Universal is set to introduce three new Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter over the next couple of years. Each is expected to offer its own unique experiences for Potter fans.
Most attention is focused on the spring 2014 debut of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, but two other Wizarding Worlds are under construction elsewhere. Universal Studios Hollywood's version is expected to open in 2016, as part of a $1.6 evolution plan. Universal Studios Japan will beat it to the punch, with its version of the Wizarding World due to open in summer or fall 2014.
We now know most of the details of Diagon Alley, but the full line-ups of the other two under-construction Harry Potter lands have kept under-wraps so far. However, it is widely expected that each of the 3 new areas will offer its own unique attraction, in order to differentiate them from the existing Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure.
Let's take a look at each of the 3 lands in turn.
3. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Studios Hollywood)
The Gibson Amphitheatre and the Adventures of Curious George attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood are both being demolished to make room for the park's clone of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Work on this is well underway, with both attractions having closed in summer 2013.
Universal Studios Hollywood has a completely different topography to Universal Orlando, being essentially built on a huge hill. Also, much of its real estate is taken up by its working studio backlot. This will make building an exact clone of the Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure difficult, but we expect to see most of the Hogsmeade shops, restaurants and facades recreated, but not the Dragon Challenge coaster (which is only really in the existing Wizarding World because it happened to be there already, in its original guise as Dueling Dragons).
- Confirmed: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - a clone of the hugely popular simulator-cum-dark-ride is a nailed-on certainty. Expect the ride experience to be largely or completely identical to that of the Florida version - it if ain't broke, don't fix it.
- Confirmed: Ollivanders Wand Shop - while it may not bring the full set of Hogsmeade shops across to Hollywood, Universal knows that Ollivanders is a huge money-spinner. It'll be there in some form or other.
- Rumored: Flight of the Hippogriff - a version of the family coaster at Islands of Adventure, complete with Hagrid's Hut, is a near certainty.
- Rumored: Great Hall Dining Experience - rumors suggest that, rather than constructing a separate Three Broomsticks restaurant to clone the one in Orlando, Universal will instead bring a huge, Disney-style immersive dining experience to Hogwarts Castle itself. This would be complete with interactive elements, such as moving portraits and a holographic Professor Dumbledore. Interestingly, this would require Hogwarts Castle to be much larger in Hollywood than it is in Orlando, although it would save space elsewhere.
- Defense Against the Dark Arts show - Universal Studios Hollywood is famous for its movie-based shows, more so than any other theme park in the world. There's no confirmation whatsoever for this, but the rumor mill suggests that the hole left by the absence of Dragon Challenge will be filled by another such show, themed around a Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson and hosted in the enormous Hogwarts Castle.
2. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley (Universal Studios Florida)
Unless you've buried your head in the sand, you've likely heard about the second Wizarding World that's due to open at Universal Orlando in summer 2014. The existing Wizarding World in Islands of Adventure will be renamed as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade, while the new land at Universal Studios Florida will be centered around a recreation of the fictional London street of Diagon Alley.
- Confirmed: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts - a hybrid roller coaster / dark ride will take guests on a high-tech tour of the Gringotts Wizarding Bank's vaults.
- Confirmed: Hogwarts Express - a version of the train ride will link Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade over in Islands of Adventure.
- Confirmed: Diagon Alley: - the famous wizarding shopping street will be recreated in full, complete with a host of stores such as Ollivanders Wand Shop and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, as well as the Leaky Cauldron pub.
- Confirmed: Knockturn Alley: - the murky alley, a favorite hangout of dark wizards, will feature the Borgin and Burkes store.
- Confirmed: London Embankment - the front of the second Wizarding World will be a recreation of several London landmarks. Universal has dubbed the area the London Embankment, but actually it will be a mish-mash of different icons from the city.
- Confirmed: Horizont Alley and Carkitt Market - towards the rear of the expansion is a new area dubbed Carkitt Market. This doesn't feature in the books, and was named by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. Another huge area that is yet to be detailed by Universal is Horizont Alley, which will run parallel to Diagon Alley.
1. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Studios Japan)
Occupying an old parking lot, Universal Studios Japan's version of Hogsmeade is expected to closely resemble that of Islands of Adventure. Construction work is already very advanced, with Hogwarts Castle taking shape. Again, the speed with which the land has been put together suggests that a lot has been borrowed from Orlando. Take a look at progress in the video below:
Universal Studios Japan's Wizarding World of Harry Potter will cover about eight hectares, meaning it will consume some 20 percent of the park. No opening date has been confirmed as yet.
- Confirmed: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - a version of the attraction is confirmed for Universal Studios Japan. Rumors suggest that it may feature unique elements not seen in the original.
- Confirmed: Flight of the Hippogriff - a version of the family coaster is also on its way.
- Confirmed: Hogsmeade Village - expect most or all of the shops (including Ollivanders) seen in Orlando's Hogsmeade to be recreated in Japan. No word yet on whether that includes the Three Broomsticks restaurant.
- Rumored: Defense Against the Dark Arts show - Universal Studios Japan has referred to a "school for wizards" being part of its plans. This is some way short of confirming that the show rumored for Universal Studios Hollywood is on its way to Japan, but it would provide a replacement for Dragon Challenge (which won't be cloned in Japan).
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