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Harry Potter pulls Universal Studios, Hotels out of Recession

The boy wizard from the mind of J.K. Rowling just gave Universal Orlando it’s best year since 2004. Not only that, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is fattening the long-slimmed wallets of Orlando’s hotels. Particularly those near Universal.

Wizarding World’s success has spilled beyond Universal Orlando’s gates: A report released earlier this week showed that Orlando-area hotels recorded their best December in more than a decade last month, as occupancy rose 11.9 percent and average room rates climbed 10.2 percent from the same month a year ago.

Hotels near and along International Drive — those closest to Universal — performed best, with occupancy rising 15.4 percent and room rates leaping 21 percent. The December results continued a string of monthly gains for local hotels that began in June — the same month Wizarding World opened.

This leaves me wondering about those hotels that are more Southernly, like near Walt Disney World. Driving down the I-192 corridor, I noticed that a couple hotels have finally given up the ghost and closed down. Orlando hotels are going up in general, but as this article reveals, the vast majority of the leap in bookings is happening near Universal.