ORLANDO, Florida — Magic was seemingly everywhere on Wednesday night at Universal Orlando’s grand-opening celebration for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter . The theme park doesn’t officially open to the public until June 18, but Universal brought in the stars of the film and conductor/composer John Williams to kick things off with a bang.
Though many of the stars of the “Harry Potter” films have come to see the park over the past several months, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, James and Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis, and Warwick Davis were given a special tour of Wizarding World’s many attractions on Wednesday so they would be primed to speak about them.
“It’s not even odd,” Radcliffe said about seeing the world he spent the past decade working on in film represented as a real place in hot and humid Orlando. “It’s absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t be more impressed.”
There was some debate amongst them as to which of the three rides in Wizarding World was the best. Radcliffe and Grint said the twin roller coasters in Dragon Challenge were their favorite, while Lewis, Wright and the Phelpses loved Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey . And there was an even divide over which was better: regular or frozen Butterbeer.
The stars seemed most impressed by the amount of detail making Hogwarts and Hogsmeade come to life, creating an experience they couldn’t even have on the movie set.
“It’s just total immersion into the world,” Lewis said. “In 100 years, it’s still going to be here. It’s a little weird for me.”
“It’s kind of the beginning and ending. It’s kind of surreal,” Wright said of the park’s opening coinciding with the end of filming of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” earlier this week. “All the little memories we have, now other people can have them as well.”
The actors said they loved the rides, which include two roller coasters (Flight of the Hippogriffs and Dragon Challenge) and a visual experience (Forbidden Journey). It was the first roller-coaster ride for Davis. Grint shared that his coaster-riding technique was to hold on for dear life, while Felton said that he keeps his hands in the air, screaming for his life. Radcliffe had a very specific procedure: Make sure the harness is extra tight, try to keep his eyes open for as long as possible, and make the longest, most prolonged scream possible. When he gets off, his experience isn’t complete unless all his hair is swept to one side.
Though she did not speak to the press and was kept well hidden at the event, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling did make an appearance at the grand opening. Williams conducted the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in a special presentation of the various themes he had written for the “Harry Potter” film series. In the end, the stars seemed to think Universal had left no magical stone unturned in the creation of the Wizarding World.
All of them, that is, except Warwick Davis. When asked what he thinks Universal should add to the park, he responded, “Something involving Professor Flitwick. Or Griphook the goblin, perhaps.”
Are you planning to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Tell us what you’re excited to see in the comments.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”
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