Get on any flight to Orlando, and you’ll see a handful of telltale signs that you’re headed to one of the top tourist hubs in the United States. First there’s the number of children on board, likely wearing tiny backpacks emblazoned with cartoon characters and clutching a prized stuffed toy. Remove your headphones and you might hear a business traveler mention a conference they’re extending for some downtime or an adult woman casually reference witchcraft.
“I’ve been practicing spells,” the woman in the row ahead of me told her seatmate, adding that she was excited to buy her first wand to test them out. There was only one place she could be headed.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located within Universal Orlando Resort, has attracted millions of visitors since it first opened in 2010. The Harry Potter land is now spread over Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, with sections inspired by Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Universal Orlando’s combined attendance has increased 70% in the last decade, from 11.6 million to 19.7 million annual visitors, according to figures from the Themed Entertainment Association.