Now that the Harry Potter series is racing to a conclusion both on film and in the novels, it’s natural for licence holders Warner Bros to want to hold on to as much of their golden goose as they can. So what next for Harry and the gang? Theme parks, that’s what.
But don’t grab your wand and cloak and head for the door just yet. It’s not an actual Harry Potter theme park they’re planning. And you won’t be able to reach it via Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross. Well, not unless you change to the tube to Heathrow and board a flight to Florida. Or find a flying car.
Because the attraction – or “the world’s first fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment” to quote the exuberant press release’s high-falutin’ guff, will be part of Universal’s Islands Of Adventure park at Universal Studios in Orlando.
The idea of a Potter theme park ride or attraction has been cooking in cauldrons for a while now – Disney tried to agree terms with JK Rowling, but couldn’t make it work. Now it appears that Universal has capitulated and also offered lots of money. Oh, and this… “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," blabs Barry Meyer, Warner Bros’ CEO in the statement. "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." See? They’re doing it for the children!
And just what lies in store for you should you venture into the place once it’s finished in later 2009? “The fully immersive, themed land will enable guests to visit some of the most iconic locations found in the books and the films including the village of Hogsmeade, the mysterious Forbidden Forest, and even Hogwarts castle itself,” explains the release. And Rowling – who surely didn’t actually need to be offered any dosh since she now has more money than Bolivia’s gross national product – approves: "The plans I've seen look incredibly exciting, and I don't think fans of the books or films will be disappointed.”