One of the few complaints commonly voiced by preview visitors to Universal Orlando’s new Wizarding World of Harry Potter surrounds the relatively small size of its streets, shops, and passageways. Unlike in the photo above, taken before the Wizarding World’s Hogsmeade Village began its previews, the area will soon be filled with fans eager to taste Butterbeer and ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey for the first time.
To prepare for the expected large crowd showing up for the much-publicized public grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on Friday, June 18, Universal announced this morning that it will open its park garage at 5:30 a.m. with the Islands of Adventure theme park opening at 9 a.m. The public grand opening festivities are scheduled to begin promptly at 9 a.m. that day, lasting around 30 minutes. So if your plans include a trip to see whatever excitement Universal has scheduled to grand open their most impressive entertainment offering to date, they should also include getting up early and waiting with thousands of other people.
While Hogwarts Castle seems huge, towering over this new section of Islands of Adventure, the neighboring Hogsmeade Village, home to an array of shops, dining, and entertainment, is rather cramped by theme park standards. Guests won’t find oversized store aisles or large push-open doors that swing out. To maintain its “authentic” feel, Hogsmeade Village appears to have been created as if it were a real village, keeping most of its indoor and outdoor proportions sized to the real world, rather than a standard theme park area, normally designed to comfortably hold thousands of people at once.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has had a number of “soft opening” phases, but it is expected that none have come anywhere close to the crowds that will be arriving for this weekend’s official grand opening. During a media presentation this morning at Universal Orlando, Universal Orlando president Bill Davis declined to comment on the actual number of guests the Wizarding World can hold. Instead, he offered that they do expect high attendance this weekend and that, in general, Universal feels that the Wizarding World will boost Orlando tourism – a pair of rather obvious facts.
As to the preparation for this coming weekend’s opening, Davis simply stated, “We’ve done this before. We’ll get through it.”
If you don’t want to brave the crowds and the early morning at Universal Orlando, you can still tune in online to watch the public grand opening via Universal’s live video stream.