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Although there's still no official opening date, the summer 2014 debut of the addition to Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park is heating up with tantalizing new previews.
First off, let's discuss the Hogwarts Express, which is simply a stationary attraction in the first version of the park. Come this summer, however, when version 2 opens, it will be a fully functioning train, connecting the wizarding and muggle worlds through a detailed recreation of London's King's Cross station. Yes, you'll need to look for Platform 9 3/4, but the most important thing to know is that riding the Hogwarts Express will require guests to have a park-to-park ticket, as the train travels from Universal Studios into the Island of Adventure.
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If you're a Harry Potter fan even in the slightest, you might want to sit down for this news.
Not only has Universal Studios Orlando today revealed the first image of planned additions to come at The WIzarding World of Harry Potter, but they've announced that the new zone will be connected to the original Wizarding World by a recreation of the Hogwarts Express train.
Here's the full details:
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As if Universal Studios wasn't already double-downing on brand new Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks coming to their Hollywood and Japan locations, they've even announced a "significant expansion" going on at the Orlando original WWoHP.
That's about all we know for sure, but it's enough to get the rumor mills whirring.
Here's what's being said about the Orlando Wizarding World expansion right now:
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Not only have we entered 2012 this week, but it's also the last few days of winter break for schoolchildren. If we're talking about college-age kids, then they've got a little longer. Regardless, this is the last dash time for family vacations at the theme parks in Orlando, FL...specifically at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We've been a few times now since it opened 1.5 years ago, and each time we return with photo galleries and tips aplenty. If you're about to jet down to hit the park or are contemplating a last-minute mini-vacay, here's everything you need to know:
· Changes to ticket prices & ride seating
· Our complete, first-hand survival guide to the Potter park
· Photos from November 2011
· Photos of the all the FOOD
· Inside the Forbidden Journey castle & ride
· The souvenirs! Oh man, the souvenirs.
· Photos & video of the Hippogriff and Dragons roller coasters
· Even more photos (from the night before opening)
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Not gonna lieour June 2010 visit to the opening of Universal Studios Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter is definitely a highlight of our travels from the last few years. To some that might sound perfectly stupid since we're adults and can just as easily jet off to Phuket as to Orlando, but to those who've been and also found themselves similarly taken in, the sentiment is shared.
That's why today's news that Universal Studios Hollywood will get a Wizarding World of its own in 2014 or 2015 is so thrilling. That means, if all goes according to plan, that in a span of five years the United States will have become home to two Harry Potterlands selling chocolate frogs, running roller coasters and otherwise thumbing their nose at the UK, which doesn't even have one to call its own.
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As the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 makes its way to the DVD today, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is hosting “A Celebration of the Harry Potter Films” this weekend.
Special vacation packages (which were sold out an hour after going on sale this summer) will give fans a chance to attend Q&A sessions and autograph signing events with Harry Potter cast members, including everyone's favorite ginger Rupert Grint. There will also be red carpet arrivals, galas and screenings of all eight movies at the AMC Universal Cineplex 20 at Universal CityWalk.
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Has it already been a year then? Universal Studios' The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park just celebrated its first anniversary, after opening last June to much fan fare and continuting right through the winter and spring with crazy crowds. We were there on opening day, and although we're adults who travel around the world all year, being in the midst of that excitement still counts as one of the coolest things we did in 2010. The Wizarding World absolutely has the Jaunted seal of approval.
So, if you're heading down this summer for an icey mug of Butterbeer, a ride on the Chinese Fireball Dragon and maybe even a chocolate frog, there's a few things you need to know one year in:
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Who would've guessed that, prior to the Harry Potter phenomenon, so many people would be willing to shell out $13 each for a frothy souvenir mug full of a sweet swill that tastes like a cross between butterscotch and shortbread cookies? Butterbeer, a favorite warming drink taken straight from the Harry Potter books, has been adapted as a cold and frozen drink at Universal Studios' The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and today they announced that they've now sold over 1 million Butterbeers to visitors since the theme park-within-a-theme park opened back in mid-June, 2010.
According to our friends at MuggleNet, the occasion is being celebrated today as the park staff hand out vouchers for free Butterbeer to Wizarding World visitors.
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Okay, so we don't know how we missed this back in Juneprobably because we were too busy reporting on the theme park opening itselfbut AirTran partnered up with Universal Studios to promote the newly-opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando with some new livery. The paintjob went on one of the airline's Boeing 717s, and although there's not Harry Potter on it, his hand is pictured almost coming out of the jet's engine to case magic from a wand pointing towards the nose.
We think we learned long ago that flying in an airplane isn't magic, but this is still a cute livery idea. The disembodied hand is a little unnerving, perhaps AirTran should have paid a little more to get Harry's likeness up on the tail? If Southwest can put Sports Illustrated supermodel Bar Refaeli on the side of one of their jets, then AirTran should be able to get a teenage boy on theirs.
We think there needs to be yet another Harry Potter movie: Snapes on a Plane!
If you're flying to Orlando International Airport anytime soon, keep an eye open for the magical wand plane and let us know if the hand creeps you out too.
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Is your theme park budget kind of hurting now that Mickey Mouse raised prices to access his kingdom? If so, you’re going to be a little short if you also want to visit Shrek, Spiderman, and Harry Potter as Universal Studios has gone the way of Disney when it comes to ticket prices.
Reacting to the parks right down the interstate, Universal Studios Orlando raised the price of a single park ticket to a whopping $82 per adult. No luck to save money by purchasing multi-day tickets either, as those passes are going up around $5 on average, depending on the length of the ticket. It’s pretty much across the board whether you’re ordering online ahead of time or waiting in line at the ticket booth—so do a little online banking to ensure you have enough cash for you and the crew before you leave for the park.
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Hogwarts at sunset. This is where the Forbidden Journey ride is housed
This weekend, all was not so magical at the Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure theme park when the newest and most anticipated ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, malfunctioned and stopped on Friday night, leaving 138 riders briefly trapped.
The ride, an experience coaster within Hogwarts Castle at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, only opened to the public a little more than a month ago. According to CBS4 in South Florida, the ride suffered a technical glitch, and when the ride stopped, a rider even panicked and called 911. All riders were quickly evacuated without injuries and the ride resumed regular operations Saturday morning.
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Thinking of heading to the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter park at Universal Studios Orlando? You better be ready to sweat, wait in long lines, and yet enjoy it all along. But still, it's a good idea to do your homework for something like this, which will see record visitors for the next few months at least and which will try your spending power to the max.
We've been to the park many times now over a period of several days, from quiet evenings to raucous mornings with 2-hour Forbidden Journey waits, and we've come away with a slew of priceless tips for getting everything you want out of the park with the least amount of stress.
Jaunted's Quick and Dirty Survival Guide for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:
· Give the Wizarding World two half-days; go once early in the morning when it opens to enjoy the rides before the long lines hit, and go again around dusk, as everything seems far more magical lit up for night (not to mention that the temperature is cooler).
· The first place people rush to is Hogwarts Castle, for the Forbidden Journey experience. Instead, go to the Dragon Challenge roller coaster in the morning when there aren't any lines and you can ride both the Chinese Fireball and Hungarian Horntail right away.