Thirteen years ago today, the theme park industry changed, perhaps forever. That was the date that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure, changing the balance of power and the immediate direction of the theme park industry.
Harry Potter's opening sparked dramatic growth in attendance for Universal Orlando, somewhat at the expense of rival SeaWorld Orlando. Higher revenue from Potter allowed Universal to buy out its partner Blackstone Group to take full ownership of the Orlando resort. Since then, Universal has taken on an aggressive expansion plan for its theme parks, resulting last year in Islands of Adventure beating three of the four Walt Disney World parks in attendance, while Universal Studios Florida beat two of the WDW parks.
None of this happens if Disney had won the rights to develop a Harry Potter attraction, instead of Universal. You can read an extensive history of the Wizarding World's opening day in my blog post from ots 10th anniversary, Harry Potter and the Day That Changed Theme Parks Forever, which includes interviews with multiple people who were there, including comments from the stars of the Harry Potter film series.
Since then, Universal Orlando opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley over at Universal Studios Florida in July 2014, with a copy of the original Wizarding World opening at Universal Studios Japan one week later.
In April 2016, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, and another Wizarding World opened with Universal Studios Beijing in September 2021. A Harry Potter-themed land is also under construction for Universal Orlando's Epic Universe theme park, which opens in 2025.
What's your favorite thing about Universal's Wizarding World? And what are you looking forward to seeing next? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments.
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