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Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park opens

11:20am AEST Saturday 19 June 2010

Harry Potter cast explore Hogwarts Castle (Photo courtesy of Universal Studios/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.).

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park has celebrated its grand opening.

The cast from Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, James and Oliver Phelps, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, Michael Gambon, Warwick Davis joined thousands of excited fans at the event.

The theme park at Universal Orlando Resort, US, has been in the making for over five years.

The themed area, inspired by J.K. Rowling's stories and characters, features multiple themed attractions, shops and a restaurant - all faithful to the books and films.

Visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter can tour Hogwarts castle, shop in Hogsmeade and dine in the Three Broomsticks.

Other adventures will allow them to fly with Harry, ride on a dragon, sample Butterbeer, and eat exploding sweets.

"We have created a special place unlike anywhere else in the world," said Tom Williams, chairman and CEO for Universal Parks and Resorts.

"The adventures of Harry Potter are among the most popular of our time - and we are bringing them to life."

"We will put our guests in the middle of a Harry Potter adventure. They will feel as if they are in the movies with Harry and his friends," he said.

The heart of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is Hogwarts castle - visible from everywhere within Islands of Adventure.

Within the castle is what the developers describe as possibly the most exhilarating theme park attraction ever created: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, an all-new adventure that combines a powerful storyline with spectacular new technology so effectively guests will be completely immersed in the experience. The ride will take guests on a journey where they will travel by Floo Network, soar over Hogwarts, narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, and get pulled into a Quidditch match.

"I remember when I was shooting the films when I was younger and I absolutely wished this world could be real and that I could be a part of it," said Daniel Radcliffe, who portrays Harry Potter in the film series.

"It's amazing that people will finally get to do that and realize everything they've seen on screen," he said.

Harry Potter continues to be a global phenomenon. The series of books by author J.K. Rowling has been translated into 69 languages with more than 400 million copies sold in over 200 territories around the world. The films, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, have grossed more than $5.4 billion at the box office worldwide, making Harry Potter the largest-grossing film franchise in history.

Australia Times


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