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Universal reveals details of Harry Potter park attractions

MIAMI - It sounds like a new book in the Harry Potter series, but 'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey' will be a high-tech ride and the marquee attraction at the 'Wizarding World of Harry Potter,' a new theme park area opening in spring 2010 at Universal Orlando Resort.

The 'Forbidden Journey' ride was named by author J.K. Rowling and described Tuesday by Universal officials in a Webcast revealing details of what the Potter park will look like.

The ride will take guests through scenes and rooms from the blockbuster movies inside a richly detailed remake of Hogwarts Castle made to look 700 feet tall. Hogwarts is where Harry attends a boarding school for witches and wizards.

Guests will enter the 'Wizarding World' through a station archway named for Hogsmeade, the magical village near Hogwarts. A plume of steam and a train whistle will sound the arrival of the Hogwarts Express. The goal is to make the experience immersive, so nothing outside is visible after guests pass the Hogsmeade station archway.

Rowling, known for carefully guarding the Potter franchise, hasn't yet journeyed to Orlando, but the design team has made several trips to London to consult with her.

Other rides include the 'Dragon Challenge,' a twin high-speed roller coaster themed after the 'Triwizard Tournament,' and the family roller coaster 'Flight of the Hippogriff,' named for a creature with an eagle's head and a horse's body.

'Along those journeys, they're going to be swept up into the greatest parts of the movies and the books. We've pushed every technology available to us to give guests a theme park experience unlike any they've had before,' said Paul Daurio, producer of the Potter area.

The Harry Potter park will be part of Universal's Islands of Adventure.

Art and set directors from the films, including Oscar-winning production designer Stuart Craig and art director Alan Gilmore, were hired to translate the movies into the park.