After some controversy, the Harry Potter theme park has its grand opening

No more questions about the date – the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is now officially open.

Scott Audette/Reuters
Daniel Radcliffe and other Harry Potter cast members wave their wands at the opening of the new Harry Potter theme park in Orlando.

Did Universal Orlando's "World of Harry Potter" theme park open on May 28 – or June 18? That has been the question.

Fans of Harry Potter – the boy wizard created by British author J.K. Rowling – were thrilled when they heard that the fictional world created by the beloved novels would be duplicated in this Florida theme park. The $200-million facility set on a 20-acre expanse includes a replica of the town of Hogsmeade – complete with train station, fabled locomotive, and Hogwarts Castle – stores sellling wands and wand boxes, and restaurants serving "traditional British fare" and Butterbeer.

But for some, delight turned to dismay when there was confusion over the park's opening date. Universal had begun selling vacation packages in February with Wizarding World benefits starting May 28. But the park's official opening was set for June 18. Would those early visitors get full access to all the amenities of the Potter park?

By all accounts, early visitors were free to enjoy the park in full. June 18, however, marks the official opening date. That's why cast members from the Harry Potter films – including Potter impersonator Daniel Radcliffe – were in Orlando this week, walking the red carpet, offering press interviews, and promoting the park.

Some of the actors told ABC News that visiting the Wizarding World was actually "a more life-like experience than the collection of movie sets used in the film production because the attraction provides a seamless immersion into Harry's world." "There's never a moment here where the illusion dissipates," Radcliffe told ABC.

For Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Potter movies, the new park is "a dream come true." "[Universal Orlando] is going to keep the candle alive, so to speak," said Felton.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

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