The grand opening date of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure is set for one month from tomorrow but sneak previews of the new theme park area are scheduled much sooner than that. The catch? Regular park guests are not invited quite yet.
It is expected that at tonight’s evening event for the Orlando International Pow Wow 2010 (a gathering of travel and media professionals) Universal will open its doors to the Wizarding World for those attending. The event takes place after regular park hours and only registered professionals are allowed to join in the party. But while Universal has already previewed the streets, shops, and restaurants of Hogsmeade Village to various small tour groups, they have yet to show off the area’s signature new attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Update: The Pow Wow party has begun within Hogsmeade Village but a few signs at the Wizarding World’s entrance make it very clear that no photography is allowed within:
Universal Orlando team members (employees) were able to pick up tickets this morning to attend previews scheduled for 7-10 p.m. each night this week beginning Tuesday night, but were told that the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride will not be operating during these previews. Employees attending the previews will be able to walk through Hogsmeade Village and receive tours of the ride’s queue inside Hogwarts Castle, but won’t actually be able to enjoy the ride itself yet.
No news of any previews for daytime park guests have emerged yet, not even for Universal Orlando annual passholders, who often get the chance to preview new attractions before they open to the public. Some vacation packages were sold months ago promising access to the Wizarding World as early as May 28, so many believe that will be the start of its “soft opening,” a period during which many or all of the attractions will be open for “technical rehearsal” in order to prepare for the grand opening. However, since soft openings are almost always unannounced, Universal has not confirmed even the possibility of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening before June 18. But we’ll definitely be there the moment it does.