The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Phase 3 — What’s Next?

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On Tuesday, July 8, 2014, the opening day of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley, we here at EG were midway through the 8 hours and 51 minutes it would take to ESCAPE FROM GRINGOTTS when we began to wonder about HARRY POTTER PHASE 3.

By this point, most Muggles are aware that Universal’s old JAWS attraction was, umm, blown up(?) to make way for the Diagon Alley expansion. And with less and less real estate available in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks, more existing attractions may need to be eliminated if there is to be more Wizarding Magic to come. And so, as the sun blazed down and melted our brains during that epic wait, we began to fantasize about what’s next…

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Dragon Challenge, the roller-coaster inside Hogsmeade was a pre-HP holdover formerly known as Dueling Dragons. The coaster is fine but, quite honestly, the most magical part of the attraction is its re-designed Triwizard-inspired queue. We say, keep the queue, demolish the entire coaster and use all that newfound prime real estate for new state-of-the-art rides and shops in Hogsmeade. Perhaps an actual TRIWIZARD TOURNAMENT itself!

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Back at Universal Studios Park, just to the right of Diagon Alley’s London gateway, the eyesore that is the “Fear Factor Live” stage show rests. A simple re-do of the existing theater could bring a Wizarding World stage show to the mix, or, even better — we say lose the theater and its neighbor — Men In Black: Alien Attack — and wahla! We now have room for the largest expansion Universal is currently capable of accommodating inside its Studios park, with minimal casualties. Furthermore, there is a large area of undeveloped land to the right of MIB which could also be used for future Potter-inspired expansion beyond our wildest dreams.

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To the right of London is the attraction formerly known as “Earthquake: The Big One,” now billed as “Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride…Starring You!” Should disaster actually strike and, umm, actually demolish this underwhlming experience, our guess is it would not be missed and could provide further prime real-estate for the expansion of London. A high-speed KNIGHT BUS THRILL RIDE through the streets of London perhaps? Or perhaps a ride through the air in Mr. Weasley’s enchanted Ford Anglia?

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If the right space could be found that is location-appropriate to the Hogwarts Castle, then a HOGWARTS HOUSE DORMS RESORT is a no-brainer! Imagine the resort’s four sections for each house — Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin — as well as an actual GREAT HALL dining area.

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We are aware that Universal’s 5th, still-unnamed resort recently broke ground. But adding a “Hogwarts House Dorms” resort as their 6th, well, it’s a fair bet that it would easily become the most popular hotel in history.

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Finally, remember the short-lived “Disney Institute” hybrid resort which opened in 1996? Designed to feel like a college campus, guests could not only stay on property but could sign up for classes ranging in anything from animation to culinary courses. Well…

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What about taking that model and applying it to Hogwarts, where guests could enroll in ACTUAL CLASSES of Witchcraft and Wizardry, taught by “real” Witches and Wizards. Within each class, there could be video presentations in the form of old-fashioned educational filmstrips that could feature a whole slew of guest appearances from the professors of the Potterverse.

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Imagine attending your Charms class and having Professor Flitwick appear on monitors to teach you how to “swish and flick” or sitting in Herbology and seeing Pomona Sprout approving of each student’s progress. Depending on the length of their “enrollment,” Witches and Wizards would then take their O.W.L. or N.E.W.T. to complete their magical education!

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The possibilities are endless. And while no one can argue that Disney made their biggest mistake of all time in letting Ms. Rowling and her Wizarding World slip through their fingers, the healthy competion it has created benefits US, the guests. Would Walt Disney World have rushed their “Frozen Summer Fun” event into existence for July 5 if not for Diagon Alley opening the same week?

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One can only wonder how Walt Disney World will move past their $2 billion MagicBand blunder and begin to reinvest in truly magical guest experiences of their own. And before you say “PANDORA: The World of Avatar” — we’re talking about experiences that guests actually WANT. While the Imagineers will no doubt create an amazing environment, and Animal Kingdom’s new, somewhat-out-of-place land will surely create an atmosphere of magic with its bioluminescent nights and fantastic creatures of its own, truth be told — “The World of Avatar” just ain’t the THE WIZARDING WORLD. When was the last time you saw any kids dressing up as Na’vi for Halloween?

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Disney needs to dream beyond their current (announced) plans and give guests a Tokyo DisneySEA-style, spare-no-expense level experience. They need to look further, but not further than Pandora… perhaps just a little closer to home.

We’re looking at you, ARENDELLE…

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2 Responses to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Phase 3 — What’s Next?”

  1. Rob says:

    Though I’m involved in design, my comments are purely as a fan.

    You’re a bit off base on the Disney comments. Pandora isn’t being built to compete with the Wizarding World. A “Beastly Kingdom” part of the park was always planned, dedicated to mythical creatures and magic. In fact, Rowling approached Disney first to take on Harry Potter, but when the two could not agree on terms, she took her business to Universal. In turn, many Disney designers and Imagineers moved over to Universal to work on it and have since returned to Disney. Universal Orlando was never anything special until the Wizarding World came along, and it took Disney designers to get it built. What I’m getting at is Disney is still the king and just when you think they’re down, they come out with something that changes the game again.

    Regarding Pandora, Disney isn’t concerned with people who are uninterested in Avatar; their focus is to bring the world of Pandora to life, which completes Joe Rohde’s concept for the beastly kingdom area. It has already been announced that Disney is working on something big in the world of Star Wars, which is exactly what fans have been asking for.

    The Wizarding World is truly fantastic! However, the ball is in Disney’s court now, and they’ve never had trouble delivering.

  2. Cybergosh says:

    Thanks for visiting and for your comment as well, Rob.

    I was aware of J.K. and Disney’s talks early on in the process and was under the understanding that The Mouse balked at giving her complete creative control and final say on things which led her a few miles up I-4. That’s what I was referring to. And I am one of the die-hard Disney fans who was lined up at the turnstiles (God, I miss those at WDW) when DAK first opened on April 22, 1998! So I was one of those who was eagerly awaiting “Beastly Kingdom” for years. I know there is the justification that Pandora will final bring the dragons that were on the park’s logo to represent the dedication to all the “animals that ever and never existed” but, quite frankly, it feels like a cheap excuse. I miss the days when Disney would take creative risks. Think back to the attractions that stand the test of time… Pirates… Haunted Mansion… these were not based on any pre-existing current hit movie properties… which is why it was so refreshing to journey to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySEA and discover the same with attractions like Journey To The Center of the Earth and Sinbad, etc…. the point is DAK should have BEASTLY KINGDOM and not Pandora, which does not fit in with the theming and story of Joe Rhode’s park, no matter how one justifies it – it feel like a form of denial.

    Please keep in mind I LOVED AVATAR and saw the film in IMAX 5 times. But this is beside the point. The world of Pandora simply does not lend itself as well to a “land” as HP does… or Star Wars will. And even fans of the film roll their eyes when it is mentioned. I think Cameron made a big mistake and filled people with a lot of cynicism when he had to run his mouth and announce not one, not two, but THREE sequels. It turns people off. And as I pointed out, it just does not seem like a FUN place to PLAY like Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are, and how a Star Wars or an Arendelle could be. (Don’t get me started on the big mistake they could be potentially making by bringing a Frozen-inspred attraction to the Norway pavilion — this is the worst mistake that could be made for many reasons, primarily that Norway is Norway, not Arendelle, and Frozen deserves more immersive real estate than what that re-do could give).

    Anyway, as for Star Wars, I have no doubt Disney will come through and I agree they always do. I think Streets of America is prime real estate and Star Tours provides the perfect gateway to a future Star Wars land if they build there. Although with American Idol and Indy leaving it sure does seem something is cooking for the front area of DHS.

    Let’s just hope before anything happens they can finally fix the YETI in Expedition Everest. The fact that TWO BILLION was thrown at MagicBands that no one wanted (and have created nightmares for many guests) and we still have a cheesy strobe light thrown on the formerly-awesome-now-standing-still Yeti sums up the current problem within those 43 square miles of MAGIC :(

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