The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Soft Opening Impressions and Red Carpet Event

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has its grand opening on June 18, 2010.  My wife and I are currently vacationing (pseudo-belated honeymoon style) in Orlando, but have to leave before the 18th.  Luckily, Universal is going through their soft opening right now, and we were able to sneak a peek at some of the Wizarding World’s attractions.

Interestingly, we were able to find some Universal execs wandering the park and eavesdropped for a while, hearing something we had no idea about beforehand: there is going to be a red carpet unveiling event at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which we assume means celebrity-laden festivities at a particular location (which we got pictures of!) in the park on June 18th.   I’m not sure if this is new information, but I haven’t seen any information about an extravaganza for the theme park, so I wanted to share it with the world if it is.

First Thing’s First

The park looks fantastic.  Although we weren’t able to make our way through the majority of the shops or attractions, we had an opportunity to ride the refitted Dueling Dragons roller-coaster.  Riders have the choice of riding the Hungarian Horntail (blue) dragon or the Chinese Fireball (red) dragon coaster.  From my experience, the coaster is the same as it was 5 and 10 years ago, just with some new lighting and signage on the paths leading to and from.

Hungarian Horntail - Dueling Dragons, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hungarian Horntail - Dueling Dragons, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We started our trek to Dueling Dragons through a narrow, black hallway through Hogsmeade Village.  The aesthetics are straight out of the films. Hanging iron signs greeted us as we entered and exited, while Hogwarts sat off to our left, overlooking the “island” that contained the rest of the attractions.  From what we could see, there are tons of storefronts, including Dervish and Banges.  There was a magic cart, and we could see a few Universal employees enjoying a lunch on an outside terrace overlooking a bit of water.

There was snow on the rooftops, and the chimneys in the village were, as my wife put it, whimsical.  We were able to take a couple of quick snaps of Hogwarts proper and a quick jump in the air got me a little closer to the magic cart just out of view, so we could see it’s name: “The Magic NEEP,” whatever that is.  Much later, we even saw the Hogwarts Express come into station at Hogsmeade, billowing smoke and whistling.

Red Carpet and Execs

Universal Executives Discussing Harry Potter Red Carpet
Universal Executives Discussing Harry Potter Red Carpet

We were forbidden from taking pictures of things behind the black dividers by the worker telling us that there were executives walking the park, and they would take our camera.

Well, luck was with us, and we actually ran into these executives.  They were discussing what we overheard to be a red carpet event at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter next week, and we saw how they were laying out the carpet and platforms around it.  We listened and took pictures as they gestured and made plans.  So I wanted to share those with you all, especially since some of you might be lucky enough to actually be in Orlando come the grand opening.

To the Left of the Hogsmeade Gate and Red Carpet Location
To the Right of the Hogsmeade Gate and Red Carpet Location
To the Right of the Hogsmeade Gate and Red Carpet Location

The platform they were discussing will be two levels high and located near the entrance to Sinbad’s stunt show in the Lost Continent area of Islands of Adventure.  To its right is a basketball-shooting carnival game, and to its right will be the Frozen Desert refreshment stand (the gate to the Wizarding World is directly between them).  Admittedly, we did not hear the execs saying anything in regard to specific celebrities and guests, but with talk of specific platforms, guard stations, and red carpet combined with the amount of people meeting and the detail with which they were discussing the platform and the red carpet’s layout, I think it is safe to assume that the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is going to be a little more extravagant than simply opening a gate and letting people mill about.

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.