Guests staying onsite at Universal hotels this past weekend were allowed entry into Universal Orlando’s newest and biggest addition, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Initially meant for just those who purchased the special Grand Opening packages, Universal has been allowing all guests at on-site hotels enter into the park early in the morning, though those at the front gate adamantly deny that it’s happening. Proof lies in the pudding as Attractions Magazine booked a stay and received entry for two days into the Wizarding World. This seems to have flattened a lot of those who were on constant Potterwatch as the numbers have declined of those waiting by the gates for the area to open.
Still, those who have been in have been decidedly blown away, calling it one of the most immersive experiences ever with even one Disney fansite saying “If Universal did this with everything they made, Disney would be in trouble.” Still others were not pleased, with popular Disney site “The DIS” saying “First impressions of WWoHP- not sure it lives up to hype” and other Disneyphiles saying “It’s great, but it’s not Disney”, proving that no matter how much Universal tries, they are not going to win over the hardcore Disney fans.
While we were not able to book a hotel room or vacation package (we are poor Florida residents with real jobs, after all) and no media invites to sneak a peek we were left with the teases of those who have been in as we walked the park. People were sporting their Potter merchandise everywhere, with bags and robes draped about, one lady even sporting a plush Hedgewig on her shoulder that hooted and turned it’s head. We were able to get a glimpse of what we are in for when we rode Dueling Dragons, which is now Dragons Challenge. As you enter the queue line you are treated to music from the movie. Also overhead are projections of Dragons rampaging through the tents, with sounds to captivate and excite. Also the queue line itself is very dungeon like, with the dragons signs sporting some led effects. Even the child swap area has been redone to fit in. The teases continue as you walk out the exit and see the flags waving above head for the Triwizard champions and the walk back is through parts of Hogsmeade Village with shops completely visible over the walls. So Close you can smell the butterbeer! On another note, it seems that the Jurassic Park gate will be moved to the now permanent bridge, as construction can be seen.
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With Potter invading the Islands, it seems the magic has spread up to the gift shop in the front of the park as it is being reworked to reflect a more “magical” feel.For those wondering if Potter merchandise will be available throughout the resort, the answer seems to be yes. Over at the Studios, WWOHP hats can be purchased in the Brown Derby, most notable…the sorting hat which doubles as a puppet.
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Around the rest of the park, more and more effects have been added back to the attractions. The scene through Marvel Super Hero Island hearkened back to Halloween Horror Nights as fog covered the walkway to Hulk, and riders were blasted upwards with a column of cloud behind them on Dr. Doom. Walls have gone up (unless they were always there…which I doubt) in the Disaster queue which could be an early sign of HHN construction and dead looking trees could be seen in the boneyard behind Simpsons (perhaps left over from Wolfman?). Also, the Roboasis (the Coca Cola cooling station with the little alien) seems to be have dismantled, with just the structure remaining. And the biggest news, the water vortex in Poseidon’s Fury….still not working.
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