Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Can Harry Potter Save Florida?

Don't let it get away!

Keep track of the stocks that matter to you.

Help yourself with the Fool's FREE and easy new watchlist service today.

Muggles turned out en masse for Friday's official grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Tucked inside Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure theme park, the line to enter the richly themed area circled through the entire park.

I was there, quickly abandoning what at one point reportedly became a 10-hour wait. I was able to enjoy the attraction a day earlier without the madness -- one of the perks of staying at one of the three on-site resorts.

The opening's success bodes well for a healthy summer at the park -- jointly owned by Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX  ) and NBC Universal majority parent General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) . Beyond the Potter-powered boost in overall park attendance, the lines were long for folks willing to fork over nearly $30 for wizard wands. Fans were also chugging down pumpkin juice, butterbeer in keepsake mugs, and chocolate frogs at healthy markups.

Author J.K. Rowling's already rich, so the crowded stores and concessions will only pad her fortunes. The Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) film series is gradually working its way to the saga's climactic conclusion, and a themed attraction won't necessarily move more movie tickets or DVDs.

The real winners here will be Florida and the theme-park industry. Universal Orlando will be a tourist magnet this year, which is great news for Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) a few miles away. Families heading down to the state for a week will indubitably find themselves spending time at neighboring parks.

However, Blackstone is the company to watch here. It acquired the nearby Sea World and Busch Gardens attractions last year. Its Merlin Entertainment unit is also set to open Legoland Florida just an hour away by the end of next year.

Florida can certainly use the tourists, as BP's oil spill has left the state's Gulf coast beach resorts smarting.

This was already shaping up to be the most interesting summer in years for the amusement park industry. Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN  ) will have to prove itself worthy after rebuffing an unsolicited buyout bid earlier this year. Six Flags (NYSE: SIX  ) is back in the spotlight. It began trading this morning after completing its bankruptcy reorganization.

The huge Potter opening proves that patrons will reward a park operator that spends to expand and enhance its gated attraction. After laying low during the recession, the amusement park industry is springing to life in this crucial summer season.

Are amusement parks good or bad investments? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Disney is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves hitting amusement parks with his family over the summer. He does own shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 1213972, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/22/2016 9:37:16 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 12 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,145.71 -16.64 -0.09%
S&P 500 2,141.16 -0.18 -0.01%
NASD 5,257.40 15.57 0.30%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/21/2016 4:00 PM
DIS $93.03 Up +1.00 +1.09%
Walt Disney CAPS Rating: *****
BX $24.07 Up +0.45 +1.91%
The Blackstone Gro… CAPS Rating: *****
FUN $57.29 Up +0.04 +0.07%
Cedar Fair, L.P. CAPS Rating: ****
GE $28.98 Down -0.09 -0.31%
General Electric CAPS Rating: ****
SIX $51.82 Up +0.27 +0.52%
Six Flags CAPS Rating: **
TWX $89.48 Up +6.49 +7.82%
Time Warner CAPS Rating: ***