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Apr19

Universal Studios Japan Announces “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” Grand Opening on July 15, 2014

From Warner Bros. --

Universal Studios Japan hosted an event today, to celebrate the announcement of the Grand Opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” which meticulously recreates some of the iconic locations from the world of Harry Potter.  Universal Studios Japan revealed that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will open on July 15, 2014.  The announcement culminated with the unveiling of the magnificent Hogwarts castle, the focal point of the land.

Universal Studios Japan welcomed special guests from Japan and around the globe: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; Ms. Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan; Academy Award®-winning art director and production designer for the Harry Potter films, Stuart Craig; actress Evanna Lynch, who played “Luna Lovegood” in the Harry Potter film series; world-renowned architect Tadao Ando; and Universal Studios Japan ambassadors, and beloved musical act, SMAP, gathered for the celebration.

When Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy announced the opening date, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a spectacular show of lights and brilliant fireworks.
“We cannot wait for the July 15 opening. ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ will be a wonderful addition to Universal Studios Japan and will contribute to energizing Osaka and the local economy,” said Prime Minister Abe.
“It’s wonderful to be here tonight to celebrate another dimension of the United States-Japan alliance,” said Ambassador Kennedy. “Harry Potter inspired a generation of children to love reading…and when they are not reading, I hope they come to ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.’”

Event Overview
The evening’s celebration began with an “owl” delivering a letter from Hogwarts to President and CEO of Universal Studios Japan, Mr. Glenn Gumpel, who was revealed on stage with the letter in hand to introduce the honored guests.

Guests Evanna Lynch, Stuart Craig, Tadao Ando and SMAP were greeted on stage with loud cheers, and the appearance of United States Ambassador Kennedy was met with thunderous applause.

With distinguished guests from around the world gathered, Mr. Gumpel presented the letter from the wizarding world to Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy, who together, reading from the letter, announced “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opening date.  At that moment, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a radiant light show with fireworks, which unveiled its towering scale and lit up the night sky.

Following additional remarks by Prime Minister Abe, Ms. Evanna Lynch led the guests in casting the spell “Lumos!” followed by more dazzling fireworks to the further the excitement and joy of the crowd.

A special website, where you can begin to explore “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” online, has now launched.  Please visit www.usj.co.jp/harrypotter in the official Universal Studios Japan website.

Universal Studios Japan received an annual 10 million visitors for the second time this past March 19 (day 353 of fiscal year), which is the first time USJ has achieved this milestone since the park’s opening in 2001, and, thanks to all, continues to perform strongly. With the much-anticipated opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” USJ looks to continue to attract more visitors from both Japan and worldwide.

 
Apr09

Universal Studios Hollywood Makes Unprecedented Investment in Epic Theme Park Transformation: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2016

From Universal Studios Hollywood --

Reaffirming its position as the #1 tourist destination in Los Angeles with one of the most progressive and exciting theme park experiences anywhere, Universal Studios HollywoodSM, is making an unprecedented five-year investment in revolutionary new thrill rides and expansive themed environments that will radically alter the familiar footprint and landscape of The Entertainment Capital of L.A. SM

This monumental transformation, the most significant undertaking in the theme park's storied 50 year history, will have substantial impacts across all facets of L.A.'s economic spectrum from job creation to tourism.  Representing the single largest investment ever made, this sweeping makeover began in 2012 with the introduction of the award-winning mega-attraction, "Transformers:  The Ride—3D" and will culminate in 2016 with the much-anticipated Los Angeles debut of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™."

"This is a pivotal time in the history of Universal Studios Hollywood as we build upon our extraordinary success and expand our vision for the future of our world-class destination," said Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood.  "This broad investment in our five-year transformation will further strengthen Universal Studios Hollywood as an economic leader, significantly contributing to long-term employment opportunities and tourism throughout L.A."

"This amazing investment by Universal Studios Hollywood represents a dramatic boost for Los Angeles tourism, creating new world class entertainment that will add new jobs, stimulate hospitality revenues and contribute to the economic prosperity of our city," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

From its humble beginnings 50 years ago, Universal Studios Hollywood has remained true to its roots of immersing guests in the awe-inspiring world of movie-making magic, providing remarkable access to movie sets on a real working studio lot.  Its once celebrated "Glamour Trams" have evolved to become the now world-famous Studio Tour and a hallmark attraction, bringing millions of guests onto areas of an authentic movie and television studio typically restricted to authorized movie production personnel and into that elusive world motivated by three compelling words:  lights, camera, action.

The evolution of breakthrough, next-generation thrill rides has continued to revolutionize the theme park renowned for its innovative collaborations with top Hollywood filmmakers and the greatest creative minds in entertainment – Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Michael Bay, Chris Meledandri – whose credibility contribute immensely to a ride's authenticity.

Working in collaboration with Universal Creative, the visionary design and development division of Universal Parks & Resorts, Universal Studios Hollywood has crafted an ambitious blueprint for the future of the theme park detailing its expansive redesign and mega-attraction introductions.

"Transformers:  The Ride—3D" set the stage for this epic transformation in 2012 and raised the bar for immersive, technologically advanced entertainment offered at Universal Studios Hollywood or elsewhere.  Working in partnership with award-winning filmmaker Michael Bay and the technical luminaries at Industrial Light & Magic, the ride infused an adrenalized multi-level ride-track and visceral special effects with one of the most elaborate flight simulation ride systems ever created.  Housed within a newly built 60,000 square foot structure, the ride utilized the highest, most sophisticated resolution of 3D-HD technology available to virtually launch guests into the dynamic, action-packed robotic world of the Transformers.

In summer 2013, the interior focal point of the theme park profoundly changed with the installation of Universal Plaza, a visually aesthetic 37,000 square foot art deco styled piazza.  This impressive and versatile polygon-shaped entertainment venue sits at the heart of the theme park as a welcoming open air courtyard, architecturally reminiscent of classic Hollywood glamour.  Featuring a soaring 70 foot tall tower emblazoned with the word Universal, the venue is large in scope, yet provides a warm and inviting environment to host an array of special events and entertainment. 

On April 12, 2014, "Despicable Me Minion Mayhem" and "Super Silly Fun Land" will open at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Based on Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment's Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award-nominated film franchise, and created in collaboration with Chris Meledandri, founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, "Despicable Me Minion Mayhem" will resonate with the same endearing qualities and characters that catapulted the franchise to international blockbuster fame.

The footprint for "Despicable Me Minion Mayhem" and "Super Silly Fun Land," however, will serve as a crucial turning point for the theme park, as the adventure represents its first foray into fully expansive themed environments aimed at immersing visitors from the moment they enter the space.  From experiencing Gru's neighborhood to Miss Hattie's Home for Girls and the imaginative seaside carnival, this all-encompassing approach is a decisive departure from the park's more commonly used vignette ride exteriors to create holistic experiences and transport guests to that imaginary place. 

2015 will be a momentous year for the theme park with two spectacular attractions debuting as part of the 50th anniversary.  "Springfield," an immersive land surrounding "The Simpsons Ride," will open in Spring 2015 and in Summer 2015, "Fast & Furious—Supercharged," based on the blockbuster film series, will be introduced as the grand finale to the celebrated Studio Tour.

The former layout of the park will become unrecognizable when "Springfield," hometown of America's favorite family, The Simpsons, breathes new life to the sprawling and vibrant space surrounding "The Simpsons Ride." "Springfield" will capture the spirit of the town and engage visitors and fans of the show in the intensely absorbing and colorful world made famous throughout the series' 25 seasons.

"Springfield" is being designed to make guests feel as if they are being propelled through their television sets into the accurately depicted city, complete with signature eateries from Krusty Burger to Luigi's Pizza and Phineas Q. Butterfat's 5600 Flavors Ice Cream Parlor to iconic watering holes like Moe's Tavern and Duff's Brewery. 

"Fast & Furious—Supercharged" will be a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-fueled finale to the world-famous Studio Tour.  This technologically advanced thrill ride, will catapult guests into the high-stakes underground world of fast cars where they'll join the cast in a harrowing escapade.   The ride will be situated within a newly constructed 50,000 square foot building on the legendary backlot and will reunite stars from the Fast & Furious series in a groundbreaking mega-attraction, conceived as a new installment to the dynamic film series that can only be experienced at The Entertainment Capital of L.A.  

The dynamic hydraulic-motion based ride will tell an original Fast & Furious story, incorporating hyper-realistic special effects and state-of-the-art 3D-HD imagery projected onto the world's longest and most expansive 360-degree screen spanning nearly 400 feet in length to encircle Studio Tour guests in the Fast & Furious universe.

2016 will be a magical year for Universal Studios Hollywood as the theme park's epic transformation becomes fully realized with the highly-anticipated arrival of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter."

Inspired by the magical world created by J.K. Rowling and brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios Hollywood will be a fully immersive land designed for the entire family that brings the Harry Potter fiction and films to life with impeccable detail and authenticity.  Similar to the dynamic Universal Orlando Resort themed land that opened in 2010, the Hollywood experience will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle that will serve as the iconic focal point of the impressively themed environment.  "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" is a collaboration between J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts. 

This evolution of Universal Studios Hollywood will also include the addition of two newly constructed parking structures that, combined, will accommodate thousands of additional vehicles. Construction on the second parking structure will be completed in late 2015.

Universal Studios Hollywood, The Entertainment Capital of L.A., includes a full-day, movie-based theme park and Studio Tour; the CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex, the Universal CityWalk Cinemas and the "5 Towers" state-of-the-art outdoor concert venue.  World-class rides and attractions include the intense, award-winning ride, "King Kong 360 3-D" on the famed behind-the-scenes Studio Tour, the critically-acclaimed mega-attraction, "Transformers™:  The Ride-3D," "The Simpsons Ride," "Revenge of the MummySM—The Ride," "Jurassic Park® —The Ride," and the much anticipated 3D Ultra-HD movie motion-simulator adventure, "Despicable Me Minion Mayhem" and "Super Silly Fun Land."

 
Apr07

WAND WEEK CASTS A SPELL OVER WARNER BROS. STUDIO TOUR LONDON: Special feature for May half-term only

From Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter --

By popular demand, Wand Week will return to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter this May and visitors will be invited to delve into the world of wandmaking and wizarding duels.

From Friday 23rd May – Monday 2nd June, visitors will discover first-hand how duelling scenes were developed and the incredible amount of planning that went into each wand movement. They’ll get the chance to duel with a Death Eater after learning wand battle choreography with an interactive experience created by expert Paul Harris. Paul composed the battle scene between Dumbledore and Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and is the world’s only Wand Combat Choreographer.

Those exploring Diagon Alley will be able to see a special effects demonstration created by BAFTA-winning Special Effects Supervisor John Richardson. By pointing a wand, visitors will be able to cast a spell that will make the sign above Potage’s Cauldron Shop bang and flash as if by magic.

Original moulds, concept art and wand designs will be displayed in the attraction and members of Head Prop Maker Pierre Bohanna’s team will showcase some of the techniques they used to hand-carve wands for the Harry Potter film series.

The iconic duelling table, as seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, will also be on display in the iconic Great Hall set.

Spellbinding secrets:

· In the first and second films, the wands looked quite plain. This was drastically changed in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when the wands were given distinctive shapes and carvings, reflecting the owners’ personalities. For example, the wand of Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) is inlaid with silver slug trails and has a slug-shaped handle.

· Prop makers designed a series of wand holsters for the Death Eaters that would attach around their waists for easy access. The Death Eater wands were also more showy and aesthetic than the other characters’ – to match their extravagant masks which were made of filigreed silver.

· More than 3,000 wands were produced for the Harry Potter film series, including the elaborate wand that was created for Professor Dumbledore before the Prop Making Team discovered its importance as the Elder Wand.

Tickets must be pre-booked and all extra activities are included in the ticket price.

 
Apr04

HARRY POTTER™: THE EXHIBITION TO CAST SPELL OVER GERMANY WHEN IT PREMIERES AT THE ADVENTURE MUSEUM ODYSSEUM IN COLOGNE

From Warner Bros. --

German Harry Potter™ fans will celebrate this fall as they step into the famous wizard’s magical world when Harry Potter: The Exhibition makes its German premiere. On October 3rd, 2014, Harry Potter: The Exhibition will open its doors at the science and adventure museum ODYSSEUM in Cologne-Kalk. Tickets are now on sale on RTL Tickets: Tickets und Konzert-Karten online bestellen - RTL.de.

In partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES) created the 1,400? square?meter traveling exhibition, where visitors are able to enjoy dramatic displays inspired by the Hogwarts™ film sets and see the amazing craftsmanship behind authentic costumes, props and creatures from the films. The exhibition is being presented in Cologne by AWC AG.

ODYSSEUM will be the exhibition’s second stop on its European tour following a stop in Norrköping, Sweden, at Nya Parken. Since its highly successful premiere at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in 2009, it has been presented in a variety of major cultural and entertainment institutions and museums in cities around the world including Boston, Toronto, Seattle, New York, Sydney, Singapore and Tokyo.

“Harry Potter: The Exhibition has mesmerized audiences worldwide and we are truly excited to bring this immersive experience to Germany,” said Karen McTier, Executive Vice President, Domestic Licensing and Worldwide Marketing, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “Guests will be captivated by the depth of the collection and we are thrilled to present the Harry Potter experience to even more fans around the world.”

“After successful stops in the United States, Australia, Asia and Canada, we are very proud to welcome Harry Potter: The Exhibition to the ODYSSEUM. We’re thrilled that we can be a part of the Harry Potter experience, which will make the eyes of young and old fans shine with this fantastic exhibition!“ expressed Andreas Waschk, CEO of AWC AG and general manager Science Center Services GmbH.

“We are delighted to partner with ODYSSEUM to bring the magic of Harry Potter to Germany,” says Robin Stapley, Vice President, Design and Creative, GES. “Harry Potter: The Exhibition has enjoyed world class recognition at its landmark venues around the world and continues to thrill fans with its thousands of props and costumes.”

Harry Potter: The Exhibition will be shown from October 3, 2014 for a limited time at the adventure museum ODYSSEUM in Cologne-Kalk.

The exhibition will be open during the ODYSSEUM’s regular opening hours: Mondays to Thursdays from 9 am to 7 pm, Fridays to Sundays, Bank Holidays and School Holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia from 10 am to 8 pm.

Timed-entry tickets are required, and the last entry will be 90 minutes before closing of the ODYSSEUM.

Tickets to the exhibition are on sale now exclusively at www.rtl.de/tickets

 
Apr04

Quidditch World Cup 2014 Starts This Weekend in North Myrtle Beach

From International Quidditch Association --

When JK Rowling announced in mid-March that the next Quidditch World Cup would be in April 2014, she was talking about the fictional game… but the real-life version of the sport is coming to North Myrtle Beach this weekend!

The International Quidditch Association's seventh annual World Cup comes to South Carolina this Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, as 80 teams from 23 U.S. states and three nations meet for one of the world's most unique sporting events.

Quidditch, a full-contact, co-ed sport inspired by the Harry Potter series, began in 2005 and has since spread to over 300 colleges, high schools, and community teams worldwide. The league features both traditional sports powerhouses like Texas A&M, Ohio State University, and Louisiana State University, and Ivy League stalwarts like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. These teams compete over a year-long season and qualify for the World Cup through one of nine regional championships throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Canada.

Previous World Cups have had as many as 10,000 spectators, with tens of thousands more watching online via Livestream.  Last year's event, held in Kissimmee, Fla., saw the University of Texas capture the title by defeating the University of California, Los Angeles.

Quidditch is played with seven players to a side, all mounted on brooms. Three chasers score goals by putting the quaffle (similar to a volleyball) through any of three hoops at the opposite end of the field. A keeper defends the hoops, while two beaters throw bludgers (kickballs) at opposing players to temporarily knock them out of the game. Meanwhile, each team's seeker tries to catch the snitch, an autonomous fifteenth, yellow-clad athlete who has a custom-made velcro tail hanging from the back of their shorts, similar to flag football. A game of quidditch ends when the snitch is caught, and the capturing seeker's team is awarded an additional three goals. The IQA's official rulebook is available free for download.

The World Cup's extravagant atmosphere—once deemed by Fox News "a cross between the Superbowl and a medieval festival"—will also include singer-songwriter Howie Day, whose popular act will be showcased alongside "wizard rock" band Harry and the Potters. A family-friendly event, the World Cup will feature a "kidditch" pitch for children to try their hand at the game, as well as a merchant village where aspiring wizards can stock up on magical paraphernalia. The Harry Potter Alliance will also be at the tournament, sponsoring a book drive to benefit the North Strand Housing Shelter. Attendees are encouraged to bring books to donate.

The tournament runs from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. on Saturday, and from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are available online or at the door. At the door prices are $19 for adults and $12 for children for one day, and weekend passes are available at $29 for adults and $16 for children. VIP tickets are available online for $100 or at the door for $155. The event is co-hosted by the City of North Myrtle Beach and will be held at the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex.

For more information about the World Cup, or to buy tickets, visit www.iqaworldcup.com. To learn more about quidditch, visit www.iqaquidditch.com.

 
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