The Day After the grand opening of Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter
ORLANDO - It's the Day After the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
, and reports say that the crowds remain beyond huge.
People again are joining the queue near the front of the Islands of Adventure theme park for a six-hour (or more) wait just to gain entry into the new Harry Potter land. Once inside, as I predicted yesterday, the longest wait is not for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, but for the Ollivander's wand-selection show. Visitors are queuing three hours for the show, which admits just 20 guests at a time. (Ollivander's capacity makes Disney's Dumbo look like Pirates of the Caribbean.)
It steams me, though, to read comments from visitors complaining the Universal didn't prepare for the crowds. Are these folks so thick as to expect that they would be the only ones interested in visiting an attraction that people have been writing about for three years?
Obviously, crowds were going to be massive, and visitors should have expected that. Frankly, I think Universal's done a wonderful job so far. It's protecting the experience within the land by restricting access, and it is running the access queue the long way around the park, through Jurassic Park to Marvel Super Hero Island, to encourage people to experience alternate attractions first.
The only thing that Universal could have done that would have minimized the wait for the huge crowds that want to experience this delightful attraction was to have gone to the system I described in a vote of the week last week: Employ Universal Studios Singapore's system of making people buy tickets for a specific day. That way, Universal could have limited the number of people holding tickets valid on June 18 (and June 19, etc.), so that the area would not be overrun by visitors.
Even with that system though, Universal would have had to implement a FastPass-style timed entry system for the Wizarding World on top of that to avoid the six-hour waits as all the day's ticket-holders arrived early and rushed to do Harry Potter first.
Some visitors figured out how to make yesterday's crush of visitors work out for the best, though. Lines at neighboring Universal Studios Florida were short all day. Check out this comment from a Theme Park Insider reader:
I got into IOA at about 10, saw how insane the line was, left for studios, and rode everything in studios AND ate lunch in citywalk to be back in IOA by 1:45. (studios was absolutely dead, it was great!) My group decided to try and wait again because we heard it was only 4 hours to be let into the [wizarding] world... It turned out to be a 6 hour wait, but we finally got in. We did single rider on FJ and got in within 20 minutes.
The team members along the wait and inside wwohp really [made] everything run as smoothly as possible when all things were considered and I have to say they were very understanding about one person holding the place in line while the others hopped on a ride along the wait route. (It was only harry potter people were lined up for - the rest of the park had 5-10 min waits all day and we just did essentially our own version of child swap as we came to each ride in the line.)
"Hermione"'s system might be the best plan going for experiencing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, should you have plans to visit Universal's Islands of Adventure in the next few weeks. Your other option would be to book a room in one of Universal's three on-site hotels, to get guaranteed early access into the land. (Rooms are sold out for many days in the summer, however.)
Remember, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be here a month from now, as well as six months from now and a year from now. I think it's a great attraction and well worth the wait, whether you wait in a long queue this week at Universal, or wait instead at home to book your trip.
Finally, thank you to all who've left such warm and appreciative comments on the articles we've posted from Orlando this week. I've had such fun covering this, obviously, and only wish that I'd had the chance to meet more Theme Park Insider readers in person while here this week. (Though I am completely exhausted by now!) Thank you, as always, for reading the site.
OH no... you're right!!! I finally could've met the great Robert Niles while you were on this side of the country!!! Forget Harry Potter, he'll still be there 1 year from now. (None of this is sarcasm btw... i need to somehow learn your trade secrets to be the best theme park insider of the future... now i will be quiet and just observe)
I never understand the people who complain about having to wait in line at a theme park. Not only is there a brand new attraction, but a brand new area. If you do not have the patience to wait then do not come. I remember waiting over two hours to ride Expedition Everest when it first opened. I was so excited and just enjoyed the anticipation of the ride. Granted there were those in line complaining that they had to wait. No, you don't have to. You can leave and do something else and come back in a year or two when the newness has worn off.
People are stupid. Im waiting a good year before I even attempt to go.
I agree,people are complaining to wait for something that millons of people want to see,they're are not the ONLY ones who want to see it.
The problems we encountered were the lack of organization by management. A number of the food locations were closed which resulted in many of the open food carts to have huge lines, at one point I waited an hour at a hot dog stand, and then they ran out of food! We arrived at the park 2 hours before opening and waited 7 hours before entering Wizarding World. Why was there no additional carts with just say cups of water, or the odd umbrellas along the route. I must say that as soon as we did enter the Wizarding World you could see it was worth the wait, simply incredible building design.
As always, Robert, thanks for all of the great tips & reporting updates! My husband & I will be there in a week, and it's been especially helpful to get the scoop on all of this in advance.
I would argue that it hasn't even been just a 3 year wait either, most ardent Harry fans have been waiting to visit his world since they first picked up Philosopher's Stone in '97! I certainly have been waiting a very long time for the chance to visit something like this, so a few hours queuing is definitely not going to put a damper on my excitement :) and if people are moaning about it, then why don't they enjoy the rest of the park and come back when WWOHP is not so new, as they obviously can't be all that excited about visiting it. Roll on my summer holiday!!
We were able to get into Wizarding World during the "rehearsal" the park held earlier in the week. We went on Sat. 6/12 and the entire park wasn't that busy at all! The FJ ride was 30 mins. queue and dueling dragons only 5 mins. In comparison to the 6+ hour lines just to get into Hogsmead that you're listing now, it was practically empty the day we went. I'm SO happy we were part of the pre-opening!
Robert, do you think the crowds will quiet down at all by the end of July, beginning of August as that would be when I would be going to Orlando.
People are insane. 3 hours to see some bad actor giving out a wand. And 6 hours just to get in the park? I'm waiting a couple of years to go. The lines will be shorter and all the bugs will be out of the ride system on forbidden journey.
Thanks, Will. Just enabled that attraction listing for Ollivander's. Your reasoning is spot on, I say.
What is left of the "lost continent" section of the park? Are Poseidon's Fury and The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad still open? Also, I had heard rumors of a wizard's duel attraction, does it exist?
Robert, do you have any information as to the EARLIEST POSSIBLE TIME guests can start to line up (at the parking toll plaza)?
The complaints about long waits and bad service sound like they are coming from Harry Potter fans and not Theme Park fans. Not that the return of Captain EO is big as this opening, but the Tuesday they re-opened that attraction, Tomorrowland was packed. Two days later, empty.
With such waits to get into the land, are they somehow limiting repeat rides, which in this case I would actually support although part of my brain is desperately trying to keep me from voicing that sentiment?
Universal opened the garage at 5:30 am on Friday, but I heard that people were getting in as early as 4 am today. (I have not confirmed that, though - that's second-hand information.)
I was able to get to IOA today and experience HP first-hand. I arrived at 8:30AM and was cued in Marvel-town. They gave everyone in line a ticket to gain entry into Potterverse. Unfortunately, I thought the ticket was just for the HP&TFJ ride, so I neglected to get a ticket for my wife and son who weren't riding. Over the next two hours, the line slowly moved through the other islands. When we reached the entrance to Potterverse and realized that EVERYONE needed a ticket to get in, we explained the situation to the staff and they let us in. Our experience was that all of the staff and security were well prepared for the mega crowds and did everything they could to make a potentially miserable experience as good as they could. By the time I got off of HP&TFJ, it was 11:30AM. So, three hours, start to finish. Not bad for opening weekend.
So I' trying to go late august. How about it Robert, do you think it would be manageable by then? Two hours? Maybe 3? I said 2 hours cause i agree with Amanda. I also rode Expedition when it was new, Summer 06. No fast past. The ETA was an exact 2 hours. I remember there was a family in front of us and the (father about 40, but fit) kept getting a little nap on between the line moving. No joke! They had to wake him up and sometimes they would laugh and don't wake him up until he woke on his own, like 10 people back.
I'm coming back in August with my family, so I certainly hope that the lines are shorter by then! I'm hoping that Universal won't be needing to restrict access to the land by then, though I am planning for an up-to 90-120 minute wait for Forbidden Journey, still.
Hey Robert gladly appreciated the reply! See play by play! Lol.
I agree with 184.108.40.206. It makes no sense the way they built the Ollivander's Wand Shop. It should be in a large theater with the actual shop, where u can buy the wands, at the exit.
In my opinion, Universal Creative would never go for the wand shop theater experience at Ollivander's because it simply isn't true to the novels & films. It's clear that Universal planned out the entire design of the land down to the smallest of details, and they weren't going to stray from the authenticity of JK Rowling's world. Ollivander's as a large theater/show experience just isn't realistic in Harry Potter's world -- hence the cramped but authentic shop size.
So I posted something but it didn't appear. So if it does later, well I'm sorry for the redundancy.
We made it to Harry Potter during a soft opening the week before it officially opened. I'm glad we did, because I don't much like the idea of 6 hour waits. :-) That being said, the area was incredible and it exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend it to anyone who is willing to put up with the crowds.
It just occurred to me that the perfect retheme for the theater would not be Ollivander's (I totally agree that wouldn't be true to the films), but the Forbidden Forest. It's just outside Hogsmeade. And it's a large area where much dramatic action happened in the books and movies.
It was nice to meet you Robert. I hope your camera and tripod survived.
Thanks, Matt. It was nice to see so many people from the theme park blogosphere this week.
Francisco - Don't worry! I'm not mad at your posts! :) I can completely understand your desire for Universal to accommodate a greater number of guests in a shorter period of time, especially with the wand experience. I just didn't think Universal would ever go for that.
I wasn't really thinking about capacity when suggesting the Forbidden Forest show so much as that the land really seems to be missing... a show. Now, there's just the little Ollivander's thing and the street performances (the frog choir and the students from the other Tri-Wizard schools whose names I don't wish to look up how to spell right now).
I am all for an HP stunt/special effects show (Sinbad has gotten tired anyway) but it was my understanding that one of JK Rowling's edicts was to not have walkarounds or show actors portraying any of the principle characters since it would diminish those characters appearances (in their film series form) in the rides and queues. So who would the characters IN a live show be? You can get away with street shows with random Hogwarts/Beauxbaton/Durmstrang students. But how can you have a live spectacle stunt/effects show in the WWoHP without an actor PLAYING Harry Potter?
We booked our package at the beginning of April.
I think that with a Forbidden Forest setting, you've got immense narrative potential for a show that wouldn't involve any of the main characters. You've got centaurs, spiders, unicorns and a whole cast of magical creatures that could engage in all sorts of dramatic conflicts.
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