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Universal Studios Japan's 'Wizarding World of Harry Potter' opens

By Karla Cripps, CNN
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0320 GMT (1120 HKT)
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter cost Osaka-based Universal Studios Japan 45 billion yen ($442.2 million) to construct. Universal hopes the attraction will earn the park 5.6 trillion yen over 10 years. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter cost Osaka-based Universal Studios Japan 45 billion yen ($442.2 million) to construct. Universal hopes the attraction will earn the park 5.6 trillion yen over 10 years.
HIDE CAPTION
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Opening day
Hogwarts in all its glory
The portrait gallery
Hogwarts Express
Flight of the Hippogriff
Luna and Draco
Butterbeer
Honeydukes
Opening ceremonies
The Black Lake
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Universal Studios Japan's Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened to the public this week
  • Mirroring its American counterpart, the Osaka attraction features recreations of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was built at a cost of ¥45 billion ($442 million)

(CNN) -- Proving there are still millions to be made off that magical little boy with the lighting bolt scar on his forehead, Universal Studios Japan on Tuesday unveiled its long-awaited Wizarding World of Harry Potter to thousands of delighted muggles.

(Muggles being non-magic folk, for those of you who haven't seen the films or read the books.)

Based on the phenomenally popular book series by British author J.K. Rowling and subsequent films produced by Warner Bros, the new Osaka attraction is Universal Studios' second Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park.

The original opened at Universal Studios Florida in 2010 -- which just last week launched Diagon Alley, a second area of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- while Universal Studios Hollywood is said to be getting its own version in 2016.

MORE: Sneak peek: Harry Potter's Diagon Alley

Sorry folks, there\'s no alcohol in \
Sorry folks, there's no alcohol in "Butterbeer."

Two stars from the films, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) were on hand for the Universal Studios Japan opening ceremony on July 15, wearing their obligatory Slytherin and Ravenclaw scarves.

Early Tuesday morning, Lynch and Felton performed a mock "Revelio" spell -- a charm used to reveal concealed objects -- after which the archway entrance filled with smoke.

As it cleared, Hogsmeade village was revealed to the masses of fans waiting to access the new attraction.

While we can only assume Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson were too busy for the honorable task, Rowling herself reportedly visited the park prior to its opening.

"The craft and attention to detail across The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is incredible and I will take away the memory of Hogwarts castle reflected on the Black Lake in particular," said the author in a statement.

"I'm delighted that Harry fans in Japan and around Asia can experience a physical incarnation that is so close to what I imagined when writing the books."

MORE: Discovery Cove named 'best amusement park' by TripAdvisor

Butterbeer and magic wands

The famed scarlet Hogwarts Express steam engine is on display at Hogsmeade Station.
The famed scarlet Hogwarts Express steam engine is on display at Hogsmeade Station.

The Osaka version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has many of the same attractions found in its Orlando counterpart.

This includes Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where visitors will find the signature "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" ride, an amazing flight simulator filled with special effects.

Getting there is half the fun as guests get to tour the castle, which is filled with a few of Hogwarts' most famous spaces, such as the portrait room with its talking photos, Dumbledore's office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Gryffindor common room and the Room of Requirement.

There's also a "Flight of the Hippogriff" mini coaster, in which guests pass by Hagrid's Hut before climbing into a wicker Hippogriff -- a winged horse with an eagle head.

In Hogsmeade, a recreation of the village Hogwarts students visited to get their fill of Butterbeer, there are a few shops that appear in the books/films.

These include: wand maker Ollivanders, where visitors can choose their own magic wand; Honeydukes, which sells popular wizarding world sweets such as Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs; and The Three Broomsticks, a tavern serving traditional British fare.

Universal Studios Japan says there are a few park features not found in Orlando such as Hogwarts' Black Lake -- as mentioned by Rowling above -- and live owls.

Trying to compete with Disney?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter cost Universal Studios Japan ¥45 billion ($442.2 million) to construct.

Universal says it's hoping to earn the park ¥5.6 trillion ($55 billion) over 10 years.

According to an earlier report in Japan's Asahi Shimbun, the park's main competitor is Tokyo Disney Resort, which attracted 31.3 million visitors in fiscal 2013.

Universal Studios Japan only saw 10.5 million visitors during the same period, though it was the first time the number of visitors exceeded 10 million since fiscal 2001, its first year of operation says the report.

Universal Studios Japan is located in the city of Osaka and can be accessed by train. The nearest station is JR Universal City. Park hours vary according to day/season, visit the official website for more info. Tickets from 6,980 yen per adult, 4,880 yen per child (ages 4-11)

MORE: 11 extremely practical Japan travel tips

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