The under-construction Hogwarts castle is seen above Hogsmeade as work continues on ''The Wizarding World of Harry Potter'' at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida January 23, 2010. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Kolczynski/Universal Orlando/Handout

Universal Orlando announced on Thursday the opening date of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- June 18 -- and provided new details on the park's major rides.

The 20-acre (8-hectare) Harry Potter park-within-a-park is based on the fantasy novels by British author J.K. Rowling. Though the park has been in development for over five years, details, including the opening date, have been tightly held since the project was announced in 2007.

The company has begun selling Wizarding World of Harry Potter vacation packages. Four-night packages, which include an on-site hotel room, park tickets and various amenities, start at $645 per adult or $1,548 for a family of four.

Mark Woodbury, head of Universal Creative, said in September the Wizarding World scenery, attractions and souvenirs would be faithful to Rowling's seven-book series. The books have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and spawned a movie franchise that has earned billions of dollars.

Visitors will be able to sample butter beer and pumpkin juice at the Three Broomsticks Restaurant, relax in the Owlery and be fitted for their own magical wand in Ollivander's Wand Shop, all familiar landmarks in the Harry Potter world.

Universal's website gave new details of the park's major rides on Thursday.

The signature ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, starts in Hogwart's Castle and will run through Professor Dumbledore's office, the Gryffindor common room and the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom.

The ride then soars over the castle grounds and bring fans face-to-face with creatures such as the Hungarian Horntail, a giant Acromantula, Dementors and the gigantic Whomping Willow.

A second ride, Dragon Challenge, an intense dual roller coaster, will provide guests with a view of the Goblet of Fire and the Triwizard Cup. Guests will choose their dragon and ride through what the website calls an intense aerial chase in which the dragons seem to twist, loop and nearly collide.

A family ride, Flight of the Hippogriff, will take guests past Hagrid's hut. On their way to the ride, guests will be instructed on the proper way to approach a Hippogriff, Rowling's magical creature with the head, wings and front legs of a giant eagle and body, hind legs and tail of a horse.

Universal Orlando is owned by the Blackstone Group and NBC Universal, which is part of General Electric.