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What are your chances of getting into a soft opening of Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

By Robert Niles
Published: June 1, 2010 at 10:56 AM
So, what are your chances of getting in to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or even to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, before they open to public, officially, on June 18?

PotterwatchLet's try to figure that out. (Warning: Unconfirmed speculation ahead!)

Universal Orlando hotel guests are getting into The Wizarding World for two hours, between 8 and 10am, each morning. The Wizarding World did open to non-hotel guests this morning, for the first time. Here's what I think happened:

Remember that Universal's trying to "load test" Forbidden Journey. It wants to see that the new ride can handle its targeted number of riders each hour, without going down. Also remember that downtimes aren't always the result of a mechanical failure. The operations crew is learning how to load and unload people from the ride as swiftly as possible, while remaining safe. That takes practice. If people are getting on or off too slowly, that slows down units on the track, potentially leading to a downtime, which Universal wants its crew to learn to avoid.

But to do this testing, and for the operations crew to get this experience, Universal needs a steady stream of people flowing through the queue. Yesterday and this morning, Forbidden Journey drew down its queue to the point where the ride became a walk-on. That's not good for testing and why (I suspect) Universal let some "day guests" into the land this morning - to fill up the Forbidden Journey queue.

If the Forbidden Journey queue reduces to a walk-on any other mornings between now and June 18, expect the same thing to happen.

According to our report yesterday, Universal's also scheduled its team members to keep the Wizarding World open throughout the day, provided that Forbidden Journey can hit its capacity and uptime targets for a certain amount of time. We don't know how long that time is, but Universal's operated Forbidden Journey for the entire two-hour window two days in a row now. If I were in charge (and I'm most certainly not), I'd want to see three to five days of flawless operation for the hotel guests before extending operations later in the day.

Also, I wouldn't want to extend operations for the first time on a weekend. I'm sure Universal doesn't want local annual passholders slamming the park on a weekend before it's sure that Forbidden Journey and its crew are good to handle those crowds. That's why I'm looking toward the week starting next Monday, June 7, as your best bet for when Universal might keep the Wizarding World open past 10am. (It could happen Thursday or Friday this week, but the odds get better with each passing weekday.)

If the Forbidden Journey performs well and keeps hitting its numbers next week, then Universal might be inclined to keep to open to day guests the weekend after next, June 12-13. That also might help draw locals to the park a week ahead of the official opening, taking some of the crowd pressure off the park the following weekend.

After the 13th, though, the chances of a public soft opening begin to diminish. Universal's scheduled its press event for June 16-17, so I strongly suspect that there will be no access on those days to anyone who's not a hotel guest. Given that Universal will need to set up for the press event, I wouldn't get my hopes up for a soft open on the 15th or 14th, either.

So if you're not pressed for time, I'd wait until next week before going on #Potterwatch at Islands of Adventure. If you'll only be in Orlando this week, and really want to see Potter, be at Islands of Adventure before the park opens at 9am, walk directly to the Wizarding World, through Seuss Island, and hang out until a little past 10, hoping that the hotel guests linger over breakfast at the Three Broomsticks and that the ride ops need to let in some days guests (like you!)

Any Universal Orlando team members care to comment on all this speculation? (Remember, you can comment anonymously, though those are screened for approval before going live on the site.)

Readers' Opinions

From Ali Salem on June 1, 2010 at 11:39 AM
Has Anyone Actually Ridden the Ride? I hope to get down to Orlando in August and I'm extremely excited to hear some reviews! I'm a big Disney fan but this looks awesome!
From Robert Niles on June 1, 2010 at 11:59 AM
We'll have a description/review coming on the site later today.
From Domenik Jost on June 1, 2010 at 12:17 PM
I'll be heading out to IOA in the morning and hope to be able to go into the new land. If I do make it in, expect to see a trip report.

I have heard rumors of a annual passholder preview event to be held next week possibly after park hours. I don't know how valid those are, but I sure hope that they are true. I really hope that Universal doesn't mess this up again like they did for Rip Ride Rockit where there was not a single annual passholder event. At least not to my knowledge. In fact there used to be passholder events throughout the year at Universal, but in the past two, three years I have seen nothing. Nothing since Kong closed and the Revenge of the Mummy ride opened.

If you are looking for Potter merchandise without having to go to the park, the Universal Orlando store at Orlando International Airport (MCO) has already begun to sell Potter gear that you will find in Hogsmeade stores.

From TH Creative on June 1, 2010 at 12:38 PM
Forbidden Journey video is now on You Tube
From Domenik Jost on June 1, 2010 at 1:01 PM
I don't see that POV video sticking around for long.
From 97.102.220.235 on June 2, 2010 at 8:43 AM
I think this is a very well thought out article. Your insight into the logic behind potential release schedules lines up with good business decisions for them to make sure that the grand opening of WWoHP goes off with as little hitches as possible. That being said, I'm still going to hope I'm one of the lucky ones to get in while on my #potterwatch shift.
From 71.55.231.248 on June 3, 2010 at 4:23 PM
My cousin and I rode the Harry Potter stellar ride this am. My main critism of the ride is that the moving walkway is too fast. I almost lost my balance after getting on the walkway. My cousin nearly fell after getting off, luckily, I was behind him and was able to catch him before he fell. This moving walk seems to be much faster than, say, The Haunted Mansion at the MK. I have not been on Rip, Ride, Rocket, but a family member thought it was not so fast, it was not that dangerous.
This ride is a marvel. There certainly is a lot packed into the four minutes.
From 96.47.146.114 on June 5, 2010 at 8:07 PM
We were in WWOHP yesterday & today as non hotel guests. They let people in til around 10, then they close the access to the land & the forbidden journey. Talking to a team member, it seemed it will keep on that schedule tomorrow.
From 174.111.74.44 on June 6, 2010 at 6:06 AM
can you buy the hp merchandise at universal city walk yet? I'll be in orlando this week but aren't planning to go into the park it self.
From b schaefer on June 6, 2010 at 7:06 PM
After hearing from a lot of friends who got into WWoHP this past week even thought they were not resort guests (even yesterday) we thoght we would give it a try today but we did not get in:( I was hot and aggrevated but the lines at other attractions were really short so it was great for my kids. I am so hoping for a season passholder event but am not counting on it. I probually can't give it another try until next weekend... I am so excited for this part of the park and i have heard such wonderful things....

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