On June 18, 2010 an event took place that has changed Universal Orlando ever since. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter became the seventh island to be opened in Islands of Adventure theme park. With three rides, a restaurant, several shops and of course Hogwarts Castle this island has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Florida.
This blog is meant to give you a short insight on some of the steps it took to create such a world.
On May 31, 2007 Universal officially announced that it had secured the rights from both British author J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. to create a world that fans have been imaging for years.
It would become the seventh island in Universal’s Island of Adventure and would be spread across a 20-acre land. The construction period would take two and a half years to complete once started but will be well worth the long anticipation. Construction began taking place seven months after the official announcement in January of 2008. By July of 2008 two of Islands of Adventure attractions were closed down, the first being the Flying Unicorn which was to be transformed into the Flight of the Hippogiff and the second was the Enchanted Oak Tavern which was unfortunately later on demolished. Universal Studios also needed to build a bridge connecting The Lost Continent with Jurassic Park so guests can pass and not be in the construction zone of the Universal Wizarding World.
During construction, the same question had been asked by many of the industry professionals, “how would the construction of such a remarkable castle begin to take place?” This twenty acre Hogwarts Castle is 150 feet tall equaling 15 stories high. This castle shares some common construction and design features of another castle located not too far away, Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World. Both castles utilize forced perspective. This is a technique that employs optical illusion to make the objects appear larger than they actually are. For example, the further up the castles you go the smaller they become. Take a window for example, the windows closest to the ground are much larger then the windows at the peak of the castles.
The second similarity between the two castles is that both have a steel frame with faux facade. This creates an architectural appeal while still maintaining structural integrity. This is essential when needed to withstand those forced Florida hurricane winds.
Once Hogwarts construction was underway it was off to the rest of the park. In September of 2009 the Dueling Dragons entrance had been moved to Jurassic Park as the Hogsmeade construction had begun to take place. The old entrance was soon destroyed as well.
On September 15, 2009 Universal finally announced the attractions that the new island would hold. By early 2010 a large marketing increase had taken place with advertisements spread throughout newspapers, billboards and T.V. commercials. The Dueling Dragons was temporary closed down for maintenance and was soon to be reopened after being transformed into the Dragon Challenge.
Total construction was finally completed and began soft openings. Universal Wizarding World had two opening ceremonies which had taken place on June 16 and 18, 2010.
The first opening on June 16, 2010 was meant for the cast and crew of the Harry Potter Films including J.K. Rowling, Universal Resort Officials and media representatives. The conclusion of this first ceremony featured a firework display and a performance by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra which was led by none other then the composer of the music for the first three Harry Potter films, John Williams.
On June 18, 2010 the second ceremony had taken place which officially opened the park to the public. Bill Davis, a Universal Orlando Representative, introduced the area to the public which included such actors from the film as: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, James and Oliver Phelps, Matthew Lewis and Bonnie Wright.
Ever since opening day guests have been amazed by this incredible part of Islands of Adventure, keeping its popularity as beloved and celebrated now as it was in June of 2010.
Want to get all our tips and tricks for visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? We wrote a travel guide for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade! We included all our tips and tricks that we’ve learned over the last year to make your visit to the Wizarding World as magical as possible. Be sure to check it out!
Get your Harry Potter theme park souvenirs from the official Harry Potter shop, the WB Shop!