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Universal Orlando shares new concept art, video for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Universal Orlando shares new concept art, video for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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If you did a quick tour of the Disney blogosphere this week, the big news coming out of Jay Rasulo’s presentation at the D23 EXPO this past Saturday would seem to be the Fantasy Forest project.

Conecept drawing of Disney's Enchanted Forest
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Where Guests would have the chance to visit Briar Rose as well as Flora, Fauna & Merryweather at their cottage in the woods.

Concept painting of Disney's Enchanged Forest
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Not to mention dining with Belle in the grand ballroom at the Beast’s Castle.

Concept art from Disney's Enchanted Forest
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Mind you, one aspect of this Disney Princess-based expansion of the Magic Kingdom that Jay Rasulo didn’t touch on was why the Mouse felt compelled to greenlight this project in the first place. Could there be a particular reason that Mickey was – in effect – doubling the size of Fantasyland in 2012 & 2013?

You don’t suppose that Disney World managers are doing this in response to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which begins its roll-out next Spring at Universal’s Islands of Adventure?

Universal Orlando's Wizarding World Map
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

This past Tuesday, Universal Orlando officials held a webcast where they shared lots of imagery related to this eagerly anticipated project. Including pieces of concept art that revealed what Dueling Dragons would look like after it had been turned into the Wizarding World’s Dragon Challenge coaster.

Concept art of Universal Orlando's Dragon Challenge area in their Harry Potter themed land
Copyright Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

There were also some images of the rethemed Flying Unicorn kiddie coaster. Which – once work is complete – will be renamed Flight of the Hippogriff.

Flight of the Hippogriff ride concept art from Universal Orlando's Island's of Adventure
Copyright Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

But as the Wizarding World’s brand-new premiere attraction, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” … All that the Universal Orlando reps would do was show what the entrance of this ride looked like …

Universal Orlando Concept Art showing Hogwart's Exterior
Copyright Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

… as well as revealing how the post-show gift shop would be laid out.

Filch's Emporium
Copyright Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

Beyond that, Universal Orlando officials were pretty tight-lipped about this state-of-the-art ride which will reportedly use “ … entirely new technology to bring the magic, characters and stories of Harry Potter to life in ways never before experienced.”

If you’d like to get the lay of this new land at Universal ‘s Islands of Adventure, might I suggest that you check on this virtual fly-through of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Copyright Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

Looks pretty interesting, don’t you think?

So – come 2013 (when construction is supposed to finally be complete on ALL of the Fantasy Forest) – which do you think is going to be the bigger draw: The Magic Kingdom’s new Disney Princess-themed expansion or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Your thoughts?

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  • It Does not matter how great harry Potter Land is.... The Magic Kingdom has no real competition for the fantasy market.  No theme Park can compete with the Magic Kingdom over time.  Harry potter is not taking away any direct attendance to the Magic Kingdom, however, it may cause families to shorten their disney vacation. This may effect attendance at the Studios or Animal Kingdom.  

    Its great to see disney's reinvestment in the MK (Pirates redo, Mansion Refurb, Space Mtn refurb, new Fantasyland) but this is not the park that would have been directly affected. Could a new beastly kingdom in Animal Kingdom saved this park from losing some of its customers to IOA?  Either way for potter fans only one question remains, Do I visit Potterland at the begining or end of the trip?

  • I can't wait.

    It would be great if Duelling Dragons could be enclosed.  I'd like to see some changes to the ride.  It feels a bit cheap to dress this and the other ride up with new Harry Potter branding.  Too many people are so familiar with the originals.

    Spielburg, if you're listening, could you shorten the queue?


  • I was excited about this "new" land until this latest news came out. It seams like just a cheap re-theming of the Lost Continent and the only "new" thing is whatever is inside of Hogwarts... which I am guessing will be a bit like Posedon's Fury and not really original at all.

    On the other hand I am uber-excited for the Fantasyland expansion. I like that they are basically leaving everything alone and then adding on. I will miss Toontown a bit, but not that much. And I am not a Disney snob who doesn't like Universal, I actually really do like it, though it's not an every year park for me.

    I think Disney doesn't have much to worry about. People will check out Harry Potter for sure, but only as an add on to their Disney trip. Then after a few years, when everyone has seen it, things will go back to normal and the same people who go to Universal will still go there and the same people who don't won't... that'll just about be the time that the new Fantasyland is done... hmmmm....

  • I'm excited about the changes to both WDW and Uni. Granted, a lot of the area where Potter's going in is just being rethemed, but given the reputation Rowling's got for being a stickler for getting the look and feel of the world of her characters right, it should come out looking pretty impressive.

    As far as the Fantasyland expansion at the MK, all I can say is that it's bloody well about time.  The prevailing attitude at Disney for the longest time seems to have been, "We've already got the most popular theme park in the world - we don't need to change a thing",  and with the exception of a solid D ticket attraction (Philharmagic), a decent C ticket (Magic Carpets of Aladdin), a couple of D ticket attractions that didn't really work (Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and Stich's Great Escape) and a couple of nice rehabs (Mansion, POTC, Space Mountain), nothing much has changed at the MK for more than a decade.  

    If Uni's addition of Wizarding World of Harry Potter accomplishes nothing else than to shake Disney out of its sense of complacency, then it was a success as far as I'm concerned.  

  • While it seems to make sense that this is a knee-jerk reaction to Potter, somewhat, I seem to doubt that it is completely.

    The trouble with this new expansion is that it's centered on the princesses.  This will be a big draw for most of the girls, but for the most part, the boys probably will want to skip it.   Now, if they include plenty of things that show a great balance between the sensibilities of the average boy and girl, it'll be a general success.

    Harry Potter on the other hand is generally well-liked by both boys and girls.  It has got the balance and general appeal to get everybody's attention (though, is it at the right park?  IOA is, overall, not the best park for smaller kids [even with Seuss Landings] with its emphasis on thrill rides - the studios might've been better).  Disney Princesses just don't have the same appeal to boys.  Which is why they'll need to make sure that it doesn't ignore the adventure of those princess films and instead make it to be an elaborately quaint little tea party.

    That said, I do quite enjoy the concept art of this forest idea.

  • I think the Dumbo revamp will help alot... and the fact that they've gone with a Gaston restaurant instead of the Disney Princess version of American Girl Cafe... Yeah, the whole thing sounds like it was pitched by Consumer Products and worked into something passable or better by Imagineering.

  • I'll definitely check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as I am a fan of the series. Enough can't be said about the extensive world JK Rowling has created, and I'm excited to see that conceptualized.

    However, I'm definitely a Disney fan first and foremost and I'm excited to hear about new, quality additions to the park. Such a disappointment when all that's in development are attractions like Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and Finding Nemo the Musical (both absolutley terrible). They need to get people excited about coming to the parks again, and feature attractions that are worth coming back to time and time again. I don't know enough about the MK expansion, but it looks like a big step in the right direction.

  • The silent Dumbo in Universal Orlando is the $950 million or so debt that must be paid or refinanced in the next eight months, plus the possible Spielberg consulting contract buyout, plus who knows what the HP franchise and construction is costing -- can HP alone offset this? Many of UO's attractions are franchised and contracted, unlike Disney which largely lives off developments of its own characters and stories.

  • I agree with those who think the new Fantasyland expansion is too princess-heavy. It sounds like the Disney marketing dept. created it, not the Imagineers. And an extra Dumbo ride? Plus yet another restaurant? And they're going to redo the Muppet movie in digital so you can see Kermit's seams better? Big whoop. I think the Potter world will definitely draw away capital from WDW. The Potter franchise appeals to both genders and to older kids as well as the young - AND their parents. It's going to be huge. And if it's huge enough Universal will expand upon it. Incidentally, a friend of mine was at D23 and he said that when the announcement was made that Fantasyland would get an expansion, there was a cheer from the crowd - but when told it would mostly involve princesses, the response from the crowd was dead silence and a groan or two. Me, after reading the press releases, I'm not impressed, or at all reassured that Disney's really got a grasp on the competition out there. I think that pretty soon it's going to discover that it's falling behind in the theme park business - just like it is in animated films. Sad.

  • Honestly, I think it could be a whole lot worse... It's clearly a DCP pitch but the presentation was decent enough. Enough to compete with Potter? Not so sure, but Potter is a partial land with mainly redressed rides- even referred to as such on one of the Potter podcasts.

  • AAAAANNNDDDD this just in: Dick Cook's leaving Disney.

    This news comes right after the D23 expo...any connection?

  • In the 36 years I've been going to WDW...I can honestly say I've never EVER been to another theme park in Orlando.  However, when Harry opens you can be darn sure I'll be going to IOA.  Not because I care about IOA, but because Harry is a fantastic series of books and films.  To be honest it's more imaginative than anything Disney has ever done.  JK has created a world that might even rival Tolkien's.  

    I'm a Disney purist but everyone is right designing a land entirely around females is great for girls, but Harry Potter is a cross generational, cross gender phenomenon that will appeal to far more mainstream customers.  I don't think people will go out of their way to visit the expanded Fantasyland, but thousands of people will go to IOA just because that's where HARRY is.  Will WDW lose it's place as the worlds favorite vacation destination...no.  But for Universal it might just save them after losing Marvel.

  • I personally love all of it, and couldn't possibly choose one over other.

    But, here are a few business thoughts:  Disney is making a smart move by flanking the Potter expansion at IOA.  There was no way--without a major rebuilding of a park, which would have to have been much bigger than the plans they've announced so far--that they could compete for the same crowd.  Disney won't spend that kind of money.  So they did the next best thing--they're going for the alternate crowd.  The "little princess" families and senior-citizens-with-the-grandkids won't be drawn to IOA, and the WWoHP folks won't be drawn to the tea party.  

    I do think that the idea of putting in another princess restaurant at the MK is brilliant.  They must be minting money at Cinderella's Royal Table, and they still turn guests away.  Now they can go make even more money!

    For me, we just won't do the Disney parks on every trip.  The tickets are so expensive anymore and the cost to add on days is so low, we'll just choose which franchise we want to go with, either a Sea World/Universal trip or a Disney parks trip, and we won't try to combine them in the same visit.  And when Harry Potter opens, I know which choice we're making for that year!

    Sue in Texas

  • Despite what others have said here, our entire family absolutely loves the Laugh Floor.

  • Yeah, I think the Laugh Floor is pretty good, although I wouldn't want to be picked on.  Finding Nemo the Musical also was pretty good for what it is.

    Powers  &8^]

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