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From Florida to California, and now even Japan, Harry Potter has left its native England to leave a lasting impact on the Muggle world through its theme parks. Make sure to check out MuggleNet for more information and the latest news and updates!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Explore the mysteries of Hogwarts castle, visit the shops of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, experience pulse-pounding rides and attractions, including the all-new Hogwarts Express and Gringotts rides, and transport yourself into a world of magical thrills and adventure. Enter a world where the magical is REAL From the classrooms and corridors of Hogwarts castle, to the charming shops of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (Ollivander’s, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Honeydukes), even the dark streets of Knockturn Alley, you’ll feel as if you’re living in the Harry Potter stories you know and love!

RIDE WITH HARRY POTTER

Classic moments come to life on thrilling attractions like Dragon Challenge, a high-speed coaster where you’ll ride one of two fire breathers; The Flight of the Hippogriff, a family-friendly coaster designed for younger riders; Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a state-of-the-art adventure where you’ll soar above the castle with Harry Potter and come face-to-face with magical creatures; The Hogwarts Express, an interactive train to Hogwarts where you’ll be able to experience all the beauty of the English countryside; and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, a replicated journey of the cart ride the trio embarked on that takes you into the depths of the bank’s catacombs!

STOCK UP ON WIZARDING SUPPLIES

Shop for Hogwarts school supplies from Dervish and Banges, Flourish and Blott’s and Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions; Chocolate Frogs and Cauldron Cakes from Honeydukes; Frozen treats from Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour; Extendable Ears and Sneakoscopes from Zonko’s Joke Shop; Brooms from Quality Quidditch Supplies; Skiving Snackboxes and Pygmy Puffs from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes; and a wand from Ollivander’s. Plus send letters from the Owl Post – with actual Hogsmeade postmarks!

TASTE BUTTERBEER AND PUMPKIN JUICE

Always wondered what Butterbeer tastes like? Find out at the Three Broomsticks or The Leaky Cauldron. Enjoy iconic British cuisine including Fish and Chips and Bangers and Mash. Craving pumpkin juice? Stop by the Hog’s Head and order yourself a pint!

Latest Theme Park News

Latest Theme Park News

  • MinaLima on bringing “Harry Potter” magic to Diagon Alley - "Harry Potter" fans know the design team MinaLima as the force behind all the wonderful designs and props in the "Harry Potter" films. For the newly opened Diagon Alley extension of the Orlando theme park, Universal used MinaLima to help bring the park to life. In a new interview, the MinaLima team, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, speak about their work on Diagon Alley.
  • Hogwarts Express ride at WWoHP designed by Swiss cable car company - It was recently revealed (during the NBC special about Diagon Alley) that the Hogwarts Express ride in the new expansion at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, was created by a cable car company in Switzerland. Now, in a new article, swissinfo.ch shares a little more detail about the project.
More Theme Park News

Universal Orlando - Hogsmeade

Universal Orlando - Hogsmeade

  • Basic Facts & Announcement
  • Easter Eggs
  • Reports
  • Media

Basic Facts

  • Opened: June 18, 2010
  • Location: Orlando, Florida – Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
  • Projected Cost: $235 – $265 million
  • J.K. Rowling: “The plans I’ve seen look incredibly exciting, and I don’t think fans of the books or films will be disappointed.”

Attractions

  • The Dragon Challenge – The Dragon Challenge, the first attraction, features a twin high-speed roller coaster with many iconic elements from the Triwizard Tournament.
  • Flight of the Hippogriff – A family coaster simulating a Hippogriff training flight over the grounds of Hogwarts castle.
  • Ollivanders Wand Shop - In this shop, the wand keeper will select one guest to get the full experience of testing and choosing a wand.
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – Located in Hogwarts Castle, this ride 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.

Forbidden Journey details (revealed 3/25/10):

  • Award-winning composer John Williams oversaw the creation of the attraction’s score.
  • There are 12 scenes in the attraction.
  • You will see Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Malfoy, and you may catch a glimpse of the Weasley twins, Ginny, and Neville.
  • The ride’s storyline: “As you venture through Hogwarts, you meet Harry, Ron and Hermione, who convince you to skip a planned lecture and follow them. Upon taking their advice you travel by Floo powder, and begin your adventure as you soar over Hogwarts, narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, get pulled into a Quidditch match and more.”

Universal Website for OrlandoEllen Degeneres Tour

Announcement: May 30, 2007

Universal Studios and Warner Brothers made a joint announcement this evening from Leavesden Studios on the set of Dumbledore’s Office to reveal that a Harry Potter theme park is currently in development. The announcement was made live via internet at 12:01 AM EST today to select media, including MuggleNet. You can watch the video here.

Here’s what we learned from Potter set designer Stuart Craig and a representative from Universal Studios (both of them hosted the big reveal):

  • “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort”
  • Areas of park to include Hogsmeade, Hogwarts Castle, and the Forbidden Forest.
  • 20 engineers working on project.
  • Universal came to WB looking for authenticity.
  • Potter park to be built in “Islands of Adventure” area of Universal.
  • Stuart wants to “take his grandchildren” to the park.
  • Opening early 2010.
  • JK Rowling has been involved “since the very beginning” of the project. Also “supportive and encouraging.”
  • Stuart thinks that the park will be better off in the United States.
  • Have been in design “for at least a year and a half.”
  • “Important that the theme park represents the entire saga from Book 1 to Book 7″

In a rather cute way to end the announcement, the Universal representative asked Stuart Craig, “Now where’s Dumbledore?” Stuart paused for a moment, looked around the office, and replied, “He was just here.”

Are you a huge Harry Potter fan and going to visit Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Around the park are hidden things from the books and movies (easter eggs) that MuggleNet visitor Jaimie and her sister Jennifer had fun spotting since opening day. They compiled a list of easter eggs and other helpful information to get Harry Potter fans excited about their trip to the park. Hope you enjoy!

Zonko’s Joke Shop

You can see boxes on the higher shelves around the shop:

  • Nose Biting Teacups
  • Portable Swamp
  • Decoy Detonator
  • Jinx-Off shield cloak, hat, and gloves
  • Dr. Filibuster’s Wet-Start No-Heat Fireworks
  • Sticky Trainers
  • Electric Shock Shake
  • Screaming Yo-Yos
  • Fanged Flyer

If it is quiet enough, you can hear a faint whispering from the Extendable Ears, which are hanging from the ceiling near the registers. There is even a sign warning you to their presence. You can adopt your own pygmy puff and when you do, the clerk rings a bell and announces your pygmy puff’s name to the whole store. You can also buy U-No-Poo, The Constipation Sensation That’s Gripping the Nation, which is an M&M-like candy, as well as boxing telescopes. Take a look at the sign telling you not to walk on the walls.

Honeydukes

There is a great assortment of candy to buy, including:

  • Chocolate Frogs – Each frog comes with a card and each founder has their respective Horcrux, except for Gryffindor who has his sword.
  • Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans – The boxes are just like the movies and include flavors like pizza, fish, and mashed potatoes.
  • Cauldron Cakes
  • Treacle Fudge
  • Pumpkin Tarts
  • Rock Cakes
  • Ton-Tongue Toffee
  • Sugar Quill lollipops
  • Dark Mark lollipops
  • White Chocolate Skulls
  • Acid Pops
  • Pepper Imps
  • Ice Mice
  • Coconut Ice
  • Peppermint Toads
  • Blood Pops

There is also sign for Exploding Bon Bons, but you currently cannot purchase them.

Three Broomsticks

In The Three Broomsticks, there are shadows of house-elves working, owls flying, and brooms cleaning. Look around while you eat or ask the people who work there to point them out to you. Some of the pictures lining the wall when you enter are also featured in the sixth movie. When you are facing the front of The Three Broomsticks, go to your left; there is a walkway and a window that displays a bunch of dishes. You can hear the dishes clattering and being cleaned. There is also another Honeydukes display down this walkway. Try to spot the three broomsticks symbol on the facade of the building. The workers’ aprons have this little embroidered symbol, too.

Dogweed and Deathcap

In the window shop for Dogweed and Deathcap Exotic Plants and Flowers, there is a Mimbulus Mimbletonia that moves. In the next window, there are potted mandrakes. Bring your earmuffs because you can hear the mandrakes cry. There were seed packets with great details for Gillyweed, Mimbulus Mimbletonia, Mandrakes, Devil’s Snare, Bubotubers, and Fanged Geranium that have been removed, but who knows, they may add them back.

Hog’s Head

In the Hog’s Head, stand by the staircase, where you can hear a maid complaining from above. Behind the bar, try to spot the bottles of Firewhiskey and Doxy Eggs. On either side of the actual hog’s head you will see the shrunken heads used in Prisoner of Azkaban.

After the Gringott’s Bank (ATM), there are the bathrooms, and if you listen closely, you can hear Moaning Myrtle moping. Look up and find the Wizarding Wireless Network Sign.

Dervish and Banges

Take a look around the windows of Dervish and Banges. There is a copy of Advanced Potion Making from the sixth movie and a neat music box with a dragon chasing Harry on his broomstick around Hogwarts. Inside the shop, look for the sign by the registers detailing the closing procedure for the store including to double check the lock on the Monster Book of Monsters and to cast a security spell. Look up to the second floor and you’ll see jars of Stewed Mandrake and Flobberworm Mucous.

The Owlery

Outside the Owl Post, the window has a holographic howler and yells about you not having your permission slip to Hogsmeade. Go inside and seek the Daily Prophet Delivery Owl of the Year trophies. At the top of The Owlery, an owl comes out of the top tower every 15 or 30 minutes like a cuckoo clock with hooting sounds.

Dragon Challenge

The Dragon Challenge queue has banners that were used to support the Triwizard Champions. Cedric banners were not there on opening day, but have since been added. Inside, there are several tapestries that show the first task. The line is so dark it is hard to see, so use the flash on your camera.

Flight of the Hippogriff

Near the express queue line for Flight of the Hippogriff is a bottle of Flesh Eating Slug Repellent and a Blast-Ended Skrewts box. By Hagrid’s Hut, look for a baby Norwegian Ridgeback box, Monster Book of Monsters wooden crate, and a jug of Wood Lice for Bowtruckles. If you look closely, you will see that the stain glass windows say “carpe diem.” At the loading station, look up in the rafters and you will find a Fire Crabs crate and a Doxy Eggs basket.

And of course, don’t miss out on the opportunity for Buckbeak to bow to you.

The Forbidden Journey

If you go into the Forbidden Journey queue, don’t walk too fast or you’ll miss hearing a professor instructing Neville on how to correctly perform a spell near the Potions door. Listen below:

In Dumbledore’s office, there is a book that moves in and out of the bookcases lining the right side. Also in the Gryffindor common room, there is the Defense Against the Dark Arts movie prop book that Umbridge makes them use from the fifth movie.

SPOILER ALERT for THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY RIDE: Most people who just do this ride once may not notice that the last dementor is sucking out your soul, as it projects the picture of you and your fellow riders taken earlier onto the fog. When you first board the ride and hear Hermione say “Over here,” look forward and upward or you’ll miss her casting the spell on the enchanted bench.

Filch’s Emporium

In Filch’s Emporium, find file boxes with students’ names on them (Charlie, Dean, Ginny, Neville, Parvati, Seamus). In a glass case, you’ll see the Marauder’s Map that actually shows the students’ names and their footprints wandering the corridors. On the shelves, spot a bottle of Skele-Gro. Look at the shelves around the ceiling and you will find copies of the Quibbler, a Weasley Wizards Wheezes box, broomcare wax, and more.

Spintwitches

Spintwitches window display includes Quidditch World Cup programs and broomcare wax containers. There is a holographic snitch that has escaped from the Quidditch trunk and flies. Try to spot the book You & Your Owl.

Tomes and Scrolls

Behind the windows of Tomes and Scrolls, you’ll see Gilderoy Lockhart smiling at you from every direction. The bookstore contains his books including Magical Me and Travels with Trolls among many others.

Read staff member Eric Scull’s behind-the-scenes reports on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride as well as all the food that will be served at the Wizarding World theme park. You can hear our initial reactions to the ride in this MuggleMiniCast.

Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey

A sneak peek and review by Eric Scull

This report is the first chronicling a trip taken by representatives of top Harry Potter web-sites to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Universal Studios, Orlando, FL. The trip just took place and we are going to be releasing details (in the form of reports) in cooperation with Universal’s wishes and often at the same time that those reports will be backed up by details directly from Universal. What we have witnessed has been awesome and what can be said in all three reports will be very exciting to read, no doubt.

First, the release date. It was confirmed to us that the grand opening for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios will take place on June 18, 2010. This information was made available to fan sites first and will be announced at some point later today (March 25th). Interestingly, the Universal Orlando Resort has been offering vacation packages beginning May 28th, 2010 which offer admission to the park and breakfast in The Three Broomsticks. Two separate sources at Universal confirm that this vacation package, which is still available from Universal Orlando’s web-site and will continue to be available, is legitimate and will be honored. Those who opt to buy the vacation package and travel on May 28th will get what they’ve paid for. This means, technically, if you choose the package you will be among the first to visit and see the park.

Also confirmed by a Universal representative, the notion of a “soft open” or a preliminary period of the park being open to the public before the grand opening of June 18th is sound, but no specific dates are known at this time. So there will be opportunities for guests to access the park prior to the grand opening week, particularly by way of purchasing this “early access” vacation package mentioned above.

Speaking of the grand opening itself, details on activities and special events leading up to and/or surrounding that week are still in the works and will not be made official with the announcement from Universal later today. I look very forward to learning what they plan to do, and will be just as surprised as everyone else when that is revealed.

The main purpose of our trip to Orlando was to receive a thorough run-through and definitive explanation regarding the park’s biggest attraction (and, up until now, it’s biggest mystery): Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

The fan-site heads met with Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative (and grand overseer of the project). He took our questions and described very enthusiastically what the long-awaited ride would be like, as well as what the park experience was going to be. Speaking of Universal’s history, Mr. Woodbury noted that when it comes to rides, Universal likes to do things that nobody’s ever done before. They pioneer groundbreaking and before-nonexistant special and technical effects to an ever-expanding on-screen experience and utilize the absolute latest in ride technology, combined, to give park-goers a completely new experience…. and that’s just with their rides in general. When it comes to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, he says, everyone involved has really taken it to the next level. According to Mr. Woodbury, the Wizarding World and its main attraction (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) is going to “transform the theme park experience as you know it.”

Mr. Woodbury then spoke at length about the Forbidden Journey itself, and here is what he had to say. The Forbidden Journey ride is going to be an excursion into the world of Harry Potter – bringing with it “all of the chaos of his world”. It’s a new story, a new adventure where the guests, as Muggles, are invited to witness the goings-on of Harry, Ron and Hermione as they experience an adventure that takes them through many of the vast locations across Harry’s world. Although the fan-site heads had heard several times by this point that the ride experience was going to be “nothing like before” – we at this point asked for further clarification, and got it. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will be a “360 degree filmatic experience” with the biggest in special effects by which he means physical effects of all. Other rides at Universal, such as Twister or The Mummy which utilize real flames or wind that you can feel the heat of, wouldn’t begin to describe the sorts of physical effects Mr. Woodbury hints at. Signs in the queue for the ride itself warn riders that they will be pushed, pulled, dropped, lifted, stopped, turned around and all but thrown (although I’m reciting from memory; I don’t recall them promising that we wouldn’t be thrown). We asked Mr. Woodbury about fire, smoke, steam, as examples of physical effects, and he very seriously stated that there would be “all those, more, more, and more on top of that.”

While interviewing Mr. Woodbury, he gave us a run-down of the locations that we would get to see on the Forbidden Journey ride itself, and its story. Once you step inside the castle where the ride itself is housed, you are welcomed by Dumbledore and soon acquainted with Harry, Ron and Hermione, who scheme to escape a particularly boring lecture of Professor Binns’ and ask you to meet them in the Room of Requirement. The ride begins in the Room of Requirement, and takes you to a Quidditch match, which features Ron, Harry and Draco (presumably all playing Quidditch at the same time). You witness Quidditch first-hand, from next to Harry, once again while the ride is utilizing never-before-existant technology to make the environment real.

At one point, Mr. Woodbury was asked if the Forbidden Journey ride would actually travel outside of Hogwarts Castle (in the park). He very seriously replied, that when guests are on the ride, they will have a “very hard time distinguishing between what is actually outside and what is not.” I wouldn’t believe him if he wasn’t so serious about it. But he was. Reiteration. This ride is gonna do all new things.

Also mentioned about the ride journey itself is an encounter with Dementors, the Whomping Willow, and a ride on the Floo Network thanks to Hermione. The press release issued by Universal later today will no doubt include a more concise ordering of these locations.

Another big game-changer that will set “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” apart from other rides is its queue. Since the ride is set deep within Hogwarts Castle, you’ve got to literally travel through the castle to get on the ride, simple enough. However, the queue for the castle is so interactive that there is extra space in the queue to stay and watch a certain event happening in a particular part of the castle, as well as an opportunity to tour the castle without actually riding the ride. The queue inside the Hogwarts castle at the theme park is astonishing, and it is my great pleasure to announce that the web-site heads in attendance today got to enter Hogwarts Castle at the Wizarding World theme park and see it.

You enter through the gates of Hogwarts with the winged boars (exact replicas of the movie) with Hogwarts Castle domineering above you. Looking up, you can see the towers and the bridge that make the movie images so beautiful. Entering the castle, the queue (and your journey) begins in the dungeons. Here there is a scary statue of the One-Eyed Witch and the Mirror of Erised, stowed away. You then travel upwards and outside, through the greenhouses of Hogwarts. Further on is the entrance hall, where the single coolest statue I’ve ever seen stands tall – it is a statue of the Architect of Hogwarts – standing with a map and a miniature Hogwarts in his hands, with a lion and a badger at his feet and a hat atop his head. Very cool. Walking on you see the Hogwarts House Jewels in hourglasses – it is hooked up to gears so I am wondering if these jewels will actually move/drop over time. Up ahead is the Golden Eagle entrance to Dumbledore’s Office, which you walk past to enter.

Lasers. Here you are greeted by Albus Dumbledore (portrayed cunningly by Michael Gambon) introducing you to Hogwarts school, welcoming the Muggles and offering some good advice about what is to come. To call Dumbledore a hologram would not do him justice. This laser technology which places Dumbledore on the balcony overlooking the queue has definition and the third dimension to it. He looks and sounds appropriately real. Moving further into the castle, you soon find yourself in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom where Harry, Hermione and Ron greet you as well. They plan to escape a boring lecture of Professor Binns’ by escaping under the Invisibility Cloak and offer to meet you in the Room of Requirement. It is a great introduction and leads you even further into the castle.

The next chamber is the portrait gallery; it is a very tall room perhaps only ten feet wide. On each of the four walls? Portraits of each of the four founders of Hogwarts…. and they move. And they talk. These portraits are unlike anything I thought was possible to do outside of the movies. For the portraits move, but their surface looks like dried oil on canvas. Also, they travel. Other portraits in this hall leave their frames and enter the portraits of others’, often generating an immediate response of reproach from whoever is being disturbed. It is clever, and well-synced. It is J.K. Rowling’s books brought to life.

All of the chambers in the castle, whether you go through the express queue, the regular cue or are just looking around, are so richly detailed and accurately aged that it’s hard not to count as a ride in itself. Meeting the Fat Lady and getting to read the latest posts on the board of the Gryffindor Common Room are among the simple delights this castle has to offer. After what is a long and detailed journey, you enter the final chamber before getting on the ride where two separate scenes are waiting to greet you.

There are three portraits, all alive, which explain a little bit more about the ride itself. You will sit in what they describe as “enchanted benches” and fly through Harry’s world as such. The portraits argue with each other and question each other’s competence to instruct as well as other humorous moments. This chamber is also where the exit lies for the queue if you are not riding the ride. We did take the exit which led us down stairs and another portrait gallery, featuring the Founders again but this time having a totally different conversation than they were before.

Prior to leaving, we saw the final character you meet before getting on the ride (in the Room of Requirement): The Sorting Hat. He speaks and gives one final warning about safety and physical conditions that may prevent the ride from being enjoyable. As I mentioned before, signs from the greenhouses onward dictate that you will be dropped, spun, twisted, pulled, pushed and otherwise. Whatever happens during this ride, it’s going to be intense.

The proper exit for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will be into “Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods,” a shop inside the castle which I can only dream of at this point. 90% of the merchandise in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be entirely unique and exclusive… and from the promotional photos of the Emporium I can only imagine what those goods will be.

We also learned more about J.K. Rowling’s involvement in this theme park and its development. For Mr. Woodbury, the Harry Potter books established the richest of worlds with so many characters and artifacts we loved. The movies, then, took everybody’s own images of their characters and the world and gave a definition, a description, and a consolidation. The theme park, Mr. Woodbury says, is the next step, wherefore the world that everyone can agree on is expanded to a real, living and breathing environment. Hogwarts Castle is just one such example.

Finally, we were told regarding the Wizarding World theme park that “not a meeting was held without J.K. Rowling’s books in the room, and not a decision was made without them.” The relationship between the park and both movie heads and J.K.R. herself is insurmountable. Alan Gilmore, art director of the first four Harry Potter films, now lives in the US (and has for two years) working at Universal on this theme park. The costume designer for the films also designed the costumes that will be worn by staff members in this park. They are bringing the movies, but more importantly the books, to life. June 18th is less than three months away.

This report, once again, is the first of three that will be released in conjunction with details that Universal wishes to share in a specific time-frame. I will be writing each report and publishing them as soon as we are able to. In closing, it is safe to say that the details on “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” are thus far five steps ahead of anything I’ve seen, and I imagine the ride will be the best that Universal (or any theme park) has to offer. I find myself still a bit in shock that something this cool could be happening – even writing this review, I can see how this ride and the theme park are going to make a profound impression on the world, even for non-Harry Potter fans. I think it’s going to convert a few, with its attention to detail and its special effects zings and booms.

The Tasty-pasty World of Harry Potter

A Wizarding World food review by Eric Scull

This is the second report to be published stemming from a recent visit to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL where several Harry Potter fan-sites were invited to partake in some behind-the-scenes special events. The first report contained an interview with the man foremost behind the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park and his description of its feature ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” – as well as a special tour we were given through its queue. Although that report answered long-standing questions about the most-anticipated ride in the park, I feel that this report details what will be the Wizarding World’s knockout punch to fans and non-fans everywhere: the food.

On our recent trip to Universal, we met with Richard Florell who is the senior VP of Food and Merchandise for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park. He brought food with him. It was the food that they will serve in the Harry Potter theme park when it opens on June 18th.

Note: later today it is expected that a full menu of food and drink available in the HP theme park will be released by Universal Studios as per a prior understanding between them and us. Although pictures of the food itself are not at this time available, we expect that such images are forthcoming.

There is really only one way to summarize what is going to be said in this review: try the food. All of it. Then have some more. It’ll do you good.

Our first taste off the Wizarding World’s menu was the storied butterbeer. It had been reported previously that, in order to create butterbeer for the park, a long and complicated process was taken which resulted in J.K. Rowling herself sitting down with five flaggons of potential butterbeer and being asked to decide which recipe was “the one.” So we were really excited when Mr. Florell told us we’d be having some. Sure enough, a moment later we each had a mug of the amber liquid, topped off with a white fuzz and even bubbling slightly, in our hands. A few of us raised our glass and opted to toast “Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived” (I’m proud to say I prompted that one) and then we drank.

It was thick, the fuzz, then rich, then colder and thinner at the bottom. A few more drinks and I was sure that the substance I was drinking was from another world. I don’t know how they did it, but the butterbeer feels like it changes density as you drink. It’s chilled, too – the butterbeer will be kept just above 32 degrees when it is served in the park. As for the taste, it is described as a cross between “butterscotch and shortbread” – I think that’s probably accurate. I’ll also say that I’ve become a fan of a personal homemade butterbeer recipe involving creme soda, rum and schnapps – but this, a non-alcoholic beverage for park guests of all ages, far closer matches what is likely served in Hogsmeade of literature. What surprised me was that, the more I drank, the more I liked it. It is a solid beverage, a solid “brew” if you will, that has a consistent taste and is not too sweet or strange. It holds its flavor the whole way through, and let me just say the cream on top is excellent for giving the drinker a butterbeer moustache. I’m finding difficulty in describing it more, except to say that it must be tried and will not disappoint.

A frozen ‘iced’ version of the butterbeer will also be available in the park. After finishing our butterbeer, we tried it, too. It really is a testament to how solid a drink is, when you can make a frozen version of it accentuating the flavor that doesn’t completely ruin it. The frozen butterbeer was just as good a treat and will definitely benefit on those really hot July days in Florida. I have no doubt that both the butterbeer and its frozen rendition will have guests piling in from the rest of the Islands of Adventure park to try it. Once they are there, of course, they’ll be stuck I suspect.

The butterbeer was only the first item off the menu that we tried. There was much, much more.
Within the next few minutes we saw all of the dishes that would be served inside the park. Overall impressions were that the meals are balanced – containing salad to offset the meat and vice versa. They’ve taken the food mentioned by J.K. Rowling in her books and broken it down into several plates of yum. For main courses, the park will be serving British-themed food using European recipes: shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, Cornish pasties and leek soup. Other dishes such as chicken and ribs and corn will be served. The head chef of the Harry Potter park, Mr. Stephen Jayson, also has some specialist equipment to work with. We were told that, in the kitchen of the Three Broomsticks, they have a smoke machine for the meat and a corn smoker for cooking corn fresh (while it’s still in the husk!).

In what is such a good idea I have separated it by starting a new paragraph, the park will serve a meal called “The Big Feast” – which is a platter designed for four people – consisting of half chickens, ribs, sweet potatoes and corns on the cob. This “big feast” platter is what the fan-site heads were treated to. As well as the salad and fish and chips. Four people will be very thoroughly satisfied with this meal. Even two of our friends who flew to Universal from overseas (one British, one Irish) were impressed at the authenticity of the European-style foods. They were raving about the sweet potatoes!

My first foray into British cuisine was some fish and chips I had at a pub in Stratford-upon-Avon (birthplace of William Shakespeare) in June of 2006. The fish and chips I had there were served alongside the famous local cider, which I was surprised to learn is an ale, and not a beverage resembling “apple cider” that I enjoy at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. The relevance of this story as it pertains to this report comes with my surprise as I began to have the Hogsmeade style fish-and-chips, and was presented with Hogsmeade’s brand pumpkin juice.

The pumpkin juice, also served cold and quite refreshing, is also a unique beverage constructed by the culinary geniuses at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park. I mention apple cider because it is the only thing I can think of to compare it to. It does for pumpkin what apple cider does for apples. It is a sweet, delightful drink that tastes of cinammon and ginger, pumpkin eccentuated and my, oh my is it tasty. This is another beverage you just have to try to believe. Harry and his friends at Hogwarts have pumpkin juice during their feast, and so too did we at our tasting of the food. The two together made for a truly authentic experience that is sure to be unreal once it can take place inside a finished wizarding world theme park.

Some Harry Potter fans throughout the years have felt that there was a bigger mystery in the Potter books than the secret behind He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. They wanted to know how Harry and his friends could eat so much and not suffer from obesity or diabetes. It was with special care on his face that Mr. Florell told us there would be kids portions of all of the dishes offered in the park, and that each of them (Fish and Chips, chicken with salad, etc…) were under 300 calories. It is so evident, the planning and care that went into this menu, that my ability to describe my encounter with this food may fall short. However, hopefully in reading you can tell that these meals were prepared with the guests’ delight and health as the number one concern.

Ah, yes. dessert.

There was a quote used in my previous report which stated that “not a meeting was held without all seven Potter books in the room, and not a decision was made without them present.” This quote actually belongs to Richard Florell, and he was speaking of the food served in the park. Ric actually had three of his books with him while we were eating, and we saw that they were place-marked with post-its as thin as toothpicks and color-coded. I presume that each of those flags was a reference to food or drink in the Harry Potter books, and Ric said that he can track every one and has gotten to know them fairly well. Being the VP of food and merchandise, it was likely Ric’s choice of which sweets and goodies to bring to life. From our experience tasting a wide variety of the desserts after our stunning meal of salad, ribs, potatoes, corn and chicken, I have to say he’s done an alarming job.

Strawberry-peanut-butter ice cream. Okay. This one presented a particular challenge to the wizaring world theme park chefs, we were told: “How best to do it, that was a concern. It’s strawberry, and it’s peanut butter, and it’s in the Harry Potter books and Rowling says they eat it. Well, okay then. Let’s try to make it.” The strawberry peanut butter ice cream is realized in the Potter theme park and is better than you’d think just by reading about it. It far surpasses any ice cream with peanut butter chunks I’ve had from a supermarket (not that that should come as a surprise this far along in my report), and is a solid example of a one-of-the-kind experience awaiting Potter fans everywhere. In fact, it is such a perfect blend of both strawberry and peanut butter flavors that I really am wondering how they did it. Then I remind myself that they’ve got magic on their side. Hmm.

Cauldron cakes, like chocolate cupcakes only molded like real cauldrons, are an example of the finesse in practice at the Wizarding World’s kitchen. They’re cauldrons with a handle overtop – I don’t know how they bake it. Chocolate syrup and desserts, cookies, all were served on a tray to us. I was, at this point, far too full to try everything (sorry). I knew I would be coming back.

The bottom line is that everything served at the Wizarding World is so beyond impressive that you have to try it to believe it. The chefs have taken so many food items from the books, and they LOOK so appetizing (it is so hard to write this report without photographs of the amazing dishes we saw) that nobody is going to be walking away disappointed. To dispell a rumor once and for all, the butterbeer in the park is not alcoholic but they HAVE concocted a special brew for the Hog’s Head pub called “Hog’s Brew” which is unique to the park. If it’s anything like the care that went into their other food and drink, I am sure it will quickly replace traditional Muggle adult beverages as favorites.

The butterbeer and pumpkin juice served in the park will not be shipped or sold outside of the park. It will be available in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park only. We asked, and they told us. You will have to travel to Hogwarts (in Orlando, FL) this summer to get it. If I lived near the park, I’d be stopping by Hogsmeade three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their food is going to be that good. One will not tire of it easy.

Concept Art

Official Photos

Grand Opening

Videos

Official announcement, May 31, 2007:

Public Grand Opening, June 18, 2010:

VIP Grand Opening Review and Footage, June 16, 2010:

Forbidden Journey Ride Tour with Mark Woodbury:

Behind the Scenes of the Forbidden Journey Ride:

The cast discusses the park:

Wizarding World Map:

Wizarding World Super Bowl Commercial:

MuggleCast Episodes

Episode 93Muggle Mini-CastMuggle Mini-Cast #2Episode LIVE at Infinitus 2010

Universal Orlando - Diagon Alley

Universal Orlando - Diagon Alley

  • Basic Facts & Announcements
  • Construction Site Visit
  • Media

Basic Facts

  • Opening: July 8, 2014
  • Location: Orlando, Florida – Universal Studios
  • J.K. Rowling: “I’m so pleased that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has proved so popular to date, and I’m sure that the attention to detail in creating the new Diagon Alley area will make this an even better experience.”

Universal Website for Orlando

May 8, 2013

Building on the global phenomenon that is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced an expansion of historic proportion with the entirely new themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Scheduled to open in 2014, the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience expands The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both Universal Orlando theme parks and allows Universal’s creative team to bring an unparalleled vision to this unique project. The new area will bring to life some of the experiences and places found in and around London in the Harry Potter books and films, offering brand-new adventures for fans and theme park guests from around the world.

Diagon Alley and “London” will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, where guests now experience Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. The new area within Universal Studios will be just as expansive, immersive and authentic as the existing themed environment.

And – just like in the books and films – guests will be able to travel between “London” and Hogsmeade aboard the Hogwarts Express.

Work on the new area is already underway. When complete, it will feature shops, a restaurant and an innovative, marquee attraction based on Gringotts bank – all directly inspired by the fiction and films.

More details on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be released over time.

To bring Diagon Alley and “London” to life, Universal’s creative team is working closely with Warner Bros. and the production design team from the Harry Potter films – just as it did for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.

I’m so pleased that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has proved so popular to date, and I’m sure that the attention to detail in creating the new Diagon Alley area will make this an even better experience,” said J.K. Rowling.

We are continuing the journey and adding an entirely new level of adventure,” said Tom Williams, Chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts. “And we are bringing the same drive, commitment, enthusiasm and innovation to this project as we did to the first.

We are thrilled to offer the legions of fans the opportunity to embark on this new journey and experience Diagon Alley as it was brought to life in the books and films,” said Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

Our vision is to create two amazing theme park experiences that combine into one, complete, magical journey,” said Alice Norsworthy, executive vice president, marketing and sales for Universal Orlando Resort.

December 6, 2011

Universal announced plans to officially expand the Wizarding World in Orlando, as well as plans to open another theme park at Universal Studios Hollywood.

From the press release:

Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts today announced a partnership to bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – the enormously popular themed entertainment environment which debuted in Orlando in June 2010 – to Universal Studios Hollywood.

The two companies also announced their plans to significantly expand The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be as impressive as what has been created in Orlando – and is expected to transform tourism in Los Angeles for decades to come. It will be a fully immersive environment for the entire family that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life and is faithful to the visual landscape of the films, including a majestic Hogwarts castle to serve as the centerpiece of the themed environment. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be created with the same commitment to authenticity and the same level of talent and resources as its Orlando counterpart.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort opened in June 2010 and immediately captured global attention. It is a spectacularly themed land that includes Hogwarts castle, Hogsmeade and multiple themed attractions. Specific details of its expansion will be announced over time.

“The announcement of our partnership with Universal to bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood and expand what already exists in Orlando is probably the best holiday gift we could give to the legions of Harry Potter fans worldwide,” said Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. “Everyone involved with these projects is committed to continuing the enchantment of J.K. Rowling’s masterful books as they were brought to life on screen in our eight films and dedicated to extending the magic of the experience for generations of fans to come.”

“This is an incredible moment for Universal Studios and the millions of guests who visit our theme parks,” said Ron Meyer, President & COO, Universal Studios. “The Harry Potter stories are some of the most powerful of our time and we are honored to expand our Orlando experience and bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood, forever changing family tourism in Los Angeles.”

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an entirely new level of themed entertainment that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life in incredible ways,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO, Universal Parks and Resorts. “We are thrilled to be able to share this experience with our guests in Hollywood. And we are thrilled to take what has been created in Orlando to even greater levels.”

Construction Site Visit – January 22, 2014

By Keith Hawk and Kat Miller

If you were excited to visit Universal Orlando to immerse yourself into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle, you are definitely going to want to see the all new expansion area, Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. MuggleNet had the amazing opportunity to get a tour of the behind-the-scenes construction with Universal Creative to explore this magical new world.

The tour of Diagon Alley was headed by the Alan Gilmore, Art Director for the Harry Potter films and Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Dale Mason, the Vice President of Attraction Development and Executive Director for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

“There will be lots of very little nice moments and details that you will overhear,” stated Alan Gilmore.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be located within Universal Orlando, in the previous local of Amity Island and the Jaws attractions. Visitors will be able to enter Muggle London from either side of the lagoon onto Charing Cross Road or by taking the Hogwarts Express from Hogsmeade Station (of which absolutely no details were given to us at this time) to King’s Cross Station. The square of Muggle London will feature The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain of Piccadily Circus and the iconic Knight Bus. While fans will not be able to board the Knight Bus, both it and the fountain will provide fans with exceptional photo opportunities.

The facade of Muggle London from left to right is: King’s Cross Station, Leicester Square Tube Station, Wyndham Theatre, and Grimmauld Place. All are constructed in such rich detail that it will transport you to modern day London.

Not yet constructed nor revealed to us is the exact manner in which visitors will make the transition from Muggle London to Diagon Alley. However, when posed to Gilmore, he stated that it would be a “clever solution.” Upon entering, the Leaky Cauldron, a brand-new restaurant with a new, full menu, will be immediately to your left. The Leaky Cauldron has extremely high ceilings and will seemingly accommodate many hungry visitors. Directly across from the Leaky Cauldron is Quality Quidditch Supplies, a store emblazoned with the Hogwarts Crest that will supply Quidditch teams with essentials. Next to this is the colorful and exciting Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes – complete with the film’s iconic entrance.

Walking further down the alley, on the left we find the entrance to Knockturn Alley, which houses the shop, Borgin and Burkes. On the right, we find a cluster of store front facades including Flourish and Blotts, the Daily Prophet, Spindlewares,and Ollivander’s repair shop, followed by Ollivanders original wand shop as seen in the films. Opposite is Madam Malkins, Slug and Jiggers, McMullpepper’s Apothecary and Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlor that was previously rumored but is now confirmed. Florean’s will house a number of amazing ice cream flavors that fans will surely enjoy.

We have a new street here. This is Diagon Alley, and this cross street is actually Horizont Ally. That came from J.K. [Rowling] herself. There were other streets but in the film they only ever showed Diagon [...] Harry got to Knockturn and Diagon, but in order to tell more of the story, a more authentic city experience, we needed to create more streets, and she would have had them if the story went further, but this is now where they exist. - Alan Gilmore

Horizont Ally, a cross street to Diagon Alley, will house Wiseacres and other various storefronts that were not revealed to us. It will also be the home of the very large Gringotts Bank. Very few details on the bank are known, except that it will house a ride of some kind, themed around the vaults seen in Deathly Hallows. The bank currently sits at the same height as the rest of Diagon Alley, and we were told that it has “a long, long way to go.” We don’t have anything further to share – but were assured that details would be soon to come.

Looking down Horizont Ally, visitors will be able to visit (and likely purchase items) at Wiseacres Wizarding Supplies and Carkitt Market, another feature named by J.K. Rowling directly. Carkitt is modeled after the large trade markets found in London, and according to Gilmore, will be a “gathering place within the Wizarding World – Diagon Alley. If anyone has been to London, and has been to an old London market, this will be a very authentic realization of that.” The modern market, while a work in progress, will be a nice juxtaposition to the Victorian, older design of Wiseacre’s – which is likely several hundred years older. “Again, it’s that European layering, where little buildings are built right next to buildings of different times. It’s very romantic and it makes for very interesting spaces.

Since Horizont Ally was not complete at the time of the tour, we walked back down Diagon Alley (which, if visitors look up as the walk, advertisements and even the Leaky Cauldron hotel can be seen), and across the alley between Weasley Wizarding Wheezes and Flourish & Blotts to the opposite side of the Alley. Here visitors will find Gregorovitch’s Wand Store (wands of Hawthorne, Willow, Walnut, Ash, Holly, Cherry, Rosewood, & Elm) plus a directional sign helping visitors find their way through the massive space. The back of Weasley Wizarding Wheezes can also be seen, newly painted, bright, and exploding with advertisements for their products. There is also a House Elf Placement Agency (much to Hermione’s dismay), a shop that sells family sized broomsticks, plus many more stores to be revealed in the future.

What you’re seeing here is coming together very quickly now, really starting to accelerate. A lot of this is happening in days. There is so much more beyond this, that you will find out in the future. Hogsmeade is a much simpler place, it’s a Scottish village, very traditional looking buildings, here you’ve got the big city, the much more layered, more historical, of a greater time period. - Alan Gilmore

There are several ways that Universal Creative plans to bring each part of Diagon Alley together, to fully immerse visitors in the experience. The one that was shared with us can be seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film. Fans will recall a Muggle train that rides past Harry’s room while he was staying at the Leaky Cauldron, shaking the surroundings and making a lot of noise. This train will also pass above The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, not physically (they don’t have room for yet another train!), but as Gilmore explained, “There will be many sensory details that will make it feel like you’re deep within the city.

Finally, the big question. Exactly how big is Diagon Alley? Well, actually, pretty much the same size as Hogsmeade. The big difference? Muggle London. It was described to us as “above and beyond” anything they did in Hogsmeade – and we completely agree.

Stay tuned for our fully detailed experience reports, plus more updates from Universal Creative, in the coming days and months.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood

  • Announcements
  • Media

April 8, 2014

It’s been officially announced that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will open sometime in 2016.

From the press release:

2016 will be a magical year for Universal Studios Hollywood as the theme park’s epic transformation becomes fully realized with the highly-anticipated arrival of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”

Inspired by the magical world created by J.K. Rowling and brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood will be a fully immersive land designed for the entire family that brings the Harry Potter fiction and films to life with impeccable detail and authenticity. Similar to the dynamic Universal Orlando Resort themed land that opened in 2010, the Hollywood experience will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle that will serve as the iconic focal point of the impressively themed environment. “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is a collaboration between J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts.

April 24, 2013

It’s been long in coming, but the announcement from NBC Universal confirming construction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios, Hollywood has finally arrived!

Here’s the main quote from Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios currently buzzing around the net.

After nearly a decade of work on the Evolution Plan, today’s vote sets the stage for our next 100 years in Los Angeles.

100 years is a long time, but after the success the Harry Potter franchise has had in Universal Studios, Orlando, we’re surprised this announcement didn’t come sooner! The “Evolution Plan” cited here by Mr. Meyer reportedly represents a staggering $1.6 billion investment in tourism and production. You don’t need a baker to tell you -that’s a lot a dough!

InsidetheMagic is reporting that the new Wizarding World (which will begin construction this summer) will bring with it new and upgraded television production facilities, as well as office space and infrastructure at the Universal Studios lot which will comprise a $500 million investment in the Los Angeles economy and the creation of more than 2,000 construction jobs. Additionally, the inclusion of the Hogwarts-sized castle will mean bringing an end to some older sections of the park, including the Curious George section.

December 6, 2011

Universal has officially announced that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open a second location, this one at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, California.

From the press release:

Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts today announced a partnership to bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – the enormously popular themed entertainment environment which debuted in Orlando in June 2010 – to Universal Studios Hollywood.

The two companies also announced their plans to significantly expand The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be as impressive as what has been created in Orlando – and is expected to transform tourism in Los Angeles for decades to come. It will be a fully immersive environment for the entire family that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life and is faithful to the visual landscape of the films, including a majestic Hogwarts castle to serve as the centerpiece of the themed environment. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be created with the same commitment to authenticity and the same level of talent and resources as its Orlando counterpart.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort opened in June 2010 and immediately captured global attention. It is a spectacularly themed land that includes Hogwarts castle, Hogsmeade and multiple themed attractions. Specific details of its expansion will be announced over time.

“The announcement of our partnership with Universal to bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood and expand what already exists in Orlando is probably the best holiday gift we could give to the legions of Harry Potter fans worldwide,” said Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. “Everyone involved with these projects is committed to continuing the enchantment of J.K. Rowling’s masterful books as they were brought to life on screen in our eight films and dedicated to extending the magic of the experience for generations of fans to come.”

“This is an incredible moment for Universal Studios and the millions of guests who visit our theme parks,” said Ron Meyer, President & COO, Universal Studios. “The Harry Potter stories are some of the most powerful of our time and we are honored to expand our Orlando experience and bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood, forever changing family tourism in Los Angeles.”

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an entirely new level of themed entertainment that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life in incredible ways,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO, Universal Parks and Resorts. “We are thrilled to be able to share this experience with our guests in Hollywood. And we are thrilled to take what has been created in Orlando to even greater levels.”

Announcement Ceremony

Videos

Official announcement:

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan

  • Basic Facts & Announcements
  • Reports | English
  • Reports | Japanese
  • Media

Basic Facts

  • Opened: July 15, 2014
  • Location: Osaka, Japan – Universal Studios Japan
  • Projected cost: $500 million

Universal Website for Japan

April 18, 2014

Universal Studios Japan hosted an event today, to celebrate the announcement of the Grand Opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” which meticulously recreates some of the iconic locations from the world of Harry Potter. Universal Studios Japan revealed that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will open on July 15, 2014. The announcement culminated with the unveiling of the magnificent Hogwarts castle, the focal point of the land.

Universal Studios Japan welcomed special guests from Japan and around the globe: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; Ms. Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan; Academy Award-winning art director and production designer for the Harry Potter films, Stuart Craig; actress Evanna Lynch, who played “Luna Lovegood” in the Harry Potter film series; world-renowned architect Tadao Ando; and Universal Studios Japan ambassadors, and beloved musical act, SMAP, gathered for the celebration.

When Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy announced the opening date, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a spectacular show of lights and brilliant fireworks.

Event Overview

The evening’s celebration began with an “owl” delivering a letter from Hogwarts to President and CEO of Universal Studios Japan, Mr. Glenn Gumpel, who was revealed on stage with the letter in hand to introduce the honored guests.

Guests Evanna Lynch, Stuart Craig, Tadao Ando and SMAP were greeted on stage with loud cheers, and the appearance of United States Ambassador Kennedy was met with thunderous applause. Following her remarks, she introduced special guest Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for the momentous occasion.

With distinguished guests from around the world gathered, Mr. Gumpel presented the letter from the wizarding world to Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy, who together, reading from the letter, announced “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opening date. At that moment, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a radiant light show with fireworks, which unveiled its towering scale and lit up the night sky.

Following additional remarks by Prime Minister Abe, Ms. Evanna Lynch led the guests in casting the spell “Lumos!” followed by more dazzling fireworks to the further the excitement and joy of the crowd.

A special website, where you can begin to explore “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” online, has now launched. Please visit www.usj.co.jp/harrypotter in the official Universal Studios Japan website.

Universal Studios Japan received an annual 10 million visitors for the second time this past March 19 (day 353 of fiscal year), which is the first time USJ has achieved this milestone since the park’s opening in 2001, and, thanks to all, continues to perform strongly. With the much-anticipated opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” USJ looks to continue to attract more visitors from both Japan and worldwide.

May 10, 2012

James and Oliver Phelps – the twins who played Fred and George Weasley in all of the Harry Potter films – were in Japan today to officially announce the construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Osaka, Japan.

Yesterday, we announced this incredible attraction for the passionate fans of Harry Potter in Japan, but today was the official announcement. And who better to present the theme park to the world, then two of the most dedicated fans of the series, James and Oliver Phelps.

The Osaka destination will begin construction in the next few weeks and will cost an estimated $500 million. The park will be opening in 2014 and feature many of of same attractions that are currently found in the original Wizarding World at Universal Studios Orlando such as Hogwarts Castle, the Forbidden Journey ride, and many more attractions.

Japan is Harry Potter‘s largest market outside of the United States, so it will be a terrific addition to this deserving fandom.

PREVIEW EVENT

At around 7:00 p.m., The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was packed with journalists, staff members, guests, and fans from around the world. The red carpet and stage for the event was located at the main road of Hogsmeade, with the stage facing towards the entrance and its back facing the castle.

As guests started coming out onto the red carpet, fans joyfully waved and screamed. The walk went on until the guests were called up on stage to make a speech. Among the special guests were Tom Felton, who portrayed Draco Malfoy in the films, and Evanna Lynch, who portrayed Luna Lovegood.

The pre-opening event started with a speech from the president and CEO of USJ, Glenn Gumpel, who had his lovely wife by his side on stage. He explained how he wants Japanese fans to come and enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and that he sees this as a way to give back to the Japanese community.

The event also had Japanese celebrities on stage, such as SMAP and TV personality Becky.

Led by Tom and Evanna, the fans cast “Lumos” and were greeted by a display of spectacular fireworks, which illuminated the night sky right behind Hogwarts Castle and the Hogsmeade shops. Moments later, a massive amount of colorful confetti came whirling down on us, lingering in the air for a while. It all seemed like the event had finished, but the fans got a surprise “gift” at the end in the form of a chance to ride the Forbidden Journey ride.

Today was the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan. It has been roughly three months since the grand opening date was announced and since then it has gained massive amounts of attention all over Japan. Posters and signboards of the Wizarding World of Hary Potter were everywhere in Osaka so it was almost impossible to go out and not see anything Harry Potter related. On Twitter, excited fans all over the country were tweeting and sharing their excitement with one another.

GRAND OPENING EVENT

This morning, when I arrived at the press meet-up destination at around 5:30AM, people were already lining up in front of the entrance gates of Universal Studios Japan. Climbing the stairs of the station, excited fans rushed by, cheerfully shouting about the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

As we were led to the entrance gates, more and more people started to show up. By the time we (the press) actually went in to the park, around 1000 people were already lining up behind us, anxiously waiting for the gates to open. At around 7:17AM, after everything was set up, the highly anticipated grand opening ceremony kicked off.

A small stage was set up on the left side of the entrance gate to Hogsmeade and the first person to come up to give a speech was the president of USJ, Mr. Glenn Gumpel. Next came Evanna Lynch who portrayed Luna Lovegood and Tom Felton who portrayed Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. After a short speech by Evanna and Tom, the three took their wands out and got ready for the big reveal. They pointed their wands up and at the count of three they shouted, “Revelio!”  massive cloud of white smoke erupted out of nowhere and filled the air, hiding the entrance to Hogsmeade. As the smoke dissolved, we were greeted by characters from the Harry Potter world (Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students in their uniforms, the Hogwarts Express conductor and more).

Immediately after that, Mr. Gumpel, Tom and Evanna (each of them holding hands with a very lucky boy and girl) walked into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This was the moment we were all waiting for. Fans started pouring into Hogsmeade smiling (and some even crying). Pointing at stores and waving at the characters, they followed Tom and Evanna up the road to where Hogwarts was waiting for them. People of all ages, gender and nationality were there, finally getting to enjoy the world of Harry Potter. Two fans were nice enough to chat with me saying that their favorite thing about the castle was the Sorting Hat because it made them so excited about the ride (The Forbidden Journey) that they were about to get on. After the fans enjoyed the Forbidden Journey ride, they hanged around the shops, enjoyed the view of Hogwarts Castle, gulped down jugs of Butterbeer and were generally having a blast.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a theme park everybody, from casual fans to Potterheads, will surely love and enjoy. After all, who wouldn’t want to hand around Hogsmeade and get chased by Dementors just like our favorite golden trio?

PREVIEW EVENT

今日は取材陣が一日中出入りをしていた上にイベント準備があった為、The Wizarding World of Harry Potterの中はとても慌ただしい状況になっていました。

その外では前夜祭の参加者やファンの人々が待機をしていた為、14時頃私が会場に入場した時点で既に入り口付近が若干混雑しはじめている状況でした。

それから5時間後の19時頃、当選したファンの人々と世界中からのプレス、そしてイベント関係者がThe Wizarding World of Harry Potterに入場し、会場はギュウギュウ詰めになっていました。

レッドカーペットとステージはホグズミード村の中心を走る道に設置され、ステージはホグズミード村の入り口を正面に、そしてホグワーツ城を背にして設置されました。

ゲストの方々がレッドカーペットに入場する度に大きな歓声が沸き起こり、カメラは手を振るファンの人々の姿を撮ろうと躍起になっていました。
スペシャルゲストには、映画「ハリー・ポッター」シリーズでドラコ・マルフォイ役を演じたトム・フェルトンさんと、同じく映画でルーナ・ラブグッド役を演じたエバンナ・リンチさんの姿がありました

前夜祭は奥様と共にステージに上がったUSJ社長のグレン・ガンペル氏の挨拶から始まりました。
時々冗談を交えながらも、ガンペル氏は、日本のファンに是非このThe Wizarding World of Harry Potterを体験して欲しいと述べ、大阪、そして日本に対して地域貢献を通じてお返しをしたいと加えました
更に、前夜祭にはSMAPやベッキーなど、豪華な日本人ゲストが登場しました。

全員の挨拶が終わると、トムさんとエバンナさんはファンの人々と共に杖を取り出し、掛け声に合わせて「ルーモス!」と呪文を唱えました。
するとホグワーツ城とホグズミード村の店の後ろから空高く盛大に花火が上がっていきました。
それに加え、三色の紙吹雪が大量に吹き出され、カラフルな雪のように花火で輝く空を舞いました。
花火が終わり、イベントが終了したと思ったところで、ファンの人々にはサプライズとして前夜祭終了後にHarry Potter and The Forbidden Journey Rideを体験できるという”プレゼント”が渡されました。

体験後、ホグワーツ城から戻ってくるファンの人々は皆満足そうな表情を浮かべていました

GRAND OPENING EVENT

2014年7月15日、待ちに待ったザ・ウィザーティング・ワールド・オブ・ハリ ー・ポッターが開園しました。開園日が発表された4月18日から3ヶ月程経ち、そ の間に各メディアの注目が徐々に集まり出していました。

USJ近辺の駅ではザ・ウィザーティング・ワールド・オブ・ハリー・ポッターの告知 が大々的に行われ、家を出れば必ずどこかでハリー・ポッターの名を見る様な状況に なっていました。

また、大阪以外でもツイッター上などで開園前からグランド・オープニングを楽しみ にしているファンのツイートが多く見られました。 私が今朝5時30分にユニバーサル・シティのプレス集合場所に着いた頃には既に USJのゲート前に多くのファンが待機していました。 電車から降り、階段を上がる私の側を、多くの人達がザ・ウィザーティング・ワール ド・オブ・ハリー・ポッターの開園を楽しみに、興奮しながら走り抜けていきまし た。

プレスがゲート前まで移動をした時には既に長蛇の列ができており、実際に私達が入 園する頃には1000人近くの人達が開園を待っている状態になっていました。 7時17分になり、全ての準備が終わった頃、皆が待ち望んでいたグランド・オープ ニング式が始まりました。 アーチ型になったホグズミード村の入り口横に設置されたステージに最初に登場した のは、USJの社長であるグレン・ガンペル氏でした。その後、映画「ハリー・ポッタ ー」シリーズでルーナ・ラブグッド役を演じたエバナ・リンチさんとドラコ・マルフ ォイ役を演じたトム・フェルトンさんが登場しました。三人は司会の掛け声に合わ せ、杖を振り上げると「リベリオ!」と呪文を唱えました。

瞬く間に辺りは白い煙に覆われ、ホグズミード村の入り口は私達の目の前から消えて いきました。煙が薄れていくと、その中から横一列に並んだハリー・ポッターの世界 のキャラクター達が現れました。(ホグワーツ、ボーバトン、ダームストラングの制 服を着た生徒達、ホグワーツ特急の運転士などなど)。 その後すぐにガンペル氏と共に、エバナさんとトムさんが子供達の手を引いてホグズ ミード村のアーチをくぐりました。列をなしてホグズミード村に入っていくファンは 皆、輝く様な笑顔で目を輝かせていました。本や映画の世界で見た店を目の前にし て、興奮してジャンプする人や、キャラクターに手を振りながら涙を浮かべる人も居 ました。

列はエバナさんとトムさんを先頭に、ホグワーツへと続いていきました。 ハリー・ポッターを愛する様々な年齢、性別、人種の人達が集い、遂にハリー・ポ ッターの世界に足を踏み入れたのです。 ホグズミード村を歩いている最中、私は二人のファンの方々にお話を伺う事がで きました。注目の集まるホグワーツ城内のアトラクション、Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journeyの魅力的な点を伺うと、細部まで細かく作られていた事、という 答えを頂きました。また、アトラクションに乗り込む前に見る事ができる「組み分け 帽」は、「これから乗るんだ!」というワクワク感を楽しめたというコメントも頂き ました。

ホグワーツから出た後は、皆思い思いの場所へと散っていきました。オリバンダーの 店で杖を買う人、ハニーデュークスでお菓子を大量買いする人、ホグワーツ城を眺め る人、バタービールを試飲する人等、ホグズミードはすぐに賑やかになりました。 ザ・ウィザーティング・ワールド・オブ・ハリー・ポッターは筋金入りのポッタリア ンからなんとなくハリー・ポッターを知っているという人達まで、皆が心から楽しめ るようなテーマパークになっています。 ホグズミードをぶらぶらと歩き回ったり、ディメンターに追いかけられたり…あなた もマグル界を離れてハリー達の仲間入りをしませんか?

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