central florida

Harry Potter to officially open on June 18th at Universal Orlando

Harry Potter fans get ready for the most immersive Wizarding World experience you can have outside your imagination. The Grand Opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort has been set for June 18 and parts of the land will be opening even sooner. Universal Orlando released details of the expansion to Islands of Adventure and the highly anticipated new attraction “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” this morning.

One of three themed attractions within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the heart of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This all new adventure combines a powerful storyline with spectacular new technology so effectively that guests will be completely immersed in the experience.

And as they live their adventure, guests will feel things no one has ever felt inside a theme park attraction, move in ways no one has ever moved, experience film like no one else ever has, explore vast sets punctuated by amazing special effects – and have an adventure only possible in Harry Potter’s world.

The new attraction lies deep within Hogwarts castle, a majestic structure that towers over The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – the only place in the world where the wonder, excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter books and films comes to life.

The Adventure

Imagine…

…meeting Harry, Ron and Hermione as if they were in person

…soaring over Hogwarts castle with Harry

…being swept into a Quidditch match

…feeling the chilling effect of a Dementor

…exploring your favorite places inside Hogwarts castle

…living adventures you’ve only been able to imagine – until now.

The Story

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey draws you into the excitement and chaos of Harry’s life. As you venture through Hogwarts castle, you meet Harry, Ron and Hermione who convince you to skip a planned lecture and follow them. Upon taking their advice, you travel by Floo powder, and begin the adventure as you soar over Hogwarts, narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, get pulled into a Quidditch match and more.

“Guests will experience firsthand a completely new adventure featuring the iconic characters, amazing creatures and recognizable locations they’ve only read in the books or seen in the films,” said Thierry Coup, creative director for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Lots more below the jump, including new facts about the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey:

Read More »Harry Potter to officially open on June 18th at Universal Orlando

Orlando Mass Transit Map is Murky

Walt Disney, I think everyone can agree, was a visionary. His desire to see an America connected by a series of high speed trains, monorails, and people mover systems was given proof of concept by his theme park experiments and plans for the City of… Read More »Orlando Mass Transit Map is Murky

More LEGOland Florida Details at official announcement

In a ceremony full of LEGO bricks, LEGO sculptures, and VIPs, Merlin Entertainments officially announced the 2011 opening of LEGOland Florida. After spending a few years skulking around Central Florida considering various options, they settled on Cypress Gardens based on its rich history and the… Read More »More LEGOland Florida Details at official announcement

Legoland Official, Memo Leaks Out

Florida’s oldest tourist attraction is about to become its newest. Merlin Entertainment will be building a new Legoland theme park at Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, FL. Winter Haven is about a 45 minute drive from the Orlando attractions area, assuming light traffic. But that… Read More »Legoland Official, Memo Leaks Out

Kissimmee Merchants Look to Plus Hwy 192

Merchants and business owners along Highway 192 in Osceola County have finally decided to get their act together. Prior to the latest economic meltdown, I wrote about signs of life in Central Florida’s most neglected tourist region. As you might guess, those improvements have been given back and the trend points even more down hill these days.

However the newly formed 192 Business Alliance has a plan to turn that around. The region will adopt a theme of…

“Orange Central” by painting the curbs or sidewalks orange. The theme would continue with a new public-transportation option consisting of two orange-colored shuttle buses. A new Web site would promote the area, and businesses would support the initiative with things like orange mints in their lobbies.

The 192 Business Alliance, the newly formed nonprofit group that drew up the plan, said something must be done, and quickly, to revive the sagging tourist strip west of Kissimmee. “We could have shuttle service here by spring break,” Brisson said. “We need something easy. We need something fast.”

It’s a good start, perhaps mints in the lobby is all that can be afforded in these times, but there are a few cracks in the plan.

Included in the strategy is a plan to build a sports complex focused on drawing amateur competition to the area. I’m a little skeptical of this idea. Have they not heard of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports? Disney is bound to take the lion share of the amateur sports business. That is ESPN WWOS’ whole focus and they can offer the ESPN brand and Disney magic, something Kissimmee can never match.

Perhaps the 192 Business Alliance is thinking that they would attract sports teams who would travel to central Florida and not compete on Disney property, but still package a vacation with their tournament by offering them a cheaper price for the same quality facilities, just without the ESPN experience. That could work, but I don’t see it as being a big driver, if it was, existing regional amateur sports facilities would be full already. Maybe they have a study that says differently.

Moving in on sports instead of convention business is an interesting angle, however think they need to be more ambitious. The name “Orange Central” is neither catchy, nor descriptive. Nobody is going to say, “let’s go down to Orange Central and see what’s going on.” But they’re on the right track, 192 does need better branding.

Follow me below the jump for a few more suggestions for the 192 Business Alliance and the Osceola County government to get moving on.

Read More »Kissimmee Merchants Look to Plus Hwy 192

Disney World wants Child Charities to Shine

Keeping the charitable spirit alive year-around, Disney works in tandem with more than 100 local non-profit organizations to make dreams come true throughout Central Florida. As the New Year approaches, charities that share Disney’s commitment to building a better future for local families and children… Read More »Disney World wants Child Charities to Shine