Friday, March 4, 2016

"The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios Hollywood Expected to Greatly Increase Park's Revenue

J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" franchise has made the author a millionaire and a worldwide sensation in the relatively short time since she first published "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the first book in a seven-part series. While it took her quite a while to find a publisher that was willing to take a risk on the new author, when she finally did, the series took off and quickly became the best-selling sensation it is today. Between the seven books in the main series, three other books set in the same universe, 8 movies, and all of the different kinds of merchandise, "Harry Potter" has been a huge money-maker over the years. One of the largest sources of merchandise income has been Universal's "Harry Potter World" in Orlando, Florida. Hugo Martin, in his L.A. Times article, discusses the upcoming opening of a new theme park, this time in Los Angeles: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Everyone expects the new theme park to be a huge success, both for the franchise itself and for Universal Studios Hollywood, which has undergone millions of dollars in renovations over the past couple of years in an attempt to bring in more visitors. In 2014 they started with a Despicable Me-themed attraction called Minion Mayhem and continued into 2015 with the Simpsons Springfield land and a new Fast and Furious ride. The new Harry Potter attraction, however, while still smaller than its Florida counterpart (about one-third of its size) is expected to do more for Universal's bottom line than any of the other attractions.

Besides the fact that the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter will attract more visitors to the theme park as a whole, analysts believe that a large portion of the increased income will be due mainly from merchandising. In 2010, when Orlando first opened a Harry Potter World, park attendance went up by 20% and total revenue increased by 41% in the first year. Analysts believe that a similar trend will be noticeable at the Los Angeles analog. Between souvenirs like wands or robes and food options like butterbeer and chocolate frogs, the Harry Potter World is expected to make a killing among die-hard fans and regular folks alike. With a franchise like Harry Potter, there is very little that can go wrong, since the fans, known as "Potterheads," are so invested in the series that nay addition to the magical world is seen as a welcome surprise.

Members of Universal Studios' sales and design teams have come up with many clever ideas to make the theme park a huge money-maker. Replica wands ($39.95) can be purchased to match a favorite character's, and for a slightly higher price ($47.95), one can purchase an "interactive" wand. These interactive wands are specially designed to activate lights and motors specially incorporated into some of the wizarding world's attractions when waved in a certain manner. Not only do these wands bring in more revenue, they also add to the overall ambiance of the park and make visitors feel more immersed in the magical world that Universal is creating. Costumed employees add to the "realism" of the immersive world, and visitors will have the ability to purchase robes, wands, and the like to add to their personal collections.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter should be a huge success for Universal Studios Hollywood. As of now, it is smaller than the one in Orlando, but with enough traffic and high demand, the park will likely expand in future years. 2016 seems to be the year for all things Harry Potter related. Not only is California's wizarding world opening, but Rowling's sequel to the Harry Potter series, titled "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," will be performed in English theaters in July and the script should come out in print soon after. Finally, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," one of Rowling's other books set in the wizarding universe is currently in filming and is set to be released in movie theaters in November. One might expect that all of this new content will eventually be incorporated into new Universal attractions, which should make for even more income in the not-too-distant future.

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