Jun 222010
 

I just got back from the grand opening events of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park. I covered it for so many outlets that I don’t feel like typing those words together ever again. I wrote it up or shot it for Aol, WalletPop.com, Gadling.com, and The New York Post.

I also tweeted the daylights out of it. I’m in no mood to keep writing about it, so instead, I thought it would be fun to show you all the Twitter messages I sent about it, from the moment I left home to the moment I got back, minus stuff that had nothing to do with my trip to Orlando. Turns out it’s quite an epic.

When you see a link, try it — it goes to a photo I tweeted on the spot (six of them are included here) or even a little video I shot. I didn’t hyperlink them or this page would be a mess, so just cut and paste.

Here’s what I said about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (or #WWoHP in Twitter-tagese).

  • The word “now” doesn’t exist in Airportland. It’s always “at this time.” (Unless, of course, it’s delayed.) #travel
  • Proof it exists: the “Pork Sundae” at Orlando’s Blackwater Bar-B-Q. I’ll tweet the dish itself by popular demand. http://yfrog.com/j0gtcvj
  • Pre-opening at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The ride went a while today before breaking down: http://yfrog.com/ju6h9bj
  • Crooked, convincing facades of Hogsmeade at Universal’s new Harry Potter land. It formally opens Friday. http://yfrog.com/1x14016810j

    A production design triumph

  • Daniel Radcliffe and the Harry Potter cast are over at the Hard Rock right now. Me, I’m the next hotel over, indulging in a 10pm swim.
  • Unsung travel ritual: The grumble of distant fireworks near a theme park on a warm summer night. #Orlando
  • This pass gets me in at Harry Potter week. Ribbon reads “I must not tell lies.” (@attractions): #Orlando http://yfrog.com/aftlcj
  • Tonight, there’s a private party in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. Do cocktails and rides mix? Let’s find out!
  • This is the Harry Potter opening media war room on a soundstage at Universal Orlando: http://yfrog.com/6zrnmwj
  • Harry Potter land is now closed to prep for tonight’s party. Soft opening’s over. It’s showtime from now on: http://yfrog.com/6ctiij
  • Hogwarts, Hogsmeade framed by Hulk: #Orlando http://yfrog.com/cb3u9j
  • Almost everything at Universal grinds to a halt at the hint of lightning: rides, ferries, pools. It gets instantly boring. #Orlando
  • The first of my video reports this week from the Harry Potter opening at Universal #Orlando: http://j.mp/cA4XTf #travel

    Have a sweet tooth?

  • The view from the red carpet at Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s opening party: http://yfrog.com/0pzkqhj
  • The Butterbeer is all-you-can-drink: http://yfrog.com/jqbvnj
  • Actor Warwick Davis is on the red carpet, signing autographs. http://yfrog.com/05vljvj
  • Stacey, one half of Orlando @Smilesearch, is here at the party! http://yfrog.com/6fphgqj
  • Michael Gambon is sweating like I am. #hp http://yfrog.com/jckvaej
  • It’s Harry Potter’s girlfriend Ginny! #hp http://yfrog.com/0glskaj
  • The press line is at full thrust. Radcliffe is in there. #hp http://yfrog.com/mum05j
  • JK Rowling blew through and went straight to the children. #hp http://yfrog.com/b8738fcj
  • Here come the Twins! And I see Rupert and Daniel Radcliffe coming. #hp http://yfrog.com/iz35syj
  • Malfoy himself is actually super nice to every reporter. #hp http://yfrog.com/jdrdjvj
  • Here’s Rupert Grint, with Daniel Radcliffe right behind. #hp http://yfrog.com/2teayj
  • Kids are chanting “Harry” #hp http://yfrog.com/74vi4j

    Daniel Radcliffe at the kick-off party. They had wrapped shooting on the film series only four days before.

  • Daniel and Rupert. They wrapped the most recent film last week. #hp http://yfrog.com/jwisfj
  • I just met Joey Fatone! #hp
  • The food is very British: salmon, Branston pickles [sic], and this little-touched offering: #hp http://yfrog.com/af59tj
  • Rumor is John Williams is about to lead the orchestra. #hp
  • Everyone gets a special commemorative wand with the date on the bottom. #hp http://yfrog.com/5dokncj
  • The procession for the opening ceremony begins: #hp http://yfrog.com/0esibjj
  • Warwick Davis leads the Frog Choir: #hp http://yfrog.com/50i1fj
  • Oh yes, the Knight Bus has arrived with a cargo of film stars. #hp http://yfrog.com/50jummj
  • Our wands light up as Hogwarts does. #hp http://yfrog.com/jdx6qj
  • Rode Forbidden Journey and it broke down while I was on it. Got to see it with the lights on! Huge, impressive stuff. #hp
  • Universal confiscated guests’ wands before the ride (told wouldn’t fit in lockers, but did), and some didn’t get them back. #hp
  • As you’re about to ride Forbidden Journey at Wizarding World: #hp http://yfrog.com/jd6ahj
  • The robotic Sorting Hat as you’re about to board the Forbidden Journey benches at Wizarding World: #hp http://yfrog.com/7fg60j
  • Forbidden Journey is intense, massive, up-close, way elaborate. Thumbs up. No glasses required, but the movie portions made my tummy grumpy.
  • Seeing Daniel Radcliffe: cool. Seeing JK Rowling: legendary. She skirts the press to talk to a child: http://yfrog.com/b8738fcj #hp #wwohp
  • Universal isn’t finished tonight. Cauldron Cake and Pumpkin Juice awaited press in our hotel rooms. Wizarding World http://yfrog.com/emi9ozj
  • Press conference time! Here comes Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. #wwohp #hp http://yfrog.com/htcmhj
  • Here’s what you missed at last night’s Wizarding World of Harry Pottery VIP party. Like JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe: http://j.mp/93Xcx0
  • Daniel Radcliffe reacts to his first look at Wizarding World of Harry Potter. VIDEO interview: http://j.mp/ccbYvU
  • Neville Longbottom has words for #London mayor Boris Johnson: Harry Potter belongs in Orlando! Video: http://j.mp/dcgNSg #travel #wwohp #hp
  • It’s a stroke of genius for Wizarding World of Harry Potter to have Ollivander’s wand shop — it’s a prelude to a $30 wand purchase!
  • I can feel my butt expand with every sip of Butterbeer. Which may be why it’s called Butterbeer. #wwohp #hp

    They add foam to the Butterbeer with a separate dispenser. Then again, there's a chance this guy is rabid.

  • It must be said the prices for souvenirs at Wizarding World are scandalous. $6.25 for Pumpkin Juice, $30 for plastic wands. $27 tees! #wwohp
  • Universal has done a fine job keeping images of the Forbidden Journey out of the press. I suspect Warner Bros. demanded a different angle.
  • Oh, my! Media bash under the Rockit roller coaster at Universal! #wwohp #hp http://yfrog.com/06xkxwj  http://yfrog.com/1fiq8aj
  • Alone on the rollercoaster: a metaphor for life. http://yfrog.com/16ttbdj
  • Things you learn at theme park private events: The traditional wait between coaster rides contributes to your comfort. Without them, suffer.
  • http://twitvid.com/VCZEW  – Fanboy fantasy: open bar party under the rollercoaster:
  • The crazy fans are already camping out for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening in the morning. #wwohp #hp http://yfrog.com/2m1ycayj
  • Helicopters have been buzzing overhead at Universal for an hour now. Crowd straining. This is already mayhem. Watch “Today” to see. #wwohd
  • While Harry Potter fans await Wizarding World news, here’s my video about a Universal coaster nearby: http://j.mp/AN4w8 #wwohp #hp #travel
  • @aoltravel You can see video (and my pix) of the Harry Potter celeb party in this post: http://j.mp/93Xcx0
  • Harry Potter’s Wizarding World opening’s live on Universal’s stream and on ‘Today’. But the heat & crowds & confusion are in-person delights
  • At the curtain before it drops on Wizarding World of Harry Potter: #wwohp http://yfrog.com/7d322zj
  • The camera battery at the curtain. One reporter wears a Griffyndor scarf: #wwohp http://yfrog.com/0em48fj
  • Ann Curry and Al Roker are here! #wwohp http://yfrog.com/1rs19pj
  • Forbidden Journey wait now from 90 minutes. Single riders? Straight on. #wwohp
  • I’m kind of in love with the Fanged Flyer, but at $25, I’m not buying one. #wwohp http://yfrog.com/5pak6j
  • They already ran out of frozen Butterbeer at #wwohp. It’s the product launch smash of the year & only sold here: http://yfrog.com/jmjmglj
  • Would you pay these food prices at Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Three Broomsticks’ menu. #wwohp #travel http://yfrog.com/7f11uj
  • Fans are wearing cloaks, leggings, carrying books and wands in this insane heat: #wwohp http://yfrog.com/4c9qxj
  • http://twitvid.com/QU1RK  – This is what they do if you buy a Pygmy Puff at Zonko’s at Wizarding World of Harry Potter: #wwohp
  • There’s even a line for the souvenir shops now at Wizarding World. #wwohp http://yfrog.com/9hli8wj
  • Two lines for Butterbeer, both probably 100 yards long. Mugs more than $10. Everyone has one. I’d say that’s a smash product. #wwohp
  • http://twitvid.com/RJ0KC  – Daniel Radcliffe opens Hogsmeade gate for schoolchildren this morning at Wizarding World of Harry Potter #wwohp
  • WalletPop Wizarding World coverage so far: Daniel Radcliffe speaks, party shots, and video portrait, in one #WWoHP post: http://j.mp/ccbYvU
  • In the Media Center of Wizarding World, agog at TV helicopter shots of massive lines and crowds. I’m safe, deep inside the nuthouse. #wwohp
  • My video roundup of Wizarding World souvenirs, including Butterbeer, is coming later on WalletPop.com! Check http://j.mp/walpop #wwohp
  • Ogling the epic Wizarding World line, I recall Uni. execs cockily saying Weds it could handle it: “We’ve done this before.” Um, no. #wwohp
  • Dawn with the madness Harry Potter, afternoon at Epcot, where I did a shoot at Mexico. Fairly busy here. #Disney http://yfrog.com/1n9amuj
  • Confession: Rode Forbidden Journey with both @reidontravel and @smilesearch, and got queasy both times. Kinks at Harry Potter land? #wwohp

    Stacey Doornbos, a.k.a. @SmileSearch. We geeked out then got nauseated.

  • Video of all the custom souvenirs at Wizarding World of Harry Potter, from Butterbear to Sneakoscopes: http://j.mp/dAtjsN #wwohp #travel
  • I know someone who was in line for 5.5 hours to enter Wizarding World today. He and his wife took turns while they saw other stuff. #wwohp
  • Wizarding World’s Pumpkin Juice has 24 grams of sugar in 8 ounces. Magic …for dentists. #wwohp
  • What’s wrong with Wizarding World? Too small for crowds, who don’t use the coasters. Too expensive. What’s right? Everything you see. #wwohp
  • Universal seems to be winning the arms race of details and masterful ride technology — in USA. Until you factor in Tokyo DisneySea. #wwohp
  • Downtown Orlando’s City Arts Factory: So refreshing to see new artists get support and showings with strong city support.
  • Wizarding World’s $10 chocolate frogs are no match for Orlando heat. Eat all 5.3 ounces at #WWoHP or you get this: http://yfrog.com/euj65rj
  • I wish I’d asked for nutritional information on Butterbeer. I’m sure it’s appalling. It’s so sugary it practically crunches. #WWoHP
  • So impressed Orlando’s Mad Cow Theatre mounted Marc Blitzstien’s 1930s sociopolitical musical The Cradle Will Rock that I bought a ticket.
  • It’s been little noted that no Potter characters wander Wizarding World, giving guests photo ops. It’s as if Harry & pals left town.
  • It’s disgusting. MCO security always smells like feet. Pack extra socks, tourists!
  • The 5 best and 5 worst things about Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which I wrote for the New York Post: #wwohp #travel http://j.mp/dA6BR5
  • Forget the lost baggage clerk. This is the worst job at JFK’s Terminal 5: http://yfrog.com/j7aqxj

    I was one of the only people to snap a photo of the media-dodging J.K. Rowling before she made like Harper Lee

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