UNIVERSAL CITY, CA --The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens Thursday at Universal Studios Hollywood, bringing a little bit of Hogwarts magic - and plenty of tourist dollars - to Los Angeles.
A preview of the theme park was held Tuesday, with actors from the film franchise in attendance plus fireworks and a performance led by conductor John Williams.
"It's allowing us further glimpses into that world which I think is somewhere that many of us fell in love with when we first read the books," said actor Warwick Davis, who played several roles in the Harry Potter films, including Professor Filius Flitwick. "So it's great to be able to come here and immerse yourself in that."
Among the park's attractions are the 3-D ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Flight of the Hippogriff, an outdoor "family friendly" roller coaster. It also offers themed restaurants and souvenir shops, where you can buy butterbeer, magic wands, Hogwarts uniforms and Quidditch equipment.
"It's very emotional, weirdly, and it's just surreal to be opening a Hogwarts in Hollywood," said actor Tom Felton, who portrayed Draco Malfoy.
Advance tickets to Thursday's grand opening are already sold out.
The city estimates the new theme park will bring 1 million additional visitors per year to Los Angeles.
"And when they come here, they get to see downtown and the Broad Museum, see the Petersen Museum re-opened, go to the ocean," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "This is going to be an amazing thing for Los Angeles."