From the Orlando Sentinel, by Jason Garcia:
Universal Orlando raised ticket prices once again over the weekend, becoming the first of Orlando’s big theme-park operators to lift base prices above $90.
The price of a one-day, one-park Universal ticket is now $92, before tax. That’s a 3.4 percent increase from the previous price of $89.
Single-day tickets that cover admission to both of Universal’s theme parks — Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure — rose 3.2 percent, from $124 to $128.
Some other ticket options rose by slightly larger margins. The price for a two-day, two-park ticket jumped 4.4 percent, from $159.99 to $166.99.
This is the second consecutive year that Universal has jumped out in front of its larger rival, Walt Disney World, with a round of price increases. Universal has been able to take advantage of strong pricing powerafforded by the popularity of its Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal will also open a major new ride next month based on the Transformers toy and film franchise.
One-day, one-park prices remain $89 at both Disney and SeaWorld Orlando. But if history is any guide, the other parks will follow soon with price hikes. Neither Disney nor SeaWorld would say Monday whether they intend to raise prices in the near future.
“We set our prices to reflect the value of the entertainment experience we offer,” Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said. “Our guests continue to tell us we offer great entertainment at great value. Our new pricing has options as low as about $42 per day. And we will continue to offer a variety of value-driven, multi-day vacation packages for guests and their families.”
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ORLANDO, Fla. – Building on the global phenomenon that is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced an expansion of historic proportion with the entirely new themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
Scheduled to open in 2014, the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience expands The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both Universal Orlando theme parks and allows Universal’s creative team to bring an unparalleled vision to this unique project. The new area will bring to life some of the experiences and places found in and around London in the Harry Potter books and films, offering brand-new adventures for fans and theme park guests from around the world.
Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, where guests now experience Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. The new area within Universal Studios will be just as expansive, immersive and authentic as the existing themed environment.
And – just like in the books and films – guests will be able to travel between ‘London’ and Hogsmeade aboard the Hogwarts Express.
Work on the new area is already underway. When complete, it will feature shops, a restaurant and an innovative, marquee attraction based on Gringotts bank – all directly inspired by the fiction and films.
More details on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be released over time.
To bring Diagon Alley and ‘London’ to life, Universal’s creative team is working closely with Warner Bros. and the production design team from the Harry Potter films – just as it did for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.
“I’m so pleased that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has proved so popular to date, and I’m sure that the attention to detail in creating the new Diagon Alley area will make this an even better experience,” said J.K. Rowling.
“We are continuing the journey and adding an entirely new level of adventure,” said Tom Williams, Chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts. “And we are bringing the same drive, commitment, enthusiasm and innovation to this project as we did to the first.”
“We are thrilled to offer the legions of fans the opportunity to embark on this new journey and experience Diagon Alley as it was brought to life in the books and films,” said Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
“Our vision is to create two amazing theme park experiences that combine into one, complete, magical journey,” said Alice Norsworthy, executive vice president, marketing and sales for Universal Orlando Resort.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in June 2010 as a fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment – bringing to life the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling and the blockbuster feature films from Warner Bros. Since that time, it has become a global phenomenon, entertaining millions of people from around the world.
Visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are swept into the adventures of Harry Potter. They can tour Hogwarts castle, shop in Hogsmeade and dine at the Three Broomsticks. They can soar above Hogwarts with Harry, be chosen by a wand at Ollivanders, sample Butterbeer and much more.
Work continues on the expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida. The centerpiece of the new expansion is rumored to be an indoor roller coaster which takes place inside Gringotts Bank. Rumors suggest that Diagon Alley will also be part of the expansion as well as a Hogwarts Express train ride going from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure.
The cast of Nickelodeon’s hit TV series, “Victorious,” visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort on June 8, 2012. The group rode the family-friendly coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff, and soared above Hogwarts on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey before performing live at the Universal Orlando’s popular music event, the 2012 Summer Concert Series. The annual event runs every Saturday night from June 9 to July 14 and features a star-studded lineup of top-name musical performers, beginning with the cast of “Victorious.”
Universal Studios Japan has announced the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be brought to the Osaka park sometime in 2014. The new addition is certain to be welcome news to dedicated Japanese fans who have been enthusiastic followers of the books and movies since the beginning of the series.
The new Wizarding World is now the third such park to be created. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Orlando Resort opened in June 2010 and immediately captured global attention. Universal has recently announced a major expansion will be added in Orlando along with a brand new Wizarding World to be built at Universal Studios Hollywood.