Harry Potter stars open theme park

04:09, Jun 18 2010
Wizarding World of Harry Potter red carpet
GREAT EXPELLIARMUS: Daniel Radcliffe and members of the cast of Harry Potter wave their wands during the grand opening celebration for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studio Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter red carpet
SHORT WORD: Harry Potter's Warwick Davis waves his wand while walking the red carpet during the grand opening celebration for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter red carpet
BIG WORLD: Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe walks the red carpet during the grand opening celebration for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter red carpet
FEELING WEASLEY: Harry Potter's Rupert Grint and Bonnie Wright walks the red carpet during the grand opening celebration for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter red carpet
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Harry Potter's James and Oliver Phelps walk the red carpet during the grand opening celebration for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter red carpet
THE WIZ: Harry Potter's Tom Felton and Michael Gambon walk the red carpet during the grand opening celebration for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Wizarding World of Harry Potter red carpet
TOO WIDE TO RIDE: Overweight customers are causing problems at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Studio Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter red carpet
MAGIC WORDS: Harry Potter author JK Rowling talks to children gathered for the grand opening celebration for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Through all the tears shed when filming wrapped on the final Harry Potter movie, no one likely noticed the sudden disappearance of one small prop: the house number on Harry's childhood home at 4 Privet Drive.

"It was kinda hanging off," Rupert Grint, the actor who played Harry's best friend Ron Weasley, told Reuters on Wednesday night about snagging a souvenir. "It's at my house. I don't know what I'm going to do with it. I might put it on my door."

Grint and other cast members, including Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry, and Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy, walked a red carpet and paused for interviews at a VIP event at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the new theme park celebrating its grand opening on Friday at the Universal Orlando resort in Florida.

The park recreates the mythical Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from J.K. Rowling's phenomenally popular novels about a boy wizard. The actors who starred in the movie version were filmed and then projected to create a presence on some of the rides, giving the impression the characters are there with park visitors.

The actors described the Wizarding World as 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 said.

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He also commented on what it feels like to have a major attraction built around your character.

"I've now 'made it' officially. This is kind of the pinnacle. It doesn't get better than this," Radcliffe said.

Felton recalled hearing the early rumors about a Potter-themed park.

"And here we are, a dream come true," Felton said. "They're going to keep the candle alive, so to speak."

All three actors described an emotional scene on the last day on the movie set for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which was filmed in two parts scheduled for release in November 2010 and July 2011. Filming ended last week.

"I cried like a baby," Radcliffe said.

Felton recalled the production officially ended when someone got on a megaphone and announced simply, "Thank you for your services."

Asked to describe the impact on his life of his role in the Harry Potter franchise, Radcliffe said, "It's not something I could sum up ... Every opportunity I'll get for the rest of my life will be traceable back (to Harry Potter)."

Grint said it was a "weird feeling" to know that the 10-year working relationship with a dozen close-knit actors is over.

"It has been a large part of my life," Grint said, adding, "I think I'm ready to move on."

Grint plans to take some rest and relaxation. Radcliffe said he will begin rehearsals early next year in New York City for his Broadway musical debut in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," expected to open next spring.

Reuters