Renderings of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. // © 2015 Universal Studios Hollywood
One year ago, Universal Orlando Resort opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando. At the theme park, guests have cast spells throughout the land with magical interactive wands and experienced the thrill of watching a 60-foot dragon breathe real fire from the top of Gringotts bank, as well as come face-to-face with the evil Lord Voldemort as they travel through the vaults of Gringotts on the groundbreaking Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride.
And now, another exciting Hogwarts experience is heading to Los Angeles: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is currently under construction at Universal Studios Hollywood. This will be the fourth Wizarding World of Harry Potter, joining two other Hogsmeade worlds in Orlando and Japan, and Diagon Alley in Orlando.
Just in case your owl got lost, this is what guests can expect when this magical attraction opens in the spring of 2016.
“At Universal Orlando, we were able to build [the environments from the films] at full-scale, creating immersive, storytelling moments,” according to Alan Gilmore, one of the key members of the creative team that brought the world of Harry Potter to life.
And The Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood will certainly deliver the same otherworldly experiences as its counterparts. Just like in Orlando, the new Hogsmeade will feature the iconic Hogwarts Castle as its centerpiece, and the popular signature attraction Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will take park guests on a thrilling ride inside its walls alongside Potter on his broomstick.
However, the West Coast version of the attraction will deliver “a whole new level of hyperrealism” when it makes its debut as a dynamic 3-D and high-definition adventure, immersing guests even further into the Harry Potter story with Quidditch-inspired 3-D goggles, according to Xiomara Wiley, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Universal Studios Hollywood. In addition, the family-friendly Flight of the Hippogriff ride will have the distinction of being the California theme park’s first outdoor roller coaster.
“What makes this particularly exciting is the fact that we’re bringing these movies to life in the movie capital of the world,” said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative for Universal Parks & Resorts.
Visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood will also be able to enhance their experience within The Wizarding World by sampling some of the unique food and drinks inspired by the Harry Potter books and movies at the Three Broomsticks restaurant, Hog’s Head pub and Honeydukes sweet shop. They’ll also be able to purchase a wide variety of supernatural souvenirs at eight retail shops, including wand store Ollivanders, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods.
“From books and movies to exhilarating theme-park adventures … Harry Potter has captivated the world’s attention,” said Larry Kurzweil, president of Universal Studios Hollywood. “With its imminent arrival to the entertainment capital of L.A., Universal Studios Hollywood is thrilled to bring our guests a new, compelling experience of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as we embark on this next chapter in our storied history.” (www.universalstudioshollywood.com)
Even More Magic
Disneyland Resort also has big expansion plans in the works. Beginning in 2017, the resort will undergo a billion-dollar expansion that is expected to include new attractions and additional parking. There is some speculation that the theme park’s planned expansion may have something to do with Disney’s acquisition of the “Star Wars” franchise. The Orange County Register reported that Disney chairman Bob Iger told shareholders that Disney Imagineers are working on “Star Wars” attractions, though he did not specify for which Disney park (or parks) these are being planned.
While specific rides and themed lands may still be a well-kept Disney secret, Michael Colglazier, president of Disneyland Resort, said the company is “excited about what the future holds.” And if the current Disneyland Diamond Celebration is any indication, park guests should be excited, too.