Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Hollywood to open Spring 2016

Universal Studios Hollywood announced today that the upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction will open in the spring of 2016.

Initially announced in December 2011, the park will feature the signature attractions from the Orlando and Japan locations, including Hogwarts Castle, the Flight of the Hipogriff ride, and the shops at Hogsmeade Village, with Honeydukes, Ollivanders Wand Shop, the Three Broomsticks, Dervish and Banges, and much more.

Promotional image released today via Universal Studios Hollywood on Twitter

Promotional image released today via Universal Studios Hollywood on Twitter

Hogwarts Castle will house the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, which will immerse guests into the storyline. Guests will meet Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they soar above Hogwarts, partake in a Quidditch match, and narrowly escape the Whomping Willow. This version of the Wizarding World’s signature ride is new and improved from the Orlando version and will utilize Quidditch-inspired 3D goggles.

Ahead of the park’s opening, visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood can purchase Harry Potter merchandise, including wands, robes, and other collectibles, in their on-site stores.

More details will be revealed later today with an online video announcement at 1:00 p.m. EST/ 10 a.m. PST. Universal encourages fans to join in the conversation on social media using #WizardingWorldHollywood.

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Pottermore announces winner of Proudest House Contest

proud1Last month Pottermore News reported on Pottermore’s Proudest House Contest, in which Pottermore fans posted their displays of Hogwarts House Pride on social media over the weekend; the winner was determined by whichever House delivered the highest amount of mentions.

This week, Pottermore announced the winner of the contest and the substantial prize of 1 million house points — Slytherin! Between the four houses, each representing a Hogwarts house on Pottermore, Slytherin sent in 37% of the messages on social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Gryffindor and Ravenclaw each accounted for 23% of the messages, while Hufflepuff contributed 17%.

In a fair action, Pottermore rewarded both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw with 230,000 points and Hufflepuff with 170,000. However, only members of Salazar’s house received this special message:

Pottermore fans participated in the Proudest House Contest over a Celebration of Harry Potter weekend at Universal Resort in Orlando, Florida, the location of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park. The celebration brought together fans and official Potter people alike, including cast and crew from the films and representatives from Pottermore and the Harry Potter Studio Tour.

Echoing our favorite author, we say, “Congratulations, serpents!” The seventh Pottermore House Cup competition is well underway; it will be a few more months until Pottermore announces the winner. So, get brewing and dueling!

Link: Read the official announcement on the Pottermore Insider.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan Celebrates Grand Opening

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan opened on Tuesday, July 15.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan opened on Tuesday, July 15.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan celebrated their grand opening this week with J.K. Rowling, Tom Felton, and Evanna Lynch all in attendance. Tom and Evanna played Draco Malfoy and Luna Lovegood, respectively, in the Harry Potter films.

As planned, on Tuesday, July 15 the park was opened by Tom and Evanna with Glen Gumpel, the President and CEO of Universal Studios Japan. According to the press release, “Mr. Felton and Ms. Lynch led the guests with the Revelio spell as the archway was filled with smoke, which slowly lifted to reveal Hogsmeade village prompting cheers from waiting park guests. Then so many guests stepped into Hogsmeade village with excitement and were welcomed by Hogsmeade villagers.”

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On Monday, J.K. Rowling enjoyed a private visit to the park with her family. She commented on the experience in a statement that was included in the press release:

“The craft and attention to detail across The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is incredible and I will take away the memory of Hogwarts castle reflected on the Black Lake in particular. I’m delighted that Harry fans in Japan and around Asia can experience a physical incarnation that is so close to what I imagined when writing the books,” said J.K. Rowling.

Check out these pictures of her visiting the park:

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In comparison, the WWoHP in Japan features most of what the Orlando location has to offer, with the exception of the Dueling Dragons ride. However, Japan includes aspects that aren’t at Orlando, including the Black Lake and the Forbidden Forest. The new park cost 45 billion yen ($442.2 million) to construct.

With the Japan park and Orlando expansion now open, there’s one more Wizarding World still being built. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood is set to open in 2016.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is now opened!

Above: Fans embrace at the opening of the WWoHP - Diagon Alley yesterday

Above: Fans embrace at the opening of the WWoHP – Diagon Alley yesterday

After years of waiting, countless reports and concept renderings, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley finally opened its doors to the public Tuesday, July 8.

The full press release:

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES… 
THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER – DIAGON ALLEY NOW OPEN
AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT

The Most Spectacularly-Themed, Highly-Anticipated Theme Park Experience of the Year Rolls Out
the Red Carpet to Officially Welcome its First Guests

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 8, 2014) – It’s the day millions of people around the world have been waiting for…

This morning, Universal Orlando Resort officially opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.   Confetti, fireworks and a red carpet lined with dozens of cheering Diagon Alley team members welcomed thousands of excited guests as they entered the all-new spectacularly-themed land for the very first time.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley brings even more of Harry Potter’s adventures to life at Universal Orlando Resort.   This fully-immersive area expands upon the global phenomenon launched by Universal Orlando when it opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure in 2010.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is filled with incredible entertainment experiences for the whole family.  You arrive aboard the Hogwarts Express, which takes guests on a journey between the two lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and are transported into a spectacularly themed environment. The new area includes incredible shops with windows full of magical surprises, authentic food and beverages, a towering dragon that breathes fire and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, a new attraction unlike any other that takes you on a mind-blowing ride through the Gringotts vaults – pulling you into an incredible adventure.

More details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and available vacation packages can be found atwww.UniversalOrlando.com/wizardingworld.

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All Aboard: A Journey on the Hogwarts Express with Oliver and James Phelps

Hypable

James and Oliver Phelps and Bonnie Wright take a selfie with the Hogwarts Express

Earlier this afternoon, following the exciting events of last night’s red carpet event at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Oliver and James Phelps hosted a live webcast of their journey aboard the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station to Platform 9 ¾. Before boarding the train, they point out that every single block at King’s Cross Station was made by hand to make them look as realistic as possible!

We then cut to Bonnie Wright and Domhnall Gleeson who are waiting for the Phelps twins. Bonnie says impatiently, “I really want some ice cream!” and Domhnall looks at his watch and says, “Typical.”

Back on the train, the twins spot Hagrid out of the window and give him a friendly wave. While walking down the corridor to their compartment, one says, “Anything from the trolley, dears?” in a high-pitched, girlish voice. Like their characters, Fred and George Weasley, James and Oliver Phelps are true jokesters in real life.

At their seats, the twins reveal another fun fact about the Hogwarts Express: the fabric for the compartment sets was shipped from UK from the same fabric manufacturers that made the fabric for the train seats in the movies. Like the bricks at King’s Cross Station, the seats were designed to be as realistic as possible. The designers also went over to the UK to ride a train through the English countryside so they could simulate the actual experience for the Wizarding World.

Some centaurs are seen out of the window, bounding through the Forbidden Forest as the twins continue their journey. Then, the twins have a double, double take as they see themselves flying on broomsticks outside of the train window! Their digital doubles throw some of their special fireworks into the air, and they reveal the message, “Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes Now in Diagon Alley.”

MyNews13

Digital Fred and George Weasley flying outside of the Hogwarts Express window getting ready to put on a spectacular fireworks display!

Next, the journey takes the twins past the gloomy Malfoy Manor. The trip actual simulates the exact route that the Hogwarts Express would take through the English countryside. As the train gets close to Platform 9 ¾, we see the Knight Bus carefully squeezing out of a narrow alleyway in between two buildings. One of the twins jokingly says, “Driving just like my brother.”

James and Oliver finally arrive at the platform and greet Bonnie and Domhnall, who decide to go off to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. Before the twins join them, they run into Matthew Lewis who seems to be a little confused and under the impression that his webcast with Tom Felton is scheduled today, not tomorrow. The twins alert him of his mistake and Matthew says, “Saving the best for last, I understand how this is working.”

The twins bid us farewell as their journey ends. Finally, a special message, “Boarding Begins July 8th,” appears for all of the excited fans!

Make sure to visit Pottermore News again tomorrow afternoon for our report on Matthew Lewis’s and Tom Felton’s webcast that will chronicle their tour of Diagon Alley!

Images courtesy of MyNews13 and Hypable.

Roundup of Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley red carpet preview

King's Cross at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

King’s Cross at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

Harry Potter cast and fans alike came together on Wednesday for the red carpet event to preview the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley park.

For the rest of us, though, we were tracking the event on social media and the live stream that Universal set up for the event, which was hosted by David Karger, the chief correspondent of Fandango.

The stream started with the host presenting a video focusing on the development of the park, from conception to today, with interviews from Universal executives. According to them, the park has been in the planning since the Hogsmeade park opened.

The host then interviewed the Harry Potter cast. Here are some bits from their interviews:

  • Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the films, said that “the memories are flooding back.” She also stated that she thinks Harry and Ginny are a great couple and thought they’d have a happy life with their kids.
  • Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood in the films, said that being back at the park with fellow cast members is like a “family reunion.” She stated that having the park makes the experience more real for fans. She said that Luna’s favorite shop in the park would be the Magical Menagerie because they sell the Crumple-Horned Snorkak, which everyone denied to be real but Luna persisted on their existence. “It’s a huge win for Luna,” Lynch told The Leaky Cauldron fansite.
  • Domhall Gleeson, who played Bill Weasley in the two Deathly Hallows movies, spoke about his prominent role in the Escape from Gringotts ride, and said the park was “very lovely.”
  • Matthew Lewis, who famously portrayed Neville Longbottom in the films, said that he “can’t wait” to ride the Gringotts ride. When asked (via a submitted Twitter question) to name the dragon, he answered with Neville, unsurprisingly. The actor also said that it’s been great to catch up with his fellow cast mates, who he hasn’t seen in a while.
  • The Phelps twins, a.k.a. Fred and George Weasley, said that they’d never expect that the park would be as big as it is, and that it’s “amazing.” They also said that the most useful spell for their Muggle lives would be Lumos, and overall they’d like to have a Portkey, which would make for easy and quicker travel.
  • Warwick Davis, who played both Professor Flitwick and the Gringotts goblin Griphook in the films, had some very nice things to say about the fans, saying that they were the reason why Harry Potter is so successful. The theme park is for them, he said, as it allows the fans to experience what the characters did.
  • Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the films, said that the park looks very real, and even better than the set because it allows you to actually experience it, it’s not artificial.
  • Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid in the films, interestingly shared the inspiration of Hagrid, and said that J.K. Rowling told him the character was based off of a large, motorcycle-riding man she knew, who intimidated the people he encountered but had a kind heart. Looking back, she said that the man reminded her of Robbie Coltrane, and that’s why she imagined Coltrane for the role of Hagrid in the films.
  • Helena Bonham Carter, who portrayed Bellatrix Lestrange in the films, said that she misses the teeth she got to wear while playing Bellatrix, and actually planned on wearing them tonight but couldn’t find them (too bad!). She said that she had a fun time playing such a fearless character as Bellatrix.

In addition to the cast interviews, there were montages in between of the actors’ scenes in the movies, as well as previews of the Hogwarts Express and the interactive wands.

The host also interviewed Universal executive who worked on the live shows and aspects of the park. He said that they’ve been working on the live shows for two years, and spoke about four specific live action pieces of the parks. In the London area, visitors will encounter the Knight Bus and its infamous driver, Shan Shupike, along with live “street buskers”, who will be playing a variety of music year round, just like actual street performers. When the visitors enter Diagon Alley, they’ll be able to experience two other live shows including a puppet performance of two stories from J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard, which was featured in Deathly Hallows – Part One, and a live performance of Celestina Warbeck songs, a personal favorite of Molly Weasley’s. Find out more about these entertainment and interactive experiences here.

After all the interviews were done, Shan Shupike appeared to introduce other Universal and Warner Bros. executives. They then turned it over to Robbie Coltrane, who finally opened the park, touching the Diagon Alley bricks with a pink umbrella,  just as Hagrid did in the first Harry Potter film. Oh, nostalgia!

Cameras then followed the stars and fans into the park, when the live stream was brought to a close. However, the party is just starting, and lots of visitors are sharing their experience on Twitter and Instagram. Keep up with the event under the hashtag #DiagonAlleyPreview, where you’ll find pictures and tweets from people at the park.

The red carpet event was the first live stream broadcast of three during the Diagon Alley preview week. Check back tomorrow for a full roundup of the Phelps Twins ride on the Hogwarts express, and then on Friday for a report on Matthew Lewis and Tom Felton’s preview of the park with Alan Gilmore, the park and films’ art director.

Related: Diagon Alley to open July 8

In the meantime, torture yourself with the tweets and Instagram’s of those who are at the event now. Have fun!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley opening July 8

diagonalleyAfter months of speculation, Universal Orlando finally announced today that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be opening July 8, 2014!

The announcement was made on the Today Show during Universal’s media preview of the park. Tonight, the red carpet opening will be streamed live on the web, beginning at 8pm.

The following promotional video was also released today, and is the first to be sent out with the opening date.

In addition the promotional video and the announcement, Universal released a ton of new high-res images of the park, which you can see and download here.

Since most of us thought the park would open this month, are you surprised that it is opening in July? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Wizarding World – Diagon Alley Preview Week announced, cast to attend

Universal Orlando has announced the schedule for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley Preview Week that will feature three live webcasts and a number of cast members from the  Harry Potter films.

Starting this Wednesday, Universal will broadcast three live webcasts on their website from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

From 8pm to 9pm on Wednesday, June 18, the webcast will take viewers straight to the Diagon Alley red carpet event, where they will be joined by cast members of the Harry Potter films.

On Thursday at noon, James and Oliver Phelps (who played Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter films) will share with viewers their journey on the Hogwarts Express, which will take riders from Hogsmeade Station to King’s Cross Station in London.

Finally, on Friday Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the films), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Alan Gilmore (Art Director of the Harry Potter films and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter) will take viewers “Behind the Bricks” on an inside look at the new Diagon Alley area at 3pm EST.

To watch all of the webcasts, you can visit the Universal website.

In addition to this, Universal announced the full list of cast members who will be attending these events, including:

Bonnie Wright
Evanna Lynch 
Domhnall Gleeson
Matthew Lewis 
James Phelps 
Oliver Phelps
Warwick Davis 
Tom Felton

Universal has also posted a list of the social media accounts to follow for full coverage of the preview week. Pottermore News will be bringing you a full report on these events as well as they are happening, so be sure to check back for more details.

Photo courtesy SnitchSeeker’s Facebook page

Wizarding World News Roundup

Harry Potter and the Escape from GringottsOver the past few weeks, there have been a lot of updates surrounding the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks in Orlando, Japan and Hollywood. The following is a roundup of some of the small news stories that didn’t get reported, whether because of its relevance or its importance in comparison to other stories.

The main theme park news this week comes from Universal Orlando, who has updated its list of attractions for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley expansion. Newly announced is the menu for The Leaky Cauldron restaurant, and the Gregorvitch Wand Shop, both of which will be featured in Diagon Alley.

Below is a selective list of the coming attractions, with descriptions from Universal’s website. Visit their site to read the full list.

The Leaky Cauldron: Pull up a chair and enjoy hearty British fare in this famous inn, as well as delicious, frothy Butterbeer™. The children’s menu offers items that kids will love, such as chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese.

Cuisine: Cottage pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, Scotch eggs, stew, and much more.
Children’s Menu: Fish and chips, chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, and more
Service Type: Buffeteria
Dining Hours: Lunch and Dinner daily

The Leaky Cauldron will be the only restaurant in the new Diagon Alley expansion area.

Wands by Gregorvitch: In this legendary wandmaker’s shop you can purchase your own wand or choose from a wide assortment of Harry Potter™ film character wand replicas, and more. 

Wands by Gregorvitch will be separate from Ollivanders Wand Shop, which will also be featured in Diagon Alley.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts: Enter Gringotts™ bank at the far end of Diagon Alley™ and walk through the grand marble lobby where you’ll see goblins hard at work. Then, get ready to take a journey through the cavernous passageways that lead deep underground as you climb aboard Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™. This groundbreaking new multi-dimensional ride puts you right in the middle of the action as you navigate your way through the perils of the Gringotts™ vaults – encountering Harry, Ron and Hermione along the way!

Though the description says that riders will encounter Harry, Ron, and Hermione, neither Dan Radcliffe or Emma Watson have been confirmed to film. Both Rupert Grint and Helena Bonham Carter confirmed that they had done some filming for the theme parks way back in December 2012, and we suspect that the footage will be used for this ride.

In addition to that news, construction pics have been released on the internet from the various theme parks. Click on the links below to view them.

Finally, J.K. Rowling has also been confirmed to appear at the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Japan on July 15, 2014. We will have a full report of her appearance once details are released.

We hope you enjoyed that roundup, and we will continue to keep you updated with the latest over the coming weeks and months.

Universal Orlando announces Wizarding World Expansion, opening in 2014

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley RenderingLR

Concept art for the expansion was also released. Click for high-res.

Today, after months of speculation and rumors, Universal Orlando Resort finally confirmed and announced plans of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion.

According to the press release, the expanded area will open in 2014 and will include Diagon Alley and a London-themed area and will be located in Universal Studios Florida theme park, a separate park from where the current Wizarding World stands. It will officially be known as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

More from the press release:

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Building on the global phenomenon that is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced an expansion of historic proportion with the entirely new themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Scheduled to open in 2014, the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience expands The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both Universal Orlando theme parks and allows Universal’s creative team to bring an unparalleled vision to this unique project.  The new area will bring to life some of the experiences and places found in and around London in the Harry Potter books and films, offering brand-new adventures for fans and theme park guests from around the world.

Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, where guests now experience Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.  The new area within Universal Studios will be just as expansive, immersive and authentic as the existing themed environment.

And – just like in the books and films – guests will be able to travel between ‘London’ and Hogsmeade aboard the Hogwarts Express.

Work on the new area is already underway.  When complete, it will feature shops, a restaurant and an innovative, marquee attraction based on Gringotts bank – all directly inspired by the fiction and films.

More details on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be released over time.

To bring Diagon Alley and ‘London’ to life, Universal’s creative team is working closely with Warner Bros. and the production design team from the Harry Potter films – just as it did for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.

“I’m so pleased that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has proved so popular to date, and I’m sure that the attention to detail in creating the new Diagon Alley area will make this an even better experience,” said J.K. Rowling.

“We are continuing the journey and adding an entirely new level of adventure,” said Tom Williams, Chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts.  “And we are bringing the same drive, commitment, enthusiasm and innovation to this project as we did to the first.”

“We are thrilled to offer the legions of fans the opportunity to embark on this new journey and experience Diagon Alley as it was brought to life in the books and films,” said Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

“Our vision is to create two amazing theme park experiences that combine into one, complete, magical journey,” said Alice Norsworthy, executive vice president, marketing and sales for Universal Orlando Resort.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in June 2010 as a fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment – bringing to life the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling and the blockbuster feature films from Warner Bros.  Since that time, it has become a global phenomenon, entertaining millions of people from around the world.

Visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are swept into the adventures of Harry Potter.  They can tour Hogwarts castle, shop in Hogsmeade and dine at the Three Broomsticks.  They can soar above Hogwarts with Harry, be chosen by a wand at Ollivanders, sample Butterbeer and much more.