Thursday saw the announcement that the very first international version of the theme park attraction based on the blockbuster Harry Potter series of books and movies will be coming to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is scheduled to begin construction in the coming weeks and has an opening planned towards the end of 2014. The attraction will cost almost $500 million to build, and will feature many of the popular rides from the Orlando, Florida Universal Studios location, including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Outside the U.S., Japan is actually the largest market for the Harry Potter brand. The eight films made more than $900 million, even topping the box-office sales of Harry’s home country, the U.K. The brand has also been responsible for Japan’s single largest movie-based line of consumer products in the last 10 years, even spawning things like magic wand chopsticks.
However, across the world fans of the franchise have grown older, and as there are no more books or movies coming, toys are no longer selling like they used to. But renewed sales are being found in theme park attractions. Universal Studios in Orlando saw a 68% increase in its attendance after the Harry Potter attraction opened.
Executives at Universal Studios Japan have conducted extensive research, and found that public interest in the country is prime for theme park attraction. Out of Japan’s population of 127 million people, 80 million tickets to the movie series were sold, and 24 million books have been purchased. Out of Japan’s top 10 all-time bestselling books, the Harry Potter series hold four of those spots. With Japan’s fascination with magical coming-of-age stories, Harry Potter has become one of the most beloved and recognized brand in the nation, meaning the theme park attraction is expected to be very well received.