My friend and yours, Brian Orndorf, has been constantly updating his own site with progress pictures of the new Harry Potter-themed attraction at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, and the latest batch are beginning to show what the theme park can no longer hide behind barriers -- namely, an overwhelming attention to detail when it comes to replicating the world of Hogwarts.
Orndorf's been covering the construction since late '08, but general awareness wasn't boosted until Universal aired an ad during the Super Bowl earlier this month. Though they've claimed a vague "Spring 2010" opening to allow themselves some wiggle room, special vacation packages tied into the park hint at a more likely Memorial Day bow, just in time to capitalize on all of the local heat and humidity that one associates with the wintry series (hey, you get used to it).
When I asked Orndorf why he snaps the shots, this is what he shot back:
"Monumental theme park development is a rare event. In an industry that's more than willing to allow celebrated roller coasters and dark rides to crumble due to ludicrous budgetary neglect, the construction of Universal Orlando's "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" is a pricey gamble worth celebrating in a major way... I hope these construction pictures I've snapped from around the area's Islands of Adventure home can drum up some excitement for this expansive addition to the Orlando theme park sweepstakes, sure to be an event vacation destination for years to come."
The first half of the last Harry Potter film is set to open this November; here's hoping that the lines for the rides won't be so long by then. Check out the best of Brian's pics by clicking through the gallery below ...