Harry Potter is riding his magic broomstick to Southern California.
NBCUniversal is planning to expand its Los Angeles theme park with a section devoted to the "Harry Potter" franchise, according to people familiar with the matter, hoping to repeat the success of a similar attraction at NBCU's Orlando, Fla., resort.
The new "Harry Potter" addition in the Los Angeles park, Universal Studios Hollywood, will likely resemble the one in Florida, these people say, which includes a Hogwarts Castle, roller coasters, and several Potter-themed restaurants including the Hog's Head tavern, which serves butterbeer, as in the books.
If the new section succeeds, more "Potter" attractions could open in other parts of the world where Universal has theme parks, including Japan, Singapore, and Spain, say people close to Universal.
Universal Studios' 'Wizarding World of Harry Potter' theme park in Orlando cost roughly $220 million to build. Another is on tap for California. NBCU, which is majority owned by Comcast
Corp., is expected to make an announcement about the initiative next week, according to those people. A spokeswoman for Universal declined to comment.
Universal opened the first Harry Potter theme park attraction at its Universal Orlando Resort, called "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," in June 2010. Costing roughly $220 million to build, the addition has helped draw bigger crowds to Universal Orlando, which has long lagged behind rival theme parks in the area operated by Walt Disney
In May, after "The Wizarding World" was open for almost a year, the company reported that attendance at the Universal Orlando Resort in the first quarter had soared to 2.8 million visitors from 1.7 million in the year-earlier period. In the first quarter of 2011, revenue for the resort nearly doubled, to $309 million.
The Potter brand is powerful. The series of seven books by J.K. Rowling spawned eight movies produced by Time Warner
Inc's Warner Bros., growing into the largest film franchise in Hollywood history.