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Construction's officially underway on Universal's "Wizarding World of Harry Potter"

Construction's officially underway on Universal's "Wizarding World of Harry Potter"

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It's perhaps the most eagerly anticipated addition to Orlando's assortment of rides, shows and attractions in more than a decade: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is slated to open at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure in 2009


Copyright 2007 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved

And with construction walls popping up all over the Lost Continent section of that theme park over the past three weeks ...


 Photo by Max Schilling

... It's been a somewhat maddening time for Potter fans. By that I mean: They can see those fences ...


Photo by Max Schilling

... And sometimes they can get tantalizingly close to the construction site ...


 Photo by Max Schilling

... And even see mysterious mounds of earth that have been heaped up next to those fences.


Photo by Max Schilling

But as for being able to see over those carefully-placed construction fences ... Well, you'd have to be Hagrid-sized to pull that off.


 Photo by Max Schilling

Or -- better yet -- clever like JHM webmaster Max Schilling. Who -- two weeks ago -- realized that if an enterprising photographer were to climb board IOA's "Flying Unicorn" attraction...


 Photo by Max Schilling

... As they reached the top of that family coaster's lift hill, they'd then have a fairly unobstructed view of the Hogwarts Castle construction site.


Photo by Max Schilling

Just so you know: The construction team that Universal has hired are currently in the site prep portion of this project. Meaning that -- now that they've cleared all of the brush in this previously undeveloped part of that theme park -- the workmen are hauling in truckload after truckload of fill. Which is then spread out all over the Hogwarts Castle construction site.

 
Photo by Max Schilling

"And why are they doing that?," you ask. Well, once it's been determined that the Universal Orlando Resort has a level working surface which will actually be to support the weight of this several-hundred-ton structure (Which is quite a concern in sinkhole-prone Central Florida), then construction can then begin in earnest on Hogwarts Castle. With first the footings & foundation work getting underway in January, which will then be followed by vertical construction on this enormous show building in the late Winter / early Spring of next year.


 Copyright 2007 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved

According to folks familiar with the various construction phases of this ambitious IOA addition, Universal hopes to have Hogwarts Castle "topped off" by this time next year. Which will be quite a feat. Given that this show building is expected to dwarf the Jurassic Park River Adventure structure with its 85-foot drop that's located to the northeast of this construction site.


 Photo by Max Schilling

Anyway ... JHM will be sending Mr. Schilling back to Islands of Adventure repeatedly in the weeks and months ahead. So that Max can then keep all you "Harry Potter" fans out there abreast of the progress that's been made on this 20-acre redo of that theme park's "Lost Continent" section.

Here's hoping that he doesn't get sick of riding the "Flying Unicorn."


And speaking of flying ... The days are really flying by, aren't they? Can you believe that it's only three weeks 'til Christmas? Yikes!

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Thanks for thinking of us. And Happy Holidays!

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  • PingBack from http://all-books.fastlanenews.info/2007/12/03/constructions-officially-underway-on-universals-wizarding-world-of-harry-potter/

  • Maybe I'm the only one, but I'll actually miss "Lost Continent."  Like the Magic Kingdoms, it was a place based on an idea (a la Frontierland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, etc.) that creates stories (fantasy and myth) rather than a placed based on a story (World of Harry Potter).  Growing up, I played D&D, Zelda, and devoured books on mythology.  Lost Continent (particularly the que for Dueling Dragons) connected to and excited my imagination.  "Potter" seems like more of "WOW! JUST LIKE THE MOVIE!" stuff that always made Universal inferior, in my estimation.  I'm sure it will produce some great rides, but I would have liked the rides to exist in the context of a stirring idea- not a mythos that has already been fully realized in books and films.

  • You mean "The Flying Hippogriff", right? :)

    I will have one last chance to visit that area next year, though I'm a little peeved that Universal didn't go with the "Van Helsing" idea. Probably because they don't realize the huge cult fanbase of that film and how they want to send it to cheapquel hell which we're all upset about. (And I'm not sure if I'm okay with "Mummy 3" not having Rachel Weisz...she decided to do "Sin City 2" instead...bleurgh.)

    But anyway, I don't think I was quite attached to Lost Continent as it is now. Then again, never got to experience Poseidon's Fury. (Though I will next year, hope hope.)

  • Zzzzzzzzzzzz ... Huh? Wuh? Did someone say Harry Potter? Oh, okay ... back to sleep, then ...

  • I haven't been this excited about the opening of a theme park since I was nine years old, eagerly snatching up bits of news about the new Disney MGM Studios!

    My whole family has loved Harry Potter since we first read the books. We're definately going to visit there the next time we go to Orlando (along with Disney World of course).

    Keep up these stories, Jim. I love seeing work-in-progress photos.

  • I never knew there was a huge cult fanbase for Van Helsing...maybe 'huge' depends on how you define the word.  

    Like the books or not, Harry Potter's fanbase is worldwide and can't really be debated.  I don't agree that the mythos was fully explored in the films, in fact just the opposite, the films only hit the highlights and for many people simply gave real faces to the character's they know more for the richness of the books.  Lost Continent was great, but rather generic I think...there's a dozen other theme parks with similar themes, some done almost as well.  Harry Potter is a much more focused theme.

  • I'm bummed they didn't go with the proposed "Rocky Horror Picture Show" redo... talk about a HUGE cult fanbase!!

    Anyway, while I am a Potter fan (meaning I enjoy the books and movies but I don't dress up like the characters or name my pets after them or anything) for some reason I can't get excited about this... yet. As unimpressed as I was with IOA, I'm taking a wait and see approach. I hope they do it right and if so, it will be cool. If they do the half-@$$ed approach like they normally do, then it might only be worth one visit... just to say I've been there.

  • I am a relative Potter fan... I like the books....kinda. I'd be excited about this if it wasn't in Universal.

  • Ho-hum.  

    An entire section of a theme park based on one story... this is about as stupid as Disney's idea of changing Adventureland into Pirateland.  Hey, maybe they actually WANT to paint themselves into a corner.  I mean, the Harry Potter stories will ALWAYS be just as popular as they have been.  Right?  Just like Tom Sawyer Island!

    It's just a shame Walt Disney didn't decide to make Mary Poppins-land or Snow White-land or for that matter Mickey Mouse-Land.  <eyes roll>

    C'mon...  

  • One story that spans 7 years with hundreds of characters, dozens and dozens of side stories and a global wizarding community.

    Once again, the "haters" (for lack of a better term for those with no actual coherent beef, who want to pick apart at something just to have something to say) rear their heads.

    IOA is not Disney World, and that is a good thing. My heart will always belong to WDW, but that isn't to say that there isn't a very definite place for Universal and what they do.

    All the Islands at IOA are focused on a niche. Jurassic Park only has two novels and 3 movies to draw from- IT has its own island. Dr. Seuss has maybe 200 combined pages of stories and pictures to draw from- IT has its own island. Toon Lagoon, while stretching over a hundred years of comic strips and animation still focuses on a very narrow subset of that when it comes to its actual attractions- IT has its own island. Probably the most wide reaching of all the islands is Marvel Superheros island, and while its rides touch on a half dozen primary characters, all of those characters are a part of the same set, established (and interconnected) universe/story- much like Potter.

    I agree with those that think that a full park would have been mega-overkill... but a single ride would not have done the fans expectations (you can't argue with the billions of dollars Potter has pulled in the last 10 years) justice.

    So a "land" in an already established theme park that has the space and the money and the technology and the willingness to do something like this is too much?  Sorry, but 3 rides, a show and themed shops and restaurants to be the physical(and interactive) representation of 4000 pages of fantasy storytelling and 14+ hours of blockbuster film... seems as "just right" as baby bear's porridge to me.

  • I'm not a fan of Universal in Orlando, but this attraction will most likely draw me and my teenage son into their park.  Do you remember Jim's articles last year about how the rights to Harry Potter went to Universal because, in part, Disney execs thoguht Rowling's demands were too mountanous?  Aren't you even a little curious to see how Universal was able to meet those requirements?  

  • I think Universal's smart to strike while the iron is hot, while the Potter books still have some cache...but according to the kids I know, Potter is so "over". All the questions have been answered, and now the books have to stand or fall on their actual literary merit...which, frankly, IMO, isn't much. The prose is stiff as a board, the lack of originality glaring, (did Rowling actually put ANYTHING in her books that wasn't already created by somebody else?), and there's very little actual magic in the books themselves. They're really pretty dark and moribund. Still, I might be interested in seeing this castle, because I like castles. But that's about as far as my Universal/Potter interest goes...

  • Between this and the Disney's California Adventure redo, it's a good time to be a theme park fan. The hardest part is waiting. Thanks for the pics!

  • "Once again, the "haters" (for lack of a better term for those with no actual coherent beef, who want to pick apart at something just to have something to say) rear their heads."

    ...and, once again, the people who consider themselves "above it all" take time out of their busy days to begrudgingly educate the "incoherent", witless masses.  Far be it for someone to have an opinion that differs from theirs.

  • As primeiras fotos da constru��o do parque O Mundo M�gico de Harry Potter, na Fl�rida, foram divulgadas hoje na internet. O parque � um projeto baseado na s�rie Harry Potter, e dever� ficar pronto em 2009 ou 2010. Nas foto...

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