Universal Orlando opens its Harry Potter land to the public
ORLANDO - Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter
opened officially to the public this morning, as the stars of the Harry Potter film series greeted elementary school children and ushered them through the gate to Hogsmeade.
Overnight, Universal wrapped the entrance to the land with a giant Hogwarts admission letter, as thousands of theme park fans gathered in the park and television news helicopters hovered overhead.
At about 20 minutes after 9, the curtain dropped, and the stars of Harry Potter emerged from the Hogwarts Express.
They then came down from the stage to greet a prize-winning class of first-graders from San Antonio, Texas.
Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton and Michael Gambon Tom Felton, Daniel Radcliffe, Oliver Phelps and Rupert Grint
To "christen" the new land, the Weasley brothers tried to fire a rocket. And, predictably, failed.
Yet daytime fireworks soon screamed across the sky over Hogsmead anyway.
And with a flurry of confetti "snow," the land was opened to guests
At least, it opened to a few thousand early-arriving and hotel guests who'd been allowed to queue in Lost Continent and Seuss Landing during the ceremony. Tens of thousands more guests were held on the other side of the park, lining up from Jurassic Park all the way back to the Incredible Hulk Coaster. They'd have to wait for folks from the first group to exit the land before being allowed entry, as park watchers expected the Wizarding World to be packed to capacity all day.
Update: Domenik just uploaded a video:
Update 2: The size of the crowds in and around the park is insane. (Check the comments for photos.) Clearly, if you were planning to come to the park today and haven't yet, don't bother. Save it for another day, one on which you arrive early. Universal opened the parking garages at 5:30 this morning, and there were people queued on the Interstate overpass leading into the park long before then.
Hope you will offer up a strategy for those planning to visit Potter in the next few weeks.
I hope someone is getting some crowd pics. I can't even imagine Islands that packed.
I am truly jealous……
Sorry, I high-tailed it back to the media center after the ceremony. I'm looking for a good aerial shot of the crowd. But there's no way that I wanted any part of being in it! Not in this heat! :-)
Here's my only strategy tip: Do Ollivander's first. It's the worst wait in the park, to get into the wand-selection show. (FWIW, you actually buy wands next door at the Owl Post.)
So is the bottom line basically that right now the entire Islands of Adventure theme park is nothing but a line for Harry Potter?
Just overheard chit chatter behind me at the Media Center that the kids in those classes that won the trip to the Grand Opening came out of the Forbidden Journey having the biggest smiles on their little faces. Today show did a great job bringing all four classes here to UO.
i am sooooo jealous wont make it to orlando till sept 2012 maybe the queue will be shorter then maybe not i think this will be popular for years
Based on the size of the queue today, you might see some of those folks lined up now when you get here in 2012! /wickedchuckle
I heard that people who work over in Jurassic Park were asked to come in extra early this morning to have that land ready for guest overflow.
Send a reporter to guest services!
I really can't imagine being a Universal employee today -- it must be sheer madness in both parks! Thanks for all of the posts/updates everyone!
Where was Hermione?
Imagine if you did not know about HP and just went IOA park today…
Emma Watson, I'm told, had a filming commitment, though she did visit earlier in the month.
Yea, after seeing those crowd pictures, I'm glad we decided not to go this year. Will definitely keep an eye on it in the coming year because if it stays this crazy, there's no way I'm going to get caught up in that madness!
Hey, it's Hermione but I can't remember my login right now.
Hi guys this is TPIer Manny B from Orlando. I spent Friday at IOA and the Wizarding World. I'm officially crazy. I waited 8 hours to ride that thing. It took an just to get into the park some people fainted during the wait. Got in line for the land at about the Hulk Coaster. It was brutal but hey i expected it to be like this and it was very rewarding to get into the land today. Truly an unforgettable day for many reasons. Forbidden Journey is beyond awesome.
I was planning on going in 16 days time. I am hoping it's not like this, my family will take one look at that and go the other way! I hope the Virgin package that gets us entry into the Three Broomsticks before the park opens makes the difference. We'll probably just do Forbidden Journey, buy some wands and I'll do Dragon Challenge on my own. They really should've made a seperate theme park just for Harry Potter. I wonder what the queues were like for other rides in the park. Are people even going to be let through to go on Hulk, Spiderman, Jurassic Park etc.?
Great report! The excitement is palpable, reading along and looking at the pics. Now, when to plan my trip...? (Oh, and a fun surprise this morning- reading an article on the opening in my Buffalo newspaper, and there's a quote from our own Robert Niles :)
Hey there everyone! Mind if I share our long story?...well,I am :) We're in Fl.for 5 days,and new that it was going to be crazy but as a "Potter geek", I was willing.I had read that the garage would b open early, so I expected somewhat of a large group to b here.Even still, our hotel was only a 10 min walk.So for some reason I assumed coming @ 7 would b smart...pretty stupid,yea but even as a fan, I just wasn't coming earlier. When we got to the park,everyone was being directed to the right. There were groups of about a thousand ppl already ahead of us and shortly after, hundreds more filing in behind us.Slowly the line moved, then it stopped for about 11/2hr. It was pretty hot out, but I was optimistic :). Then, we started seeing ppl running on the CityWalk side n realized that they were allowing ppl to line up over there as well. It almost turned into a riot when we noticed they had ppl following closer to the entrance of IOA behind a rope and then BOOING erupted (from our side of course)! There was no way that they were going to let a newly formed line in!! That just wouldn't be right.Soon enough (around 10)a group of us were allowed to enter IOA. Even after getting in and going around to Seuss's Landing the line was ridiculous and we were told the wait was est.at a discouraging 8-9hrs,lol. Yea, I'm crazy, but not stupid! The sun was unbearable so we made the ultimate decision to take advantge of the 10-20min waits around the rest of the park which we had never experienced. The only reason why we ended up back on the line (@ around 2)was because we thought it was going to poor down raining(we had emergency ponchos) and expected ppl to leave the line...the clouds hung around, then dissapeared.haha! So we gave in a stood on the line, which by this time was no longer around Seuss's on the right, but was now from the left near hulk, through marvel and jurassic park.Even though Universal seemed a little unprepared and stupid in the beginning, they figured out a way to place ppl with earpieces at certain locations,stop us @ one point to keep lines seperate and in total we only waited 41/2hrs. Once near Jurassic, we steadily moved n low n behold, we walked straight into Hogsmeade. It was a tad cramped and everyone was definitely sweated out, but well worth it. The coasters only had 5 min waits,Ollivanders and Owl Post were around 2hrs n forbidden journey had 120 min, but walk ons on the single riders. (Note:if u test the seats up front n they shake their heads no, go in anyway! 3 from my group were not big, but chubby and they got "the head shake outside n got a "well, get off and try again" from a rude and puny cast member not willing to push down when on the actual ride seats inside.But there was a guy near the test seats inside that just pushed and it clicked, no prob. Just ask for a guy when ure ready to ride.) Overall, it was worth it if u were willing to sacrifice some time. My bf is not a huge fan, but knew how bad I really wanted to experience it and as we got closer he "geeked out"lol. Alright, enough with my novel...just go and enjoy WWOHP! :D
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