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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter forms part of Universal Parks and Resorts' Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida.

It is one of seven themed areas within the park. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was officially announced on May 31, 2007,and after a two-and-a-half year construction period, the area officially opened to the public on June 18, 2010.

The area's flagship attraction is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which exists within a re-creation of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It takes riders on a journey through Harry Potter's wizarding world. Other attractions include Dragon Challenge, a pair of dueling roller coasters, and Flight of the Hippogriff, a family roller coaster. The area also features a re-creation of Hogsmeade which includes many gift shops and restaurants from the series of Harry Potter books including Dervish and Banges, Honeydukes, Ollivanders, Zonko's Joke Shop, The Three Broomsticks and The Hog's Head.

Background

Previous attraction attempts

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. However, the rights to the Harry Potter franchise were owned by Time Warner at the time. 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.

Rumors and official announcement

In January 2007, About.com reported a rumor 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". 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 utilize.[15][16] Nikki Finke reported her own confirmation of the Potter park plans in April, followed shortly by a story in The Scotsman;[18] both reports were widely relayed by other media sources.O n 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.

Construction and development


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. Construction was complete by June 1, 2010 when the area began soft openings.

Opening


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] and The Weather Channel broadcast segments live from the park.
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