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What's coming in 2014, part three: Harry Potter expansion at Universal Studios

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Perhaps the most eagerly awaited out of all the Central Florida additions for 2014 is the Harry Potter expansion at Universal Studios Florida. Harry and his friends moved in at Islands of Adventure in 2010, bringing Hogwarts Castle, Olivanders Wand Shop, the Three Broomsticks restaurant, and other iconic places to the park. Visitors to Hogsmeade could browse in shops straight out of the books and movies (chocolate frogs, anyone?), get letters postmarked at the Owl Post, and hop aboard Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a hybrid simulator-dark ride with an amazing Kuka robot arm system.

That area, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, was so popular that Diagon Alley is being recreated next door at Universal Studios Florida. It's been going up slowly but surely in the area where the Jaws ride once stood, and it's set to debut this year.

The Hogwarts Express will connect the two "worlds" of Harry, and Diagon Alley will feature its own iconic ride, a chaotic journey through Gringott's Wizarding Bank. Universal is going to announce more details of the project at a January 23 webcast, perhaps even including an opening date. Check back here on the 23rd for full details.

In the meantime, you can get a flavor of Diagon Alley and learn about just how closely its look and feel will mimic the movies in the video accompanying this article.

The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter officially opened in June, just in time for the summer rush, after soft openings that started in May. It remains to be seen whether London will follow the same pattern, but when it does open, it's likely to see the same massive crowds of muggles rushing to get a taste of this latest phase of Harry's world.

To see what's coming up at Walt Disney World, go here. Learn about what's coming to Busch Gardens Tampa by going here.

Need advice or guidance from a Central Florida theme parks expert? Check out my ebooks for Kindle and Nook.

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