Attention may be focused on the opening of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, but two other Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter are under construction elsewhere.
Universal Studios Hollywood is expected to open its own version of the Wizarding World in 2016, as part of a $1.6 billion evolution plan. Universal Studios Japan, meanwhile, will beat it to the punch, with its Harry Potter land due to open in summer or fall 2014. Neither park has confirmed the full line-up of attractions for their Potter areas, but we can make some educated guesses based on construction work so far and rumors circulating on the web.
Without further ado, let's start with Universal Studios Hollywood...
The Wizarding World of 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, so expect to see some of the Hogsmeade shops, restaurants and facades sacrificed, along with 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).
Very likely or confirmed attractions:
- 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.
- Flight of the Hippogriff - a version of the family coaster at Islands of Adventure, complete with Hagrid's Hut, is a near certainty.
- 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.
- 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.
Don't expect any movement on this whatsoever for some years (and take this with a huge pinch of salt), or until the impact of the first phase of Harry Potter attractions becomes clear. But one of the wilder rumors (via Screamscape) is that a clone of Diagon Alley, complete with a Gringotts Bank coaster clone, will eventually be built on part of the backlot. This would be linked to the Hogsmeade area by a clone of the under-construction Hogwarts Express train ride in Orlando.
The Wizarding World of Japan
With slightly more room to work in (the Wizarding World will consume an old parking lot), Universal Studios Japan's version of Hogsmeade is expected to more 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:
Very likely or confirmed attractions:
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - a version of the attraction is confirmed for Universal Studios Japan.
- Flight of the Hippogriff - a version of the family coaster is also on its way.
- 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.
- 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).
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.
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