I can’t believe that five years ago today, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade opened to guests at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
As a long-time Harry Potter fan, I’m still in awe of the way Hogsmeade envelops you in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. My jaw still drops when I pass through the entryway and am reminded to “Respect the Spell Limits.”
I feel like I’m stepping into a movie and entering a new reality—from the wondrous corridors of Hogwarts castle to the first creamy sip of Butterbeer, to wrapping myself in Gryffindor robes. It’s so authentic that you have to experience it to believe it.
I’ve got so many incredible memories from that opening week. As we celebrate five amazing years, I wanted to share mine with you.
On Wednesday, June 16, 2010, we had the opportunity to host hundreds of journalists and special guests in the land for a nighttime event. The evening reached its peak as John Williams led an orchestral ensemble to play that epic Harry Potter score as lights radiated from the illustrious Hogwarts castle.
There are no words for this evening. Guests were summoned to the castle by Owl Post letters that flew from the sky. Everyone received wands that helped light up the castle, culminating in an incredible fireworks display. It. Was. AWESOME.
That same night, we hosted a red carpet event featuring cast members from the Harry Potter films, including Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Warwick Davis, James and Oliver Phelps, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, Michael Gambon, and Bonnie Wright.
For us Harry Potter fans, it was dream as almost everyone was there…even J.K. Rowling herself.
Friday, June 18, 2010 was the big day—the grand opening. I’ll never forget the crowds filled with die-hard fans who came to celebrate. What an incredible moment in time!
The first official guests consisted of a few lucky children who were led into the land by the Harry Potter film stars—what a cool experience!
They even got to take the first official ride on Flight of the Hippogriff. Imagine riding with Daniel Radcliffe sitting next to you!
The above video is the best way I can think of to sum up that week. I still get teary-eyed when I watch it, and it’s humbling to think of all the memories that have been made here over the past five years.
But most of all, it’s our guests who make this land so incredible. I love watching the awe-stricken faces as someone steps inside Hogsmeade for the first time. Or when someone walks down the steps of Hogwarts castle, brimming with excitement, after riding Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I’ve seen families challenge each other to try Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans and have had the wand choose them at Ollivanders.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there’s no better time than now.
If you have been, what’s your most breathtaking memory from the past five years? Let us know in the comments below.