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'Harry Potter' heads West - new 'Wizarding World' in the works

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'Harry Potter' heads West - new 'Wizarding World' in the works -- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park that opened in Orlando Florida last year will have a West Coast counterpart in the years ahead. The announcement was made on Tuesday by NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. that a new Harry Potter theme park will be built at the Universal Studios Hollywood site. In addition, the companies noted that the current park in Orlando will be expanded.

Building the new park with take three to four years, according to Reuters, pushing the opening of the Hollywood Wizarding World out to 2016. NBCUniversal (who owns and runs the park) and Warner Bros. (who licenses the Harry Potter films brand) did not indicate which of the rides and attractions would be duplicated or different from the park in Orlando to the new one in Hollywood, but they did say that the same effort at staying true to the Harry Potter books and films would be maintained at the West Coast site. The project will create 1,000 new jobs in the Los Angeles area.

The construction of the new theme park has a precedent for success, given the earnings already reported for the East Coast park. In its first year of operation, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's resort in Orlando saw more than 7 million visitors, and the new revenue increased the NBCUniversal theme park's overall earnings by one-third in the first nine months of 2011 alone, according to Reuters.

The New York Times reports that the 20-acre Orlando park cost $265 million to build and that likely the two companies hope the West Coast branch will boost the park in Hollywood that is most noted for featuring attractions related to older films such as King Kong and Jurassic Park.

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Connie Ann Kirk is the author of J. K. Rowling: A Biography.

Visit Connie Ann Kirk online at: National Examiner; Webpage; Facebook; Twitter; and Blog.

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