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Three years ago, my family and I had the great experience of visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, shortly after it opened. It really did bring the world of the franchise’s books and movies alive for my kids (and in no small part to my wife and me) far better than I had expected, and, coupled with a second visit last summer, I know my kids will not soon forget it.
Considering the enormous success that the attraction has been, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Universal Parks and Resorts has announced an expansion to it, to open next year. The really unusual part of this expansion is that it will actually be at Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventures’ sibling theme park. I’m no expert in theme parks, but I’m not aware of any other attraction split between two adjacent parks.
While it may be unusual, it does make a certain amount of sense, as the new attraction will be based on the Harry Potter world’s magical London shopping district of Diagon Alley, while the existing one is based on the wizarding school Hogwarts and its accompanying village of Hogsmeade. In the world of the books and movies, the two areas are supposed to be many miles apart, so there is a logic to their separation in real life.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and Florida governor Rick Scott have been spotted at the theme parks lately, indicating that Rowling is presumably taking as close a hand in the preparation of the new attraction as she did for The Wizarding World one. If results are comparable — and there’s no reason to think they won’t be — it will be an experience as close to magical as you’re likely to find without finding a wand that actually works.