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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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 2:14 AM
Jeff's avatar

I only went through the proper queue once (IAAPA social in 2001, no one else was there), but was there anything in there really other than dark caves and torches on the wall?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 10:43 AM
rollergator's avatar

^Fire Dragon's lair was well-done, and had some funny wall-scrawl, etc. But honestly, Ice's lair was some of the most well-done station ...anywhere. Better than Vampire at Chessington, better than my beloved Mr. Freeze, at least as good as Space Mountain. The problem was that it was SO far back in the queue that the line RARELY backed up far enough to have guests actually spend time there. Seemed like an awful waste of some absolutely beautiful scenery.


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 5:14 PM

Jeff is right, with never a long line (thankfully), the dragons queue was a by-pass or a rapid walk through. There were however, several good "rooms", the first with the (recently non-operating) stained glass window (tv screen) that told the story of the two dragons, the knight's room, with the candles and the frozen knights, the various bones embedded in the walls in the tombs, add to that noises and a slight audio track, and it made for a great experience. It often won the Golden Ticket for themed queue. Now it's been "smoothed over", the bones removed, and a VERY MODEST Potter overlay. And that's being generous, though the new uniforms are good.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 5:32 PM

wahoo skipper said:
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.

But, as we've said on here many times, we (CBuzz) are not the average park going family. For average family in the Eastern half of the U.S., Disney is a once in a lifetime trip for the kids. It's a 7 day vacation, with X number of days spent at the parks. Disney, having 4 parks now, was previously guaranteed to get almost all of X, if there were children in the family among the prime targeted age group, 4-12. Especially with Magic my way, or whatever multi-day ticket was used. It was a smaller subset that did x-2 at Disney, and then 2 at Univ/IOA. Again, typically it was families with at least one older kid, or who were making a repeat trip to Orlando.

Now however, there is a strong possibility that someone in the family will beg and plead to go see the Wizarding World [since Potterland is now frowned upon :) (snark)]. That upsets the math, as it ruins the economics of the multiday ticket if you're not doing 3-4 at Disney. Sooooooo Parents are now looking seriously at a Universal, Sea World, Wet n'Wild run, rather than the traditional Disney run.
Again, my friend that just went, she's not a CB'er, not an ACEr, loves her two children dearly, they were 8 and 5, not IOA's target demographic, but she absolutely put her foot down. THey were doing 3 days at Uni/IOA (value multi ticket), and three days at movies/pool. That was their Orlando Vacation, when prior to Wizarding World, there would have been no way that she would have chosen Uni/IOA over Disney, with the demo of her children.

It doesn't matter that there's only 3 hours worth of stuff in Wizarding World. It's the most amazing 3 hours that family is going to experience, and most of it is accessible for ALL ages (the village), and the queue for Forbidden Journey. Trust me, i saw a child (8-10?) who absolutely went Ape Sh*t crazy when the Sorting Hat started talking. Mickey who?

For most families with children, they don't spend much more than 6-8 hours in the parks anyway, so three in WW is fine, throw in lunch time, and one loop around the whole of IOA, and that's a full (and satisfying day).

Again, Wizarding World IS a game changer. It has upset the math for the Orlando experience. I'm dying to see what kind of interesting ticket pricing Disney comes up with this fall.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 7:20 PM
LostKause's avatar

The Dragons queue was incredible. When I worked at the park, after I put in my notice, I spend one of my last days off going through the park, taking my time and trying to notice all of the little details. I spent about an hour in DD's queue. It was about ten years ago, so I can't recall every detail now, but I do remember still being impressed, even after working at the park and visiting the ride over the last year.

I wonder if there is a way, design-wise, to create a separate attraction within the space that the queue occupies, and route the Dragons queue around it?


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 8:33 PM
rollergator's avatar

^Exactly. The statues out front were unbelievable, and promised a LOT in terms of theming inside. To use a "HW-ism", that was a case of under-promise/over-deliver. Too bad they didn't make a ride-through dark ride out of that castle....it would have been the perfect answer to the Seuss Trolley.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 9:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

I did love the giant dragons in front. In fact, that was one of the places in the park where you could look in any direction and be pretty amazed at what you saw. Not that the new section isn't stronger of course, but I'll never forget that entrance.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010 12:10 AM

I really don't get why they completely ripped out everything from DD, since almost all of it could have easily worked with the new theme. And yes, I completely agree about the dragons for the entrance. Those are about the only visual memory I have from my one trip to IOA back in '04 (might have been '05).


Original BlueStreak64

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010 1:06 AM
Jeff's avatar

I have to disagree. The WB Potter movies definitely have a certain look to them, and I don't think the Dragons theme would have been very consistent with it.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Thursday, June 24, 2010 3:44 PM
LostKause's avatar

I finally read a negative article about TWWoHP. "The Park That Should Not Be Visited"

...And probably just to annoy Jeff, the author calls it "Potterland" at one point in the story. lol

This reviewer really has a valid point about TWWoHP. He feels that there is no magic there. It seems like he doesn't think that enough was done to make the magic believable. I don't know, because I haven't been there yet, but is he just being a cry baby, or what?


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Thursday, June 24, 2010 9:14 PM
Jeff's avatar

I saw that, and I'm not sure I'd agree. I mean, it was "magic" to me when I first walked into Jurassic Park, through those gates with the music and all. Heck, walking through Port of Entry was magic to me. A well-themed environment goes a long way toward feeling neat.

And there are some issues with character appearances, in that I doubt WB would ever allow them. Frankly, it wouldn't really make sense. The actors who play those roles are too recognizable. That's not to say they can't do "inspired by" shop keepers and what not.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Friday, June 25, 2010 1:06 AM

The wand master that I've seen both times I was in Olivanders was really top-notch in terms of his acting. Definitely not "Olivander" himself, but you knew he was a wand expert. The same goes for my personal favorite conductor. He treats the train like a person, in an oddly amusing and perfectly "normal" way that one would...expect, I guess. It is extremely good show, and adds to the reality of the area when you are coming and going. While there isn't a lot actually happening out in the land, it works very well. It is more of a visual and auditory experience, and the natural crowds because of the design of the area provide the rest of the sensory experience.


Original BlueStreak64

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Friday, June 25, 2010 9:51 PM

I also think that the reader had an unrealistic expectation about the park, ie it being based on the books instead of the films. Universal is a movie studio, and their parks are all themed to movies whenever possible.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 10:01 AM
Jason Hammond's avatar

Here is a (supposed) recipe for Butterbeer

http://www.orlandounited.com/forums/showthread.php?4500-Homemade-Butterbeer-Recipe

If this is accurate, it's lots more simple than I though it would be. And, with the cream mixing into the root beer, it's different enough that most people would probably never realize how simple it was.


854 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries
http://www.rollercoasterfreak.com My YouTube

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 11:12 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

I read that review. Now, granted, I couldn't care any less about Potterville at IoA. But the reviewer not only had expectations that were too high, I think he had expectations that no one could meet. He's a fanatic. It's like the people that complained about Star Trek in Vegas. I was amazed by it both times, but some people complained about this or that and it was stupid.

But it means that after the initial thrill of seeing Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, the WWHP offers little reason to stick around. By noon, thanks to our publicist's help in skipping queues—by then the line just to get into Zonko's was an hour long—we'd been on every ride, visited every shop, looked in every window, even poked at the Gringotts ATM to see if it did something special. (It did not. It was an ATM.)

I don't think the reviewer understood that this was a section of a whole park. They may only have went for that one particular thing, but there are still SIX other lands there. I mean, c'mon, people that like potter are probably going to be at least interested in Jurassic Park, Dr. Suess, Marvel, etc.

I don't see most families spending a full 3 or more hours in any section of the park, even if there were more 'magical' things to see and do, because kids are going to see all of the other rides and attractions and point and say "I wanna go ride that now!"


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