Ladies and gentlemen, break out your brooms. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will unveil itself in Orlando in spring of 2010. From magical wands to flying broomsticks, secrets are swirling around the country as to what exactly will brew in the 20 acres of sorcery. After digging up the most scintillating highlights, we’ve laid out the facts and think that even Slytherin fans won’t be able to resist this overpowering attraction.
More than a decade ago, J.K. Rowling created a world that captured the minds of children and adults alike with her brave depictions of The Boy Who Lived, and his unthinkable magic environment. More than 400 million copies of her books have been sold, and their corresponding movies raked in $5.3 billion. Now, muggles everywhere can step into Harry’s miraculous world where objects fly, the past can be rewound and dark wizards lurk in the shadows for vengeance.
We have one question: How could anything possibly live up to what has already been done?
Universal Orlando Resort is being a bit mysterious about the Wizarding World, and we can only wait in feverish anticipation for so long. While the release-date is not exact, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is set to open this spring in Universal’s Island of Adventure Park. Some estimate a soft opening in April with an official opening around Memorial Day, and millions of Potter-loving fans await the $200 million theme park’s disclosure.
Teaming up with USA Today, they’ve released a few juicy details for what we can expect of the rides, scenery and hands-on experiences. Appropriately, the center of its 20-acre universe will undoubtedly be Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which dominates the park’s skyline at a soaring 150 feet, and can be seen from outside Universal’s borders. Inside Hogwarts will be the dark ride with “entirely new technology” called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which eerily twists and turns through scenes of the movies.
Other rides include Dragon Challenge – a twin high-speed roller coaster which hails from the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and the Flight of the Hippogriff, which comes from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Take a stroll through a realistic version of Hogsmeade Village, where you can stop in at the Three Broomsticks or the Hog’s Head Pub, and order a J.K. Rowling-approved recipe for Butterbeer. In Diagon Alley, take your chances inside Ollivander’s Wand Shop, where – as any fan knows – the wand chooses you, and the park creators won’t leave that part out. Through special effects and a bit of hair-raising theatrics, the wand will, actually choose its owner. Will you be courageous enough to take it?
No magical atmosphere would be complete without a towering game of Quidditch or distinctive treats like Chocolate Frogs and Every-Flavored Beans, but these are just minute details in the grand scheme of this momentous creation.
Want a 3D map? If you didn’t pick up the hard copy of USA Today on January 28, you can check out the online version of the theme park, which looks like the marauder’s map from the movies. You’ll need a webcam in order to view its three-dimensional qualities. Follow the instructions and you’ll see pop-up images of Hippogriffs and castles, and you can even blow into your computer’s microphone to see the flags at each location wave in the “wind.”
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has already been called the most anticipated attraction for the entire year, and it’s been rumored that other amusement parks have even held off announcing new attractions, in order to simply let Universal steal the show this summer.
Visiting is more affordable than you might think. Tickets are $79 for adults and $69 for children ages 3-9, and it’s easy to find cheap flights to Orlando from all over the country. We checked round-trip flights to Orlando for the first week in June:
Boston flights to Orlando, from $197
New York flights to Orlando, from $178
Los Angeles flights to Orlando, from $324
Chicago flights to Orlando, from $168
Houston flights to Orlando, from $274
Denver flights to Orlando, from $297
Washington, DC flights to Orlando, from $134