Impatient guests and assembled media had to first wait for the dignitaries to speak. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti extolled the hundreds of thousands of visitors and accompanying jobs to the city as he welcomed “Muggles and wizards” to the theme park.
Universal topper Ron Meyer said: “Orlando was just the start. It’s now Hollywood’s turn to have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”
But Warner Bros. head Kevin Tsujihara had a more personal connection: “Now when my kids want their Harry Potter fix I don’t have to go to Osaka (where the Wizarding World has already opened) from La Canada.”
The Harry Potter park is a partnership between Warner Bros., which made the movies, and Universal Studios.
While J.K. Rowling couldn’t make it to the ceremony, cast members in attendance were Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis and James and Oliver Phelps. Production designer Stuart Craig, who also helped with planning the theme park, was also on hand.
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Felton said, “‘Harry Potter’ is so intrinsically linked with people’s childhoods, whether it was read to them by their parents or whether it was the parents doing the reading. It’s really part of our fabric. It’s exciting that it’s not going away. The next generation is being passed the books and the films and Universal and Warner Bros. have made this incredible commitment so people like myself can come here for the next 10 years.”
Davis likewise said the series had “a huge impact on my life and career so far and will continue to do so for many years to come because it’s something that’s so universally enjoyed and because we’re going to get new generations of people to enjoy it. If you grew up enjoying ‘Harry Potter,’ either the books or the films, and now you have children, you’ll want to tell them about this. And it will continue that way for years and years to come, like ‘Star Wars.’ And you can experience it in so many different ways, through the literature, the films, through the experiences in the theme parks, through the soon-to-become play in London, through the studio tour in London. So many different ways to experience the magical world that J.K. Rowling has created.”
Indeed Larry Kurzweil, president of Universal Studios Hollywood, said online sales for opening day, April 7, were halted after the tickets were sold out.