Even though the books and films are well in the past, the Harry Potter fandom continues to show its strength.
The Wizarding World of Diagon Alley
The first of two J.K. Rowling-infused releases this year is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley expansion at Universal Orlando. The new land will boast a Hogwarts Express train to carry you from the existing Hogsmeade land to the new Diagon Alley. A thrill ride at the latter will take you into the depths of Gringotts Bank. The Leaky Cauldron restaurant will be accessible to Muggles for the first time. More details will be announced in a 30-minute webcast on January 23.
Harry Potter fans will once again descend upon Orlando to gather for a big Potter opening, and we expect Diagon Alley’s grand unveiling to be just as epic as Hogsmeade’s opening in 2010.
Later in the year, LeakyCon will host their 2014 conference in Orlando just in time for Diagon Alley’s opening.
Watch the grand opening of Hogsmeade from 2010 shot by this writer for MuggleNet:
A new book from J.K. Rowling
It’s not a Harry Potter book, but it’s Rowling’s third novel after Deathly Hallows: The sequel to The Cuckoo’s Calling. To be published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, the yet-to-be-titled sequel will follow detective Cormoran Strike and his secretary-turned-sidekick Robin on a new mystery adventure.
Rowling confirmed the existence of a second book in the middle of last year. “I’ve just finished the sequel and we expect it to be published [in 2014],” she wrote.
A release date, title, and artwork have yet to be revealed.
News about the ‘Harry Potter’ play
Just when we thought Rowling was finished making Potter surprises, one more came along right before Christmas: A play following Harry’s life pre-Hogwarts is in development. “What was it like to be the boy in the cupboard under the stairs? This brand new play, which will be developed for the UK theatre, will explore the previously untold story of Harry’s early years as an orphan and outcast,” says Rowling’s representatives in a statement.
When the news was announced, we looked at various ways the play can be a success.
News about ‘Fantastic Beasts’
By far the biggest and most exciting surprise for the Harry Potter fandom last year was news of a spin-off movie franchise set in the world of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and following its author Newt Scamander.
Rowling is writing the screenplay and longtime Potter movie producer David Heyman is back at the helm. In an interview with Hypable, the latter spoke passionately about the new project.
At last check, Rowling is still working on the screenplay for the first movie, so no director, cast, release date, or plot details have been unveiled. We hope that Rowling will hand in the script this year, at which point Warner Bros. may set a release date. Don’t expect it to hit theaters until 2016 at the very earliest.
J.K. Rowling’s website for Harry Potter fans to discover new information about this series is still unveiling new chapters. Currently they’re in the middle of Goblet of Fire, and new chapters haven’t been released since October. This means we should see new chapters early this year.
What else could 2014 bring for Potter fans? We may learn more about the Wizarding World lands being built at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan, but we expect them to feature the same attractions as Orlando’s Hogsmeade. In other words, don’t expect many surprises.
There’s also the Grawp in the room: The Harry Potter Encyclopedia. Rowling at one point confirmed its existence on her official website but then backtracked. We haven’t heard a peep since. While we do expect to see it one day, our guess is that it won’t be published until after Pottermore finishes releasing the books.
And maybe an eighth Harry Potter book? No way.