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The Untold Truth Of The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the hugely successful themed area within Universal Studios' theme parks. It is, of course, inspired by the best-selling children's book series by author J.K. Rowling, and the eight film adaptations produced by Warner Bros between 2001 and 2011, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. 

The first Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando, Florida at Universal's Islands of Adventure park in 2010, via the Orlando Sentinel. After extreme success, they expanded by building another area at their other Orlando park, Universal Studios Florida, which opened in 2014. Following closely behind, a version opened at Universal Studios Japan the same year, and at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2016. Universal Studios Beijing is currently construction their own Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which, according to their website, is expected to open in 2021.

Harry Potter fans are known for being devoted and highly knowledgeable of the universe the books are set in, and if you are a fan yourself, you might think you've already heard all there is to know about the books and movies — and in turn, the theme parks that spawned from their success. You'd be wrong. With so many versions of this park all over the world, and more sure to come, here are some little-known facts about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter almost became a part of Disney World

In 2003, rumors began about a Harry Potter attraction coming to either Walt Disney World or Universal Studios. At the time, Disney owned the network television broadcast rights to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which cost them a lot of money, but Universal had been trying to secure the rights to the property since before the first movie even finished filming. Initially, it seemed like Disney was bound to win, as Rowling signed a letter of intent with Disney in 2004. But soon after everything fell apart, with Disney's plans proving to be too small for Warner Bros. and Rowling. In response, Disney stated that they pulled out of the deal because Warner Bros. and Rowling's rules were too strict. 

Writer and theme park historian Jim Hill spoke about Disney's plans on his podcast in 2018, suggesting, based on his own sources, that they had planned to build two attractions. One was to be an "Omnimover attraction with a wand instead of a gun," much like Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and the other a "Care of Magical Creatures Petting Zoo." Either way, Disney's disappointing plans led to Universal Studios finally getting the rights, quickly beginning construction on the version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter you know today.

At the Wizarding World, the magic is in the details

While Disney is well-known for the immersive design in their parks, Universal Studios' Wizarding World might have them beat: Once you enter, you genuinely feel like you've stepped into Harry Potter's world. This even continues when when you go to the bathroom, as Moaning Myrtle's voice floats around you. If you visit 12 Grimmauld Place, a location featured heavily in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and are patient enough, you can see the house elf Kreacher make an appearance in the upstairs window.

For more interactive details, have a wand handy: according to Orlando Informer, there are many spells that, with your wand, you can activate in shop windows throughout the parks. Or consider visiting the Knight Bus and have a nice talk with the driver, Stan Shunpike. Going a step further, Japan's Wizarding World also includes Hogwart's Black Lake — complete with live owls in the park.

Beyond the details key to Harry Potter, Universal also made sure to include small details that pay homage to the attractions and areas that they replaced. The expansion in Universal Studios Florida replaced the old Jaws ride and Amity Island. In reference to this, there is a shark jawbone that sits in the background of a store window in Mr. Mulpepper's Apothecary. In Diagon Alley, there also is a record in a store window called "Here's to Swimmin' with Bowlegged Women" by the Quint Trio, according to Frommer's, referencing a specific moment from the Jaws movie during which the character Quint sings those lyrics.

Universal Studios plans to expand the Wizarding World in their new Epic Universe park

It was first reported by Orlando Sentinel, last October, that Universal Studios planned to open a new theme park — the first addition to Orlando in 20 years. Named Epic Universe, it was initially planned to open in 2023. There were few details available when it was first announced, but Universal confirmed this past January that Super Nintendo World would be a part of this new park.

Orlando Weekly analyzed the official Epic Universe concept art, and it seems there will likely be four different areas of the park, suspected to be Super Nintendo World, a section devoted to How to Train Your Dragon, one for Universal Classic Monsters, and the fourth to be centered around Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the new film series set in the Harry Potter universe. According to theories, the area will be themed around Paris, France, in the 1920s, a setting featured in the second film of the series.

Of course, the spread of COVID-19 put a real damper on all these plans, and now it's unclear what Universal hopes to do with their Epic Universe. The construction is on hold indefinitely, and they will probably have to cut things, and shift their plans around. But given how successful the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been for them, Universal is likely to make the upcoming Fantastic Beasts expansion a high priority.