Fans of JK Rowling's Harry Potter books will be able to experience the boy wizard's world at a Hogwarts Castle in Orlando, Florida, starting Jun 18. Muggles who can't wait until June will be able to preview the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park on May 28. Innovative merchandising features are built into the experience. At the wand shop, they will be able to re-enact a scene from the beginning of the Harry Potter story, in which the young wizard is chosen by his wand.
The park opens Hogwarts to muggles, the name given to human beings unable to go there in the Harry Potter stories. The park's stores sell staples favored by Potter and friends, which include the fizzy drink butterbeer, Harry's favorite drink, and chocolate frogs. The attractions include quidditch matches, in which visitors participate seated on an "enchanted bench." Within the park, a 20-acre expansion of the existing Islands of Adventure park, visitors will encounter dragons and seek to avoid dementors, the soulless creatures that suck the happiness out of people. The signature ride of the park, called "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey," will take riders through scenes from the books. Visitors will also be able to step into the town of Hogsmeade, complete with train station and fabled locomotive, all standing in the shadow, of course, of Hogwarts Castle. Harry Potter continues to be a global phenomenon, with the series of stories about muggles, Harry and friends selling more than 400 million copies. The films are the largest grossing movie franchise, according to the newspaper, taking more than US $5.4 billion at the box office. Universal Orlando Resort hopes the 20-acre park could prove a potent rival to another and longer established magical kingdom run by Disney. (Written Mar 2010)
Date written/update: 2010-06-18