Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando Celebrates 5th Anniversary

5th Anniversary for Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

It’s hard to imagine, but the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure recently passed its 5th Anniversary milestone!

When Potter was first announced in 2007, Theme Park Adventure began covering its progress, from artwork to construction pictures and updates on its very deliberate, very strong media roll-out. Over the next 3 years, we watched – along with the rest of the waiting world – as Hogsmeade took shape and Universal unleashed a flood of incredibly cool content such as augmented reality maps and sneak peek imagery of the new area and its signature attraction, The Forbidden Journey.

When The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened on June 18, 2010, it changed the themed entertainment industry forever – not just for fans, but for professionals in the business as well. No longer was Universal Creative the distant peer of Walt Disney Imagineering and other creative companies designing attractions – it became a major player almost overnight, altering the playing field right in Disney’s backyard into one big quidditch one!

Butterbeer, enchanted benches, owls, wands, and flying hippogriffs ruled the land of themed entertainment, and Universal Creative has gone on to open a Wizarding World in Japan, and is on the verge of opening Hogsmeade here in Southern California at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2016.

When The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens its gates here in Hollywood next year, I fully suspect it will change the industry climate here in Southern California dramatically, much as it has in Orlando. The difference is, the theme parks here in SoCal are primarily locals parks (Universal is the exception to that, with a huge chunk of its tourism coming from international guests visiting Los Angeles), so the big winners will be the fans that go to all of the parks.

The design and execution of all things Potter has been staggering, to say the least. In my opinion, Hogsmeade, along with Diagon Alley, are the two single greatest themed “lands” I’ve ever seen; they’re possibly the best in the world, on par with or even surpassing Tokyo DisneySea. Thing will heat up here in SoCal the way they have in Orlando once Potter opens here – and as I said before, we, the fans, are going to be the huge winners as all of the parks ratchet up their level of attraction production and offerings. It’s going to be fantastic to see what happens here over the next few years!

Regardless of what’s to come, no one can deny the stupendous success the original has enjoyed in Orlando at Islands of Adventure. We raise a huge Butterbeer toast to Universal Creative and all of the talented men and women who worked to make The Wizarding World of Harry Potter a resounding success 5 years ago – and to all of the Team Members who continue to make magic there for guests each and every day! Here’s to the next 5 years – and well beyond!

– Rick West

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