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Universal announces new Harry Potter expansion

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 7:22 p.m.

Universal Orlando expands Harry Potter's world

Fans of Harry Potter and magic, rejoice: Universal Orlando is expanding its Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a new themed area based on the books' fictional scenes in Diagon Alley and London.

Universal Orlando announced May 8 that the new themed environment will open in 2014.

It will be built on what was the “Jaws” ride in the Universal Studios Florida park, which is next to Islands of Adventure — where Hogwarts and Hogsmeade are located.

Park officials say the two areas will be connected by the Hogwarts Express train, just like in the books and films.

The new Diagon Alley area will feature shops, a restaurant and an attraction based on Gringotts bank, which, in the J.K. Rowling series, is run by goblins.

ABBA The Museum opens in Sweden

ABBA wants to be remembered for more than just catchy hits.

A museum opens in Stockholm in May to show off band paraphernalia, including the helicopter featured on the cover of its “Arrival” album, a star-shaped guitar and dozens of glitzy costumes the Swedish band wore at the height of its 1970s fame.

But some gear is definitely not on show. Band member Bjorn Ulveaus says certain items are “forever lost,” conceding only that they are “embarrassing” tight costumes he wore when he was “slightly overweight.” He declined to say more.

Some 40 sets of the trademark shiny flares, platform boots and knitted hats are on display. Visitors can try on costumes, record music videos and sing hits such as “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia” in a studio.

Visitors to D.C. increase in 2012

Washington saw an increase of about 1 million visitors last year, one of its largest in a decade, counting a record 18.9 million tourists at the nation's capital in 2012, officials announced May 7.

Statistics released by the tourism bureau Destination D.C. show a 5.5 percent increase in total visitors compared with 2011. A study found that domestic visits grew by 4.2 percent to reach 16.8 million U.S. visitors last year.

Growth in international visitors was a major factor driving increased visitation, said Elliott Ferguson, the president and CEO of Destination D.C. Officials estimate that Washington had 2.1 million international tourists in 2012. The number of visitors from China increased by about 92 percent, and Washington saw double-digit increases from other countries, as well, Ferguson said.

“The nation's capital remains a bucket-list destination for families,” Ferguson said.

Figures show that visitor spending increased to an estimated $6.2 billion in 2012.

— Wire reports

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