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Hogwarts Castle at night

The popularity of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter enabled the Universal Orlando Resort to increase attendance by 68% year-on-year during the first quarter of 2011.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the increase in visitor numbers helped the resort to post a profit of $45.8 million during the quarter, having lost $36.4 million during the same quarter in 2010. The opening of the Harry Potter-themed land in Islands of Adventure has been widely credited as being behind the turn-around, having drawn huge crowds since its debut in June 2010.

Total attendance at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure rose to 2.8 million, an increase of 1.1 million on the previous year. In addition, guests spent more per person than during the previous year, with sales of Potter merchandise helping increase the per-capita figure by 17 percent. Reflecting this, total merchandise sales grew by 156 percent to $42.7 million.

Universal hopes that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will help establish its Orlando resort as a multi-day destination and increase occupancy at its on-site hotels. It has already had a significant impact, having helped the resort to a 20% increase in full-year attendance during 2010.

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On May 9th, which is outside the main holiday period, there were large crowds in Harry Potter World, particularly in the morning. The queue to ride the Forbidden Journey was about 60 minutes for much of the day, but it was worth the wait. In the last 30 minutes before closing at 7pm the crowds had disappeared and you could walk straight onto the ride, which we did twice. The wait to ride Dragon Challenge was only about 10 minutes for most of the day.

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