‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ Theme Park Gets An Opening Date & More (Super Cool!) Details Are Revealed

It’s crazy to think that, in less than a year, Universal’s new Harry Potter theme park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, will be open. With such little concrete information revealed so far, from concept sketches to tentative store names, it was easy to think that Wizarding World was just a far off fairy tale that was something to dream about. But today, Universal sent out a press release detailing the specific rides and shops that would be a part of the park when it opens, making that “Spring 2010” opening date seem much, much sooner.

It is assumed the entrance to the park will be through the archway into Wizarding World’s Hogsmeade, replete with steam and a whistle to signify the arrival of Hogwarts Express into Hogsmeade station (no news yet on whether there will actually be a Hogwarts Express to bring attendees into the park, but how cool would that be?!?).

Across the street from the entrance will be Zonko’s, a joke shop just like in the books that will sell classics like Extendable Ears, Boxing Telescopes and Sneakoscopes. Next to Zonko’s will be Honeydukes, a candy shop that will sell the already available “Harry Potter” candy like Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans.

The Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head pub will be adjacent to one another. Universal claims they “will feature traditional British fare and drinks including Butterbeer and pumpkin juice.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but my friends and I have been on a hunt for real Butterbeer ever since a restaurant during Cambridge’s Hogwarts Square event in Harvard Square for the release of “Deathly Hallows” promised the drink and instead charged us $10 for root beer with whipped cream, so I’m super excited for it to be included on the menu.

Across from the Three Broomsticks will be the Owlery, which the press release says is where you can “roost and await their next delivery.” I’m guessing this means you can buy some owl stuffed animals here, because the chance of Universal dishing their money on a roost of live owls is pretty unlikely. Plus, they never show it in the “Harry Potter” movies, but think about all that poop! Near the Owlery will be the Owl Post, which sells certified Hogsmeade post card and official Wizarding World stamps.

I’m a little curious about what the interactive experience is going to be at Ollivanders, which in the “Harry Potter” books is known as a wand shop where the wand chooses the wizard. Universal promises an “incredible interactive experience” that copies the wand-choosing-the-wizard mentality, but I’m interested to see how they deliver. Probably some sort of questionnaire that gives you a certain wand? Certainly a cool idea to try to bring to life.

There will also be Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods (pictured in a rendering above), which will be full of Ministry of Magic and magical creatures merchandise, Omnioculars and remote control Golden Snitches. Let’s cross our fingers that the Maurauder’s Map can be found here (or at least is the name of the map to navigate the park!) and some Weasley classics, which litter Filch’s office in the books.

The final store in Hogsmeade will be Dervish and Banges, which will sell Quidditch equipment, Triwizard apparel (they remember that was a rare tournament, right?), Spectrespecs and Remembralls.

So far, only two rides have been named for the park. “Dragon Challenge” is “a twin high-speed roller coaster with many iconic elements from the Triwizard Tournament,” and “Flight of the Hippogriff” is “a family coaster simulating a Hippogriff training flight over the grounds of Hogwarts castle.” Interesting concepts, to say the least.

Much like Disney World has Cinderella Castle, so will Wizarding World have Hogwarts (pictured in a rendering at the very top of this post). Inside, the ride “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” will be “a thrilling new state-of-the-art attraction that uses entirely new technology to bring the magic, characters and stories of Harry Potter to life in ways never before experienced.” The experience also sounds similar to the walk through Cinderella Castle, but I guess we won’t know for sure until the park is opened (or until a more detailed explanation is given).

There is some new concept art up on the Wizarding World site, but no official shots of the park have been released. Nowhere in the press release did Universal mention how far through construction they were, or an exact date as to when we can expect the park to open. But with “Harry Potter” production designer Stuart Craig and art director Alan Gilmore on the project, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is sure to be well worth the wait and suspense.

What aspect of Wizarding World are you most excited for? What do you hope they include in the park from the books or movies?