Monday, January 26, 2009

Universal Studios Harry Potter Update

We love the attractions at Universal Studios Orlando – some of the classic rides and shows like JAWS and Terminator 2: 3-D have a special place in our heart. But as much as these classics thrill us time after time, there’s nothing like the excitement of looking forward to a future attraction. One such addition that fans are particularly looking forward to is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new area being built within Universal's Islands of Adventure that will create the world’s first fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment.

Based on the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling and the blockbuster hits by Warner Bros., construction first broke ground on the Wizarding World back in May 2007. The 20-acre area is being constructed in a portion of what used to be the Lost Continent and another area that was previously unused. Currently, the Wizarding World is expected to open in 2010.

When completed, the Wizarding World will allow guests to visit some of the most iconic locations found in the books and films, including the village of Hogsmeade, the mysterious Forbidden Forest, and even Hogwarts castle itself. Concepts from the film will be transformed into theme park experiences, with immersive rides and interactive attractions. Shops and restaurants will also allow guests to sample fare from the wizarding world’s best-known establishments, like The Leaky Cauldron in London and Hogsmeade’s The Three Broomsticks. And one state-of-the-art attraction in particular will bring the magic, characters, and stories of the books to life in a big, exciting way.

“Over the years we’ve received thousands of letters from fans around the world wishing they could visit Hogwarts and the wonderful locations described in each of J.K. Rowling’s beloved stories,” said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment. “Working with Universal Orlando Resort, we are confident that we’ll be able to provide Harry Potter fans with an incredible experience that upholds the richness of J.K. Rowling’s books and delivers on the authentic detail portrayed in our films.”

"The plans I've seen look incredibly exciting, and I don't think fans of the books or films will be disappointed," added J.K. Rowling.

Academy Award-winning production designer Stuart Craig, who worked to bring the world of Harry Potter to life in all of the feature films, is leading the creative design team for the Wizarding World, a surefire bet that the attraction will stay true to the look and feel of the films.

As this “theme park within a theme park” develops, every ounce of secrecy is being used to prevent fans from getting a glimpse of the Wizarding World before it’s completed. Word has it that Universal Studios is even bringing roller coaster tracks in after the park closes to keep guests from seeing them. Much of construction is taking place behind fences in a big building, guarding the Wizarding World’s secrets from prying eyes.

Nonetheless, reports have swirled that actors from the films have been brought in to shoot sequences and provide voice-overs for some of the future rides and attractions. Rumor also has it that Hogwarts Castle will be massive, possibly over 200 feet (making it taller than Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom). And sources say that a Whomping Willow or Shrieking Shack experience is in the works.

Until 2010, it looks like we’ll have to wait to find out everything the Wizarding World will offer. However, if you get frustrated, it helps to remember the Ministry of Magic proclamations posted around the under-construction Wizarding World area, which read, “Magic at Work: Your Patience is Requested.” And in the meantime, you can always enjoy the rest of the park with discount Universal Studios tickets from


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