EVERYONE would be trying to get on that new experience

From 173.29.107.218 on March 26, 2010 at 10:02 PM
I can't think of anything I'd like to do less than be whipped around on a kuka arm. Sounds like a recipe for vomiting. I'm really disappointed in the rides for Harry Potter. I was hoping for someplace that would enjoyable for the whole family. I would have liked a much better mix of thrill rides, kids rides, and rides that would appeal to any age. I wish Disney had gotten this project -- they do attractions for the WHOLE family so much better.
From 195.112.47.246 on March 30, 2010 at 4:52 AM
We are in Orlando from 21st May - 4th June. How do we get to go to the soft opening.

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