Universal to unveil second Harry
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[June 18, 2014]
By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - Universal
Orlando kicks off previews on Wednesday of its much anticipated
Diagon Alley, a second Harry Potter-themed attraction that is
expected provide a boost for the park's revenues and for tourism in
Universal has yet to fix a date for the opening of Diagon
Alley this summer, but theme park experts predict a major bump
in tourism based on the response to the original, a recreation
of Hogsmeade Village, which required staggered entry times long
after the June 2010 grand opening to control crowds.
“There are heightened expectations for this expansion,” said
Richmond-based theme park consultant John Gerner of Leisure
Universal did not respond to inquiries about company attendance
In the month after the original Harry Potter attraction opened,
bed tax revenue from hotel guests in Orange County jumped 21
percent over the previous year.
“It certainly appeared to be a correlation to the Harry Potter
opening," said Peggy McGarrity, deputy county comptroller, who
added that double-digit increases became standard thereafter.
Universal and the Harry Potter franchise are being promoted all
week on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The network and
resort are both owned by Comcast Corp.
“It’s unusual you would have a national show like the Tonight
Show to promote this. That’s an indication they are doing
everything they can,” Gerner said.
Universal is promising a red carpet event to unveil the park on
Wednesday night with some of the film's stars but is not saying
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Diagon Alley recreates the wizarding business district in London
described in J. K. Rowling’s book and movie series.
The attraction will be geared in large part toward eateries and
souvenir shops, both of which have been bottlenecks in the Hogsmeade
Village, home to the wizard school Hogwarts.
Gerner said popular themed attractions can double their ticket price
revenue from in-park sales.
To visit both sections of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter,
guests will have to buy a more expensive two-park pass because
Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley were built in separate Universal parks.
The attractions are connected by a train featured in books and
movies which is a themed ride in itself.
Gerner said this is the first time a resort has found a way to
seamlessly connect two separately ticketed parks to drive up ticket
(Editing by David Adams and Jim Loney)
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