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.
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.
More Wizarding World coverage:
Looks great so far… Go get a Butterbeer..
I suspect that the long-term strategy will be to do Ollivanders, then Hippogriff, then Dragon Challenge, and to leave Forbidden Journey until later, when the initial rush passes.
For now, I'd try to get into Ollivanders, then do FJ. If Ollivander's isn't open immediately, go to FJ.
So, Steve, from those photos, the whole of IOA and CityWalk is the queue for Potter.
Here's what I tweeted earlier: "The huge crowd at #wwohp this AM is a message to theme park industry: Don't go cheap. Spend $ on new attractions. Public will reward you."
I was over near Universal guest relations this morning at 8am, picking up tickets for friends and the line there at 8am was over 200 people long. And that wasn't even Islands. I also saw people racing past me, some all dressed up in robes, heading for IOA and this was nonstop, not like the usual dribs and drabs of crowds.
Nice story. I was at the same event yesterday (actually we were in the same tour group with Channing) when they let the flood of guests. I was caught off-guard by that, but it ended up being a great opportunity to get some of those fans rushing in.
The Forbidden Journey ride was awesome. One of the coolest attractions I've been on in a LONG time. Spider-Man had been my favorite due to the tech and my love for Marvel, but I'd be lying if I said Forbidden Journey isn't No. 1, in my opinion.
Great article keep up the work!
- Rich in Orlando
I wonder how long the wait times were?
What about capacity for the park and safety? It actually looks pretty scary, all those people crammed in together like that, just waiting for something to pop off.
But I am a dedicated potter fan so I limped on all day. 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 wizarin world (plus 2 hours for forbidden journey and about an hour each for each individual shop.)
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...but halfway through it shut down (right by the dementors! Dementors in the absolute darkness is waaay scarier than the actual intended ride.) The ride started up again after about 10 minutes and it was great as always (yes, I've been in WWoHP 5 times before today and came anyway. Like I said, dedicated potter fan!)
We managed to eat at 3B (yum!) and ride dueling dragons and hippogriff just before they cut the lines at 10pm. The lines for the shops were still going strong but you could clearly see that everything had been picked over and not much was really left so we agreed to come back another (quieter!) time.
The team members along the wait and inside wwohp really mad 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.)
Sorry this is so long, I just thought people might be interested in the insanity. :)
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