Wizarding World of Harry Potter set to open this spring at Islands of Adventure

Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 12:04 PM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: The following is an unedited press release. -J]

Universal Orlando Resort, together with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, today revealed first-ever details about the incredible scope of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal also announced that the highly anticipated land will open in spring 2010.

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters – and faithful to the visual landscapes of the films – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure will provide visitors with a one-of-a-kind experience complete with multiple attractions, shops and a signature eating establishment. This completely immersive environment will transcend generations and bring the wonder and magic of the amazingly detailed Harry Potter books and films to life.

The expectations of Harry Potter fans are high and Universal Orlando Resort is collaborating closely with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and the Warner Bros. Harry Potter brand team to ensure that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be an experience of a lifetime. The Harry Potter films’ production designer, Stuart Craig and art director, Alan Gilmore, in cooperation with a corps of artisans from Universal Creative are working daily to construct the most authentic Harry Potter experience possible. Guests will be able to sip Butterbeer in Three Broomsticks, buy Extendable Ears at Zonko’s and experience a state-of-the-art attraction that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life in a way never before imagined.

“All of the action and adventures of Harry Potter’s world will come to life here at Universal Orlando Resort,” said Tom Williams, chairman and CEO, Universal Parks and Resorts. “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be unlike any other experience on earth and we can’t wait to see the looks on our guests’ faces as they enter this rich environment.”

“Harry Potter continues to spark the imaginations of fans of all ages and we really have seen the anticipation continue to build for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” added Brad Globe, President, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “We are excited to share with fans a first glimpse into the truly enchanted world we are bringing to life with all of our partners at Universal Orlando Resort.”

From the front archway of Hogsmeade to the immensity of Hogwarts castle, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will feature the locations listed below:

  • At the entrance of Hogsmeade, billowing steam and an iconic whistle signal the arrival of the Hogwarts Express into Hogsmeade station
  • Across the way is Zonko’s, a joke shop with a collection of tricks and jokes, including Extendable Ears, Boxing Telescopes and Sneakoscopes
  • Honeydukes is next door and full of treats like Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans
  • The Three Broomsticks and adjacent Hog’s Head pub will feature traditional British fare and drinks including Butterbeer and pumpkin juice
  • Across from the Three Broomsticks is The Owlery, where owls roost and await their next delivery
  • The Owl Post sends letters with a certified Hogsmeade postmark and sells official stamps from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Ollivanders wand shop is an incredible interactive experience where the wand chooses the wizard
  • Completing Hogsmeade is Dervish and Banges, the magical instruments and equipment shop featuring Quidditch equipment, Triwizard apparel, Spectrespecs and Remembralls
  • The first attraction, Dragon Challenge, features a twin high-speed roller coaster with many iconic elements from the Triwizard Tournament
  • Next is Flight of the Hippogriff, a family coaster simulating a Hippogriff training flight over the grounds of Hogwarts castle
  • Located in Hogwarts castle, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a thrilling new state-of-the-art attraction that uses entirely new technology to bring the magic, characters and stories of Harry Potter to life in ways never before experienced
  • Before exiting back into Hogsmeade, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods is full of Ministry of Magic and magical creatures merchandise, Omnioculars, and even remote control Golden Snitches

“This Universal Creative and Warner Bros. team shares an incredible passion and commitment to making this destination an exceptionally immersive environment that will touch the lives of our guests,” said Mark Woodbury, President, Universal Creative.

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is yet another way that fans will be able to experience and enjoy Harry Potter for many years to come,” said Diane Nelson, President of Warner Premiere, who is also responsible for overseeing the Harry Potter brand team worldwide. “The power of this brand speaks for itself, as the enthusiasm of our dedicated fans around the world continues to grow even stronger as we move into the future.”

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:51 PM

(the wand picks the wizard...for a cost!)

Don't underestimate this. I vaguely recall reading that the MagiQuest guys are involved in some way in the new land. We did MQ in the Smokies this summer, and had a *total* blast. It was a lot of fun, and well worth the $100 or so it cost the four of us for a couple hours' diversion.

Plus, your wands "remember" what you've accomplished, so if you visit next year, or visit another MQ location, you can pick up with more advanced quests, etc.

It is only one new attraction, but so is the new Fantasyland refurb that has all the Disneyphiles drooling on their shirts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:51 PM

I was wondering if they were retheming...
As I read the descriptions of the Rides, I was thinking, "another Dueling Dragons? And another family coaster like the Unicorn? This sounds just like the Lost Continent sec... oh."

I wonder what will happen to the awesome Poseidon show and the great Mythos restaurant... Subsumed by Potter-Mania as well?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:54 PM
Mamoosh's avatar

Talonstruck said: I also wonder if they will have Jelly beans that taste like snot.

Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans are made by Jelly Belly. You can already purchase them. At Halloween last year an office prankster (who'll remain unnamed) put a bowl of them in our office kitchen next to a bag of regular Jelly Bellys. It was fun to watch people's reactions...I mean you can image the reaction when we ate them! (phew!...almost blew my cover!)

Last edited by Mamoosh, Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:55 PM
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:51 PM
Mamoosh's avatar

Brian Noble said: Don't underestimate this.

I'm not underestimating it at all. I've heard nothing but good things about MagiQuest. I was merely pointing out that what is being touted as an attraction isn't one that's likely included with the cost of admission (not to mention one that the park has made it difficult for parents to say "no" to).

Last edited by Mamoosh, Tuesday, September 15, 2009 6:21 PM
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 6:58 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
Wow, I've never felt more out of touch than reading this press release and subsequent comments.

I suppose once I finally make it back to IOA, I'll have to watch the movies real quick beforehand so I have some point of reference for what I'm experiencing.

Watching the movies isn't the problem. Its staying awake through them. ;)

~Rob Willi

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 7:01 PM
Mamoosh's avatar

True. The only one I paid to see in theatres was the first and I fell asleep somewhere in that loooooong, booooooring Quidditch match. The rest I eventually saw on cable.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 7:04 PM

^^But, if it is done well, the add-on price simply won't matter. And, it might be done well. This is the sort of thing that the Rat does exceptionally well, and lots of people take advantage of it without everyone else feeling too offended. For example, the Princess Makeover gig.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 8:10 PM
LostKause's avatar

The HP movies progressively get better with each new movie, imho. There are only two more to go, based on the last book, btw. Read my movie review of the latest movie here.

Geshko, Lost Continent will still be there, although much smaller. Poseidon's Fury and the stunt show will still be there, I believe.

Looks like I better get serious about saving money for a Florida vacation now. I have family and my best friend living down there, so I won't need a hotel, so there's a big plus.

I does sound a little disappointing though. I could have sworn that their was gong to be a few more new rides in the new area as well, like a Hogwarts Express train ride, which in the plans, was to go in a small area behind Dueling Dragons in a former employee parking area.

Last edited by LostKause, Tuesday, September 15, 2009 8:15 PM
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 8:15 PM

Skip the movies and read the books, honestly I dont know if you can really follow the plot well without reading first starting with film 4. At that point there is so much story to condense that they only hint and nod to plot points that readers get but make no sense to non readers. They are very quick reads, exciting and worth the time. Then wait a few weeks and watch the films (dont immediately watch the films otherwise youll be disgusted with how much they took out.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 8:23 PM
LostKause's avatar

But they are movies, touchdown. They have to take stuff out to make the story fit into the two or three hours that they have to tell the story. Many people say that they don't like the movies because of this, but one has to understand that it couldn't be any other way. There are a few exceptions, of course. They could have offered a little more, and I can't figure out why they changed the ending of the latest movie.

The last book was so long that the film makers are going to split the movie into two parts, thankfully. It seems like it would have been very difficult to get such a large book into one three-hour movie. It still won't be like the book, but I don't think that I would want it to.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 8:26 PM

I know that, and thats why I suggested the waiting period, you see a few weeks after reading the material its not as fresh in your mind which allows you to appreciate the movies for what they are instead of constantly discovering the things they left out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 8:46 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

If I dozed during the first part of the first movie, I have a fear I would pass out before I barely broke the spine of the book.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 9:05 PM
Jeff's avatar

I've only been through the first two books, but they make a lot more sense and have a lot more detail than the movies. I think the films are really entertaining though. Each one is darker than the last. I dig that.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 10:22 PM

It really is a remarkable literary series. My wife is (was) a children's librarian and she reads practically everything that comes out for the YA market. She made me read the first one, and I got hooked.

My author website: mgrantroberts.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 11:28 PM

As much as I kind of don't like admitting it, I rather enjoyed reading through the Harry Potter books, although I can't say I'm crazy about the movies. They really are great reads (although yes, ridemcoaster, the beginning of the first book could be considered a bit boring) that will have you reading long past when you intended to quit. You don't want to put the books down, especially as the series goes on. The story does get darker, and there is more there for adults than kids as it goes on, which is another big plus.

Darn, now I'll have to go back and read through the series again after talking about it. :)

Original BlueStreak64

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 11:35 PM
rollergator's avatar

For those of you who don't mind "virtual spoilers", pics and video from Orlando news: http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/attractions/universal/091509_harry_potter_virtual_map

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 11:46 PM
Jeff's avatar

Wow, that doesn't actually spoil anything. In fact, other than a season (not a date) for opening, this is about as much of a non-announcement as possible. And what's funny is I asked their PR people if I could view the Webcast this morning, for which they responded no but would get the press release to me right away (perhaps they're paying by the bit?).

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 1:57 AM
Jeff's avatar

Here's the Webcast they felt was too important to let too many people see it live. (Note the social media fail... you can't embed it.)

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 10:18 AM

What the hell kind of cheap slip covers were they sitting on , anyway? :)

That webcast is somewhat satisfying for those of us who want to know more about the look of the place and how it all fits together. Universal always does a great job of re-constructing movie sets for us to visit, and we can hope the atmosphere there comes close to the stunning renderings they've been providing. (do they ever?)

I was talking to a friend who is otherwise well versed, but like a few of you here has managed, somehow, to remain "Potter-free". His concern for the Wizarding World was that it will be small, uninteresting, and feature only one new attraction, so, really, how much time are you gonna want to spend? I told him to grab a couple of books and get with it!

I imagine one of the team's greatest challenges was to get this right, and they're about to come face to face with a terrifying audience. There are, dare I say, millions of Potter-philes who already "know" everything about this neighborhood before they walk in, and will know immediately when something is wrong or out of place. It's these folks that will cause the park to raise the standard even higher than usual, hopefully with good results.

Some of us will be happy with a quick tour of the street and a couple of spins. There are also plenty of visitors who will care less about the rides, new or old, but will be thrilled just to be part of the beloved story and will be happy to sit there all day, wand and Butterbeer in hand.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 11:35 AM
matt.'s avatar

I've never read the books and I've seen a handful of the movies. I'm not a fan by any means but this looks pretty spectacular and I'm not sure what people were expecting if this looks disappointing in any way. If the atmosphere is half as immersive and detailed as the mockups suggest, then this is surely going to be one of the most impressive themed areas any park has pulled off. A lot will hinge on how good the new E-ticket is as far as my own personal interests but it looks like at this point they're ready to knock this one out of the park.


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