Travel Marketing: How Universal Orlando used marketing magic to put a spell on Muggles.

July 8, 2010

Universal pulled out all the stops to market Harry Potter to America.

In the months leading up to the  opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal created a TV documentary, Super Bowl ad, augmented reality site, You Tube video, and more.


Universal turned its cameras on itself.

Months before the park opened,  Universal created a “Making Of” documentary devoted to making an emotional connection in people’s minds between the beloved movies and the new theme park.

TV campaign aired on the Super Bowl.

At about the same time, Universal launched a brand campaign that linked Harry Potter with other park stars such as Spider-Man and Shrek. One of the spots aired on the 2010 Super Bowl.

Web strategy included augmented reality site.

To generate internet chatter in the weeks leading up to the opening, Universal invited media outlets to tour the facilities.

They allowed the media to film and post You Tube videos of their tours. Some of my favorites were done by Orlando’s Attractions magazine.

To give people a sense of what the park would feel like long before it was finished, the studio created a special website with an augmented reality feature.

Repurposing content for You Tube.

As the date grew closer, Universal rebroadcast its Super Bowl TV spot on Attractions magazine’s You Tube Channel, and as of today, has generated over 127,000 views.

To keep the buzz going, Universal posted clips of the TV documentary on its website and You Tube, complete with interviews with the stars of the movie.

Final blitz  featured online and social.

In the weeks leading up to the opening, Universal invited media outlets to tour the facilities and allowed them to film and post their own You Tube videos of their tour.

Instead of doing a corporate social media plan, they let loyal Harry Potter fans create their own facebook pages to discuss the event.

Universal pulled out all the stops on this launch, took some daring risks, and has built a monument to magic that’s going to keep people whistling with delight for years.



How Harry Potter helped U.S. travel marketing take a giant leap forward.

July 7, 2010

The curtain went up in a big way on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

When the Harry Potter inspired attraction at one of America’s best theme parks opened to the general public,  the enchantment wizards and witches at Universal Orlando did not disappoint.

The most highly anticipated theme park attraction in years.

Although dozens of new attractions opening at theme parks across the U.S. every year, none created as much anticipation, or delivered as much on expectations as Universal did when it opened its Harry Potter attraction.

What’s included in the attraction.

The creators of this $200 million theme park within a theme park spared no expense to immerse visitors in detailed and exacting re-creations of Hogsmeade, the mythical village of the wizardry world.

These include the Hogworts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the streets and shops of Hogsmeade.

There’s also a working version of The 3 Broomsticks, a pub that serves Muggles the same food and drink Harry enjoys, like Butter Beer.

How The Wizarding World re-created Harry Potter’s world.

The park achieved visual parity with the Harry Potter movies by enlisting the services of Alan Gilmore, art director for all 4 Potter movies.

According to Gilmore, “Overall, I think the detail, the absolute rigorous pushing of detail is beyond compare.  Everything is correct.  Our mantra was authenticity.”

Here’s the best part.

The opening roused Disney, that slumbering dragon of theme park magic, and ignited a new war of inspiration between these two entertainment leviathans.

Which is leading to a whole new generation of breathtaking, movie-inspired attractions.

If you’re a travel and attraction marketing professional, make a note of this event. And vow to use The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as inspiration to raise the bar for bravery and innovation in your little corner of the travel and attraction kingdom.

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