Open Time… The Orlando Event

We’re one day from the official opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter but the stars were out in force last night as they attended Universal Orlando’s grand opening celebration last night.  The theme park doesn’t officially open to the public until tomorrow, but Universal brought in the stars of the film and conductor/composer John Williams to kick start things and make sure the new attraction sets 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.”

The group had some disagreements about which was the best ride however. Radcliffe and Grint said the twin roller coasters in Dragon Challenge were their favorite, while Lewis, Wright and the Phelps loved Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey the most.

Like everyone who has seen the new park, 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.”

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. So that’s their verdict… it’s now over to you…

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