Harry Potter is going to Japan. The hit theme park attraction that started in Orlando is going to be heading straight to Universal Studios Japan for a very tight 2014 opening. James and Oliver Phelps, who played the Weasley twins in the films, were on hand to help make the huge announcement. The new attraction will increase the size of the Osaka, Japan theme park by one fifth. But is this too much of a good thing?
The Harry Potter is arguably one of the most successful franchises in history, spanning both films, books and in 2010 theme parks. Late 2011 it was announced that Universal Studios Hollywood would be getting their own version of The Wizarding World which is now eyeing an opening date of 2016. Earlier this year Leavesden Studios in London opened “The Harry Potter Experience” which features a tour through the actual sets of the films. Universal Orlando is expected to open an expansion to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in it’s Universal Studio’s Florida park, though that announcement has not been officially made. Thursday Universal Studios Japan announced the new addition to their park with the help of James and Oliver Phelps who played the Weasely Twins in all of the films.
“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an entirely new level of themed entertainment that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life in incredible ways. It will forever change tourism, not only in Kansai but throughout Japan. We are thrilled to be bringing one of the most powerful themed entertainment experiences of our time to Universal Studios Japan, marking the global expansion of this incredible phenomenon, and we are confident that guests will want to return again and again to fully experience all that this fantastic environment will have to offer,” said Michael Silver, President, Global Business Development, Universal Parks & Resorts.
The new area will feature Hogwarts castle, which houses the signature ride “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” which uses a giant robotic arm to move guests along a track and interact with screens, and dark ride elements. The area will also feature the village of Hogsmeade, several shops and of course Butterbeer. Butterbeer is a signature item only found at the Harry Potter attractions. The park has promised other attractions, but as of now has not announced which attractions. At Islands of Adventure’s Wizarding World, you can ride dragons and take a flight on a Hippogriff as well as have your wand choose you in Ollivanders Wand Shop.
When Wizarding World opened in 2010, attendance at Universal Orlando skyrocketed, and continued to do so in 2011, and the first part of 2012. It has been a born money maker in the theme park industry, and has set a new standard in immersive family entertainment. Until The Harry Potter Experience opened at Leavesden studios it was the only Harry Potter attraction in the world. With the huge success, it makes natural sense that Univesral would want to duplicate it. However, could this be too much of a good thing?
Being unique certainly has it’s advantages. Universal Studios has recorded an unprecedented 36% jump in attendance between 2009 and 2010, making it one of the top ten theme park destinations in the world. With so many Harry Potter attractions opening worldwide, could we see that number in Orlando drop? Many industry professionals say no, pointing to other parks with similar attractions by companies like Disney. With the Harry Potter franchise now at an end, with no more books or films expected, it’s possible that the Boy Wizard’s popularity could wane, causing a decline in all of the theme park attractions, leaving the streets of Hogsmeade empty.
While the idea is possible, it’s not very likely. Audiences the world over have clamored for the attractions already at Universal Orlando, including Butterbeer. With new attractions announced at every Universal theme park, it seems that the Boy Who Lived has a long and healthy theme park career in front of him.
To get an idea of what you can expect at The Wizarding World, check out our complete coverage!