The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is finally open at Universal Studios in Orlando, and by all accounts, demand is both unprecedented and a little bit nuts, with reports of four to six hour-long lines to just enter the park. The park opened around 9:30am, but thousands of fans arrived days in advance, with fans camping out overnight along the interstate. We're all excited to ride a broomstick or two, right?
Early-bird fans who were there for the very start of the day's festivities bore witness asDaniel Radcliffe drew open the curtain and officially opened the park, joined at the opening by Warwick Davis (who plays Filius Flitwick), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore).
Okay, okay. You want to know what you can find inside--we get it. The big centerpiece of the park is Hogwarts castle, which towers over the other Islands of Adventure. Inside the castle is the all-new, specifically crafted Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (eat your heart out, Cinderella's Castle). The ride promises to be a "greatest hits" tour through the spots you'd expect, including a brief drop-in Quidditch match, a throwdown with the Whomping Willow, and an attempt at surviving a dragon attack.
Outside the castle, you can pretty much have the full Diagon Alley experience, from a pint at the Hog's Head pub right on through to picking up a Marauder's Map or three at Filch's. There's also the intriguingly-named "Flight of the Hippogriff" attraction, which I REALLY HOPE involves "The Flight of the Bumblebee" as played on a large instrument (let's say a tuba), and another dozen or so attractions, from roller coasters on down.
Despite being less than a day old, the fan community is abuzz with what's next for the park, as its popularity leads to inevitable expansion. MTV's got a fun little piece on suggestions for themed rides coming down the pike, and, for those of you with an interest in homebrewing, the Christian Science Monitor has an in-depth interview with J.K. Rowling about the painstaking process of bringing butterbeer into real life.
I wish I could say this post was ironic, but I genuinely love that this sort of thing is in the world now, crass commercialism and all. Happy wizarding, everybody!