UNIVERSAL CITY — Muggles galore descended on Universal Studios Hollywood April 7 to celebrate the grand opening of the much-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, which sinks park visitors into the theatrical world of the boy wizard.
Thousands of people passed through the gates to be among the first to visit the theme park’s latest — and most eagerly awaited – “immersive” land.
Excitement for the attraction’s opening hit a fever pitch leading up to the opening, with park officials announcing April 5 that advance online tickets were already sold out for opening day, along with VIP and front-of-line passes for April 8 and 9.
It was the first time the park had to cut off online ticket sales.
Harry Potter’s creator, author J.K. Rowling, issued a statement expressing her excitement at the attraction.
“I am delighted to see ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ brought to life in a way that is so close to what I imagined when writing the books,” Rowling said. “I’m thrilled that Harry Potter fans can now experience the wonderful immersive experience created at Universal Studios Hollywood.”
And just in time for the Harry Potter crowds, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority debuted a 400-foot, L-shaped pedestrian bridge that takes people from the Red Line stop across Lankershim Boulevard and Universal Hollywood Drive, where patrons could catch a free park shuttle up the hill to Universal Studios.
Harry Potter film talent, Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), joined Universal Studios Hollywood’s President Larry Kurzweil and the Hogwarts Express conductor to officiate the opening ceremonies.
“Today is a very exciting and historically significant day for us,” Kurzweil said. “This incredible event to celebrate the opening of ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ marks the pinnacle of years of hard work and the beginning of a new generation of Universal Studios Hollywood. With over 75 percent completely reimagined, Universal Studios Hollywood is an entirely new theme park destination and we look forward to sharing everything that the Entertainment Capital of L.A. has to offer with visitors from around the world.”
“In Los Angeles, tourism is surging. We’ve set records each of the last five years and we’re just getting started,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ at Universal Studios Hollywood is monumental in expanding our city’s global reach. It sends a message to visitors from across the world that L.A. is a place you and your family have to experience.
“I’m proud to see this game-changing world-class attraction open. Universal Studios Hollywood’s epic transformation will create new jobs, stimulate hospitality revenues and make our economy stronger.”
More than five years in the making, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has been masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood. The land is faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts Castle, which serves as its iconic focal point.
From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” transports guests of all ages to the very places they read about in the stories or watched in the movie theaters.
The Harry Potter attraction includes a meticulous recreation of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with features such as Professor Dumbledore’s office, the Portrait Gallery and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.
The surrounding Hogsmeade village includes shops such as Honeydukes, Owl Post, Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods.
Also included in the attraction are two rides — the 3-D “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff.”
A virtual tour is available online atwww.universalstudioshollywood.com/wizardingworld.