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Harry Potter's worst nightmares will loom in new Universal Studios show

The new nighttime show at Universal theme parks will be called the Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle.

The nighttime projection light show at Hogwarts Castle will be taking a darker turn soon.

Universal has announced a new show called the Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle, coming to its California theme park starting in April. But Orlando will have to wait until "later this year," with no specific opening dates announced.

The show will be another in the park's popular series of using the castle as a canvas — the magic of projection mapping can create just about anything for guests at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Both Disney and Universal have been making greater use lately of digital projection mapping tools, like the ones that make the turrets of Cinderella's Castle spin and change colors or make it look like Hogwarts Castle is dusted with snow in steamy Florida while ghosts float across the castle towers. High-speed projectors run at 1,000 frames per second to make the animation smoothly move across any surface.

For the last two Christmases, Universal has put on a Christmas-themed projection show at Hogwarts and last January it debuted the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle. With narration by the Sorting Hat and the musical accompaniment of John Williams's iconic score, it is still running on most nights at Islands of Adventure and will continue until the new show arrives later this year, a Universal spokeswoman said.

The world of Harry Potter, as imagined by creator J.K. Rowling, has no shortage of villainous creatures for a Dark Arts show, including the powerful dark wizard Lord Voldemort.

"As darkness falls on Hogwarts castle, Dementors, Death Eaters and other unspeakable creatures, from Aragog and Mountain Trolls to Thestrals, will cloak the castle with sinister images from the darker side of magic," a Universal announcement said. Voldemort will make an appearance and a powerful Patronus spell — one of the most difficult and powerful defense of the Dark Arts charms in the wizarding world — will be needed.

The Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle will also have a musical arrangement by William Ross, who arranged John Williams' original score for the Chamber of Secrets movie. It was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, based on the original scores composed for the film series.

The show runs April 13-28 in California then returns May 25-27 for Memorial Day weekend. Universal Orlando Resort's experience will debut later this year with dates to be announced at a later time, the park said Thursday.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow SharonKWn.

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