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Harry Potter-themed area to open at Universal Orlando

An artist's rendering shows

An artist's rendering shows "The Flight of the Hippogriff" ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, opening at Universal Studios Orlando in May, 2010. On the tamer, family-oriented roller coaster, riders will hear Hagrid welcoming them and warning them to beware of the Forbidden Forest. Photo Credit: Universal Orlando

June 18.

That's the day that Universal Orlando has chosen for the "grand opening" of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," the long-awaited new themed area at Universal's "Islands of Adventure" in Orlando.

People who purchase a special Universal package will be able to get into the Wizarding World as early as May 28. Park officials aren't saying whether there might be a "soft opening" that would allow regular Universal park ticketholders entrance prior to June 18.

The Wizarding World's main attraction, "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey," is in the enormous Hogwarts castle that towers over the area. It's a walking tour and simulated flying ride that park officials estimate will be a 30-minute experience.

The actors who play Harry, Ron, Hermione and Professor Dumbledore were filmed using a new technology that makes it seem they are leading visitors through rooms from the books and movies including the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room, and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.

The tour ends with a flying ride to a Quidditch match, with riders chased by a dragon into the Forbidden Forest and threatened by magical creatures from Harry's adventures, including his nemesis, the evil Voldemort.

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