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Harry Potter was a popular Twitter topic this year. The hugely successful film franchise ended this summer. So have we heard the last of Potter? Not a chance. Universal Studios said yesterday it plans to take its Harry Potter Theme Park attraction west as NPR's Ben Bergman reports, the timing could not be better for California politicians.
BEN BERGMAN, BYLINE: Sadly, Daniel Radcliffe was unavailable. So in a ceremony long on pomp and short on detail, the big announcement was made by James and Oliver Phelps, who play the Weasley twins in the Potter movies.
JAMES AND OLIVER PHELPS: It's our very proud honor to be able to officially announce that Hogwarts is coming to Hollywood today.
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BERGMAN: The first Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Universal Studios Orlando last year. It's been a smashing success with two hour lines just to get into the gift shop to buy $30 wands. Potter increased Universal's attendance 50 percent and made it - not Disneyworld - the must-see theme park of the moment in Orlando.
Universal wants the same magic in LA - and so does LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky, who's hoping Harry's magic wand can bring real economic benefit.
ZEV YAROSLOVSKY: I see a possibility of the wand being used to produce $13 billion for the state budget, Governor, and throw in a few million for the county as well, and get out of this morass we're in.
BERGMAN: That governor he was talking to is Jerry Brown, who made the trip down from Sacramento.
GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: It's a great day when we see investment in California. There are a lot of critics of California, a lot of naysayers, a lot of people moving to Texas. Well, there are those people. But there are even more people who are moving to California who are creating, investing and building the dream that never dies.
BERGMAN: Brown started the week announcing he would take a plan to raise taxes directly to voters to try and plug the state's massive budget deficit. So, it was a welcome break to pose with a frosty mug of Butterbeer and more importantly, welcome an attraction billed to create more than a thousand jobs.
BROWN: Yeah, we have some tough times, but we are truly a state of imagination and this great Harry Potter park just pushes us that much further down the uncertain road where California is going.
BERGMAN: Not the most reassuring words, but at least the governor can take solace in one fact: the new Potter park will likely displace an attraction starring his predecessor: Terminator 2 3-D.
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ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: (As Terminator) I'll be back.
BERGMAN: Ben Bergman, NPR News, Los Angeles.
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