Harry Potter in amusement parks

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This article details the appearance of Harry Potter theming in amusement parks. In the late 1990s, Universal Parks and Resorts began discussing the possibility of purchasing the license for Harry Potter to create and theme amusement park rides. As Time Warner owns the license, a small walkthrough attraction was constructed at Warner Bros. Movie World called the Harry Potter Movie Magic Experience in 2001. This attraction was removed two years later. In 2010, Universal's Islands of Adventure park opened the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Similar attractions are destined for Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan.

History[edit]

Inside Ollivander's Wand Shop Experience at Islands of Adventure

The concept of a Harry Potter themed attraction at a Universal Studios park was reportedly first discussed within the company in the late 1990s or early 2000s.[1] However, the rights to the Harry Potter franchise were owned by Time Warner at the time.[2]

Harry Potter Movie Magic Experience at Warner Bros. Movie World[edit]

In 2001, Time Warner used this license to construct and operate the Harry Potter Movie Magic Experience at Warner Bros. Movie World on the Gold Coast, Australia. The attraction was a small indoor walkthrough featuring many re-creations of locations in the first two movies. After two years of operation this attraction was removed.[3][4]

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure[edit]

In January 2007, About.com reported a rumour from a "highly credible source" that the Islands of Adventure park's Lost Continent area was going to be re-themed "to the stories and characters of one of the most popular children's franchises".[5] Other sources followed up in the next few days with unofficial confirmation that the new area would involve Harry Potter, and that it was being developed under the name "Project Strong Arm" in reference to the KUKA robotic arm technology it would utilise.[6][7] Nikki Finke reported her own confirmation of the Potter park plans in April,[8] followed shortly by a story in The Scotsman;[9] both reports were widely relayed by other media sources.[10][11][12] On May 31, 2007, Universal (in partnership with Warner Bros.) officially announced the 20-acre (8.1 ha) addition re-creating Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade, with a planned opening in 2009.[13][14][15][16]

Themed billboards were located around the Wizarding World during the two year construction period.
Themed billboards were located around the Wizarding World during the two year construction period.

Construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter began seven months after the official announcement, in January 2008. By July, the Flying Unicorn and Enchanted Oak Tavern were closed. The Flying Unicorn then began an almost two year refurbishment which transformed it into the Flight of the Hippogriff. The Enchanted Oak Tavern was later demolished. A bridge was built to connect The Lost Continent with Jurassic Park allowing guests to avoid the construction zone that was to be the Wizarding World. Construction progressed with the Hogwarts castle slowly taking shape. By September 2008, the Dueling Dragons entrance was moved to Jurassic Park to make room for construction of Hogsmeade. One month later, the old entrance was demolished. By September 2009, the top shell of Hogwarts castle was completed. On September 15, an announcement was made as to what exactly was going to be included in the Wizarding World. In early 2010, Universal increased the marketing of the area which included newspaper advertisements, billboards and television commercials. The Dueling Dragons were closed for some maintenance before being transformed into the Dragon Challenge.[17] Construction was complete by June 1, 2010 when the area began soft openings.[18]

The opening celebrations
The opening celebrations.

A soft opening weekend was held for the media and reserved guests, starting on May 28, 2010. The park had two opening ceremonies that took place on June 16 and June 18, 2010. The first opening was reserved for the cast and crew of the Harry Potter films, J.K. Rowling (author of the novels), Universal Orlando Resort officials, as well as representatives from the media. The ceremony concluded with a fireworks display and a performance by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, led by John Williams (composer of the music for the first three films). On June 18, the second ceremony occurred which officially opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the public. Universal Orlando representative Bill Davis introduced the area to the audience which included actors from the films including Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright and James and Oliver Phelps. The NBC Today show[19] and The Weather Channel broadcast segments live from the park.[20][21][22]

On December 6, 2011, Universal Parks & Resorts announced an expansion plan for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The expansion has been described as "significant" by officials. Few other details have been released.[23][24]

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at other parks[edit]

On December 1, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported a rumour from "people familiar with the matter" that Universal Studios Hollywood was going to add their version of Islands of Adventure's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.[25] The report also detailed the possibility that Universal Parks & Resorts would open additional Harry Potter-themed areas at Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Japan as well as a location in Spain.[25] This report was widely relayed by other media sources.[26][27][28] On December 6, 2011, Universal officially announced plans to bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Universal Studios Hollywood. A replica of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Hogwarts will be constructed.[23][29][30] On May 5, 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported that Universal Studios Japan would also be receiving a The Wizarding World of Harry Potter by 2014. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was also confirmed as one of the attractions.[31]

Locations[edit]

Replica of the Hogwarts Express at Islands of Adventure
Park Area Opening date Closing date Previous attraction Replaced by
Islands of Adventure The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 2010 N/A Dueling Dragons, Flying Unicorn N/A
Universal Studios Orlando The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 2014 N/A N/A N/A
Universal Studios Hollywood The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 2016[nb 1][30][32] N/A Gibson Amphitheatre[30] N/A
Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 2014[nb 1][31] N/A N/A N/A
Warner Bros. Movie World Standalone attraction 2001 2003 Young Einstein Gravity Homestead The Official Matrix Exhibit

Attractions[edit]

The entrance to Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure
A vehicle ascending the lift hill on Flight of the Hippogriff at Islands of Adventure. An animatronic Hippogriff can be seen in the background, to the left side of the lift hill.

Below is a list of all of the attractions at Harry Potter themed areas around the world. The dates shown in the columns refer to the opening and closing dates for the ride under that name. It does not mean that the ride was closed and/or removed.

Attraction Type IOA USH USJ WBMW
Dragon Challenge Dual-tracked roller coaster 2010–
Flight of the Hippogriff Junior roller coaster 2010–
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Dark ride 2010– 2014–[nb 1] 2014–[nb 1]
Harry Potter Movie Magic Experience Walkthrough attraction 2001–2003
Ollivander's Wand Shop Experience Interactive attraction 2010–

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Expected opening date

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hill, Jim (2003-08-15). "Why For?". JimHillMedia.com. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  2. ^ Clarke, Susan Strother (2003-08-08). "Aol Lawyers Cast Spell On Rumors". Orlando Sentinel. 
  3. ^ "Harry Potter (Warner Bros. Movie World)". Database Entry. Parkz. Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  4. ^ "Harry Potter Movie Magic Experience". Warner Bros. Movie World. Archived from the original on 2001-11-05. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  5. ^ Levine, Arthur (2007-01-28). "Universal to Float New Island at its Florida Park". About.com. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  6. ^ "Harry Potter / Lost Continent Transformation". Screamscape.com. 2007-02-01. Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  7. ^ Hill, Jim (2007-02-05). "Monday Mouse Watch: You'll believe a car can fly". JimHillMedia.com. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  8. ^ Finke, Nikki (2007-04-13). "EXCLUSIVE: First Ever Harry Potter Theme Park Planned At Universal Studios Florida". Deadline Hollywood Daily. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  9. ^ Gray, Fiona (2007-04-22). "And now for Harry Potter and the wizard theme park...". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  10. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (2007-04-25). "Arts, Briefly". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  11. ^ "Will Harry Potter Become Part Of Universal Orlando?". UltimateRollercoaster.com. 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  12. ^ "For Universal, Simpsons Is The New Future". St. Petersburg Times. 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  13. ^ "Harry Potter theme park planned". BBC News. 2007-05-31. 
  14. ^ Sturcke, James (2007-05-31). "Harry Potter theme park to open in Florida". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  15. ^ "Harry Potter theme park swoops to Fla.". USA Today. 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  16. ^ Albright, Mark (2007-07-01). "A whole new magic kingdom". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  17. ^ "Wizarding World of Harry Potter timeline". Timeline. Fox 5 San Diego. 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2010-09-03. 
  18. ^ "Wizarding World of Harry Potter Soft Open Report RoundUp". The Leaky Cauldron. 2010-06-01. Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  19. ^ "Today Show Video Player". Video. MSNBC. 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  20. ^ "Wizarding World of Harry Potter Opens to Public Today; HP Cast Open Archway to the Crowd". Article. Leaky Cauldron. 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2010-07-02. 
  21. ^ "Grand Opening Of The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter At Universal Orlando Resort Set For June 18". Universal Orlando. Retrieved 2010-07-02. 
  22. ^ "NOW OPEN! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort". Universal Orlando. 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2010-07-02. 
  23. ^ a b Bevil, Dewayne (6 December 2011). "Wizarding World of Harry Potter to expand at Universal Orlando". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  24. ^ "Significant Expansion Also Planned for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort". Press Release. Universal Orlando Resort. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  25. ^ a b Schuker, Lauren A. E. (December 1, 2011). "Second 'Harry Potter' Park Planned". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  26. ^ Associated Press (December 2, 2011). "Harry Potter attraction on way to Universal Studios Hollywood after successful Orlando debut". Washington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  27. ^ Serjeant, Jill (December 1, 2011). "Harry Potter theme parks set to expand: report". Reuters. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  28. ^ Fritz, Ben (November 30, 2011). "Harry Potter attraction coming to Universal Studios Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  29. ^ MacDonald, Brady (December 6, 2011). "It's official: Harry Potter land to debut at Universal Studios Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2011. 
  30. ^ a b c Nakashima, Ryan (December 6, 2011). "Poof! Harry Potter park to appear in Hollywood". Associated Press. Retrieved December 6, 2011. 
  31. ^ a b Fritz, Ben (May 9, 2012). "Harry Potter heads to Universal Studios Japan". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  32. ^ Fritz, Ben (December 6, 2011). "Harry Potter attraction won't arrive in L.A. until at least 2016". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 7, 2011.