Universal and Warner to Launch Harry Potter Attraction in 2009

June 1, 2007–Universal and Warner are conjuring a Harry Potter attraction to debut before the last installment of J.K. Rowling's literary franchise hits the bigscreen.

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is scheduled to open at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida in late 2009. Described as a theme park within a theme park, it will contain three attractions devoted to Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest and the village of Hogsmeade, along with plenty of shops to sell related merchandise.

The Universal Orlando resort also contains a Universal Studios theme park and CityWalk dining and shopping area.

The collaboration comes after prolonged wooing by Universal brass, who traveled to Scotland to present their vision to Rowling. Warner execs said they have been besieged by requests for a park ever since they brought the first book to the bigscreen in 2001 but didn't want to rush into anything until they had the right plan.

Warner execs confirmed they had talked about a Harry Potter attraction with other park operators, including Disney, before settling on Universal, which began its campaign for the attraction 2 years ago.

Universal's older demographics was a decided plus, Warner chairman-CEO Barry Meyer said, especially considering the series' darker tone in later installments.

The books have sold more than 325 million copies in more than 200 countries worldwide. The four bigscreen versions, all produced by Warner, have generated more than $3.5 billion at the box office worldwide.

The scale of the Harry Potter attraction is certainly ambitious. “Basically, we're building a theme park,” said Universal Studios prexy and chief operating officer Ron Meyer. Both sides say the timing of the opening is more coincidence than grand plan, though coming as the bigscreen franchise draws to a close won't hurt.