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Universal to unveil second Harry Potter attraction

harry-potter-theme-park2Universal 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 Florida.

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 Business Advisors.

Universal did not respond to inquiries about company attendance expectations.

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 standard thereafter.

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.

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