Monday, July 23, 2012

Universal Orlando Harry Potter Expansion- Speculation ABOUND!

Universal Orlando and Harry Potter Edition

Alright, in case you haven't noticed I'm a severe fence sitter on this matter.
I don't think (and I hope) that Universal Orlando is NOT this stupid, however since NOTHING has been officially announced I'm allowed to cling the that silly hope.

No clue what I'm talking about? 
Let me explain. Please get comfortable, this is probably going to take some time!

On December 31, 2011 Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider shook the internet pretty hard by announcing he had an inside source that gave him full images and information on what is replacing the JAWS attraction and all of Amity Island at Universal Studios Orlando. It also involved the next expansion of 'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter' or as Jeff Elliott (also of Theme Park Insider) likes to put it "The Race to Spend Potters Gold". 

Okay this didn't just shake the internet theme park community, it blew the damn doors off the server and people went wild. All this based on speculation and no official announcement on behalf of Universal Orlando Resort. 
YES, You DID read that correctly. THIS IS NOT OFFICIAL PEOPLE! 
The fat lady hasn't sung, the cigars haven't been passed out. Universal has neither confirmed nor denied what is going into the Amity Island space at this moment in time.  Everything at this moment is still just rumors until the day Universal Orlando Resort comes public and says it. 
The rumor is that JAWS and all of Amity Island will be completely replaced with the Harry Potter Expansion. Now I've got into this before and how I think it's just about the most LUDICROUS IDEA EVER, it's a logistics nightmare and Harry Potter doesn't belong in Studios.  

Included in this speculation is the much rumored "Gringotts Bank Coaster" as well as "Diagon Alley", "Hogwarts Train Ride" and some form of a small 'walk-threw attraction' yet to be named or known. 
 Picture from Theme Park Insider

Now before you jump down my throat let's try to get an understanding here.  Please don't get me wrong, I love Harry Potter (Both books and movies) and I thought Wizarding World was amazingly well done. In fact, so well done my Visa card was smoking by the time my long suffering husband managed to haul me out of there with one last butterbeer in hand.

However, I don't believe Harry Potter has a place outside of Islands of Adventure.
Let me rephrase what I'd said before on this matter and how exactly it's a logistical nightmare.
1. Location
JAWS is completely on the opposite side of the Universal Orlando Resort from WWoHP.
2. Shit is in the way!
There is also a lot of important things back there which would need replaced and moved. Central Casting, Human Resources, Wardrobe, Cafeteria 1, Maintenance, Employee Parking and the Props Department all sit in between these two.
3. See Picture!

 So for this to even begin to be true and for them to really be building this, I'd have to hope that Universal Orlando has already begun the process of moving all those key backstage areas to other buildings.  However, there is a catch here. 

Calm down, I'll explain.
The most open rumor I've seen yet is a few pavement markings from backstage, which don't follow the area supposedly for the "Hogwarts Train Ride". Plus none of these buildings have been torn down, relocated to either new or re-used buildings either. 
In fact, other then the area around and behind jaws (As well as Sound Stage 44) nothing on the Universal Studios land has been removed. Now I've seen some proof the permits have been filed to demolish a few buildings just outside of Wizarding World where in bumps into what's left of "Lost Continent" but that's really all. Nothing for any of those backstage buildings and for demolition Central Florida requires more permits and hoops-to-jump-threw then other places.. it's enough to halfway boggle your mind.

Now, let me tell you why I think this is an EPICALLY BAD idea from the business side of the park.

1. You'll be required to have a two-park ticket (think Park Hopper) to access one of the big ticket attractions, the "Hogwarts Train Ride" which is rumored to move between the current WWoHP and the Amity Island Space. That just seems silly to split your major attraction between two parks and completely separate 'lands'.

2. How are they going to even PULL it off?! Trains are big folks, they need BIG spaces to turn around in unless they plan to run it similar to Disney Worlds Monorail system. Which also brings in the problem of HIDING the second conductors area! You'd have to hide in inside of a tunnel or other building, which also brings in the problem of getting people loaded on and off while not spotting the second drivers space. 

3. Your gonna SEE stuff outside the windows, backstage stuff which is going to completely ruin the illusion that Universal and Rowling worked so hard to create. Okay so you put in video screens or TVs to show false images, this would also be ruined by exiting the train and hitting a MASSIVE turn style gate to get into the next park which brings up another problem..

4. People aren't going to want to BUY a second ticket to see what should be an expansion within the same park. Which now creates anger and traffic going back, which will probably take up a good 1/3 of your open seating space on the "Train" which then in turn creates a flow problem.  Because yes, you can say it a million times that you need a 'Two Day Ticket" and people won't listen thus a nice loop of anger from guests. 

5. Space is LIMITED. Where are they even going to stuff the train stations? Okay so a few building in Lost Continent are being demolished, that's not going to be NEARLY enough room. You've probably need to take out everything up to the Sinbad theater to facilitate the lines and the space needed. Have you see the train and monorail stations at Disney World? Their HUGE.

And those are just a few of the dozens of problems Universal is going to face if this rumor is, in fact true. I'm completely FOR Harry Potter being expanded but I believe it should stay within Islands of Adventure and take over the now sadly lacking, Lost Continent area.  While Harry Potter would fit into "Ride the Movies" you would think they would put "Forbidden Journey" into Studios, this is simply because Gringotts is such a small part of both the Harry Potter books and movies it wouldn't be a good fit for Studios. Plus there is something else to consider, all the "Lands" of Univeral Studios are in the United States.

Again, Let me Explain.
Amity Island was supposed to be off Long Island, New York.
Disaster! Is located in San Fransisco.
Some of the back streets such as where the 'Blues Brothers' are Chicago. 
Mummy is a Museum supposedly in 1940's New York City.
Terminator 3D and the Monster Make-up show are Old Hollywood, California.
Men in Black, ET and Simpsons where all originally an area called "The Expo Center".
.....even the Rumored "Transformers" attraction would also be State-side.

So adding in a London, England part simply doesn't fit with the long standing theme Universal has had for ages in their Orlando Park. I personally can't speak for the Hollywood Park but if I remember correctly they've got some of the same theme layout as Orlando does. 
It just doesn't fit!

Granted, this is just my opinion.  I hope I'm right and frankly if I am, I'll enjoy feeding out a nice piece of "Eat Crow" pie.. if it is true I'll just shake my head and watch the chaos it creates from a safe distance.  However, until something comes directly from Universal Orlando Resort in an official capacity of a press announcement  on this matter... I shall keep sitting on my fence. All while hoping that this isn't what the future of Studios is going to look like.

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