China / Across America

Universal opens Harry Potter park

By Agence France-Press in Los Angeles (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-04-11 10:56

Fifteen years after Harry Potter's first big-screen adventure, Universal is enchanting a new generation of Muggles with its most spectacular conjuring trick yet - a theme park in the heart of Hollywood.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter follows similar money-spinning ventures in Florida and Japan, but is set to be the most technologically advanced so far, incorporating state-of-the-art 3-D effects with the traditional fun of the fair.

Opening at Universal Studios beneath the Hollywood hills on April 7, it is the latest attraction in a burgeoning film industry sideline that has become so lucrative that executives are beginning to design sets with future theme parks in mind.

"When you think about the property of Harry Potter - all seven books and eight movies - there's no better place than the filmmaking capital of the world to have this ultimate experience," says Thierry Coup, a senior vice-president of Universal Creative, the company's research and development division.

The last Harry Potter film was released five years ago, but the character's appeal remains as strong as ever, with fans eagerly awaiting the stage show Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which opens in London this summer.

Meanwhile, a spinoff movie trilogy is due to hit the big screen, starting with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them later in the year.

Together with the recently introduced Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, the Harry Potter attraction sees Universal partnering with Hollywood for a merchandising merry-go-round to rival Disney's.

The new Harry Potter attraction marks Universal's fourth foray into the boy wizard's universe, with two Orlando launches and an opening in Osaka, Japan, seeing the company increase visitors by up to 30 percent.

"There's a huge effort to really address every facet of the creative process," supervising art director Alan Gilmore said. "The film is only one part of that, but you want to try and create a film that can be translated into all of this."

Harry Potter's enduring appeal was evidenced by Universal's announcement that the opening had sold out days ahead, marking the first time ever that the park has had to halt online ticketing transactions.

The attraction, which boasts the forbidding Hogwarts Castle as its iconic focal point, transports visitors into the visual landscape of J. K. Rowling's books and the Warner Bros films that followed.

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