Harry Potter Wizarding World coming to Universal Hollywood
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was trumpeted at Universal Studios Hollywood on Tuesday, as California Gov. Jerry Brown and top officials from Warner Bros. and Universal Studios promised the creation of thousands of new jobs and the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars in building the new West Coast attraction.
But don't hold your breath: The new attraction will not open until at least 2016.
"It is a great day when we see investment in California and investment in the imagination," the governor said.
Universal Studios' President and COO Ron Meyer and Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer said the new park would cost "several hundred million dollars" to construct, and create more than one thousand jobs on the Universal City lot and many more in the surrounding area. Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky applauded the "quality jobs" that he said would come with the creation of the new attraction.
Guests at the Tuesday morning press event were served mugs of Harry Potter's signature drink "Butterbeer," and watched a video greeting from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is visiting China on city business. Also on the stage, under a marquee reading, "Hogwarts Is Coming to Hollywood," were "Harry Potter" actors James and Oliver Phelps, who play the mischievous twins Fred and George Weasley in the boy wizard films based on the wildly successful novels by British author J.K. Rowling.
The new attraction will be constructed entirely within the existing Universal Studios property, those making the announcement said. There will be no new real estate purchased for the creation of the multi-acre Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
But the West Coast construction will occur in tandem with an expansion of the Wizarding World at Universal Orlando. That 20-acre attraction, which opened in June 2010, drew more than 7 million visitors in the first year, and led to a 68% increase in attendance for the first three months of 2011.
The Los Angeles Potter park will closely resemble its Florida cousin, said Universal's Meyer.
"When you first see Hogwarts Castle and ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you will find it an unforgettable experience," Meyer said. "This will change the face of tourism in Southern California."
-- Ben Fritz
[For the Record, 1:40 p.m. Dec. 6: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky is a city councilman and that the Weasley twins are "evil."]
Photo: James Phelps and Oliver Phelps, who play the Weasley twins in the "Harry Potter" movies, at the unveiling of plans for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.