The crowds will be heavy at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure all day today as fans who have waited five years since the first announcement of a "Harry Potter" theme park pour in for the official grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
An estimated 5,000 people showed up to get into the newest addition of Islands of Adventure, and those waiting at the end of the line should expect to be out in 97 degree weather for four to six hours. But the universal sentiment from those in line is that this is a small price to pay for getting a chance to drink Butterbeer, have a wand choose them and see Hogwarts up close and personal.
A giant Hogwarts envelope replaced the typical red ribbon for the celebration, and in proper "Harry Potter" fashion, it dropped to reveal the Hogwarts Express "pulling into the station." "Harry Potter" cast members Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Bonnie Wright, Warwick Davis, Matthew Lewis, and James & Oliver Phelps, who have been on hand throughout the grand opening celebrations, welcomed the guests to the park. Those guests include a lucky first grade class from Wilderness Oak Elementary in San Antonio, Texas, who got to meet and take a photo with the stars.
"I'll be friendly, I don't bite," Felton promised, allaying the fears of those kids who they only knew as the villainous Draco Malfoy.
The Phelps twins, who play the lovable jokesters George and Fred Weasley, decided to start the opening off with a bang by setting off a Wet-Start No-Heat Firework that they said they bought from Zonko's (must have been a Weasley exclusive, because we didn't see those on sale when we were shopping). Their stunt didn't work, though it did set off a bunch of smoke, but they were backed up by fireworks set off from a Universal back lot.
Radcliffe welcomed everyone into the park, and then stars and guests alike were escorted through the main Wizarding World entrance into Hogsmeade.
"We're all very, very grateful that the next part of the 'Harry Potter' legacy is so well done and well made," Radcliffe said to the crowd. "It's absolutely fantastic and you're all going to have an amazing time."