What in incredible week! I had the extreme honor to witness the grand opening celebrations of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure! I was part of a very small "emergency decor team" whose job it was to clean up any forgotten details on our sets and props prior to the big events and keep them looking good.There were three big events this week. First was the grand celebrity preview night which featured John Williams and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra preforming the music from the Potter films! Warwick Davis conducted the Hogwarts Frog Choir, and the stars of the Potter films made an appearance, arriving in the actual Knight Bus used in the film!
Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint arrived in the flying Anglia car and kicked off the amazing display!
Everyone in the audience received a wand, and on Radcliffe's cue, everyone swished and flicked and said "Lumos Maxima". On that command all of the wand tips glowed and Hogwarts castle came to life as John Williams worked his magic! The orchestra accompanied the most spectacular show of lights, projections and fireworks I've ever witnessed! Truly wonderful to experience!
The event was repeated the following night for Universal Execs and VIPs, however Williams and the orchestra were not part of the line up.
This spectacular shot was taken just after the show's finale. John Williams is on stage in white, and the cast of the Potter films are the brightly lit figures in the center. I even spotted myself in the crowd
with my camera (in green circle)!
Here I am with Potter film art director Alan Glimore, whom I first met in April at the Entertainment Designers Forum. Behind us is the real Knight Bus, and the Anglia which brought the stars to the stage.
Warwick Davis, from several of the Potter films, conducted the Hogwart Frog Choir. I briefly spoke with Mr Davis during a rehearsal, who seems to be a very nice guy!
Hogsmeade was full of townsfolk, the wizards and witches who call Hogsmeade home.
Ernie, the Knight Bus driver took a moment for a photo!
Then June 18th was the big day! The official grand opening of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter"!
We were charged with helping with the set up of the stages and props to be used by the celebrities at the gate of Hogsmeade for the grand opening.
Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) prior to the grand opening.
Part of the opening ceremony was a skit performed by Oliver and James Phelps (The Weasley Twins). They attempted to light their "Wet-start, No Heat" rocket, but as often happens with the Weasleys, things didn't work as expected. The rocket fizzles, followed by a barrage of rockets shooting from the roof of Zonkos Joke Shop!
I created the large prop match in Oliver's hand, and we helped set up the rocket.
A view out of Hogsmeade gate at the crowd waiting to enter the land after the grand opening ceremony. This shot was just after Radcliffe, Grint and the rest of the cast (Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy),Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore),Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), and Warwick Davis) escorted the first guests into the land.
It was a crazy day, but despite the throngs of expectant guests, the sun and heat, the day went smoothly and everyone remained safe and orderly.
Days like this are a wonderful reminder of why I love doing what I do!