(Reporting by Terri Schwartz. Photos and video by Michael Rougeau.)
Under a marquee reading “Hogwarts is coming to Hollywood,” Universal Studios Hollywood officially announced details surrounding the addition of the magic of Harry Potter to their California theme park. Following in the highly-successful footsteps of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood intends to build a similar experience.
Also confirmed in the event is a long-rumored expansion to the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, though those details are reserved for a future date.
Officially announced for Universal Studios Hollywood:
UPDATE (12/7/11): Video of the full event announcing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for Universal Studios Hollywood and the expansion for Universal Orlando
Video: Highlights of Universal Studios Hollywood announcement of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The new additions will reside within the existing Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. It will not be a separate park.
Despite the limited details, a press release calls the Wizarding World of Harry Potter “a fully immersive environment for the entire family that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life and is faithful to the visual landscape of the films, including a majestic Hogwarts castle to serve as the centerpiece of the themed environment.” It goes on to say it “will be created with the same commitment to authenticity and the same level of talent and resources as its Orlando counterpart.”
Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO, Universal Parks & Resorts described the Wizarding World as bringing “themed entertainment to a whole new level,” calling the upcoming Hollywood version “every bit as spectatular” as the Orlando version.
But only these few details of the project were announced during the special event, which ended with a “Butterbeer toast” featuring Harry Potter film stars James and Oliver Phelps, who played the older Weasley twins.
Over Butterbeer, the famous Phelps twins called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter “probably the best experience for anyone – as opposed to reading the books or watching the movies – to actually be a student at Hogwarts.” But bringing the Wizarding World to Hollywood offers more than mere entertainment value.
Ron Meyer, President and COO, Universal Studios said several hundred million dollars will be invested in the world of Harry Potter in the coming years. The project will create thousands of jobs in the park and many more outside of it.
During the event, California Governor Jerry Brown noted it was “a great day where we can see an investment in California, an investment in imagination.” Brown further noted the importance of a major project like this. “We are truly a state of imagination, and Harry Potter park just pushes us down this uncertain road where California is headed.”
L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky admitted he had never seen the films until this past weekend, when he watched “Sorcerer’s Stone.” He joked, “After watching this movie, I can tell you there are some public policy connections to this movie.” More seriously, Yaroslavsky offered a hopeful view ahead, “I look forward to welcoming Harry Potter and the rest of his fans to Los Angeles in the not-so-distant future.”
In a press-released statement, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling (not in attendance) said, “I am delighted that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been so popular with fans since the opening in Orlando last year and I am sure that the teams at Universal and Warner Bros. will bring their expertise and attention to detail to Hollywood to make this new experience equally as exciting.”
Further statements from the release, following the event:
“This is an incredible moment for Universal Studios and the millions of guests who visit our theme parks,” said Ron Meyer, President & COO, Universal Studios. “The Harry Potter stories are some of the most powerful of our time and we are honored to expand our Orlando experience and bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood, forever changing family tourism in Los Angeles.”
“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an entirely new level of themed entertainment that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life in incredible ways,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO, Universal Parks and Resorts. “We are thrilled to be able to share this experience with our guests in Hollywood. And we are thrilled to take what has been created in Orlando to even greater levels.”
Check back here soon for the full video of the special announcement event.
More photos from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter announcement at Universal Studios Hollywood: