Theme Park of the Day: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Grab a Time Turner for Harry Potter's Debut in Orlando

June 16, 2021, 3:37 PM · Eleven years ago this evening, I arrived in Orlando for the celebrity opening ceremony for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure.

Stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint joined Michael Gambon, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, Warrick Davis, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, and Bonnie Wright on stage as John Williams lead the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and J.K. Rowling watched from the crowd.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening ceremony

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened officially to the public two days later - on June 18, 2010. The land's 10th anniversary got a bit lost in the pandemic last summer - Universal's theme parks had just reopened and were operating at sharply reduced capacities. But I marked the occasion by speaking with some of the people who were there for the opening, detailing their recollections in a transcribed oral history of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter's debut - Harry Potter and the Day That Changed Theme Parks Forever.

I am including that link here again today in the hopes that some of you might have missed that article last summer will take a look now. There are some great stories there about the opening day, the whole design process leading up to that, and the impact that the Wizarding World still maintains upon the themed entertainment industry today.

That post is one of 20 that I included in my 20 Great Reads for 20 Years of Theme Park Insider collection that I also published last summer. If you're new around here, that's a great introduction to the type of work we do.

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Replies (2)

June 16, 2021 at 4:36 PM

I worked that grand opening day. I spent the majority of it on the bridge from Seuss Landing to Lost Continent, explaining to Guests this was was exit only. Almost nobody even questioned it. It was a wild day.

I'm glad WWoHP opened. I think it inspired the industry and gave us permission to keep pushing the envelope. I think it is the reason we have the IP themed lands we know today.

June 17, 2021 at 8:21 PM

The opening of WWoHP was the beginning of Universal and Disney trading blows for expansions. If it didnt open we probably wouldnt have Diagon, Pandora and Star Wars Land.

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