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Universal's Harry Potter vacation package includes a letter from Hogwarts

A new Wizarding World-themed vacation package at Universal Orlando sends guests a keepsake box with a welcome letter from Hogwarts inside, as well as goodies like luggage tags with Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione on them and a lanyard for Hogwarts Railways. Starting at $135 per person per night, the package is exclusive to Florida residents and includes hotel, park tickets and fan perks. [SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE | Times]
Published Aug. 15

Universal Orlando's relaunch of its popular Wizarding World-themed vacation package hits Harry Potter fans right in the sweet spot: They will get their very own letter from Hogwarts.

One of the new enhancements in Universal's Harry Potter vacation package, available now through Dec. 20 for Florida residents, is a keepsake box that arrives in the mail with the names of the family members and a welcome letter and travel guide.

The box is filled with goodies such as Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione luggage tags, as well as lanyards for Hogwarts Railways. As avid fans of the boy wizard know, the adventure begins when Harry gets a letter just before his 11th birthday from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, his first indication that he's a wizard.

Starting at $135 per person per night, the package includes three nights in a Universal hotel (the price goes up for luxury hotels), two-day park-to-park tickets for both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, plus two additional park tickets that can be used at those theme parks or Volcano Bay water park.

The package also includes a breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron in Universal Studios and a session at Shutterbutton's Photography Studio in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios for a free DVD photo album and one 8-by-10 photo.

The idea of immersing yourself in the world of your favorite characters has not only brought unheard of double-digit attendance spikes since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in 2010, but other theme parks have also made big investments in "lands," including Disney's Avatar-themed Pandora, the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, opening Aug. 29, and SeaWorld's life-sized replica of Sesame Street.

Star Wars fans will get their own immersive vacation package someday. Disney has announced plans for a space-themed hotel where the windows look like portals into outer space. From there, guests will shuttle to the 14-acre Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios.

Disney has said the hotel, currently under construction at Walt Disney World, will offer a "seamless connection" to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

Some new features to look for at Universal this fall are the new Hagrid-themed coaster in Islands of Adventure and a fall debut of a light projection show called "Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle." The show will use high-tech projection mapping, making Hogwarts Castle come alive with Dementors, Death Eaters and other sinister creatures. The show, which already debuted at Universal Studios Hollywood in California, included Universal's first use of drones in a theme park. At one point, Harry Potter's Patronus filled the night sky in the form of dozens of glowing drones.

The park has not announced a schedule for the light show, giving a debut date of "fall" in Orlando.

For information about the Wizarding World vacation package, go to universalorlando.com.

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

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