Potter theme park ready to fly

17 September 2009

LOS ANGELES: The long-awaited Harry Potter theme park will open in Florida next spring on a 20-acre site which is intended to "recapture the mystery and excitement of Hogwarts" for millions of visitors.

While operators Universal and Warner will not discuss financial details, analysts believe that Wizarding World will cost an initial $265 million, (€180m; £160m).

Although a significant sum, the outlay is relatively small in comparison with the $1 billion being poured into the California Adventure park by Disney.

Universal, which secured theme park rights to JK Rowling's Harry Potter books in May 2007, says the park will be faithful to the visual landscapes of the Harry Potter films and will attempt to include something from every book.

According to Alan Gilmore, art director for the films and now seconded to park design, "we had free range to be as grand and as excessive as we could be, and it's only money that holds us back in the end."

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the biggest of three rides to take centre stage in the new park and is said to focus on a lavish, high-tech experience inside the castle itself.

Flight of the Hippogriff is described as a family coaster that simulates the half-horse, half-eagle from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, while Dragon Challenge is a twin high-speed coaster featuring elements of the Tri-wizard Tournament.

Interactive shopping will also be a major attraction, according to the production team.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff