When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in June of 2010, it literally changed the way that the world sees theme parks. It took the public thought away from being just coaster riddled parking lots, to actually immersive worlds. And you can do this all without the magic of a mouse. It just takes a few waves of the wand, and a splash of Butterbeer, and the imaginations and curiosity of millions of Harry Potter fans now no that their beloved boy wizard can exist in the world of muggles. But can that wonder last?
Just over a year after the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Universal Hollywood announces that they will be bringing Hogwarts to Hollywood as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will not only come to Universal Studios, but take up a good portion of the existing park.
On top of that Universal Orlando has recently closed the JAWS and Amity sections of their Universal Studios Florida park for a new experience coming soon. If that’s not enticing enough Universal Orlando announces that an expansion is coming to Universal Orlando.
Flash forward a few weeks and you have the “leaked” pictures, synopsis, and complete description of a new ride and area over at Theme Park Insider.
Yes, the picture below is a screenshot of Pottermore.com, but Theme Park Insider uses it to demonstrate what the area will most likely resemble.
Am I the only one that sees the resemblance?
Very tight streets, similar architecture in the buildings themselves. Very similar indeed.
The question rises, will a second “Wizarding World” in the same resort have as big an impact as it did the first time around? Let’s put it this way.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was like catching lightning in a bottle. All the perfect, yet simple, elements done in ways and on scales that no one has ever seen before. Can a huge expansion at a second park match that grandeur, energy, and most importantly the fervor that the first Wizarding World created?
We have leaked plans of not only a “muggle” based world, and a rideable train, but also a huge ride that combines elements of several different existing ride technologies. We have dark ride elements, simulator elements, as well as coaster elements.
Another restaurant is planned, and judging from the pictures of the film, Leaky Cauldron doesn’t differ greatly from the Three Broomsticks. Again, everything has the very tight crowded British market feel to it, which gives a great effect of authenticity, but lends itself to huge crowds and lines for everything. As a result most people avoid not only the area, but the park like the plague during these times.
The biggest concern that it draws with me personally is what is there going to be that is new and mind blowing? The first time around it was EVERYTHING! Butterbeer was specially made for the area, a sweet shop unlike anything the world has ever seen with things we’ve only read about, and wands galore. What can this new area offer? We’ve already got Butterbeer. We already know what treacle fudge, and ton tongue toffee is. And I’m finding wands in thrift stores now. What exactly is going to wow crowds and make them feel they HAVE to come to this new area? Sure a train ride on the Hogwarts Express sounds amazing, but in the end it’s just a train. What is going to happen in Diagon Alley that makes it truly unique?
Will it be truly unique and special, that’s the biggest question. The Wizarding World, for me, was all about experiencing things in the theme park world that I had never experienced before. The books and films constantly opened the door to new experiences with every single new film, or every turn of the page. Can the same be said about a theme park? Can we get an amazing new immersive environment, or has Potter shown everything he has under the cloak?
For more information about the first, and truly awe inspiring Wizarding World of Harry Potter, visit the official Universal Orlando website.
What do you think? What can be offered that is truly unique and hasn’t been done at any park before, including The Wizarding World?