The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Harry Potter is making his way to sunny Southern California. In a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has given the go-ahead to NBCUniversal’s plans to build a Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios Hollywood.

The attraction is part of a $500 million plan from the company which also includes upgrades to the studio backlot’s office space, TV production facilities, and other infrastructure. Hit the jump for more info.

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Dying to set foot in Middle-earth, but don’t have the cash to shell out for a ticket to New Zealand’s Hobbiton? If a new rumor is to be believed, Universal Studios could be planning a new Middle-earth theme park that’d presumably be much closer to home for American fans. According to an anonymous source, Universal and Warner Bros. have approached the Tolkien estate about the possibility of building a new attraction, and Universal has gotten as far as presenting its ideas to the Tolkiens. Read more after the jump.

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/Film boss Peter Sciretta was lucky enough to get an early preview of Universal Studios Hollywood’s new Transformers The Ride 3D last month, but for the rest of us, this weekend marks the long-awaited debut of the attraction. General Glenn Morshower (played by Glenn Morshower) led the grand opening ceremony, which doubled as a set-up for the premise of the ride. Michael Bay, who directed the first three films and served as “creative consultant” on the ride, was not present, but sent in a greeting via satellite.

But the real stars of the show were Bumblebee and Optimus Prime, who showed up in car form at the ceremony after having appeared in robot form on the red carpet. Megatron made his presence known as well, “derailing” the proceedings by announcing his intention to steal the AllSpark back. Video footage and photos from the event lie after the jump — along with info on a new Universal Studios potentially being developed in South Korea.

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J.K. Rowling may have envisioned Hogwarts as a Scottish institution, but the school of witchcraft and wizardry is traveling all over the world these days. Warner Bros. and Universal Parks and Resorts have just revealed plans to open a Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Osaka, at Universal Studios Japan.

The Osaka park is the third Wizarding World of Harry Potter to be announced, and would be the first location outside of the U.S. The first Wizarding World opened to wild success at Universal Orland’s Islands of Adventure park back in 2010. More details after the jump.

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The filmmaker who brought us Hostel is now, ironically enough, getting into the tourism game himself. Eli Roth’s Goretorium, a haunted house, is scheduled to open September 27 at the corner of the Strip (a.k.a. Las Vegas Boulevard) and Harmon Avenue in Las Vegas. Though the timing is expected to help the Goretorium tap into the Halloween industry, the multi-level attraction will remain open all year round. Roth was previously behind the popular Hostel-themed maze at Universal Studios Hollywood last year.

Roth expressed his hope that the new attraction would become “the world mecca for horror fans,” and talked up the Goretorium’s terrors. “Horror fans know that with my name on it, it won’t be for little kids,” he said. “They know it will be a very scary experience.” If all goes well, the Las Vegas Goretorium could be the first of many. Roth says that he’s already received offers to franchise the Goretorium to locations in London, New York, and Tokyo. [Deadline]

After the jump, Captain Jack Sparrow arrives in Florida, and Universal Studios heads to Russia.

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The title of this post is “Theme Park Bits,” but it should really be called “Universal Studios Theme Park Bits.” While most of us have been spent the past week alternating between lounging about in our PJs and bickering with our families, the international amusement park division was apparently busy getting new attractions for its Orlando, Hollywood, and Singapore parks on track. After the jump:

  • Details revealed on the new Harry Potter expansion in Universal Studios Florida
  • A video allows you to revisit Universal Studio Florida’s recently closed Jaws ride
  • Universal Studios Hollywood sets an opening date for Transformers The Ride
  • Universal Studios Singapore unveils its brand-new Hollywood Dreams parade

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The Internet was a buzz on Friday with the inevitable news that Universal Studios Orlando will be closing their classic Jaws themed ride come 2012. At the time, Universal would only comment by saying the ride was being closed to “make room for an exciting, NEW, experience.” Speculation immediately began running rampant among theme park enthusiasts as to what this new experience could be and most seemed to agree that closing the Jaws ride would allow Universal to spread the hit attraction The Wizarding World of Harry Potter into Universal itself. The expansion would be a London themed location including Diagon Alley, The Leaky Cauldron, Gringotts and King’s Cross complete with Platform 9 3/4.

Adding to the debate is a recent quote by a Comcast executive that called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter a “reset mechanism” for their parks. Read more about all of this after the break. Read More »

With Transformers: The Ride — 3D about to launch in Hollywood and Singapore, Universal Studios is looking to bring the giant alien robots to at least one other park. Or at least, so says Steven Spielberg. Though Universal has yet to make a formal announcement about a new Transformers-themed attraction for its Orlando resort, the director claimed in a recent interview that a ride was in the works. More details after the jump.

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I’ve never been to the Universal Studios backlot, despite making many visits to LA over the years. And now that I’ve seen this video, in which rally driver Ken Block navigates the lot at tremendous speed and with impeccable precision, I’m not sure I need to. When you’ve got a few minutes to watch the entire video, hit the jump. Read More »