Ahead of its launch on Friday, the boss of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has said he expects the park to dramatically boost tourism in Orlando.
Bill Davis, President of Universal Orlando Resorts, said he expects the park to continue to draw in visitors despite the global recession.
“We obviously expect a very nice effect on attendance, hopefully starting from this Friday,” Mr Davis said.
“And frankly we expect it will help tourism in central Florida and Orlando in particular.
“Attendance is something we always look at, I think we’ll be fine.”
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a theme park adapted from the hugely successful Harry Potter films and books, written by JK Rowling, and the franchise is estimated to bring in £7bn globally.
Despite this, the park, situated at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, is estimated to have cost around $200m – a large investment and risk for Universal, especially as the recession has taken a huge hit on American theme parks.
Last year saw the most dramatic shift in Orlando’s theme park market in years – with Disney World managing to eke out attendance, while Universal Resort and Islands of Adventure took substantial loses of 13.8%.
Now the oil crisis in the Gulf is adding a further blow to tourism in Florida.
It’s estimated that the overall cost to the tourism industry in the state could run into billions of dollars.
Despite the worrying statistics Mr Davis says he remains optimistic for the future.
“It’s a real tragedy and our hearts go out to those affected,” he said.
“We don’t know what is going to happen in the State of Florida, but we think it’s going to be a terrific summer.
“We are going to do everything – we will do our best job for our guests here.”