Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens with celebrity gala at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure

Posted Thursday, June 17, 2010 12:17 PM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: This photo was too cool not to share... -J]

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort kicked off its grand opening celebration tonight with help from Harry Potter film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, James and Oliver Phelps, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, Michael Gambon, Warwick Davis. Hundreds of people gathered in front of Hogwarts castle for a spectacular display of fireworks choreographed to a special performance of music from the Harry Potter films conducted live by renowned composer John Williams. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will officially grand open to the public this Friday, June 18.

See also: NPR, ABC and the official media site.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010 11:24 PM
LostKause's avatar

I hope the lines to get into Potterland die down within the near future. Seven hours is too long to wait for anything, yet alone Nine. I wonder how many disgruntled guests they are having to deal with.

I am still very interested to see more photos of the line.


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Saturday, June 19, 2010 11:34 PM

mlnem4s said:
I wish Disney would revisit the long forgotten concepts of a land themed around the Disney "villians" at the Magic Kingdom or Beastly Kingdom at AK.

Not to mention it would provide another area of interest that would entice the boys as much as the girls. It's not a revelation that Disney has been leaning too much toward the princesses and fairies in recent years.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Sunday, June 20, 2010 1:31 PM
Vater's avatar

LostKause said:
Holy moley! That's looks like more people than Diamondback's opening last year.

Let's see--an elaborately-themed area based on a world renowned book and movie series recreated at an Orlando destination theme park vs. B&M hyper at a park outside Cincinnati, OH. Yeah, I never would have suspected a bigger crowd at Universal...

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Sunday, June 20, 2010 6:40 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I really have no interest in Potter whatsoever, and though I'll likely walk thru the area (to get to the Dragons), I'm not interested in this section of the park. Having said that, looks like Universal will def. make their investment back and then some, and I hope they continue to add to the already amazing IoA.


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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, June 21, 2010 10:36 AM

whether one is Potter fan or not, there is no denying that Wizarding World is an amazing achievement. It is truly the most immersive experience to be found in a US themepark. I was truly shocked by just how much it amazed me, and I'm one of the most jaded people on the planet. While I'm sure it won't kill the Disney parks, I'm sure it will have an impact on the Orlando market, in a major way. I'm wondering if Fantasyland 2.0 is going to be able to stand toe to toe to Wizarding World (and highly doubt it), and what, if any, changes Disney might be making to their plans right now.

I've now had two (non coaster/park nerd) friends who have been there, one preview, and one opening weekend, and they are just gaga over it. Forbidden Journey is just so far above anything else, in regards to total experience, and these folks were posting nonstop on Facebook. Talk about not being able to buy that kind of publicity!

The interesting thing is what is going to be Universal's next move. Yes, I know it won't be anything immediate, but, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Wizarding World is too small. It's designed that way, but that is going to be a problem in the long run. So, what about phase II? Remember that the original announcements made reference to the HP land encompassing more area than what has been built out so far. Specifically, it was (assumed by the obtuse verbiage in the press releases) that the Sinbad area, and some of the backstage area between Dragons/Sinbad were to be involved as well. That didn't happen in phase 1 (not complaining, just pointing it out).

Anyone hazard a guess as to what and when any announcement might be made?

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Monday, June 21, 2010 11:59 AM
Jeff's avatar

In the midst of a possible sale of NBC Universal to Comcast, not to mention recovery from a couple of rough economic years, I'm not sure how quick they'll be to keep spending money.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, June 21, 2010 1:41 PM

Selling over 30k more admissions than projected in one day alone certainly helps, and I'm sure they'll be over-selling their original attendance projections for at least a few weeks. This addition is going to be a financial success that will be almost unparalleled, I think. The food and merch in the Wizarding World is slightly more expensive than I think is "normal" even throughout the rest of Universal, so they are probably seeing better profits off of the food, especially (I can eat at Mythos for a few bucks less than at 3 Broomsticks). I give it five years before a Potter expansion announcement, maybe as few as 3 (steal some more thunder from Disney right as Fantasyland 2.0 opens).


Original BlueStreak64

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Monday, June 21, 2010 4:37 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I don't get that "This'll really show Disney!" comments. People come to Orlando FOR Disney. Period. They add in a day or 2 at the other parks because they can, simply because there are options. Nothing Universal does will 'really show Disney', and if anything, this particular attraction will draw in people who weren't going to Orlando FOR Disney, so Disney could actually benefit, as will Sea World.


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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, June 21, 2010 5:46 PM
Jeff's avatar

I disagree that people go to Orlando because of Disney. I've spent far more time elsewhere, and I consider myself a casual Disney park nerd.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, June 21, 2010 5:50 PM

Well, some people go to Sandusky in the summer for reasons other than Cedar Point but MOST go because of it. I think the same is true still with Disney. WDW is the #1 tourist destination in the world...not just Florida. (Number 2 in Florida? A mall in Ft Lauderdale.)

Orlando is big on Conventions but those conventions are largely popular because of the Mouse (and to a lesser extent Universal, Sea World, etc).

Does anyone know if these large lines for IOA can be bypassed if you don't want to do Potterland? I'm just curious if there is a way to get in the park and avoid the long lines attributed particularly to the new attraction? I'll avoid the park altogether for quite a while if not.

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Monday, June 21, 2010 9:00 PM

We didn't go to Orlando because of Disney. We actually went because of the Harry Potter addition. However, we spent more time and money at the Disney parks. So Disney benefited far more than Universal did from our presence. Not that either really needed our help last week.

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Monday, June 21, 2010 9:28 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Jeff, I've been to Orlando twice and the only thing Disney I did either time was Downtown Disney. However, my comment was that the Majority of people go to Orlando for Disney. And everyone goes to Orlando because of Disney ;).

There are plenty of people that go and avoid WDW, and some that go to Orlando and may spend a day or so there, while going everywhere else. But WDW is the main draw for a huge portion of the visitors, and in the end, I still think that all of the "Universal showed Disney" nonsense is just that.


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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, June 21, 2010 10:37 PM

Yes, Disney has always been the BIG draw for Orlando. Universal, Sea World, Busch were secondary for most families. (IF they'd been to Orlando before and done Disney, or if the kids were perhaps well into their teens).

I think the game changer with Potterland, is that now, there is a huge target market that WOULD have gone to Orlando strictly for Disney that now has a reason to NOT go Disney.

My friend has two young children, 8 and 5, and last week they bypassed Disney because MOM wanted to see Potter. Yep, MOM, 40+, told the kids they were going to Universal. Case closed. That should scare the sh*t out of the Disney org.

I didn't originally think it would be a game changer, but when I was watching the ADULTS snapping up Gryffindor souvage, I started to change my mind. I saw adults, whole families, wearing potter clothing, that they had bought in the park. It's a goldmine.

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Monday, June 21, 2010 10:50 PM

I guess a legitimate question might be...how much time would one realistically spend in Potterland? I'm not sure I would base an entire vacation on the three hours or so it might take to see that particular attraction.

I would have planned an entire trip on the opening of IOA. But, I'm not sure I would plan an entire trip on the opening of a new "land" at any park.

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Monday, June 21, 2010 10:56 PM

As a follow up, I would mention another site (one of the main Disney boards) that just did a review of Wizarding World. They are in love with it, and flat out state that Disney has been beaten at their own game. In fact they used the beaten like a red-headed step child

These are the Uber Disney Nerds, and they are gushing about Potterland. That certainly says something.


One thing that hasn't been talked about here, is how much of the Wonder that was the Dueling Dragon's queue has been removed. While they have done a minor overlay to make it Potter Themed, they have taken out almost all of the initial theming. I didn't pay attention that much when I was there, but read another review that talked about it and it hit me how much they had ruined that queue.

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Monday, June 21, 2010 11:00 PM
Jeff's avatar

I'm already annoyed that people call it Potterland.

I wonder how well managed expectations are. Universal hasn't exactly made it a point to keep anyone realistic about how much there really is to all of this.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, June 21, 2010 11:28 PM
LostKause's avatar

It is annoying, but sounds much better than the alternative, in my opinion.

TWWoHPaUSIoA?


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 12:39 AM
Jeff's avatar

It's TWWoHPaUOIoA. Duh.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 1:34 AM
Vater's avatar

That's actually almost pronounceable by itself. But good lord.

'Potterland' is lame, but I can stomach it over 'Timmy'.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 2:01 AM

I usually just call it "Potter" or "the Wizarding World."

Creditwh0re is spot-on. People have been absolutely devouring the merchandise there. At the end of the day Friday Filch's Emporium (FJ's exit shop) was evidently almost completely bare from multiple reports. And you can easily end up spending half your day or more in there, depending how the lines are.

The Dragons line does indeed have almost nothing in there now. It is the one bad spot in the Wizarding World. I guess fortunately and unfortunately for Universal, very few people will ever notice because almost no one is riding the Dragons.


Original BlueStreak64

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