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TOKYO — The $444 million (?45 billion) Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, which opens July 15 at Universal Studios Japan (USJ) in Osaka, is predicted to bring in an extra 2 million admissions annually to the park.
Day passes, express tickets, along with many travel and accommodation packages are all sold out for the park for the first few days of the new attraction based on the Harry Potter franchise.
J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter books were huge sellers in Japanese, while the first movie in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is the fourth-highest grossing film of all time in Japan. It took in around $200 million (?203 billion) at today’s exchange rate, and was only recently bumped out of the third spot by Frozen.
The nine-acre attraction is a huge investment for USJ, representing half of its current annual sales. However, the company is predicting that the popularity of the Harry Potter books and movies will boost annual admissions from 10 million to 12 million in the current financial year, which runs to March. USJ expects overseas visitors, mostly from the growing economies of neighboring Asian countries, to triple to 1.5 million in five years, helping to drive admissions to the 15 million mark.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando resort in Florida has helped to revitalize the park, with the latest part of the expansion, the Diagon Alley ride, opening last week to major fanfare and tremendous lines.
The Japanese Harry Potter world will feature a huge re-creation of Hogwarts Castle, like its Florida counterpart, but also new attractions such as Black Lake and live owls.
USJ, which is owned by a consortium that includes Goldman Sachs, U.S. hedge fund Owl Creek, and two Asian investment firms, may be relisted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange next year. It was delisted in 2009 when financial troubles hit, which resulted in the investment from Goldman Sachs.
Last year saw the theme park attract more than 10 million visitors for the first time since 2001, the year it opened. USJ is reported to be looking at sites for further expansion.
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