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Wizarding World of Harry Potter celebrates one year of fans, celebrities and Butterbeer at Universal Orlando

in Entertainment, Food, Islands of Adventure, Movies, Theme Parks, Universal Orlando

One year ago, on June 18, 2010, Universal Orlando officially unveiled its most popular and highly-anticipated new attraction to date, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The mere mention of Harry Potter in relation to a theme park was enough to stir excitement among millions of fans of the book and film series and when it finally saw its grand opening one year ago, the results were like no one had seen before.

Today, Universal Orlando commemorated the anniversary at 9:23 a.m. – the exact time The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened one year ago.

After taking part in a countdown led by the Hogwarts Express conductor, guests and team members celebrated in the streets of Hogsmeade while “snow” confetti and gold streamers fell from the sky. Guests also enjoyed complimentary Butterbeer, cauldron cakes and Chocolate Frogs.

Video: Universal Orlando celebrates one year of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

With the occasion celebrated, let’s take a look back at a year filled with wizardry and enthusiasm like no one had seen before.

Opening day of the Wizarding World drew a crowd so massive that the line wrapped not only through the Islands of Adventure theme park, which is home to the Potter area and attractions, but also outside of the park, snaking through Universal CityWalk. At its longest, reports were that guests could wait more than 9 hours to even enter Hogsmeade Village – and then wait even longer to enjoy the shops, rides, food, and Butterbeer.

Somehow amidst it all, fans found the Potter magic to be worth the wait. Despite many, many hours of standing in the hot Florida summer sun, finally turning the corner and seeing Hogwarts Castle in person for the first time is a moment that made many dreams come true. Even I, as a non-Potter fan, was awestruck rounding that corner with my eyes transfixed on what appeared to be a giant castle that had been there for centuries.

But it was weeks before the frenzy of opening day that I, along with hundreds of other theme park guests, first stepped foot into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter during a soft opening. On May 28, 2010, we offered the world its first look inside, touring Hogsmeade Village, its many shops, and taking in performances by the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang as well as the Hogwarts frog choir. While the streets of Hogsmeade are beautifully themed, it’s the interiors that had Potter fans most interested:

6 Comments

  1. Wild Ol' Dan

    Howdy Ricky,

    Thanks for the wonderful recap of a year filled with magic.

    Wild Ol’ Dan

  2. Keith

    That’s cool I have all movies up to 6.5 I also want a wand

  3. Wild Ol' Dan

    Ricky,

    As you know, Inside The Magic has led the way in providing wonderful coverage of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Coverage even better,
    far better in fact, than Universal’s own website or any other Harry Potter
    Fan’s site that I have come across.

    With the new and final movie now less than a month away and with J.K. Rowling’s recent announcement concerning Pottermore, I believe that interest in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is continuing to grow.

    Given all this, I hope you will consider putting the Wizarding World Bar back at the top of Inside The Magic’s homepage so that those of us who are rabid fans of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts can, once again, enjoy all the wonderful information, videos, etc that you and your wife have gathered.

    Thank you for all you do. Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail.

    Wild Ol’ Dan

    1. jackie

      i agree that interest will continue to grow- with the movies being over, fans are looking for other ways to enjoy the stories of harry potter, such as TWWOHP and Pottermore.

  4. jackie

    this is awesome! i am a huge potter fan and i hope to make a trip down there soon. also, i had a question about the wizarding world. in another ITM article, which was about “night of a thousand wizards”, it was mentions that universal resticts fans from dressing up as potter characters. does anynoe know why this is- it would seem more real, plus i would be in heaven to go down there dressed as hermione! (PS: can’t wait for deathly hallows part 2! midnight premiere, here i come!)

    1. Ricky Brigante

      There’s a fine line with how much you are able to dress up while visiting the Wizarding World. The reason for not allowing elaborate character-specific costumes is that guests could potentially confuse you with an official character and/or employee of Universal Orlando. And for safety (and legal) reasons that’s not something Universal can have. But they do sell ties, sweatshirts, and Hogwarts student outfits in the park, so that type of “costume” is allowed. It just can’t be too elaborate.

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