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wizarding world of harry potter

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After Comcast’s CEO made it clear yesterday that Universal plans to challenge Disney for a larger slice of the Orlando travel market, it makes sense to check in on the progress of Universal Orlando’s next salvo in the theme park wars – the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion.

It’s 2014. At some point this year, Universal plans to open Diagon Alley to teems of Harry Potter fans young and old. They’re definitely making progress.

The London facade that faces into the park is absolutely huge. You can’t even see much of the Diagon Alley area beind those walls, but it’s big too. But the real giant of the bunch is the show building for the Gringott’s bank attraction. That will disappear behind theming, I hope, although you can see a little bit of it poking through right now.

Follow below the jump for many more photos:

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Universal Orlando and Warner Bros. have announced a new event to celebrate Harry Potter at the resort in January 2014. With Diagon Alley expansion progressing swiftly to a summer 2014 opening, this event appears time to raise the excitement level among the franchises fans. Universal has held similar Harry Potter events in the past. “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be a special event for fans of all ages that will celebrate all of Harry’s adventures, from the beloved books to the Warner Bros. feature films.

Beginning January 24, 2014, fans will enjoy three days of unforgettable experiences – including interactive Q&As with Harry Potter talent and more. Special event vacation packages will go on sale August 22 and will include exclusive benefits such as access to a private evening reception held in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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I spent most of the 90s visiting Universal Studios Hollywood almost every month. In doing so, I really got to know the tightly packed acreage that made up Southern California’s second most popular themepark. It’s taken some doing, but they’ve finally gotten final approval to go forward with the next stage in the development of Universal Studios.

The first projects of NBCUniversal’s 25-year Evolution Plan with be tied to adding the much anticipated west coast version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The total plan represents a $1.6 billion investment in tourism and production in Southern California. This long-term investment in two industries that are vital to Los Angeles will create more than 30,000 jobs and generate $2 billion of economic activity during operations for the region.