While a lot of the big news has been focused squarely on Universal Orlando’s Diagon Alley expansion, there was another big opening for Harry Potter this month.
Universal Studios Japan celebrated the grand opening of its Wizarding World of Harry Potter July 14 at Universal Studios Japan. Harry Potter film alumni Evanna Lynch and Tom Felton were on hand for the grand opening ceremony, which featured fireworks, a red carpet and plenty of confetti.
This new area is virtually identical to the Hogsmeade area at Islands of Adventure, and features a large-scale replica of Hogwarts (which contains the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride), as well as the Flight of the Hippogriff mini-coaster and the Three Broomsticks restaurant. The area also features a number of shops including Honeyduke's, Ollivanders, Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods and Zonko's Joke shop
However, there are some subtle differences between Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter area at Universal Studios Japan. First off, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride has gotten a technical upgrade, with 4K resolution and a 3D feature. Though the “show” is essentially the same, the 3D upgrade and high definition projection certainly make this the superior version of the ride.
A Japan exclusive
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is also a little bigger than its predecessor and features the iconic Black Lake next to Hogwarts. This important Potter-verse landmark can’t be found in Hogsmeade in Orlando, and isn’t said to be in the works for the Universal Studios Hollywood version either, making it an exclusive part of Universal Studios Japan.
Though these changes are small, they do set The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan apart from its doppelganger in Orlando. It will be interesting to see if hardcore Potter fans make the journey to Japan to check it out!