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Harry Potter Theme Park Headed to Fla.
Associated Press Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Universal Orlando Resort is opening a Harry Potter theme park that will let fans visit many of the iconic locations in the books and movies that endeared the boy magician to millions.

"The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" is set to open at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in late 2009, complete with the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade village.

"The plans I've seen look incredibly exciting, and I don't think fans of the books or films will be disappointed," said author J.K. Rowling, who has been working with a creative team to make sure the park resembles the books and films.

More than a dozen artists lead by Stuart Craig, the production designer of the movies, have set up house in the studio where the movies are being filmed to make sure every detail is considered, said Scott Trowbridge of Universal.

"We're really going to the people who know this world best to ensure that level of authenticity," he said.

The park will let visitors view the famed locations in Rowling's magical world, like Dumbledore's office in Hogwarts and the shops in Hogsmeade. Some locations may be in upcoming books, Trowbridge said.

Many tourists outside the theme park said the experience would boost its appeal to a younger audience.

"I'd go to Universal before I would Disney World to go on a Harry Potter ride," said 15-year-old Alex Moran, who was visiting Orlando from Pleasant Hill, Mo.

Brandon Wilson, another 15 year old from Pleasant Hill, said he can't get enough of Harry Potter. He has read every book and watched every movie.

"I hope we get to simulate flying like Harry Potter," Wilson said.

Trowbridge said while there would not be any character lookalikes at the park, fans wanting to see Harry Potter and his magical friends wouldn't leave disappointed.

"This is Harry's world," said Trowbridge. "Most every fan wants to have an encounter with the star of the show."

The Harry Potter book series has been translated into 65 languages with more than 325 million copies sold in over 200 territories around the world.

The fifth film in the series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," will be released in theaters July 13 by Warner Bros. The seventh and final book of the series will be released July 21.
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