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Universal Studios announces new Harry Potter expansion
ORLANDO - Fans of Harry Potter and magic, rejoice: Universal Orlando is expanding its Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a new area based on the books' fictional scenes in Diagon Alley and London. Universal Orlando announced today the new area will open in 2014. "For Harry Potter fans, this is an opportunity to go to multiple places that are iconic places within the story," said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative for Universal Parks and Resorts. "And people that were really not big fans of the franchise came to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and were immersed in the environment and really thought it was marvelous. We have the same expectation to take them on additional journeys." It will be built on what was the "Jaws" ride in the Universal Studios Florida park, which is next to Islands of Adventure — where Hogwarts and Hogsmeade are located.Park officials said the two areas will be connected by the Hogwarts Express train, just like in the books and films. The new Diagon Alley area will feature shops, a restaurant and an attraction based on Gringotts bank, which, in the J.K. Rowling series, is run by goblins. Universal said it is working with Warner Bros. and the production design team from the Harry Potter films, just like it did for the Hogwarts and Hogsmeade themed area. "I'm so pleased that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has proved so popular to date, and I'm sure that the attention to detail in creating the new Diagon Alley area will make this an even better experience," J.K. Rowling said in a news release. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade opened in June 2010. Universal Orlando's new 3-D theme park ride based on the Transformers toy and film brand will open June 20.