Friday 6 December 2019

Harry Potter theme park to be built in Japan

Harry Potter is heading for Japan for the next theme park modelled on the Hogwarts Castle experience - the first to be built outside the US.

The third Wizarding World of Harry Potter is to be built at Universal Studios Japan, in Osaka, with work starting in the next few weeks and the park scheduled to open in late 2014, the operator of the park announced on Thursday.

Universal's first wizarding attraction, in Orlando, Florida, has already attracted millions of Potter fans, while a second theme park is to open in Los Angeles.

But the Japanese have had a soft spot for the bespectacled boy hero who grew up under a staircase in Little Whinging, Surrey.

The eight movies grossed more than £550 million in Japan, making the franchise more popular in the Asian country than in Britain. More than 78 million people have seen the films in Japanese cinemas.

To date, the seven Harry Potter books have sole an estimated 450 million copies worldwide and the films have taken some £4.78 billion globally.

Construction of the park in Japan's second city is expected to cost £300 million and the finished attractions will include a replica of Hogwarts and a number of rides, including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a spokesman for USJ told The Telegraph.

The opening of the Potter attraction in Orlando has triggered a remarkable 68 percent increase in attendance at the park, along with a parallel increase in spending on meals and knick-knacks. The operators of the Osaka attractions will be hoping for a similar windfall.

"Magical coming-of-age stories play very well in Japan, particularly when they're about the balance between ordinary life and something fantastical," said Glenn Gumpel, president of Universal Studios Japan.

"We're already growing and expect we’ll get millions more people once we launch Harry Potter," he told The Los Angeles Times.

JK Rowling, the author of the books, has also given the new park her approval.

"I was delighted to experience and enjoy the attention to detail, creativity and superb craft that went into the first Wizarding World in Orlando," she said in a statement. "I am equally delighted that the same level of expertise and enjoyment will translate to the new park in Japan."

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