www.baltimoresun.com/travel/vacation-starter/attractions/universal/os-harry-potter-theme-park-reactions,0,3153358.story

baltimoresun.com

Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Expansion news makes headlines

Dewayne Bevil

Sentinel Staff Writer

Advertisement

Tuesday's announcement that Wizarding World of Harry Potter would expand somehow at Universal Orlando and that a West Coast version would open in Universal Studios Hollywood made business and entertainment headlines.

The shortage of details -- that whole who-what-when-where-how that journalists crave -- left us with similar reports and some different spins. And more than one outlet wrongly refer to the California project as a "Harry Potter theme park," just as they did when our WizWoHaPo opened within Islands of Adventure in 2010.

Of course, we can't all live in the shadow of Hogwarts, so let's be forgiving. Here are some of the good points and observations:

+ Entertainment Weekly, after referring to the "Harry Potter theme park coming to L.A." (Grrrr), asks the musical question "Is the phenomenon big enough for two coasts?"

Darrin Franich writes "The announcement comes at an interesting moment for the franchise since, for the first time in its history, there are no new books or films on the horizon -- which is to say, there are no more real Potter events left to celebrate."

(He also makes reference to Orlando Potter as an "exhibit." Hmmm, would you call Tomorrowland an exhibit? Click here to read Entertainment Weekly story about Wizarding World of Harry Potter.)

+ Our sister paper, the Los Angeles Times, notes that Californians will be waiting several years for Wizarding World West:

"Universal Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Williams said in an interview that the 20-acre Wizarding World in Florida took more than four years to build. The Universal Studios Hollywood attraction would likely take at least that long, putting the premiere in 2016 at the earliest.

"In addition, Universal can't break ground until a planned $3-billion overhaul of its theme park and film and television studio lot is approved by regulatory authorities."

+ NPR poked fun at the lack of star power at the announcement.

"Lest you think this is any kind of small enchanted potatoes, understand that while Daniel Radcliffe wasn't there to announce the big expansion, they got somebody almost as good: the governor of California, Jerry Brown. (He appeared along with the guys who play the Weasley twins, so apparently Radcliffe wasn't the only one who was busy.)"

+ While the popular notion is that Universal Studios Hollywood has tight quarters (SO Hogsmeade) and will need to tear down a current attraction to make room for Harry and company, the Associated Press reports there's room to grow, quoting Universal Studions president Ron Meyer.

"We're not landlocked," Meyer said. "We're (on) 400 acres on this lot, and 200 of them are still not developed."

+ Reuters works in Disney World and "Avatar," but is oddly vague on where the planned Avatar land would be. ("In a section of Disney World" could have easily said "somewhere at Disney's Animal Kingdom." )

"The expansion of the Potter franchise follows Walt Disney's Co's announcement in September of a theme park based on the 2009 film "Avatar" -- the highest-grossing single movie in history.

"Work on the "Avatar" park is due to begin in 2013 in a section of Disney World in Orlando, with plans for other locations in the future."