Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Things To Do

Muggles eager for opening date announcement of Universal's Harry Potter expansion (w/video)

Accio, Harry Potter news!

Muggles have been panting on Twitter madly this week trying to find out the official opening day of Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion, Diagon Alley, expected in June — one of the most highly anticipated theme park additions of the year.

It didn't help that the Today show announced on Tuesday that it will be broadcasting from Universal Orlando Resort on Friday but canceled the plans late Tuesday. Twitter was abuzz Thursday with sightings of Al Roker at the theme park with a film crew. Universal Orlando and Today are both a part of the NBCUniversal media empire, which is owned by cable giant Comcast.

But Friday morning there was no mention of the theme park as the Today show opened, and Al Roker was in the studio.

The Diagon Alley expansion, estimated by industry analysts at $400 million, will link jolly old London and its wizarding shopping district of Diagon Alley with Harry's school town of Hogsmeade. A Hogwarts Express train will actually connect Universal Orlando's two separate parks, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. The ride will require visitors to buy tickets to both parks, which can run $136 for a single day for anyone older than 10.

The park is also adding a new thrill ride, called Escape from Gringotts, that promises multisensory thrills similar to the award-winning ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. There will also be lots of shopping and Potter-themed dining experiences, all straight out of the J.K. Rowling's books, such as Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes joke shop and Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions.

Long dominated by Disney, the Central Florida theme park scene was stunned when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in 2010. It entranced visitors like a summoning charm and brought a 30 percent bump in attendance for the Islands of Adventures theme park.

Disney still holds the lion's share of the market at 71.3 percent in 2012, but that is down from 74.9 percent in 2009, before Potter first opened, according to reports by Themed Entertainment Association, a market research firm for the theme park industry.

One advantage of Universal delaying the announcement until next week: It could steal the spotlight from a media day Disney has long planned for Thursday to unveil its new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in the Magic Kingdom.

Comments
Birchwood owner will open a three-story restaurant and bar at St. Petersburg pier

Birchwood owner will open a three-story restaurant and bar at St. Petersburg pier

ST. PETERSBURG — Chuck Prather, owner of the Birchwood in St. Petersburg, returned from his daughter’s Maine wedding this week with an exciting announcement of his own. On June 7 the St. Petersburg City Council is expected to sign off on him being on...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Want to drink free whiskey with country star John Rich in Tampa?

Want to drink free whiskey with country star John Rich in Tampa?

Here's an offbeat way to start your Memorial Day weekend right.
Updated: 10 hours ago
New restaurants: Metro Diner and Zoes Kitchen in Tampa, Trophy Fish and Oak & Stone in St. Pete

New restaurants: Metro Diner and Zoes Kitchen in Tampa, Trophy Fish and Oak & Stone in St. Pete

Some new eats on the horizon in Tampa Bay.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Top things to do this weekend: Margarita Festival, Rays’ Kiermaier as Star Wars figure, Nintinder

Top things to do this weekend: Margarita Festival, Rays’ Kiermaier as Star Wars figure, Nintinder

LIME TIME: Tampa Bay Margarita Festival This year, there are twice the bartenders and a new RFID wristband system for less waiting at the two-day Tampa Bay Margarita Festival with a margarita flavor for every taste. Music headliners are the Wallflow...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Well, it's different: Porn stars are doing stand up comedy this weekend in St. Pete

Well, it's different: Porn stars are doing stand up comedy this weekend in St. Pete

Plus everything else to see on stage this week in Tampa Bay.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Last chance to eat at Lee Roy Selmon's in Tampa

Last chance to eat at Lee Roy Selmon's in Tampa

The original location is closing as the chain phases out.
Updated: 10 hours ago
John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn't backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn't backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

It's been 50 years since John Fogerty wrote Fortunate Son, one of the most scathing protest songs from the Vietnam War era. Writing another one with that kind of impact has been a challenge ever since.
Updated: 10 hours ago
A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF's US Festival tribute

A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF's US Festival tribute

So many music festivals in Tampa Bay this weekend.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tampa Bay Margarita Festival schedule, set times: When to see the Wallflowers, Everclear and more

Tampa Bay Margarita Festival schedule, set times: When to see the Wallflowers, Everclear and more

It's anyone's guess as to whether this weekend's ugly rains will hold off long enough for the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival to crack open some 10,000 bottles of tequila in Curtis Hixon Park.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Top things to do for Memorial Day weekend in Tampa Bay: Concerts, festivals and memorials

Top things to do for Memorial Day weekend in Tampa Bay: Concerts, festivals and memorials

Our editors' picks for things to do this weekend.
Updated: 10 hours ago