| ORLANDO, Fla., June 17
ORLANDO, Fla., June 17 Universal Orlando kicks
off previews on Wednesday of its much anticipated Diagon Alley,
a second Harry Potter-themed attraction that is expected provide
a boost for the park's revenues and for tourism in central
Universal has yet to fix a date for the opening of Diagon
Alley this summer, but theme park experts predict a major bump
in tourism based on the response to the original, a recreation
of Hogsmeade Village, which required staggered entry times long
after the June 2010 grand opening to control crowds.
"There are heightened expectations for this expansion," said
Richmond-based theme park consultant John Gerner of Leisure
Universal did not respond to inquiries about company
In the month after the original Harry Potter attraction
opened, bed tax revenue from hotel guests in Orange County
jumped 21 percent over the previous year.
"It certainly appeared to be a correlation to the Harry
Potter opening," said Peggy McGarrity, deputy county
comptroller, who added that double-digit increases became
Universal and the Harry Potter franchise are being promoted
all week on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The network and
resort are both owned by Comcast Corp.
"It's unusual you would have a national show like the
Tonight Show to promote this. That's an indication they are
doing everything they can," Gerner said.
Universal is promising a red carpet event to unveil the park
on Wednesday night with some of the film's stars but is not
saying which ones.
Diagon Alley recreates the wizarding business district in
London described in J. K. Rowling's book and movie series.
The attraction will be geared in large part toward eateries
and souvenir shops, both of which have been bottlenecks in the
Hogsmeade Village, home to the wizard school Hogwarts.
Gerner said popular themed attractions can double their
ticket price revenue from in-park sales.
To visit both sections of the Wizarding World of Harry
Potter, guests will have to buy a more expensive two-park pass
because Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley were built in separate
Universal parks. The attractions are connected by a train
featured in books and movies which is a themed ride in itself.
Gerner said this is the first time a resort has found a way
to seamlessly connect two separately ticketed parks to drive up
(Editing by David Adams and Jim Loney)