iom_themeparksOne event I’m super looking forward to in 2010 is the opening of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.  Regular readers of the site know how much I love me some Universal Studios (remember Pauloween Horror Nights 2009?), so you can definitely expect more and more coverage as the attraction nears its opening date.  We’ve received some goodies from Universal this week, including news on an “augmented reality” view of the park, first official images of Hogwarts, and a look at Ollivander’s Wand Shop!

Check out all the pictures and news after the jump!

First, we get a peek at Hogwarts Castle.  From Universal:

The magical transformation continues.  Although still very much a work in progress, the magnificence of Hogwarts castle is beginning to take shape above Hogsmeade as work continues on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Hogwarts will be the home of a thrilling, new, state-of-the-art attraction – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – that uses ground-breaking technology to bring the magic, characters and stories of Harry Potter to life in ways never before experienced. Set to open in Spring 2010 only at Universal Orlando Resort, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will feature multiple themed attractions, shops and a restaurant.

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AUGMENTED REALITY EXPERIENCE LETS MILLIONS EMBARK ON A

THREE-DIMENSIONAL LOOK AT THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER

Explore the World’s Most Anticipated Theme Park Environment Prior to its Spring 2010 Opening

WHAT: Today, Universal Orlando Resort and USA TODAY, the nation’s top-selling print newspaper, partnered to provide the first-ever augmented reality map of the world’s most highly anticipated theme park experience – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.  With just a computer, webcam and the newspaper, you can make this one-of-a-kind experience appear before your eyes.

Augmented Reality blends real-life environments with computer animation allowing you to explore things in a completely new way. For the first time, guests can explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in a unique way – before experiencing it first hand.

By rotating the map, you can take a closer look at this 20-acre magnificently themed environment from all sides and angles. Hogwarts castle will appear before your eyes. Hold the map closer to your webcam and explore Hogsmeade and see the Hogwarts Express. Blow on your computer’s microphone and the banners n the map will wave.

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will provide visitors with a one-of-a-kind experience complete with multiple themed attractions, shops and a restaurant.

Following the map’s appearance in USA TODAY, this experience will be available on www.UniversalOrlando.com/HarryPotter.

WHEN: Thursday, January 28 – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Augmented Reality map appears in USA TODAY


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(click to enlarge) WHERE THE WAND CHOOSES THE WIZARD Ð Visitors to the Ollivanders wand shop at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will step into one of the most iconic scenes from the bestselling Harry Potter books and blockbuster feature films. With the assistance of a live actor along with amazing special effects, Ollivanders shop guests will experience firsthand an awe-inspiring moment from Harry PotterÕs life Ð a wand will choose them. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens at Universal Orlando Resort in Spring 2010.

AT THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER

The Chance To Experience The Enchantment of Harry Potter Begins Spring 2010

ORLANDO, Fla. (January 28, 2010) – Visitors to the Ollivanders wand shop at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will step into one of the most iconic scenes from the bestselling Harry Potter books and blockbuster feature films. With the assistance of a live actor, along with amazing special effects, guests of Ollivanders will get to experience the same type of magical moment Harry had in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” when a wand ”chooses them.” 

Universal Orlando Resort has worked closely with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and the Warner Bros. Harry Potter brand team to make this moment as authentic, magical and immersive as possible for guests – a theme carried throughout the entire experience at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

“When guests visit Ollivanders, they will instantly feel like they’re in the shop from the films. It’s an intimate, single-windowed building, with the same signs, colors and other details read about in the books and seen in the films,” said Alan Gilmore, art director of the Harry Potter films and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. “But more importantly, visitors to Ollivanders will experience for themselves the magical moment that forever changed Harry’s life.”

Inside Ollivanders, visitors will be surrounded by thousands of multi-colored dusty wand boxes stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling. They will be welcomed by an inquisitive Wandkeeper, who will guide them through an enchanting experience to find their very own wand. First the Wandkeeper will ask the guest a few special questions and then select the first wand for them to try. Just like Harry, the guest will be prompted by the Wandkeeper to give the wand a wave, and a series of magical mishaps will occur until the right fit is found.

In addition to the magic featured in Ollivanders, guests will experience many other magical happenings at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including a Howler featured in the Owl Post shop front window whose ranting can be heard by guests as they pass by; The Monster Book of Monsters in Dervish and Banges that will snarl and growl at anyone who tries to get too close, and the Hog’s Head which can be seen puffing his jowls at visitors who visit the Hog’s Head pub.

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters – and faithful to the visual landscapes of the Warner Bros.’ films – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure will provide visitors with a one-of-a-kind experience complete with multiple themed attractions, shops and an eating establishment. This completely immersive environment will transcend generations and bring the wonder and magic of the amazingly detailed Harry Potter books and films to life.

Universal Orlando Resort

There are many ways to enjoy your Orlando vacation – but there is only one Universal Orlando Resort.  It is a completely separate destination featuring two theme parks, three magnificently themed on-site hotels and a nighttime entertainment complex.  It’s the only Orlando destination where you are not just entertained – you are part of the most exhilarating entertainment ever created.  You can soar above Hogwarts with Harry Potter, swing above the streets with Spider-Man, battle aliens alongside Agent J, help Shrek save Princess Fiona and create mischief with Bart Simpson.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world.

Harry Potter continues to be a global phenomenon.  The series of books by author J.K. Rowling has been translated into 68 languages with more than 400 million copies sold in over 200 territories around the world.  The films, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, have grossed more than $5.3 billion at the box office worldwide, making Harry Potter the largest-grossing film franchise in history.

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