Moviegoers, magic-makers and Muggles alike are all eagerly anticipating the upcoming grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, the first amusement park inspired by J.K. Rowling's massively successful series of books and movies. Fans are craving details about what the top-secret vacation destination will contain, and now that its Web site has launched, some of their questions are finally being answered.
In true "Potter" fashion, the site is a hodgepodge of mystery and magic, inviting visitors to navigate its revelations. But here are a few of the key details we've been able to uncover:
Take a Tour
Click on the "flying tour" scroll, and you'll be escorted through a mockup of the park made to look exactly like the sets from the "Harry Potter" movies. Among the landmarks that can be glimpsed are the storefronts from Diagon Alley, the Hogsmeade Station train stop that unloads students and, of course, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry high on a hill overlooking everything. The castle is home to "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey," a ride promising state-of-the-art technology to take you through Harry's school.
Get Ready to Roll
The park has not one, but two roller coasters — well, three, in a way. For the braver "Potter" fans, there is "Dragon Challenge," a double-tracked twister that lets you choose between riding the "dragon" of an "aggressive Chinese Fireball" or another one that is a "ferocious Hungarian Horntail." The two coasters twist and threaten collision as they drive you past the Goblet of Fire and the Twiwizard Cup. For the less adventurous there is "Flight of the Hippogriff," a family-friendly coaster that takes you past Hagrid's hut and is woven from wicker.
Get Your Eat On
Like any good amusement park, Wizarding World has plenty of eccentric places to sit and enjoy themed food. At "Three Broomsticks," you can make like a Hogwarts professor and drink Butterbeer or pumpkin juice while chowing down on "The Great Feast Platter" of shepherd's pie and turkey legs. There's also "The Hog's Head," a pub from Rowling's novels that we can only assume won't be quite as filthy as it is in Harry's imaginary world. In a video on the site, Daniel Radcliffe teases Honeydukes Sweetshop, promising it will have "wonderful, sugar-drenched substances."
School's in Session!
Inside Hogwarts, tourists can see faithful recreations of Professor Dumbledore's office, the Gryffindor common room, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom and much more. Pop quizzes, we assume, are at the tour guide's discretion.
Get Ready to Shop
There are at least five different souvenir-type shops modeled after real stores in the "Potter" realm: Dervish and Banges (to buy your magical items), Filches Emporium of Confiscated Goods (jackets, T-shirts, etc.), Ollivanders (makers of fine magic wands since 382 B.C.), the Owl Post (where you can send mail home), and Zonko's (a huge joke shop filled with shrunken heads and screaming yo-yos).
Housed at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is scheduled to begin greeting tourists in spring 2010.
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