Universal LA theme park hopes fans buy into new 'Harry Potter' world

Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:01pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - From the cobblestone alleyways to the snow-capped roofs, fans of "Harry Potter" will be able to immerse themselves into a new "Wizarding World" attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, and the theme park is betting on their purchasing power.

"The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," opening April 7, brings to life the quaint town of Hogsmeade from author J.K. Rowling's seven-part "Harry Potter" books and subsequent films, and it caps off a five-year revamp across the park.

Comcast Corp-owned Universal Studios Hollywood has introduced new rides capitalizing on the box office success of franchises "Transformers," "Despicable Me" and "Fast & Furious," as well as expanding "The Simpsons" attraction.

But the "Wizarding World" is what the theme park is banking on. Comcast reported a revenue increase of 27 percent to $3.3 billion from its Orlando, Florida, and Hollywood, California locations in its 2015 year-end report.

The company said revenues were bolstered by Orlando's new "Harry Potter" world, which features two lands, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, connected by the Hogwarts Express train. An additional ticket is required to visit both lands in one day.

Hollywood's "Wizarding World" features two rides, one within the castle-like structure of the Hogwarts school and the other an outdoors rollercoaster, alongside intricately detailed shops and restaurants such as Honeydukes sweets, Ollivanders wands and The Three Broomsticks.

Visitors can purchase a vast assortment of "Harry Potter" merchandise, from quills for under $10 to interactive wands for around $50 and full Hogwarts school robes from around $100.

"We've always aimed to be as authentic as we can be, even down to the name of the shops. They're called shops, not stores," supervising art director Alan Gilmore told Reuters.   Continued...

Key rings are on display for purchase outside Hogwarts School during a soft opening and media tour of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" theme park at the Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, California in this picture taken March 22, 2016.  REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian