With reports of guests lining up as early as midnight last night, today’s grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was sure to be one for the theme park history books. But after months of Universal Orlando actively advertising June 18 as the opening date for their new “theme park within a theme park,” many wonder if they were truly prepared for the immense turnout.
Responding to Universal’s announced opening day plans, thousands arrived to the Universal Orlando Resort today, hoping to not only enter the Wizarding World, but also catch a glimpse of the “public grand opening.” Harry Potter film stars were in attendance for the grand opening ceremony, but only a handful of park guests who arrived today were actually allowed in to see it. The rest of the watching crowd was comprised of invited members of the press and a couple elementary school class contest winners. Thousands of fans instead either watched on nearby screens or missed the event entirely as a result of waiting in line.
The opening moment took place at around 9:15 a.m., lasting around 10 minutes. Those watching from home found Universal’s promised live video stream going dark just as the ceremony began, missing most of the excitement. Fortunately, Universal has been replaying the event for those who didn’t see it live.
Those who have been in attendance for today’s opening were certainly in for a bit of a shock, finding out that they potentially could be waiting up to 8 hours just to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area of Islands of Adventure. Small crowds have been let into Hogsmeade Village periodically and reports suggest crowd control within these small groups is fantastic. Lines for two of the area’s most talked about attractions, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the Ollivander’s Wand Shop, have been reported as only reaching up to 90 minutes, with the Wizarding World’s other rides having little to no wait at all.
But beyond the somewhat calm confines of the Wizarding World still reside thousands of fans eager to get in. With only small numbers (relatively, compared to the rest of the waiting crowd) being allowed into the area at a time, many of these dedicated fans waiting in lines that stretch clear around the park have realized this wasn’t the grand opening excitement they had shown up for. While large crowds are to be expected at any attraction grand opening, Universal’s widespread publicizing of today, June 18, as *the* date to come was essentially an open invitation for the entire world to arrive today. And it seems like they all did.
(Photo by the Orlando Sentinel depicts line of people waiting to enter the Islands of Adventure theme park wrapping clear around Universal CityWalk. The entrance to the Universal Studios park is on the right of the image.)