Written by: Brendan Brehm Friday, December 2nd, 2011 .
In Southern California, there is no dearth of themed attractions. Between Disneyland and Universal Studios, any theme park enthusiast should be able to find something that satisfies their thirst for entertainment. And yet, there is one group that might be feeling left out: the diehard fans of Harry Potter. As of now, anyone that’s been taken in by Pottermania has to travel to Orlando, Florida to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios; but it’s looking as if things are about to change. Rumors of a replica Wizarding World to be built at Universal Studios Hollywood have recently started to appear in mainstream media outlets such as the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Both the LA Times and Wall Street Journal have sited “people familiar with the matter” as the source of this exciting news. There has yet to be an official announcement on the matter from either Universal or Warner Bros., who produced the Harry Potter films and controls licensing rights to the book series by J.K. Rowling. They better think twice before backing out, otherwise there’s going to be a horde of disappointed and angry wizards to reckon with.
The most obvious reason Universal Studios would consider adding a Harry Potter-themed section to their park is the huge financial impact it had over in Florida. The wildly successful Wizarding World helped to boost the theme park’s attendance by 36% in the first three months of 2011 (LA Times). So what is it about this themed world that has got fans of the boy-wizard so exited? The Wizarding World of Harry Potter forms an entire section of the theme park and includes numerous rides, a replica Hogsmeade village, the magical Hogwarts Express, and restaurants inspired by the book series. For fans of the films and books, this is as close as they’ll ever get to walking around in the world that captured their imagination. There has been much acclaim garnered by the flagship attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a unique ride that utilizes cutting-edge robotic arm technology (read more about the ride in our recent article on Simulator Rides).
There are, however, some legitimate concerns that Universal and Warner Bros. must consider before breaking ground on a west coast Wizarding World. For starters, where exactly would it go? Universal is already cramped for space as it is. Of course, this could be overcome by getting rid of rides that aren’t pulling their weight. The next and most crucial question is how long will Pottermania stick around? According to Screamscape, construction wouldn’t be done until 2014 at the very earliest. True, it has already been 14 years since the first Harry Potter book was released and we’re still talking about him, but with the last installment of the film series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 already months old, who knows how much longer the series will keep its grip on the public imagination and wallet. It’s not impossible that something bigger and better could come along in the next three years. But when you consider how popular rides based on films already decades old still are, such as Disneyland’s Star Tours and Universal’s Jurassic Park, it does seem possible that Harry Potter is set to become a timeless classic. We’re all for it, and you can bet your broomstick we’ll be there opening day!
Update (December 10th, 2011): According to a recent article in the LA Times, Universal has officially confirmed that Harry Potter is indeed coming to Hollywood. Very few details concerning the new Harry Potter-themed area have been released, but Universal officials have said it will be completed by 2016.