UNIVERSAL CITY (CNS) - Muggles galore descended on Universal Studios Hollywood Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of the much-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, which sinks park visitors into the theatrical world of the boy wizard.
Thousands of people passed through the gates this morning as they looked to be among the first to visit the theme park's latest -- and most eagerly awaited -- "immersive" land.
Excitement for the attraction's opening hit a fever pitch this week, with park officials announcing Tuesday that advance online tickets were already sold out for today, 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. Harry Potter's creator, author J.K. Rowling, issued a statement expressing her excitement at the attraction.
"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."
Traffic around Universal City will likely be unusually heavy for the next few days. 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 debuted a 400- foot, L-shaped pedestrian bridge that takes 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 Harry Potter 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."
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