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The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter soft opening date?

Universal Orlando: The new island at Islands of Adventure is opening in May.

From Domenik Jost
Posted March 24, 2010 at 1:29 PM
Editor's note (May 2010): For those of you visiting from search engines or the archives, The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter is actually opening on June 18, 2010. The land opens to hotel guests only on a limited basis on May 28. For more information and news as it happens, please visit our The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter page.

* * *

I just received word from a credible source that the official grand opening date for The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter is May 21, 2010.

Now it is just time to see what new information Universal will give us tomorrow.

Anyone want to start guessing when the soft opening will start for the world and the new ride?

My guess would be 3 weeks to a month before official opening. I'd say that given the amount of technical work that is going into it and you would not want to constrain yourself on time by only giving workers a week or two to figure them out.

One last note, since Ellen will be at Universal this Sunday it would not surprise me if they let her give people the first look inside the actual Island.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From James Rao
Posted March 24, 2010 at 4:14 PM
There were several Tweets from various sources throughout the day that the "Grand Opening" would be June 18th. These were followed by "requests" from Universal to pull that info. Not sure what it all means as I am just an innocent bystander relaying information.

From Audrey C
Posted March 24, 2010 at 5:27 PM
It will open before June 18 because they have started booking vacations at the end of May. I have a trip booked June 14-18 which includes passes to certain Harry things..

From James Rao
Posted March 24, 2010 at 7:51 PM
If the Grand Opening is June 18th, the soft opening will be even sooner...rumor puts that date at May 15th.

Just rumors, though. We should get confirmation tomorrow when Universal makes its big announcement.

From Manny Barron
Posted March 24, 2010 at 10:01 PM
It's official the Universal web site says the grand opening is June 18.

From James Rao
Posted March 25, 2010 at 2:51 AM
Yep, here's the link to the article in the Orlando Sentinel.

From Domenik Jost
Posted March 25, 2010 at 10:31 AM
Since grand opening is June 18 is the May 21 the date for soft opening? The source is credible and if I had to guess that might be their deadline date to have things in working order to begin the soft opening testing phase.

From Adam Nodjomian
Posted March 25, 2010 at 12:01 PM
They have to have something done by May 28 considering they said they'll honor passes bought for that date since they did say that they would have the land open by then a couple of months ago. It may be just Hogsmeade or maybe also Dragon Challenge.

From Tony Duda
Posted March 25, 2010 at 5:56 PM
I think Universal actually got smart. For the first 3 weeks, only people who bought the packages get to use WWOHP. Imagine all the super-Potter fans who will pay premium prices to be in that exclusive group.

From Eric Malone
Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:01 AM
Hm. Personally, considering Forbidden Journey is pretty one-of-a-kind, two weeks, minimum, to work out all the kinks. In fact, I'd probably venture a guess at three weeks.

From Liz B
Posted April 20, 2010 at 9:13 AM
How would one go about getting into the park during the "soft opening" period? My son is going the week before the Grand Opening b/c I too saw May as the target month.

From Melissa Donahue
Posted April 20, 2010 at 9:31 AM
Liz,

I haven't heard specifically how Universal will "monitor" who comes and goes in WWOHP during the soft opening dates, but from everything else that I've read on various websites, I've got to think that they will allow access to those guests that have bought the Harry Potter vacation packages for May and early June. Since they are marketing their special vacation packages on their official website for dates prior to the June 18 grand opening, how could they NOT?

I would imagine that someone in Universal's booking department could answer that question and let you know how hotel guests are going to have early access before June 18th.

I'm just curious to find out when the OFFICIAL soft opening dates are -- I can't seem to find anything definite.

From Liz B
Posted April 20, 2010 at 10:34 AM
Thanks Melissa! I can't find anything either. I looked on the Universal website, tried to book the "Exclusive Vacation offer" but can only book on or after 06/18! I don't see how to book earlier than that. Perhaps I'll call the # there. They also require a 4 night stay which is a bit steep since we already have a hotel booked. Heck, I'd double book for 1 night...I don't know about 4 nights! Thanks for your info though. I'll let you know if I hear anything solid about the "soft opening".

From Robert Niles
Posted April 20, 2010 at 2:58 PM
The word is that anyone with a UO hotel key will be able to access WWOHP during his or her stay, starting May 28.

Since a UO key functions not only as Universal Express, but also as a WWOHP admission, needless to say, they are in quite a bit of demand, and Universal's selling out its hotels in June. (Late May is gone already, I hear.)

Again, allow me to invite/beg anyone staying at a Universal Orlando hotel between May 28 and June 18 to please, please, please post or send me a trip report, with a detailed attraction description and photos! I want to get a report on the TPI front page ASAP.

From Melissa Donahue
Posted April 20, 2010 at 5:49 PM
Thanks, Robert, for the updates. I'm not staying on UO property until June 29th, so I'm hoping that the initial hype will subside by then; however, I know it's going to be extremely busy no matter what.

Any trip reports would be delightful before then!

From Greg Sund
Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:24 AM
I booked my vacation for the 2nd week in May many months ago. What lousy timing! Maybe in exchange for just barely missing WWoHP opening the park will be mostly empty and I can walk around without my pants on.

From brian lochridge
Posted April 22, 2010 at 11:52 AM
My wife and I will be arriving on the 16th of June and are staying at the Royal Carribiean. I can only hope the will have WWOHP open for hotel guest on the 16th and 17th. If not we will be there opeing day an hour before the opening so we can experience Potter in it's fullest.

We had to change our vacation plans around because of the June 18th opening. We will have to visit the park that morning and then drive down to Sanibel Island that afternoon(about a 4 hour drive). I'm hoping that we can get a sneak peek the two days before since we are staying onsite. If we get in in the 16th I will make sure I post a trip report with tons of pics for everyone.

From Rick C
Posted May 6, 2010 at 4:32 AM
We booked our vacation for 5 nights at Hard Rock Universal from May 26-31. When I booked through Universal, I was told WWHP would be open May 28.
When they announced the June 18 date, I called back a few times, and each time they reassured me that I would have access to WWHP even though it was not officially open. Each time, the csr said something like "This will work out for you because the world will be less crowded." Originally, when I booked I was told I would only be able to use the express pass at THE ride once per day, but lately, when I ask "Will there be a limit as to how many times I can visit WWHP per day?" the reps are vague as if they do not know hardcore facts, but I'll call again this week and update with what they tell me.
We did not buy a Harry Potter package specifically. I will update from the park.

From Sylvain Comeau
Posted May 11, 2010 at 6:14 AM
I know people are eager for this, but you have to be a bit of a masochist to want to be among the unlucky many who will mob this new land. The wait times will be horrific, and the crowds frantic. You guys can have it; I will be happy to visit Wizarding World during the off-season.

From Rob P
Posted May 11, 2010 at 6:37 AM
Yeah...........and the off season in 2011 to boot !

Way too busy now. Far better to wait a little longer as Sylvain says.

From Sara M
Posted May 11, 2010 at 8:47 AM
I've booked my trip for June 9th through the 13th ages before they annouced the June 18th grand opening day. As i booked the HP special package offered by universal I called several times and was told that everything I was promised would be honored. I've been doing my calls about once a week and will continue to do so untill my trip.

From Cristina Diaz
Posted May 13, 2010 at 7:49 AM
I had booked my trip for the May 28 months before any dates was announced. I already paid my hotel and everything and I am an annual passholder. Then I saw the harry potter vacation plan. It was already too late to change my plans. So I call universal and they said that only the people that have purchased the harry potter vacation and the people who are staying at the onsite hotels will be let in. I was really upset about that. Then I sent guest services and e-mail about it. They called me the next day and the person I spoke to next told me that even that only the people who purchased the harry potter vacation will be let in. She also said that they werent going to see all the attractions. So at this point I am upset and don't know what to believe. Everyone is saying different things.

From Chris Allen
Posted May 13, 2010 at 10:19 AM
Im visiting Orlando for 2 weeks on the 21st of may all the way from the UK so cant afford to go on holiday to Florida very often. I really hope we get a go on forbidden journey while were there. I hate all this priority business if its ready then let everyone in not just people who can afford to stay in your expensive hotels !

From Jodi Lea
Posted May 13, 2010 at 4:58 PM
Hey HP fans - I'm not on this website much and I have no inside connections, but I just thought I'd share this about the HP 'soft opening' we keep hearing about. We have a group of 12 that planned the vacation back in March, as we thought Wizarding World was going to be open Memorial Day weekend, so like all of you we were very concerned too. After several frantic calls we were lucky to get a woman on the phone at Universal who felt our pain and answered some of my questions. This is what we discussed that day:
-She had no formal knowledge but thought it was reasonable a soft opening would happen for HP.
-Soft openings are not formally announced, not even to the employees.
-When we called (early April) she said that entire area was still considered a construction zone.
-Soft openings happen after an area is no longer a construction zone.
-Nobody needs a special ticket or special package to get into an area that is ready during a soft opening.
-You just walk up & see if it's open and if so, you can enter.
-When an area is ready & opened, it's not just for certain special days. If an area is ready it would be open regularly up to the grand opening when everything else is opened.
-After something opens up (if anything does) they are allowed to tell us what they've heard, so she welcomed us to call back when we get to the area about the HP attractions.
So this gave us a better understanding of a 'soft opening' and slight hope, which was a step up from no hope. Have a safe trip everyone!

From Greg Sund
Posted May 17, 2010 at 12:31 PM
Just got back from Universal. Walls are still up around WWOHP. I talked with the gate workers one morning while waiting for the park to open, they were even skeptical about the June 18th opening being fully ready. They said that the employees will be the first allowed to enjoy the park, so when we start hearing about employees going in it will soon be time for the rest of the public.

From Hermione Potter
Posted May 17, 2010 at 2:50 PM
Employees have their preview this week, it was on the team site last night. However, Forbidden journey will not be operating, just the Hogwarts walk-through.
Considering how long it took to get Rockit fully functional...keep all your fingers and toes crossed!

From Domenik Jost
Posted May 18, 2010 at 9:46 AM
That's correct. Soft opening to employees is scheduled this Thursday and Friday. If all goes well the general public might have it's first view of the new world on Saturday. As for the ride, it is well on schedule and I had my friend tell me sunday that at the earliest the ride will soft open Thursday but more likely it would be Friday or Saturday. Warner Bros executives checked out the land and ride and only made a small amount of suggestions for fixes of things they did not like on the ride and approved all of it this past week. Needless to say the ride is very much on schedule to be soft opening very soon.

From Hermione Potter
Posted May 18, 2010 at 10:21 AM
Domenik - you just made my day. Does that mean that the world will soft open for everyone or just to people who bought the vacation packages?

From Sue Swift
Posted May 26, 2010 at 4:34 PM
We live in Orlando and decided to see what we could see at Islands of Adventure today (Wednesday, May 26) hoping to catch a soft opening, but the Harry Potter section was still under wraps. :-(

From Nicholas Roberts
Posted May 27, 2010 at 3:36 PM
I was there today; got home less than an hour ago. Harry Potter IS open (soft opening of coarse, BUT, only for employees, employees familys, the people that purchased the vacation packages and special invitation only. I was able to hear one of the live performances that they have for the opening week(s), they were singing one of the songs from the movies (I heard an audience clap after the song). I asked quite a few employees throughout the park, they claimed that the only annoucment that was made for the soft opening was only what I state above. They CURRENTLY, do not have plans to have a public soft opening. Although, I hope they do, as I would love to ride it...

From Nick Markham
Posted May 27, 2010 at 3:46 PM
^So tell us what you thought of it!

From Nicholas Roberts
Posted May 27, 2010 at 8:38 PM
Sorry, I guess I was unclear. I was NOT a "Chosen One". Unfornately, I did NOT purchase a package, as I am a local. And I do not have any "family" at Universal. And the area was NOT open for the walk through. But the singing I heard on the other side of the walls was lovely. Now, if I can find a way to sneak on the ride over the next few weeks, I sure as hellO will. Anyone have the blue prints for that portion of the park?

From Kollin Heytens
Posted May 27, 2010 at 11:03 PM

From Denise Jones
Posted June 1, 2010 at 11:24 AM
Husband & I spent weekend at onsite hotel and DID take advantage of hotel guests only getting in. No problems with two of the rides running, but main castle still had some bugs and kept stopping and starting. My husband waited it out for the ride to re-open and was a lucky one, said ran fine, but I got tired of waiting and decided to drink a couple mugs of butterbeer and attend several "wand fittings". Every little detail and incredible. Fans will definitely love it. We spent about four hours there.

From Chris Markham
Posted June 1, 2010 at 2:40 PM
My wife and I also stayed at an onsite hotel, and got to go in. We stayed in the Harry Potter part of the park from 8am to about 12pm, so really got to spend some time there. I think they closed it up shortly thereafter though. During the holiday weekend, hotel guests showed up around 7:30am to get in, but nearly none of the hotel or park personnel seem to know about the option (even guest services only had a guess and suggested we just show up).

One major oversight though, is that if you are even a little bit overweight, you may not fit on the main ride. For example, I can ride every coaster in both parks (albeit in the modified seat), but cannot fit the Harry Potter ride. I'm not even that overweight (I can still buy off the rack), but this certainly excludes many guests (and quite a few from England were not happy about making the trip, to then not be able to ride). Still though, it is a really incredible addition to the park. My guess is that they will soon recognize this, and integrate some modified seats (Rockit could do likewise, by the way). My wife said the ride was great, similar to Spiderman in theory, but much better in the execution. I did walk through the castle, and the holographic actors were very believable.

Honeydukes actually has Harry Potter candy that looks just like it did in the film (i.e. chocolate frogs with holographic wizard cards, Bertie Botts in a box, etc.) Butterbeer is delicious (and non-alchoholic, like root beer, but different). They have a frozen and regular version (frozen is better). Olivander's Wands are actually reasonable (about $30), and the clothing available is excellent (my wife got a beautiful Ravenclaw robe for $100, and it even has a wand pocket). The Three Broomsticks wasn't available for dining, but looks nice, and the menu sounded good. Only complaint on the shops is that they are very cramped and small. I think this is another oversight, but unlike the other, not one with an easy remedy.

The Dragon Challenge is the same coaster as the Dueling Dragons, just as the Hippogriff coaster is the same as the old Flying Unicorn. On the latter though, with Hagrid's Hut and Buckbeak in a nest, the window dressing was better. I'm sure Potter fans will really enjoy the park, and the feeling of walking through that world. I know I did.

From Nick Markham
Posted June 1, 2010 at 2:50 PM
Sounds like you had fun Chris. Also, I never thought I would find someone with my same last name (Markham is not much of a Smith or Garcia)!

From Chris Markham
Posted June 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM
I did have fun, just wish I could have done the main ride. We were in Orlando for something else, and decided to spend the night Sun in the Royal Pacific, on the off chance we'd be able to get in and see the new park. I'm glad we took the risk! My criticisms are really just an effort to point out opportunities for the park to improve, and I really hope they address those points...but, myself, I'll still be back (and as we have reservations for the opening weekend, I'm on a crash diet to see if I can get that last click!) I actually fit the seat outside the castle, but inside, I guess the calibration is just a wee bit different. (I too noticed the last name...weird coincidence, huh?)

From Nicholas Roberts
Posted June 16, 2010 at 6:46 PM
Harry Potter: The Forbidden Journey.... Was AWESOME!!!

I had the opportunity to ride it twice during the soft opening. I kept going back until they opened it to the public; and they did!

The ride happens soo fast; I had to ride it a second time!

The ride, and "pre-show" (line que) to the ride was amazing; they most certainly did their homework and spent some cash.

The ride was VERY advanced. They employeed technologies that other theme parks are just beginning to dream of; Disney has nothing on this ride (yet).

The ride is contantly moving, even from the time you get in your chair.

I am not going to spoil it for you, but don't miss seeing yourself getting attacked by the Dementors...

^_^

From steve lee
Posted June 16, 2010 at 7:47 PM
Alright, question for the folks who've been there.

Is the rest of the park considerably less crowded?

From David Graham
Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:33 AM
On the one day I went yes, but I didn't spend the full day there, had a mission, get in and get out that morning...

From Audrey C
Posted June 18, 2010 at 11:29 AM
I was there both Wednesday and Thursday, the longest wait for any ride outside of Harry was 15 minutes

From Chris Markham
Posted June 23, 2010 at 7:58 PM
Right, but Wed and Thur were before the opening. On opening day, the wait to get in depended on how early you got there. We got there at 6am, and got into the park around 10am. The average wait was about 4-5 hours, with some waiting as much as 8 hours.

Once in, the main ride was actually the best line. It was usually an hour or less, except right when they let a bunch in (then it went to about 2 hours). Olivander's was the longest wait (about 3 hours), and most shops were about an hour and a half... (Yes, you had to wait, just to enter a shop). Still though, we had fun, and a good time. (and, thanks to a crash diet, I fit on the ride this time, and it was excellent!)

The following days though, were averaging about a 2 hour wait to get into that part of the park, with lines for shops at about an hour.

Many stood in line for butterbeer, but there were quicker ways to get this (a stand by the JP entrance, go into the tavern, or right outside the restaurant, they sold them off a platter).

For wands, the trick was to wait when they opened a little table by the Owl Post, vs. standing in the line for Olivander's or Dervish and Bangs.

A lot of other HP souvenirs are available in the Islands of Adventure main souvenir shops, so this is another good tip vs. waiting to shop. Check these out before going into the park, to get an idea of what you don't have to stand in line for...

Since the only change to the two coasters is purely cosmetic, the lines for these were almost non-existant, even on opening day, was rarely more than 20 minutes or less.

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