Thursday 7th Apr 2016
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has officially arrived at Universal Studios Hollywood – and in true Hollywood style, the Grand Opening was suitably spectacular.
Hollywood is all about movie magic, and this week Harry Potter fans, cast members and some of the very best of TV and film were treated to the most glorious spectacle: the Grand Opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The night promised impossible splendour, with the likes of Steven Spielberg and Billy Bob Thornton rocking the red carpet, while starstruck fans were gifted with a night of magical entertainment.
This included a light show that enveloped Hogwarts castle, a fireworks display to rival that of Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-bangs, and a jaunty Hogwarts frog choir decked out in all four house colours.
Most spectacularly of all, however, was the appearance of John Williams – the legendary film composer who has provided the soundtrack to many of our favourite movies, including, of course, those Harry Potter ones we mention every now and then.
Across a sprawling night sky decorated with lit-up Slytherin snakes and giant Gryffindor lions, John and the LA Philharmonic Orchestra delighted the crowd with three classic pieces from the Harry Potter film scores, including the now-legendary Hedwig’s Theme.
The new attraction boasts a number of Harry Potter locations brought to life, including a recreation of Hogsmeade and a beautiful construction of Hogwarts castle.
It is no wonder that some of our beloved Harry Potter cast, including Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Warwick Davis (Flitwick, among various Gringotts workers) and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), were out in full force for an emotional trip down memory lane.
‘You just feel immersed in it,’ James admitted. ‘You forget you’re not at Leavesden Studios filming. You still feel – I don’t mean to be cheesy – the magical thrill of it.’ In full Fred and George style, James and Oliver even turned up to the bash in the iconic blue Ford Anglia.
While Warwick Davis waxed lyrical about how much he loved the Butterbeer, Evanna Lynch, who is famously a huge fan of the books, was simply soaking in as much atmosphere as possible.
‘When I see new things in the park, I get excited and I feel spoiled that I get to go wherever I want,’ she enthused. ‘I love coming back here every time.’
And, seeing as this is Hollywood and all, naturally a few other famous faces had turned up too, with many bringing their children along. Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton was one such face, trying to catch up with his daughter – quite the wizarding world fan.
‘She’s really into it,’ Thornton admitted. ‘Half the stuff she talks about, I don’t know what it means. She and her best friend have secrets they won’t tell us about. I think they take something out of Harry Potter and they invent their own worlds.’
With a string of iconic roles under his belt, does Mr Thornton think he would make a good wizard?
‘Well, I’ve been called a wizard, and a few other things, so who knows? I’ve cast a spell or two in my time.’
We knew it. With Hollywood and Harry Potter being the night’s central themes, a few other stars were keen to speculate on which Hollywood heroes may possibly be harbouring magical powers.
‘Blake Lively,’ affirmed Jaime Camil, of Jane the Virgin fame. ‘I saw her Instagram today and she said she was up to no good.’
Comedian Chris Hardwick has clearly thought about this question before. ‘[George] Clooney is definitely a wizard,’ he announced. ‘It’s the smokey eyes. Clooney is definitely a guy that was, like, President of the Hogwarts school newspaper. President of everything.’
This Grand Opening may well have been about glitz and glamour, but for Tom Felton, just seeing his fellow cast members together on the red carpet again with Hogwarts in the backdrop was special.
‘It’s a bit like walking through your old school,’ he told us. Felton promised to return often, and recalled that, last week, he had wandered around for about an hour without anyone noticing.
‘Hogwarts as a whole is a wonder to be around, so the fact that we have it a few metres behind us all is special.’
‘It’s my childhood,’ the actor added.