It’s been exactly one week since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood opened, and what better throwback article to throw your way than one that looks at the past two and a half years of construction. The amazing theme park experience costed a whopping $1.6 Billion to construct and sure was impressive to see during construction. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Let’s flashback to December 20th of 2013, just a few months after California Coaster Kings was launched. At this point the land was just cleared and it was a dirt pit with very little construction under way. Cranes were already on location, and some basic construction had started.
Let’s move forward about half a year, to June 30th of 2014. At this point, a little less than 2 years ago, the metal frames for the Hogsmeade buildings were being constructed. In these 6 months, the basic framing and roofing of the show buildings for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was constructed. The concrete structure seen at front houses the dungeon section of the line, as well as the Hogwarts castle on top, of course.
Let’s now move back to about exactly a year before the Wizarding World of Harry Potter started opening for guests periodically for technical rehearsals, to February 13th, 2015. – At this point in time, the show building’s outsides were finished and technology was being installed inside. In addition, some of the basic frames of the Hogwarts Castle structure were added to the building. Hogsmeade on the other hand seemed much more advanced in construction at this point, with most exterior construction moving along rapidly. In fact, some of the exteriors (towards the outside of the land, near Shrek 4D) were already finished.
By March 1st, 2015, more detail had been added to the exteriors of the buildings on the Shrek 4D side, the arch had been completed (entrance to Hogsmeade), and the walls of Hogwarts’ Great Hall started to be added.
About 2 weeks later, on March 14th of 2015, we noticed that construction bays were added around the tallest tower of the Hogwarts structure, as well as the continued construction of the Great Hall. The Flight of the Hippogriff construction was also starting by now.
11 days later, on March 25th of 2015, we were lucky to have a chance to peek inside, as the construction walls in front of Hogsmeade were opened briefly. Also notice that the exteriors of the majority of Hogsmeade buildings towards the front of the Wizarding World were finished. The construction of Hogwarts started picking up at this point with the base of the rock work going in, the Great Hall and courtyard walls being added, and the main tower of the castle being surrounded by construction bays. If you look closely you may even note the beginning of construction of the outside green-house section of the line.
By April 6th, 2015, more Hogsmeade buildings were finished and some new details and structures were being added. The Hogwarts and Flight of the Hippogriff construction we have seen in the past few time-periods continued gradually as well. Something important to notice is the side of the hill, in which the park added holes to later create the dark forest. Now Hogsmeade could easily be seen, and looked awesome, from the Studio Tour exit!
About two weeks later, by April 19th, the walls surrounding Hogsmeade (and Hogsmeade station) were completed and the Shrek 4D line right next to it opened up. The holes in the side of the hill that we saw in the last update were now filled with trees. In addition, the rock work structure below the Great Hall was added as well.
On May 14th, 2015, it was still very noticeable that the back of the new land was far from finished. Though work on the towers of the castle, as well as the rock work surrounding it, moved along very rapidly! Not to forget the show building’s side (where the line would soon-to-be-built) received a castle-wall layer. In addition, the emergency exit platforms and staircases (for the ride and the line) were added around this time.
Around late May, May 29th to be precise, most buildings in Hogsmeade seemed finished. The castle rock work and exterior work continued and preparations for the green house section of the line started. In addition, the park’s Feature Presentation store was transformed into a Wizarding World of Harry Potter store. Selling many items they now sell at multiple gift stores around the park, CityWalk, and of course Hogsmeade at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They even started selling their collection of wands at the store. But not the interactive wands (those are available in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter now, and also work at the Orlando Wizarding World).
Right before summer hit, on June 12th, 2015, the entirety of the castle was surrounded by construction bays, and the structure for the green house section of the line went up. The Owl Post owlery’s tower was being added to the pre-existing structure. Here are some more shots of the green house structure going up.
Later that month, about two weeks later on June 24th, 2015, the green house structure had been placed in its entirety, and the Flight of the Hippogriff track became very visible for the first time as construction of the small family coaster was finished.
On July 16 a few weeks later, the entirety of Hogsmeade seemed finished besides the tower of the owlery that they were still working on. On a cooler note, the rock work was finished and the tallest tower and courtyard were being ‘unwrapped’ as the construction bays were removed and the wonderfully detailed castle was unveiled.
About a month later, on August 13th, the rust layer was added to the green house. And the final details were added to the Great Hall. It was also right after they added the Hogwarts Express locomotive to the entry to Hogsmeade, as well as the Hogsmeade sign. From the Shrek 4D line we were able to get some good shots of what parts of the castle were finished. The main section under construction right here was the observatory (the tall towers on the right side of the castle). Oh, and there’s the Flight of the Hippogriff 😛
A few days later, on August 18th, 2015 the roofing of the green house was going up. The line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was being placed parallel to Hogsmeade. In Orlando the line is located around the green house, but we have mountains to deal with so we got the line over at Hogsmeade (which is where the black lake is located in Japan). Around this time we people could get a good sense of what theming would be like in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Pure detail. Every inch is detailed in its own way! This is the back of Hogsmeade by the way:
Skipping ahead to October 5th, 2015, we notice that all construction bays seem to be gone, the castle looks awesome, and the the green house section of the line has received all of its roofing. Though there were still some other touches that they were adding to the green house, such as the wooden panels on the side that block out most of the park and only show the mountain tops around the valley living up to that mountainous Scottish feel like in the Harry Potter movies. Here’s a better look at Hogwarts after construction of the castle was completed. 😀
A month later, on November 11th, all of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts and the green house seemed finished!
This year, just about a month before the area opened for several technical rehearsals, we noticed the following on January 6th: The final touches for the Three Broomsticks were added, such as seating outside, and the awnings behind the restaurant. The walls were also moved back, allowing for awesome photo-ops, which drove fans crazy with excitement.
On January 29th, close to the technical rehearsals, we took several shots of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter from outside the themed land. This was also the time period in which all music was playing in the area all day and the lights were all turned on. Speaking of lights, the park added many other light packages around the area to highlight the amazing looking buildings.
By February 5th, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was pretty much ready to go, with staff having been trained for a while, all music and light working, the park also held several of its first previews for employees of the park that day.
Then finally, during the first week of technical rehearsals, we visited the magical land on February 19th! The attention to detail is incredible. Outstanding simply. And Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey may just be the very best dark ride you’ll ever ride. (We’ll have a complete Ride Review of it on our site in the near future). The Flight of the Hippogriff is a fun little family coaster that offers great views of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. One last shot of Hogwarts! The magnificent looking castle is phenomenal from every angle. And the ride within, that’s even more phenomenal.
And now the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is officially opened at Universal Studios Hollywood! We’ll have lots more Wizarding World Hollywood coming soon, for now check out our walk-through article of the new theme park land!
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