From Harry Potter to the Grinch, There’s Lots of Big News at Universal


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction is announced.

Universal Studios Hollywood, without a doubt, is the most exciting tourist attraction in the Los Angeles area. And there was a big announcement that will bring even more excitement to the landmark studio.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which debuted at the Universal Orlando Resort over a year ago, is coming to Hollywood. The attraction will be a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts.

“The announcement of our partnership with Universal to bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood and expand what already exists in Orlando is probably the best holiday gift we could give the legions of Harry Potter fans worldwide,” said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. “Everyone involved with these projects is committed to continuing the enchantment of J.K. Rowling’s masterful books as they were brought to life on screen in our eight films and dedicated to extending the magic of the experience for generations of fans to come.”

The big news was made over a Butterbeer toast in front of the Globe Theatre at Universal last week. Lots of VIPs and studio executives were on hand to raise their mugs with Butterbeer (non-alcoholic) to drink in celebration. Included among them were Governor Jerry Brown, and actors James Phelps and Oliver Phelps who played Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter film series. Kids dressed as Hogwarts students also cheered.

Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios said, “This is an incredible moment for Universal Studios and the millions of guests who visit our theme parks. The Harry Potter stories are some of the most powerful of our time, and we are honored to expand our Orlando experience and bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood, forever changing family tourism in Los Angeles.”

Fran Drescher honored with Who-ville’s “Who-Manitarian Award.”

The buzz was that it would be more than just another studio project. It was explained that this would require thousands of jobs, pour millions into the area economy, including revenues from hotels, restaurants, and other tourism-related businesses. Extolling the virtues of the attractions were Governor Brown; county supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; Larry Kurzweil, president Universal Studios Hollywood; and Tom Williams, CEO-chairman of Universal Parks and Resorts.

Multi-millions will be spent to create the attraction, which will include Potter-themed rides, shops, and restaurants. And the local theme park will have the majestic castle for the Hogwarts institution as the centerpiece of the environment.

A couple of days later at Universal, there was another celebration. Actress Fran Drescher was in the spotlight as she received the “Who-Manitarian Award” from The Grinch and Max the dog. The ceremony took place in the Who-ville winter wonderland created for the annual Grinchmas shows for the holidays. Drescher was delighted to be surrounded by the Grinch, the Mayor of Who-Ville, and about a hundred school kids playing in real snow.

It was a fun atmosphere, but Drescher, a cancer survivor, was serious about putting the focus on the Cancer Schmancer Movement she founded. The “Who-Manitarian Award” honored her for her commitment to health education. Drescher, in addition to being president of Cancer Schmancer, is also the star of the hit TV Land comedy Happily Divorced. She is also a multiple Golden Globe and Emmy award nominee, actress, writer, producer, author and philanthropist.

The presentation launched the “Who-bilations” and tree-lightings in Who-Ville as part of the Grinchmas holiday celebrations.

The tie-in to Universal’s Grinchmas was also part of last weekend’s “Have a Heart Dog Adoption Fair.” The event held at the tour center’s front entrance had the studio partnering with L.A. Animal Services to feature the city shelter’s cutest canines to help them find caring families. Complimentary provisions were made for all adopted dogs to remain at Universal’s animal kennel for guests visiting the theme park for the day.

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