It's Hogwarts heaven in Orlando
WB crafting Potter-themed area in Uni Resort parkWarner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Orlando Resort are attempting to make magic for Harry Potter fans, creating the world's first real-life Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as well as an entire Potter-themed area slated to open at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando in late 2009.
Based on J.K. Rowling's best-selling book series and the film franchise from Warner Bros. Pictures, the theme park area, called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, will feature some of the most iconic locations found in the books and films, including the village of Hogsmeade, the mysterious Forbidden Forest and Hogwarts castle. There will be immersive rides and interactive attractions as well as experiential shops and restaurants, the companies said.
"Over the years, we've received thousands of letters from fans around the world wishing they could visit Hogwarts and the wonderful locations described in each of J.K. Rowling's beloved stories," said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment. "Working with Universal Orlando Resort, we are confident that we'll be able to provide Harry Potter fans with an incredible experience that upholds the richness of J.K. Rowling's books and delivers on the authentic detail portrayed in our films."
Rowling, who has been careful about not overcommercializing the Harry Potter brand — refusing, for example, to allow for the slew of promotional tie-ins typical of tentpole films — granted permission for this latest venture.
"The plans I've seen look incredibly exciting, and I don't think fans of the books or films will be disappointed," she said.
Academy Award-winning production designer Stuart Craig, who has worked on all the Harry Potter films, will lead the creative design for the theme park to ensure that it remains faithful to the look and feel of the films, the companies said.
"Our primary goal is to make sure this experience is an authentic extension of Harry Potter's world as is portrayed in the books and films," Craig said. Steve Kloves, who wrote the screenplay for each of the "Harry Potter" movies to date, also will be assisting in the creative execution of the park.
"We have a profound sense of responsibility for the 'Harry Potter' franchise at Warner Bros.," said Alan Horn, president and COO of Warner Bros. Entertainment. "Bringing the magic of J.K. Rowling's written word to the motion-picture screen was the first step in expanding this amazing and imaginative world. Working with Universal Orlando Resort to bring it to life in a physical environment that you can walk through, relax in and ride on is the natural next step."
With the last book in the "Harry Potter" series slated for release in July and the final film due in 2010, the theme park area will help the brand live on following the end of the book and film franchises, a Warners spokesman said.