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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando Florida

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando Florida

Hogwarts is coming to Hollywood.

Comcast Corp. is in the final stages of a deal to bring Harry Potter’s magic to life in Hollywood so all us muggles can see it.  The replica of the Universal Studios Harry Potter attrack in Florida will be recreated at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.

The Comcast connection comes from when the cable TV giant that bought a majority stake in NBC/Universal in January in a huge package deal worth $13.5 billion.  Then they bought out their  50 percent partner in the Universal Orlando theme park, The Blackstone Group, for $1.03 billion in June.  This gives Comcast a huge, huge stake in the theme park business, and in the nine months through September, its theme-park revenue rose 33 percent from a year ago to $1.49 billion, while operating cash flow jumped 61 percent to $644 million.  The theme park business now amounts to about a quarter of Comcast’s entire operating cash flow.

A contract between Comcast Corp.-owned Universal and Warner Bros., which made the “Harry Potter” movies and controls licensing rights to author J.K. Rowling’s books about the boy wizard, is being finalized and should be done within the next few weeks, the people said.

The first Harry Potter attraction opened in Orlando in June of 2010.  Once it opened, the tourist traffic jumped by 40% – 50% according to a statement made by Comcast executive vice president Steve Burke in September. He said the attraction caused “a gigantic sea change in the profitability.”

Families have come in droves to go on Potter-themed rides, visit places made famous by the books such as the Three Broomsticks Inn, go on rides like the Flight of the Hippogriff, , and even drink a recreation of the wizarding world’s  famous butterbeer – which we hear is delightful (we’re trying to reverse engineer the recipe – we’ll let you know when we have this figured out).

Whimsic Alley in Los Angeles

Whimsic Alley in Los Angeles

The new attraction is expected to open at Universal Studios Hollywood no earlier than 2015.  Considering that the original park was supposed to take three years and took five to finish, we can probably expect to be able to visit Hogsmeade in Los Angeles some time around 2017.  We’re puzzled over where they’re going to put all this, though.  Universal Studios is built on a hilltop – there isn’t a lot of room up there.  They’re going to have to pull out some of the older attractions or repurpose some of it to make it all fit – and, some of the attractions in Orlando are open-air roller coasters, and that’s something we’re pretty sure they can’t do at the Hollywood site.

Well.  That’s going to be quite a long wait, isn’t it?  What’s a west coast Potterhead to do until then?

The closest thing we’ve found is a place in Los Angeles called Whimsic Alley, located at 5464 Wilshire Boulevard, about three blocks west of La Brea.  They have an indoors recreation of Diagon Alley with little sub-shops and things in which one can buy all manner of wizarding goodies, including licensed Harry Potter toys, apparel, a very nice line of wands – even chocolate frogs and the revolting Berty Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.  In the back there’s a banquet hall which bears a striking resemblance to the Great Hall at Hogwarts, where they do banquets, high tea, summer wizarding camp and birthday parties.

All in all it’s a rather nifty experience, and very much fun for the kids in the family – as well as the grownup kids who drive them there.

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