Pop Culture

Harry Potter theme park set to open

Soon you will no longer have to worry about dirtying your robes with soot while traveling the Floo Network, suffering the uncomfortable sensations of apparition or stumbling upon a port key in order to reach the magical world of Harry Potter.

Within three years, the only thing you’ll have to conjure up is a ticket to Orlando, Fla.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Universal Orlando Resort plan to open The Wizarding World of Harry Potter within Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in 2009, Tom Williams, chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts, announced Thursday on TODAY.  The “theme park within a theme park” is the first fully immersive Harry Potter-themed environment based on the best-selling books by J.K. Rowling and the blockbuster feature films.

"The plans I've seen look incredibly exciting, and I don't think fans of the books or films will be disappointed," Rowling said in a press release.  Williams said Rowling has been collaborating on the park from the beginning and will continue to do so through the opening.

Fans of Harry Potter will have a chance toÊexperience the magicalÊvillage of Hogsmeade when ÒThe Wizarding World of Harry PotterÓ opens at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Universal Orlando Resort are partnering to create the worldÕs first fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment based on J.K. RowlingÕs books and the Warner Bros. films. Fans will now be able to experience the world of Harry Potter in a physical environment at the newest island at UniversalÕs Islands of Adventure, ÒThe Wizarding World of Harry Potter,Ó which is expected to open in late 2009 or early 2010.

'Authentic world'
Visitors can stroll about Hogsmeade, discover the mysteries of the Forbidden Forest and explore Hogwarts castle.

"(Visitors will) be able to sense the sights, the sound, the touch and the feel, the smells and really immerse themselves in this authentic world," Williams said.

Stuart Craig, the Academy-Award winning production designer who has worked on the Harry Potter movies, is leading the creative design on the park to ensure it remains true to the look and feel of the films.

“Our primary goal is to make sure this experience is an authentic extension of Harry Potter’s world as it is portrayed in the books and films,” Craig said in a press release. 

The Wizarding World will feature rides, shops and restaurants all based on the fictional world of Harry Potter.

The announcement of the park adds to the current Harry Potter frenzy; the seventh and final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," will be release on July 21 and the fifth film, "The Order of the Phoenix," opens in theater on July 13.

-- Jen Brown, TODAYShow.com

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