The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened on June 18, and already over a half-million visitors have braved the flagship ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This confirms the fear that keeps parents up at night: The theme park based on perhaps the most successful series of books in the history of literature is incredibly popular—meaning their kids will want to go—and crowded, meaning it will be rather miserable.
So crowded, in fact, that Universal Studios is improvising ways to tame the hordes of visitors clamoring for a glimpse of Harry Potter’s world. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Universal is advising visitors to postpone visiting the park until after 3 p.m. Universal is also handing out paper tickets, similar to raffle tickets, to prevent people from cutting the long line that forms each morning, and giving people receipts with return times on really busy mornings.
Still, wait times in the park are fairly insane. Try 90 minutes for the Forbidden Journey ride, and two hours—yes, two hours—for Ollivander’s magic wand shop.
Another casualty of the craze is liquor. According to Gadling, mixed drinks have been temporarily removed from the menu, in part so staff can focus on butterbeer, the extremely popular nonalcoholic concoction, in addition to beer and wine.
The park’s opening, though an unmitigated success by most measures, hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing. A mild controversy sprang up when a 265-pound passenger was denied a ride on the Forbidden Journey due to his size, and the park has since begun screening passengers waiting in line to see if any might be too big. Seems other rides at Universal have modified seats for passengers of various sizes, but not the premier ride in the red-hot new Harry Potter park. This could get ugly.
Readers, have you visited the Wizarding World yet? Any plans to do so? Will you wait a year or two until the hype (and crowds) dissipate?