Die-hard fans of Harry Potter have been waiting months for today.
The official grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando was eagerly anticipated by thousands of folks who wanted to experience the thrill of downing a butterbeer at the Tree Broomsticks, taking a Forbidden Journey on the attraction's wild roller coaster, and strolling leisurely through Zonkos and Honeydukes.
As the big day arrived, though, they continued to wait ... and wait, and wait.
Universal was admitting fans to the park in waves so it didn't appear overcrowded from the inside. But the line of people waiting to get in backed up through Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park all the way to City Walk at the entrance to the resort, according to Robert Niles editor of ThemeParkInsider.com, who was relaying observations to The Associated Press through his ThemePark Twitter account.
"It's absolutely jampacked," said Niles told the AP in a phone interview. "The entire Islands of Adventure theme park and City Walk are just one long queue to get into Harry Potter. The number of people here for this is clearly in the tens of thousands. These are passionate fans."
Actor Daniel Radcliffe and other stars from the "Harry Potter" movies greeted visitors at the 20-acre park, which brings the "Harry Potter" books and movies to life with detailed reproductions of the fictitious village of Hogsmeade, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the steam-belching Hogwarts Express train.
Radcliffe, who plays the boy wizard in the movie series, was joined at the opening by Warwick Davis (who plays Filius Flitwick), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore). James and Oliver Phelps, who play Fred and George Weasley, were also on hand to light fireworks at the kickoff celebration.
Radcliffe told the crowd that he and his co-stars were "all very, very, very excited to be here today. It really is incredible. What Universal Orlando has done with Harry Potter is really, really fantastic. We're all kind of very grateful that the next part of the Harry Potter legacy has been so well-done and so well-made. You're going to have an amazing time, I'm sure."
But not without some waiting.
Some folks who made it inside the park provided Twitter updates, relaying stories of long lines, oppressive heat and angry patrons who went so far as to use violence in an effort to alleviate frustrations.
Twitter user @FLallday reported "two girls literally fist fighting in front of families & huge line. Humanity goes crazy over a Boy Wizard. Security going crazy. #wwohp"
Another tweeter, @birdonaline, warned that "Lines are long inside #wwohp and outside, they're epically diasterous. Even the line to guest services is probably 90 minutes - stay away!!"
Here's a sampling of other tweets:
@skubersky: "Crowd in ioa is unreal. Line for #wwohp wraps around entire park. Folks in jp have been here 4 hours & probably have 4 more to go."
@PartyTTParks: "To any people who are getting irritated at #wwohp - you knew what you were getting in to."
@justmikeyhrc: "The people we gave our spots in line to just got in to Hogsmeade. Took about 4 hours. They say the posted wait for FJ is 90mins. #WWoHP"
@latinaxmarriage: "Just waited 30 min in the WRONG line. Not #wwohp."
@FLallday: "Stuck in front of Jurassic Park bridge. Security now telling us #wwohp has closed for capacity. ):"
@atlmikesiphone: "#wwohp finally in the park only to be told to get in another line to get into hogsmeade. Rumor is that it is a 3 hour wait. Ugh"
@market: "Folks entering IOA are being put in an 8 hour line for #WWOHP -- with thousands still held outside. Over-under on heat exhaustion? 10 guests"
@justmikeyhrc: "News from the queue! Line jumpers in Lost Continent cause "mini riot" and get escorted out! #WWoHP"
@getreadytoride: "#potterwatch says if you are not at ioa do not go. Expect these crowds all weekend because #wwohp is offically open"
@leaky: "Advisory: heftier people CANNOT ride Hogwarts. (260lb-ish) usually don't fit, no large seat like others. #wwohp"
@FLallday: "Suit telling our portion of the crowd that it's 4 hours to get in from the IOA gates. God bless our souls. #wwohp"