Today Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park officially announced that they're opening the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a twenty-acre "theme park within a theme park" based on J.K. Rowling's novels, in 2009. The park is intended to be an immersive entertainment experience, seemingly less dependent on thrill rides and more dependent on re-creating the world inside the books and films. Visitors will be able to walk through the village of Hogsmeade, ride the Hogwarts Express, and visit Hogwarts Castle, interacting with characters from the stories along the way. Stuart Craig, production designer for all five of the Harry Potter films, is also lead designer for the theme park, and in a brief and mostly boring video on Universal's media site, Craig pledges to create as authentic an experience as possible. (His pledge is made more believable by the fact that he's sitting in a gorgeous movie set of Dumbledore's office while he makes it.)
We've noted before how ridiculously excited we are about this idea, and we're pleased that Universal seems to be envisioning the kind of attraction that author Rowling has always wanted. We do wish, though, that Universal's conceptual designs of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, above, were a little more … well, magical. Hogsmeade looks like a lovely snowy village, but where is the Three Broomsticks pub or Zonko's Joke Shop? Couldn't we see Hagrid tromping around the Hogwarts grounds or the Whomping Willow attacking a flying car? And what about other magical locations, like Diagon Alley or the Burrow?
Whatever, we'd still pay any price, up to and including sacrificing our children's college educations, to visit this place, but we hope things will get more exciting from here on out.