Wizarding World of Harry Potter to expand at Universal Orlando

The Wizarding Word of Harry Potter will be expanding at Universal Orlando, the company revealed during a Tuesday announcement about bringing author J.K. Rowling's boy wizard to the Universal Studios theme park in California.
Details about the Florida expansion — such as the nature of new attractions, a time frame or even in which of the two Universal Orlando theme parks it would be located — were not shared. The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal's Islands of Adventure in June 2010.
"Specific details of its expansion will be announced over time," Universal said in a news release.

Islands of Adventure Universal Orlando announced last week that it would close the Jaws ride at Universal Studios theme park as of Jan. 2. Since then, the rumor mill has ramped up talk of what could be planned for that space, including an additional Harry Potter-themed attraction. That would put Potter areas in both Universal parks.
Tuesday's announcement concentrated on Universal Studios Hollywood. On hand for the proceedings were California Gov. Jerry Brown plus actors James and Oliver Phelps, who played the Weasley twins in the film series, in front of a marquee that said "Hogwarts is coming to Hollywood." Butterbeer was served.

"It's a great day when we see investment in California, investment in imagination," Brown said.
Details about the Hollywood Potter plan were thin as well, although a news release said it "will be as impressive as what has been created in Orlando." At the news conference, it was confirmed that Hollywood would have a Hogwarts and the ride inside, which is known as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Beyond that, no details about a replica of Hogsmeade village, other rides or restaurants were shared. Orlando's Wizarding World coasters were repurposed from Islands of Adventure's Lost Continent area.
"I am sure that the teams at Universal and Warner Bros. will bring their expertise and attention to detail to Hollywood to make this new experience equally as exciting," Rowling said in the release. She was not on stage for the announcement.
Most industry analysts considered a Harry Potter expansion in Orlando inevitable given the phenomenal financial success of Wizarding World. Universal's attendance jumped 20 percent in 2010 — to 11.2 million — even though Wizarding World didn't open until halfway through the year. It soared 52 percent — to nearly 6.4 million — during the first half of 2011.
"Normally, you put a new attraction out and you're delighted if you get a 5 percent bump in attendance. Harry Potter came out and we were seeing 40 percent and 50 percent bumps, just a gigantic sea change in the profitability," NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke said at a conference with analysts earlier this fall.
Perhaps even more impressive than the attendance gains has been the growth Universal has seen in sales of magic wands, butter beer and other Potter-related food and merchandise. Total revenue at the resort jumped 41 percent to more than $1.1 billion last year and is up 42 percent to just under $1.1 billion through the first nine months of this year.

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