By Alex Dobuzinskis – Reuters
Harry Potter fans will soon be able to kick back with a glass of butterbeer after riding the Hippogriff through Hogwarts grounds.
It’s not magic but the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a 20-acre (8-hectare) theme park due to open this spring in Florida, Universal Orlando said on Tuesday.
Visitors will be able to sip the non-alcoholic “butterbeer” and “pumpkin juice” at the Hog’s Head pub, go shopping and tour a huge replica of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, just like the one where Harry Potter learned his magic.
Other attractions will include the Dragon Challenge, a twin high-speed roller coaster, and the Flight of the Hippogriff, a coaster for families that will roll along the grounds of Hogwarts.
Within Hogwarts, Universal plans to install state-of-the-art technology to bring the characters Harry, Hermione, Ron — and their friends and enemies — to life.
“Harry Potter” began as a book series by British author J.K. Rowling that has sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and inspired a series of six films that have grossed more than $5.3 billion worldwide at box offices.
The series clearly has wide appeal, said Mark Woodbury, president of the creative group at Universal Orlando Resort.
“We had a pretty good idea of that, but once we started to really get into it you realize how huge these stories have become around the world,” he said.
Universal is operating the park under a licensing contract with Warner Bros, a division of Time Warner Inc and the movie studio behind the “Harry Potter” franchise. Universal Orlando Resort is owned by the Blackstone Group and NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.