A crowd of "Harry Potter" fans gathered early Thursday morning at Universal Studios Hollywood to celebrate the grand opening of the much-anticipated "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" attraction.
Excitement for the attraction's soared like a hippogriff this week, with park officials announcing Tuesday that advance online tickets were already sold out for Thursday, along with VIP and front-of-line passes for Friday and Saturday. It's the first time the park has had to cut off online ticket sales.
With a wave of their wands and a shout of "Revelio," a charm that reveals hidden objects, the sell-out crowd opened the gates to the attraction at 6:30 a.m. PT. Fireworks lit up the overcast sky and confetti rained down on fans, many dressed in Harry Potter-themed robes and other clothes.
What to do, where to go and what to see
Harry Potter's creator, author J.K. Rowling, issued a statement about the opening.
"I am delighted to see 'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter' brought to life in a way that is so close to what I imagined when writing the books," Rowling said. "I'm thrilled that Harry Potter fans can now experience the wonderful immersive experience created at Universal Studios Hollywood."
A limited number of admission tickets are expected to be available for purchase at the Universal Studios gates today. Lines at the park are expected to form early as Potter fanatics try to be among the first to explore the immersive land.
Traffic around Universal City could also be unusually heavy. Metro officials are encouraging people to take public transit, notably the Red Line subway, which has a stop in Universal City.
And just in time for the Harry Potter crowds, Metro today will debut a 400-foot, L-shaped pedestrian bridge that will take people from the Red Line stop across Lankershim Boulevard and Universal Hollywood Drive, where patrons can catch a free park shuttle up the hill to Universal Studios.
The much-anticipated attraction includes a meticulous recreation of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with features such as Professor Dumbledore's office, the Portrait Gallery and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.
The surrounding Hogsmeade village includes shops such as Honeydukes, Owl Post, Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods.
Also included in the attraction are two rides -- the 3-D "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey'' and Universal Studios Hollywood's first outdoor roller coaster, "Flight of the Hippogriff.''
A virtual tour is available online at www.universalstudioshollywood.com/wizardingworld.
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