Here we are, the day after the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. It's been a long strange epic journey and one that we will certainly never forget.
So today we bring you what will probably be our last Universal Studios Hollywood update for awhile as we hope we haven't over saturated you with all things Potter. =)
Written by Gregg Condon
Back at Wizarding World for the grand opening!!
Lots of excited fans waiting to get in and be the first
Wands at the ready!!
Video of the opening, a walk-through of Hogsmeade and an exclusive interview with Arthur Weasley and Luna Lovegood. =)
(Note: as a fan of the movies and books I'm ashamed that I couldn't think of Luna's name during the interview ... a testament to how tired I was as she is one of my favorite characters from the series)
And they're off!!
All of the talent from the films were amazing all week
Some of the creative team with the Phelps brothers
Inside Hogsmeade on opening day
They were filming stuff all morning with Warwick Davis, he is such a cool guy. After he passed us for about the 5th time I asked if he was stalking us. ;)
Shortly after opening the line for Forbidden Journey jumped to 3 hours
Luna Lovegood and Arthur Weasley Cosplayers. Absolutely perfect.
Potter is definitely a family affair ...
Wait times in the park at about 9:30am
The timed entry program worked to perfection
So a few notes about opening day as there was a LOT of online chatter about the crowds, or later in the day, the lack of them.
We have to remember that unlike Florida the main audience for Universal Studios Hollywood is locals. This means AP's. This is the same problem that Disneyland has and has had to come to grips with. First issue, only the highest 2 tiers of AP's were available yesterday.
Secondly, on Tuesday the park sent out releases to all media outlets (us included) saying that Online Tickets were sold out for the day. What that number was is anybody's guess. But we think the park severely underestimated the amount of people who would show up to buy day-of tickets.
The world has changed, most people like to buy things online before they go to a theme park, the movies, etc. The age range of people who would go to Potter on the first day are these people.
Third, it was a Thursday, in April, just after Spring Break.
Lastly, it's one day. The park is fine, the addition is fine, it's still going to be popular and there are crazy days coming.
This is all a learning process for Universal Studios Hollywood. They have NEVER had anything even remotely close to this. And after all the issues with crowds on the first day of Fast and Furious last year it's hard to blame them for playing opening day of Wizarding World a bit conservatively.
At the end of the day everybody had an amazing day and it turned into a nice opening for hard-core fans of Potter.
We anticipate crowds coming, the timed entry works, they proved that yesterday. So if you do go expect it to be busy.
Since we aren't planning on being at the park for awhile we figured we'd take a look around the rest of the park on opening day.
The Studio Cafe is now open, looks great. Interesting to note, even though the park opened at 6:30 for many guests, many of the other restaurants in the park had their normal opening times of 10:30 and even 11:00. Again, learning process.
Not much going on where Stage 28 was.
Ratchet and Clank movie?
"You're a Wizard Norman"
(H/T to GreatAmericanCoasters on Instagram for that awesome comment)
Pretty sure F&F wasn't always green ... right?
And one last look at Wizarding World on opening day. Good times.
And there it is, with that our coverage of Wizarding World Hollywood's construction and opening has come to an end. Wow. It's been an amazing 2 1/2 years of coverage for us.
So many people to thank but we'd be totally remiss if we didn't send a HUGE thanks to Universal Studios Hollywood and their INCREDIBLE PR staff who have earned a few days off after a crazy week of premieres.
Thank you all for reading, we hope you've enjoyed all the coverage.
Last night was the red carpet premiere for Wizarding World Hollywood at Universal Studios. We were there live on the red carpet and posted updates all night on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope.
In case you weren't following along we have a recap of the coverage as well as a LOTS more pictures we didn't post last night.
On the red carpet.
Lots of great spots for photo ops
Some celebs were in a rush to get in and didn't stop for us. :(
But who cares, because Warwick Davis was there and was awesome!!!
The awesome Chris Hardwick who actually took the time to face-time Kristi and talk to her about The Walking Dead Season 3.
Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti who always takes the time to talk to even the far end of the media line.
James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley)
Once we got into Hogsmeade it was time to play "Spot the Celebrity".
Oh, just hanging out with my new BFF. =)
A nice ceremony kicked off the festivities. Sorry for the bluriness, the lighting was weird (this was actually the only decent picture we got of this)
John Williams getting ready to conduct the LA Philharmonic
Full video of the performance last night. It was truly amaazing.
Below some pictures of the performance. Click any of the pictures below to see a larger version.
Thanks again to Universal Studios for having us to the event. It was truly amazing and we can't wait for everybody to see Wizarding World!!
It's finally here!!! It's Potter Week!!
As you all know the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens at Universal Studios Hollywood this Thursday (April 7) and the star studded premiere is tomorrow night (April 5). We will of course be there on the red carpet so be sure you are following us for all of that fun.
So while we're celebrating all things Wizarding World this week we thought it would be a good time to stop and take a look backwards a bit, to take a look at where the park was just a few short years ago and at the "Epic Transformation" they've made. Because it truly is EPIC.
From a park that just a few years ago was giving a full year away for the price of one day to where today is commanding multiple visits for tourists and has definitely swayed the attendance habits of local fans who now have a choice between incredible theme parks to attend each weekend.
It truly is an AMAZING time time to be a theme park fan in Southern California.
(keep in mind, we don't have all the older pictures we would have liked, but at the time we weren't thinking of taking them for posterity ... oh hindsight)
We'll start off at the front of the park since that's the first thing everybody sees when they enter. Remember when this was the new thing in the park?
Of course, the iconic entry to the park hasn't changed much over the years.
The rest of the entrance area has sure changed over the years though.
Sure looks different today
All new Starbucks!!
And they aren't even done yet, coming this Summer!!
The Wild West Theater
Universal Plaza decked out for Lunar New Year earlier this year.
Let's take a left turn from Universal Plaza where we now have the amazing Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Super Silly Funland.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Super Silly Funland
Did You Know: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem was one of the first projects we started covering as a website?
Continuing on through the upper lot of the park, who remembers when Marvel had a presence at the park? It really wasn't that long ago.
Once Marvel left it was just "Comic Heroes"
Or when this was actually a thing?
Even the Studio Tour entrance has undergone some pretty significant changes over the years:
The tour itself has had some changes, some forced and two totally different Fast and Furious attractions.
Have a tramtastic day ...
But all of the changes weren't exclusive to the upper lot, the lower lot has received it's share of love recently.
Then ... Special Effects Stages (now on the upper lot)
Transformers The Ride 3D
Even small changes to make the guest experience better.
But of course, none of that compares to the changes made to the upper lot in just the last few years. The thing that has finally made Universal Studios into a full fledged "Theme Park" and not just a "Studios" park.
Did you know: The Universal Amphitheater closed in September 2013? Not even 3 years ago.
Anybody know what is in this spot now? Certainly looks much different today.
No Epic Transformation could be done without a LOT of Epic Construction.
Now ... we'll start off with the amazing Springfield addition that was made last year.
And of course, none of that compares to what is opening in just a few days.
So now it's finally here ... just a few short days away. Wizarding World opens for the world to see.
And we all have heard the rumors, we know they aren't done yet. When the new additions will be announced is anybody's guess. Will they take the advantage of the world looking at the park this week to make another big announcement? We'll find out tomorrow night.
We hope you enjoyed this look back at the park over the past few years. We of course had a lot more pictures that we could have shared, but we figured this was more than enough. It's still amazing how much work has been done in just a few years and we can't wait to see what the future holds.