Thousands of fans flocked to the grand opening of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" on Thursday. Hundreds lined up for hours in the dark, many wearing Hogwarts robes and wielding wands.
The crowds, selling out Universal Studios Hollywood at more than $100 a ticket, speak not just to the ongoing demand for "Harry Potter" years after the films have left theaters, but to the massive demand for immersive theme park experiences. And the detail of the town of Hogsmeade unveiled in Hollywood speaks to the competition to lure visitors with far more than just roller coasters, but the feel of being inside a movie.
"Potter" world caps off a major park makeover at Universal Studios Hollywood, a renovation that's spanned four years, and remade 75 percent of the park's footprint. Despite Universal raising park ticket prices by about 20 percent last month, "The Wizarding World" is projected to help boost attendance by 20 percent this year. That's the rise that Universal Orlando in Florida saw from its "Potter" attraction when it launched in 2010.