Universal Orlando's celebrity opening ceremony for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Written by Robert Niles
ORLANDO - Universal Orlando Resort opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (sort of, you can't get in until Friday morning) this evening with a celebrity-filled ceremony in the Islands of Adventure theme park.Tweet
Author J.K. Rowling was there, though she ducked the media in favor of greeting some of the invited children. I did pick her out of the crowd at the ceremony, though she deftly managed to keep folks between her and anyone with a professional-quality camera, preventing me from getting a clear picture to show you.
Nevertheless... Warrick Davis, Professor Flitwick from the Harry Potter films, started the program by conducting Universal Orlando's "Frog Choir," before the spotlight moved to Universal and Warner Bros studio executives.
Several readers tweeted and messaged me that the sound cut out on the speeches during the live webcast, but no matter. You didn't miss much, as Tom Williams and Ron Meyer of Universal and Barry Meyer of Warner Bros took turns congratulation each other, as well as the Universal Creative team and Harry Potter artistic director Alan Gilmore and production designer Stuart Craig for their work on the project, all to polite applause.
The invited crowd roared more loudly, though, in welcoming conductor and Academy Award-winning composer John Williams to the stage with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Williams led the musicians in two numbers from his Harry Potter scores.
Then, the Knight Bus interrupted with a honk, delivering film actors Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley) and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) to the stage. But where's Harry?
A Ford Anglia then drove up, and out hopped Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe. Radcliffe addressed the crowd, urging them to wave the souvenir wands they'd been given toward Hogwarts Castle, while casting a "Lumos" spell.
The first two attempts elicited little more than a flicker, but on the third - "Lumos Maximus!" - the previously darkened castle glistened with light as fireworks then exploded behind it.
After the finale of the Thinkwell-produced ceremony, many of the invited guests crowded the Forbidden Journey queue, while the Orlando Phil serenaded those who remained behind to nosh on fish n' chips, Scotch Eggs, haddock, salmon, roast beef, Cauldon Cakes, Treacle Fudge, life-sized Chocolate Frogs, and, of course, Butterbeer.
By the way, having tried it now, I'm convinced that this liquid crack is part of Universal's diabolical plan to force return visits to the Wizarding World: I could develop a ruthless addiction to this stuff.
Check in tomorrow for a video report from inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, along with my review of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
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