You might think Harry Potter fever would be petering out now that the books and the films have come and gone. You, of course, would be wrong, as Ben Bergman reports on today's Morning Edition.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando opened last year, and it's been such a moneymaker — er, such a delight — that Universal Studios announced yesterday that it's going to open a version in Hollywood. And lest you think this is any kind of small enchanted potatoes, understand that while Daniel Radcliffe wasn't there to announce the big expansion, they got somebody almost as good: the governor of California, Jerry Brown. (He appeared along with the guys who play the Weasley twins, so apparently Radcliffe wasn't the only one who was busy.)
Not only is this a big deal for west-coast Potterites, but it's a big deal for the state and for Los Angeles County. L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky says he hopes the thing will bring in $13 billion for the state — that's billion — and throw in millions for the county. They're also expecting it to create a thousand jobs.
As for the governor, as Ben points out, the Harry Potter attraction is most likely going to replace the Terminator 2 3D attraction. Which stars ... well, you know. The last guy.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Harry Potter was a popular Twitter topic this year. The hugely successful film franchise ended this summer. So have we heard the last of Potter? Not a chance. Universal Studios said yesterday it plans to take its Harry Potter Theme Park attraction west as NPR's Ben Bergman reports, the timing could not be better for California politicians.
BEN BERGMAN, BYLINE: Sadly, Daniel Radcliffe was unavailable. So in a ceremony long on pomp and short on detail, the big announcement was made by James and Oliver Phelps, who play the Weasley twins in the Potter movies.
JAMES AND OLIVER PHELPS: It's our very proud honor to be able to officially announce that Hogwarts is coming to Hollywood today.
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BERGMAN: The first Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Universal Studios Orlando last year. It's been a smashing success with two hour lines just to get into the gift shop to buy $30 wands. Potter increased Universal's attendance 50 percent and made it - not Disneyworld - the must-see theme park of the moment in Orlando.
Universal wants the same magic in LA - and so does LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky, who's hoping Harry's magic wand can bring real economic benefit.
ZEV YAROSLOVSKY: I see a possibility of the wand being used to produce $13 billion for the state budget, Governor, and throw in a few million for the county as well, and get out of this morass we're in.
BERGMAN: That governor he was talking to is Jerry Brown, who made the trip down from Sacramento.
GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: It's a great day when we see investment in California. There are a lot of critics of California, a lot of naysayers, a lot of people moving to Texas. Well, there are those people. But there are even more people who are moving to California who are creating, investing and building the dream that never dies.
BERGMAN: Brown started the week announcing he would take a plan to raise taxes directly to voters to try and plug the state's massive budget deficit. So, it was a welcome break to pose with a frosty mug of Butterbeer and more importantly, welcome an attraction billed to create more than a thousand jobs.
BROWN: Yeah, we have some tough times, but we are truly a state of imagination and this great Harry Potter park just pushes us that much further down the uncertain road where California is going.
BERGMAN: Not the most reassuring words, but at least the governor can take solace in one fact: the new Potter park will likely displace an attraction starring his predecessor: Terminator 2 3-D.
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BERGMAN: Ben Bergman, NPR News, Los Angeles.
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WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.