Intro for Jun 17, 2010
It was Magical. Of course it was. The Grand Opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando last night was SO magical. And ... She came. She was there. JK Rowling arrived without fanfare, bypassed the media line, headed straight for the children, delighted the children, and then observed the entire event from a discreet area, remaining virtually invisible, not interested in seeking the spotlight for herself. That’s Jo. It’s always about the work. And the work is always excellent.
They don’t shortcut on excellence. They never compromise on creativity. This is the truth about everything Harry Potter: from movies to theme parks and all the launches in between, they always do it right. Because it all comes from the spirit of Harry’s Creator. It’s the JK Rowling standard. It’s why every cast member who attended fulfilled every press obligation, happily stopped for every outlet, and never once hurried along like he/she had someplace better to be. It’s why last night was one of the classiest, most elegant, most amazing events I’ve ever had the privilege to attend.
At Hogsmeade of course with a long red carpet leading into town, proper British actors were dressed up in full witch and wizard costume mingling among partygoers distributing wands, special wands with the date engraved on the ends. When the red carpet concluded, owl post arrived, requesting that everyone gather at the gates of Hogwarts where the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra played quietly until a voice announced over the speakers that the ceremony was about to begin. And then the banners of the four houses were brought in, attended by students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang (!!!) while the Hogwarts Frog Choir took the stage.
It was Professor Flitwick aka Warwick Davis who led them in song ending, obviously, on Double Trouble before the executives made their obligatory remarks. And then it was over to John Williams, THE John Williams presiding emotionally over the Harry Potter theme song for a rapt audience. He was so passionate, right down to the last note, and that music, it’s already so beautifully haunting, Dean and I could barely hold our sh-t together.
Then it was time for the cast. All of them – Dumbledore, Draco, Fred & George, Ginny, and Neville, well, they pulled up on the Knight Bus. THE KNIGHT BUS!!! As for Harry and Ron? Danielle Radcliffe and Rupert Grint arrived via Ford Anglia. Oh yeah we are geeking out. We are also ready to use our wands.
Harry asked us to “present” our wands to the sky. And the spell was LUMOS. LUMOS MAXIMA is what he ordered. As the tips of 500 wands lit up the night, Hogwarts came alive, fireworks burst above the castle raining sparks down onto each peak, as images of the kids through the years – they were so little! – were projected onto the castle wall, coordinated in time with the orchestra.
But the Dementors, their shadows flashed above us, circling the school. Black smoke threatened to overtake the light from all the windows. Until Harry shouted EXPECTO PATRONUM, bright hopeful explosions chased them away, the Dementors were gone, and the most iconic moments from the movies played across the castle face, as the music continued to build, until the final scene:
Harry’s face alone illuminating the entire castle emphatically declaring:
Hogwarts is my home.
I was a f-cking mess.
Several photos from last night have been posted on my Twitter – click here to view them. I promise I will give you full details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter when I’ve properly been through the entire park. Still have a full day ahead, am interviewing the cast again this morning, and touring through more attractions so a complete report will come at the conclusion of the trip. For now though, because so many of you have been asking...
Anyone who knows me will tell you that with the exception of water and vodka, I can nurse a drink for 2 or 3 days. Juice bottle, Vitamin Water, iced tea... it lasts forever. Not Butterbeer. Butterbeer is the best sh-t EVER. Like caramel and cream soda and something indistinguishable but not in a gross way. My tip for you though is to order it Frozen. When it’s frozen it seems extra frothy. And the flavour gets crystallised and enhanced in the small ice chips that seem to bounce off your teeth. I finished my Butterbeer in less than 10 minutes. I swear to you, this is a world record. I would have had another but we had to head back to the media centre to feed our tapes. Today I’ll have at least three. THAT is Butterbeer.
If you have more questions, please do send them and I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks to Mark Rupert for listening to me beg and granting my wish.
It’s Wednesday. Am preparing a few articles early in the morning, then covering the Wizarding World midday, then back to blogging all afternoon.
Yours in gossip,