Fans of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are waiting up to 10 hours in a long, slithering line as Universal Orlando opened its new roller coaster – Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – to the public for the first time Thursday morning.
Potter fans and coaster enthusiasts queued up outside Islands of Adventure theme park in the predawn hours for the thrill ride. Eventually the line stretched from the entrance of Hogsmeade, through the park and well out into Universal CityWalk.
Fans faced a wait of multiple hours – up to 10 hours, according to the ride board – to ride on opening day. The crowds drew parallels to the first day of the land, which opened to mass crowds in 2010.
Universal has said it has the option of using its Virtual Line system for the Hagrid coaster.
Visitors will make reservations for the ride via an app, but that will start no earlier than Friday. Among the early festivities Thursday was coverage from NBC's "Today" show, which included a ride-through on the new attraction with "Potter" actor Rupert Grint.
A limited number of people have been on the ride already. Universal employees and folks who attended a dedication ceremony have experienced the coaster, which travels through the Forbidden Forest at speeds of up to 50 mph.
Tyler Britt, who lives in Melbourne, said he arrived at Universal at 4:45 a.m. and was within the first 100 people on board. It was "amazing," he said. "They totally outdid themselves."
He was motivated by his desire to one day be part of a theme park creative team, he said.
"I've watched them build this from the ground up," Britt said.
Some waiters were decked out in Hogwarts-style robes and garb, but the majority wore weather appropriate clothing for the temperatures in the mid 80s. Dark rain clouds loomed.
Non-riders were allowed into other parts of Wizarding World without getting in the giant line.
The posted wait time for the 9-year-old Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride was 30 minutes at mid morning.
Kevin and Jill Levett were in matching black Hagrid's T-shirts. They came from their home in Northampton, England, specifically to experience the new ride. They had four hours of sleep, and arrived at Islands of Adventure at 5 a.m., but they said they had no regrets.
"Until you go on it, it's hard to explain to somebody what it is," said Kevin.
He said they were in the first official car to leave the station.
"It was worth flying all the way over here to do this," he said.