We're in! #PotterWatch #WizardingWorldHollywood pic.twitter.com/zLrCi5RjoQ— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) February 12, 2016
A crowds of about 300 visitors had gathered in a holding area, some waiting there since the park had opened at 9am. Those waiting were given the first entry passes into the new land, with other park guests admitted after that. Which resulted in wait time throughout the park evaporating as thousands of fans rushed into Hogsmeade.
Hogwarts in Southern California light is gorgeous. #WizardingWorldHollywood pic.twitter.com/P26UAFWurA— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) February 13, 2016
This wasn't a half-hearted soft open, either. All locations in the Wizarding World were open and functional, including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the Flying Hippogriff, the Three Broomsticks, the Hog's Head Pub, Ollivander's, and all the stores. Even the "magic" windows were operational, allowing visitors to case spells with Universal's interactive wands. (I brought the one I got in Orlando.)
Getting back in practice casting spells. #WizardingWorldHollywood pic.twitter.com/zkf83e3I2Z— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) February 13, 2016
Having spent much of the day waiting, I started my visit in The Three Broomsticks.
Because I haven't had lunch yet, let's start in The Three Broomsticks. #WizardingWorldHollywood pic.twitter.com/qsWjyJ3qHd— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) February 12, 2016
The bangers and mash ($12.99) were even better than the ones in the Leaky Cauldron at Universal Orlando's Diagon Alley. And I'll give a big thumbs-up to the Butterbeer Potter Cream dessert ($5.29). And, of course, there's this...
My precioussssss.... pic.twitter.com/iKh7jAoFl4— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) February 12, 2016
After The Three Broomsticks, I warmed up for Forbidden Journey with a trip on Universal Studios Hollywood's first outdoor roller coaster, The Flying Hippogriff.
But the land's signature attraction, of course, is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is presented here in 3D. Of course, there are a few changes in the queue, too.
The Weasleys' Ford Anglia is in the FJ queue in Hollywood. pic.twitter.com/jtmHlbQxZa— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) February 12, 2016
Once inside, I opted to skip the hour-long wait by using the convenient single-rider lane, which took me straight to the Gryffindor common room, then into the Room of Requirement. The 3D glasses here were the standard model found on rides such as Transformers, and not the custom Quidditch goggles found at Universal Studios Japan. I found the glasses a hassle on the ride, as they kept sliding off my nose as my flying bench swirled through the attraction. Perhaps Universal will get the better-fitting goggle-style glasses in stock by the land's official opening on April 7.
The 3D version of the film didn't do anything for me over the traditional version at Universal Orlando. It seemed a bit oversaturated at times, and the 3D didn't really "pop" - still seeming two dimensional in comparison with the abundant practical sets and effects in the ride.
FWIW, the bathrooms at the #WizardingWorldHollywood are much more authentic than the ones in Orlando, too. pic.twitter.com/4juBG3lMOO— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) February 13, 2016
If you are visiting Universal Studios Hollywood this weekend, use the hashtag #PotterWatch on social media to ket other visitors know when the Wizarding World is open. As will all "technical rehearsals," openings are not guaranteed, and attractions might open or close at any time.Tweet
That's almost six hours waiting in line on a pretty warm day.
What does a seasoned theme park visitor do to pass the time? Do work and check the news on your laptop or smart phone?
There was a mostly shaded designated holding area next to Animal Actors for people who wished to wait, but people were coming and going from it all day. There was no formal "line" per se.
For most of the day, there were about 100 people in there, but the crowd swelled to about 300 (which was the waiting area's capacity) after 2pm. Universal team members were there throughout the day, water and ice cream vendors came by from time to time, and at one point, a team member even handed out small bags of free jelly beans to everyone waiting.
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