Universal Studios’ latest and greatest attraction, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, doesn’t officially open to the public until tomorrow June 18th 2010, but last night select celebrities from the film and a few choice members of the media (which sadly didn’t include me) were invited to explore, ride and experience the multi-million dollar investment.

If you weren’t buddies with anyone that could get you in last night and you don’t live in the state of Florida, then have no fear because we have 15 hi-res stills for you to enjoy. It’s almost like being there…except different.

If you haven’t watched any of the background videos or seen the early pictures of the attraction being constructed, then be sure to check them out. We put them up before but here are some quick background notes on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

  • Storyline: As you venture through Hogwarts, you meet Harry, Ron and Hermione, who convince you to skip a planned lecture and follow them.  Upon taking their advice you travel by Floo powder, and begin your adventure as you soar over Hogwarts, narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, get pulled into a Quidditch match and more.
  • First-ever combination of advanced robotic ride system technology with innovative, immersive filmmaking.
  • Award-winning composer John Williams oversaw the creation of the attraction’s score.
  • The queue includes the following Harry Potter book and film elements: Headmaster Dumbledore’s office, Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Gryffindor common room, Room of Requirement, and the greenhouse; talking portraits including the Fat Lady and the never-before-seen four founders: Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw; the Sorting Hat, the One-Eyed Witch statue and the Mirror of Erised.
  • Duration of ride: The full attraction experience, including the queue, takes about an hour.
  • Number of scenes in the attraction: 12
  • Characters (featuring Harry Potter film talent): Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid and Draco Malfoy  (You may also catch a glimpse of Fred and George Weasley, Ginny Weasley and Neville Longbottom).

Now put on your fanciest Wiazrd’s Hat, grab your favorite broom and starting swinging your magic wand, because here come the pretty pictures. Click any of the images for a larger version:

The only thing I see missing from this whole Wizarding World is a ride or attraction that makes the park visitors age several decades as the characters do in the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I suppose that just leaves Universal room for future enhancements and additions.

The park, like the movie, is sure to be a huge money-maker for Universal, and I don’t think they will have a problem recouping their $200+ million-dollar investment. Of course the fact that there is now a theme park attraction based on a series of novels just means that eventually Universal or Paramount is going to open a Twilight-based attraction *ugh*.

Don’t you wish you were there for opening day and do you plan on visiting Orlando and partaking in some Butter Beer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows opens in theaters November 19th, 2010 and July 15th, 2011.

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Source: Images Courtesy of Universal Studios Resort