The grand opening of Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter on June 18, 2010 drew thousands of guests from around the world. The overwhelming popularity of the new theme park attraction created a line reported to be longer than 9 hours just to enter the new area within Islands of Adventure.
Amidst the thousands of excited guests that morning was Kevin Cantor (@FLallday), a devoted theme park fan and Orlando local who had already visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter previously, during a soft opening/preview, but wanted to have the experience of being there on opening day.
Here Kevin recounts his time spent braving the crowds to catch a glimpse of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as it officially opened. (It should be noted that Kevin’s actions and opinions are entirely his own and do not represent Inside the Magic.)
So begins Kevin’s tale…
I knew it was going to a madhouse, which is partly the reason why I went. I went with no expectations of seeing any celebrities, just to assess the crowds and to be able to say, “I was there on June 18th.” It was nothing like I could of imagined.
I got to the parking garage around 6:30 a.m. and ate breakfast at CityWalk, which was open earlier than usual due to Islands of Adventure opening early. Crowds were POURING into CityWalk and Islands of Adventure at this point. I heard Islands of Adventure had opened early and that guests were already queuing for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter inside the park. My girlfriend wanted to come see the big hustle, so I had to leave CityWalk and come back, this time around 8:30 a.m.
I was on I-4 eastbound and this is where it all started. Many cars full of Harry Potter fans were on the road, with many tourists getting off on the Universal Orlando exit. I-4’s right hand lanes were slow for around half a mile due to so many cars getting off at the same exit. The roads to Universal’s parking garages were stop-and-go. There were lots of police officers and media on the main road and at the parking garage gate. It took about 20 minutes to get past the parking ticket booths.
We parked on the roof of the garage. Many people were excited, but I’m sure no one had any idea just how many people were at Universal that day, including me. I arrived at the end of the moving walkway and into CityWalk where I see a HUGE crowd blocking the pathways. I thought security had stopped people from going any further, but I was wrong. Dead wrong.