The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Open at Universal Studios Hollywood Next Spring
(Updated with additional detail.)
Universal Studios Hollywood today announced that its version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open sometime next spring.
In addition, Universal has confirmed that the Flight of the Hippogriff coaster will be coming to Hollywood, which would be the park's first outdoor coaster. In addition, the park will be getting the 3D version of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, which recently debuted at Universal Studios Japan.
Hogwarts Castle, under construction at Universal Studios Hollywood
From the park's press release:
“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will resonate with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s epicurean world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverage at multiple locations, including: Three Broomsticks™ and Hog's Head pub, as well the Magic Neep and Butterbeer™ carts.
A foray through the shops will add to the authenticity of the land with eight retail shops and locations, including Honeydukes™, Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods™.
Previously, the park had announced that the Wizarding World would open in 2016, but hadn't been more specific than that. The original Wizarding World, at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure, opened in June 2010, after having been announced for a "spring" opening, as well. So given that Universal takes "spring" literally, any opening between March and June of 2016 would be in play now for the new land.
Update: Here is the official announcement video: VIDEO
In it, Universal officials say that the land will open in "less than a year," suggesting an opening in May or earlier, as opposed to the June "spring" opening at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Finally, in case anyone is curious, the long-term "Evolution" plans for the park call for a new attraction to replace the Waterworld stunt show theater, and some of the specific documents for that suggest that location might be the site for Diagon Alley. (Though, to be honest, I don't see how they'd fit a Gringotts ride in there.) As for a Hogwarts Express to connect that land with the announced Hogsmeade, Universal only needs enough space for the two stations, plus the length of one train and two track switches between them. Remember that the Hogwarts Express trains don't have to be moving while the show plays! They'd be hidden from public view while in transit anyway. Diagon Alley followed the original Wizarding World in Orlando by four years, so one might expect that Universal would take several years before proceeding with any expansion of the Wizarding World in Hollywood, too.
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But actually, I'm pretty excited. However, I wish that we were getting Dueling Dragons rather than Flight of the Hippogriff.
Nice! Finally get a taste on the west coast. Spring does technically go through mid June...
The coaster should be high capacity. They should consider two tracks to increase capacity.
"The coaster should be high capacity"
Demand for Flight of the Hippogriff is minimal, even at the better attended park in Orlando. Once you've ridden it once most don't go a second time. However, with two train operation this is not a low-capacity design like some may think.
At one point last year, a friend who works for the corporate office of Universal Orlando heard that they were considering making the Great Hall an actual restaurant. I'm assuming this is not the case now.
Question about the 3D thing ... I just got back from a trip to UO (awesome as usual ...) and I made a point of comparing the Gringotts and FJ experiences.
USH is describing the glasses for FJ as "Quidditch-inspired 3D goggles," so I'd think we're getting something a bit more sturdy that the glasses we get on Minion Mayhem and the like.
To the anon comment above: talk of the Great Hall restaurant died a long time ago, which is why I quit mentioning it. I'm not surprised to see it excluded from the announcement today.
What I really wish Universal Hollywood would do is buy or make a hotel with the express pass offer like they have in Orlando. Unless you stay super close, just going two or three miles to and from a hotel is problematic. The last time I was there, it was very interesting. Almost no waits at all for the lower lot until the afternoon, and this was in June. Then all the people stuck in traffic started getting there, and the lines went crazy. Nobody, and I mean nobody, got there early like they do in Florida. Certainly, it is nowhere near the quality of Orlando, but I found the experience extremely fun and different. I think it is intended to be a different experience from Orlando with the Studio Tour being the centerpiece. That will change once Hogwarts gets added.
Diagon Alley taking over the space of Waterworld? That's a good development. More of the tram tour could be the theme park. They should consider it. Just flatten out the spaces.
Ahhh....Thanks for the update on the glasses, Robert!
Melanie: I saw a video of the Japan 3D glasses for FJ. They do indeed look similar to the Quidditch glasses. In fact they kind of look like the Snoopy vs. Red Baron WWI glasses from Peanuts. Probably will be more secure.
Sounds like USH is getting a copy of the area at IOA minus Dragon Challenge...about what I expected. I'm still skeptical of 3D being a good thing for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, though as I haven't ridden the existing versions I may be incorrect. I also have to think that based on when annual passes expire and the comments in the video, the park is probably shooting for a spring break soft opening and a Memorial Day grand opening of this land.
Two Diagon Alley shops are coming with Hogsmede in Hollywood (Maddam Malkins and another store I forgot the name of that's the Gringotts exit shop), plus a multi-room Olivanders and the Zonkos joke shop (closed in IOA, replaced by a shop in DA in USF that sells the same stuff). So I don't see them rushing to do Diagon Alley over in Hollywood.
This is disappointing to me. One of my favorite aspects about forbidden journey is that it's not 3D. And why bother with all of those brilliant AAs if you're just going to put 3D glasses on people you might as well make it like Transformers or Minions and just use screens!
I would have liked for USH to have built something completely different like the oft-rumored Ministry of Magic. As is, this "been there done that" expansion is really a bit of a "yawner". The SoCal locals will be fired up, which should help attendance a bit, but as far as Universal is concerned, Orlando remains the better option - by far. Why would a Harry Potter fan who has already visited Orlando plan a trip to visit USH? I find it perplexing that Universal choose to offer nothing new in this expansion.
They should have done a Quidditch inspired duelling coaster, missed opportunity...
They should keep Water World. It's a pretty epic show and there is nothing like it at UO
"Why would a Harry Potter fan who has already visited Orlando plan a trip to visit USH?"
^It doesn't work both ways... Universal Orlando is in a whole different league when compared to USH. I could easily see folks from SoCal heading to the other coast just to see what they are missing in their slimmed down version of HP. Maybe not you, Anon, but plenty of other folks have already made that pilgrimage as evidenced by the huge attendance gains the Orlando parks have seen. The way I see it, Universal Hollywood really missed out on a great opportunity to draw in worldwide attention from Potter Nation by going copycat.
This makes me wonder whether FJ at IOA will eventually be changed to 3D. I hope not. As much as I love a good 3D ride, I think it's fine, as is (although a 4k upgrade would be most welcome).
How can it work in 3D? Much of the ride consists of real sets and characters.
@James: Now USH will have Harry Potter going for it. The tram ride is attractive for visiting actual Hollywood sets, but Harry Potter will find an audience for tourists visiting from the West Coast and tourists from Asia and Pacific regions. These tourists are unlikely to visit Orlando and the Asia Universal theme parks. There's many people that will find USH a more than adequate substitute. Keeping Harry Potter in Orlando only is the equivalent of keeping no clones in WDW to help out Disneyland. It seems like maybe thats why WDW is pretty slow to get much because Disneyland doesn't have much expansion space. You make it seem like there's no reason to visit USH. If this is true, Harry Potter is not a factor. BTW: Fast and Furious is new and coming this year.
Even though this is smaller and a clone of the Florida stuff, I am excited because I live in Australia. Once you take a 15 hour flight, you just want to stop, especially when little kids are with you. Going all the way to Florida adds more money and time. I hope to go there some day, but whenever we are back to visit our family we go through CA and stop there briefly or have them meet us there. I also think that "locals" for Universal Hollywood could be considered to be anyone within about a 10 hour drive. It is so much less expensive to go when you can drive there. When we lived in SF we went to Disneyland about once a year, but when I lived in the Midwest flying to WDW was a very expensive and very infrequent trip.
OU & Parkscope Insiders are saying the land's layout will be the same as Universal Japan.
@Anon, my apologies for not being more clear, but I think you missed my point. I'm not saying they shouldn't build Harry Potter attractions, I'm saying they should build DIFFERENT Harry Potter attractions. On the East coast they are competing with a fully realized, doubly expansive Harry Potter World at Universal Orlando. To the West at Universal Japan, they are competing with a more roomy and picturesque version of what is being built in USH. I see no reason for anyone other than west coasters to visit USH if they want to get their Harry Potter fix. And even west coasters would probably rather visit the Orlando version if they have the money and time. Had Universal Creative lived up to their namesake, they would have put something new in USH, such as the Ministry of Magic or even a different ride inside Hogwart's Castle. If you argue that Fobidden Journey is now a staple for Universal akin to Space Mountain at Disney, then at the very least they could have come up with a better b-ride than a copy of the Flying Unicorn/Hippogriff which is pretty much just an off-the-shelf Vekoma Junior coaster with some mild theming.
Expecting more to where not even clones are acceptable? Universal made it to the Big Leagues, not the Ginormous Leagues. I think Diagon Alley already proves Universal can do more Harry Potter attractions yet you're not satisified. they must do more more more. FJ will be in 3D, not quite what was opened in 2010. USH won't fit most of the attractions from Orlando. In fact, Orlando can further distinguish itself with King Kong, Nintendo, and the Volcano water park. Its not like the public is all that familiar with FJ. Fewer people rode this than Pirates or Small World. Putting Universal beyond even what Disney can do sets them up for failure. Thanks a lot James.
I don't think Universal would fail by being more creative - it is their creativity that catapulted them into the limelight in the first place. And in the second place, I already allowed that FJ could be considered a Universal E-ticket staple worthy of cloning at all their parks (like Space Mountain is for Disney - although every Space Mountain is a different experience, I believe). I am actually more disappointed in the Vekoma clone they are adding (of which there are 20+ operating in the world - three of them at Universal parks). Flight of the Hippogriff gives USH two weak, kiddie rides as their only coasters. Yay. I can't wait to book a trip.
Not a fan of the F&F films but I am not a fan of the Harry Potter films either (love the books). On the other hand, I have mentioned in previous discussion threads that the Tram Tour is the one attraction at USH that intrigues me - especially since the last time I rode it I was like eight years old.
I will be bummed if they close Waterworld. I wouldn't mind a new story in that space, but I would hate to see it close entirely. It is a uniquely USH experience.
I find it confusing why some people complain that its a copy of Orlando (restaurants, shops, and the two rides). Lots of people cant go to Orlando from the west coast, East Asia, Mexico, Australia,the Southwest, and so forth. I consider USH my home park and when Transformers was announced for Florida I wasn't like "they should build something new like a Star Trek ride or whatever". On the contrary, I was pleased to know I can ride my favorite ride at both destinations now and that the good people from the East Coast, Europe, Brazil, etc can also enjoy it.
It's not a copy of Orlando it is a copy of Japan. But, like I said, locals will be stoked. I totally get it.
Why do they have to take out Waterworld?! I've never been to USH and, behind the Tram Tour, that was the attraction I wanted to see the most because it's one of the few attractions that isn't a clone of something we already have in Florida! Now they're gonna replace it with another clone? Really? I'm just saying, when I visited Disneyland 5 years ago, as cool as it was to ride different versions of attractions that I was so used to, I was even happier to ride entirely new attractions such as Indianna Jones Adventure And Storybook Land!
Agreed. Nice for locals, regional west coasters, but compared to USO, it's a let down. Something new would've added something special. Don't care about F&F. Simpsons, whatever, wouldn't go out of my way.
Once Water World is gone, I'd rather save up money and fly out to USO. It was the one unique aspect other than the Tour that made USH special. It was the best stunt show, and lets you appreciate stunt work in person. Live action can't be replaced by AA's and screens. That's why live music, Broadway Shows, etc. will always be around.
I actually think it makes sense to build similar attractions. I think people that are big Potter fans will go where it is best for them. If you live in Southern California, you don't have to make the trek to Florida. That being said, both locations have tons of differences. If you go to Orlando, you basically are going to theme parks. If you go to California, you can go to many different tourist destinations. San Diego, the beach (which you can in Florida, but you really should just go to parks), and other things. Also, I live in the central U.S., so there are pros and cons for both. One big pro for California is that it is not hotter than hell in the summer. Obviously, if theme parks are your only goal, then Florida is the best choice, but the California locations are great. Finally, if you are a true Harry Potter fan, you need to go to both. In California you can tour Warner Brothers and see actual props. Not sure how long they will all be on display, but it is very impressive. The only truly negative about going to multiple location in L.A. is the traffic is unbelievable. The big pro for Florida and Universal is the unlimited Express Pass at three of their hotels. You pay for it, no doubt, but it is so worth it if you are there during a high capacity season.
For those of you worried WaterWorld will go I think its time to relax. Disney long ago announced to replace Aladdin at DCA for a Toy Story show and that never happened. Aladdin is wonderful as is WaterWorld.
"If you're going to Orlando, you're going to the theme parks."
"If you're going to Orlando, you're going to the theme parks." It most certainly was not meant as a slight at Florida. I visit Florida at least once a year and never go to a theme park. My point is, and I admit the point was poorly made, that most people when going to Disney or Universal in Orlando, only go to theme parks. The theme parks even try to make sure of this by shuttling you directly from the airport to the parks. Actually, having gone to both coasts regularly, I think the beaches in Florida are better. Now I have offended both coasts. But seriously, as a theme park fan, you could go to a theme park for 12 hours a day for three weeks in Orlando and still not see everything. One day I would love to go to all the various sites around Orlando, but (since I am here on this website daily), I am a theme park nut, and the theme parks in Orlando get all my time. One the other hand, I do not go to Orlando theme parks in the summer. I have gone to a Six Flags park in the heat of the summer every year for 30 years in a row, and I always leave miserable. I will not do that to my enjoyment at the parks in Orlando, I just like them too much. So, if I must go to Disney or Universal in the middle of the summer, then Southern California is ideal. No offense to anybody.
"If you're going to Orlando, you're going to the theme parks."
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