The day many people have waited for is here. As of this moment, Hogsmeade is open to guests and muggles are shouting “Observatory” as their benches take them through a 3D game of Quidditch on the Forbidden Journey, while others are riding with a Hippogriff. But don’t go rushing off to the park without understanding the current situation. You should temper your expectations as a lot of moving pieces are just starting to get into place.
Known as a “soft opening” for other companies, Universal refers to the status of the Wizarding World as a “Technical Rehearsal.” This means everything is coming together, but not ready to run at full speed just yet. The ride vehicles have been cycled, but not fully battle tested with throngs of crowds and English-impaired guests trying to abuse the Single Rider line or a guest that dropped their phone in a cave while trying to take a selfie with a Death Eater. Things may breakdown often for minutes, hours or even days at a time. It’s also important to remember that this is more than a single big box, like Transformers, but two attractions and many shops. So, even if Hogsmeade is open to wander around, one or both of the rides might be closed off for the time being. Additionally, since a lot of theater is involved, some lines may be forgotten, or audio systems might be a little out of whack. Murphy’s Law thrives at this time of a project.
There are a few good reasons they do these rehearsals a full two months before the grand opening celebration. For starters, this will help control the crowds. By filling the desires of the savvy passholders early, they can help counteract the crowds that are guaranteed to arrive once the advertisements go live. Every guest turned away from the ticket booth is a lost sale, so they want to make sure that doesn’t happen. Plus, as the name implies, this allows them to work out any kinks that would otherwise make the debut day go sour. People getting stuck on the ride for a few hours makes for juicy news on a slow day and can ultimately kill an attraction’s long term viability. Anything to mitigate that helps.
On the positive side, it’s important to remember this is Universal’s third attempt at recreating Hogsmeade, so by now they have likely worked out a lot of debut issues and have years of practice under their belts with how best to handle the crowds, the ride issues and anything else that gets thrown at them. Whether this knowledge has been, and can be, relayed to the new team members remains to be demonstrated, but it would be safe to assume there has been a lot of discussions regarding previous experiences.
Keep in mind, the land will not be guaranteed to be open, so buying a ticket for Harry Potter anytime before April 7th is a gamble. Even if it is open, it may likely only be for a few unannounced hours of the day. So if it isn’t opened when you go by earlier in the day, be sure to check back every few hours. You never know what they’re tweaking inside. We will be doing our best to stay on top of the current status, so keep a sharp eye on our Twitter account or our Facebook page for the most up-to-date reports.
It’s fine to be excited, even a little twitterpated, to steal a phrase from Bambi, but make sure you are patient not just for ride wait times, but also dealing with the team members. They’re getting into their groove and you’re helping with that. So if a wand at Ollivander’s is having trouble picking you or Forbidden Journey breaks down and they have to clear out the queue, don’t be upset with them. It’s all still coming together, and given the reception it has received elsewhere, this land is going to be around for a long while.