Muggles turned out en masse for Friday's official grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Tucked inside Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure theme park, the line to enter the richly themed area circled through the entire park.
I was there, quickly abandoning what at one point reportedly became a 10-hour wait. I was able to enjoy the attraction a day earlier without the madness -- one of the perks of staying at one of the three on-site resorts.
The opening's success bodes well for a healthy summer at the park -- jointly owned by Blackstone Group
Author J.K. Rowling's already rich, so the crowded stores and concessions will only pad her fortunes. The Time Warner
The real winners here will be Florida and the theme-park industry. Universal Orlando will be a tourist magnet this year, which is great news for Disney
However, Blackstone is the company to watch here. It acquired the nearby Sea World and Busch Gardens attractions last year. Its Merlin Entertainment unit is also set to open Legoland Florida just an hour away by the end of next year.
Florida can certainly use the tourists, as BP's oil spill has left the state's Gulf coast beach resorts smarting.
This was already shaping up to be the most interesting summer in years for the amusement park industry. Cedar Fair
The huge Potter opening proves that patrons will reward a park operator that spends to expand and enhance its gated attraction. After laying low during the recession, the amusement park industry is springing to life in this crucial summer season.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves hitting amusement parks with his family over the summer. He does own shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.