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2015 – Harry Potter Goes to Hollywood

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Published: December 1, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Update: (Dec. 5) Universal Studios Hollywood has announced a press event for 11 am, Tuesday, Dec. 6 to make the announcement. Governor Jerry Brown will be there with pretty much all of Universal, Warner Bros. and Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood management to have a "Butterbeer toast."

2015 is shaping up to be an incredible year for theme parks. Of the parks that receive regular mention on this site, the current list is Shanghai Disneyland and Avatar Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

What we are currently hearing from very reputable news sources is that a new Harry Potter Land is going to open at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2015 in a deal that should be finalized in the next couple of weeks.

The biggest questions are where is it going to go and what is it going to include. To answer those questions, I must point out that this is a very fluid situation that has yet to be officially announced, but what we are hearing is that it will be somewhat similar to the Harry Potter Land at Islands of Adventure. Whether that means that Hollywood is getting robotic arms and dueling coasters is anyone’s guess. The only thing that we can bank on at this point is an immersive village where they serve Butterbeer someplace.

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Your thoughts?

Readers' Opinions

From 71.52.193.212 on December 1, 2011 at 2:32 PM
I hope that they dont build a Hogwarts there. I thought the whole premise was for it to be a unique experience. Its supposed to be THE Hogwarts Castle. It completely ruins that if there are two of them.
From 166.77.103.133 on December 1, 2011 at 4:09 PM
What's really intriguing about this is what the response from Disney will be. Will this force them to accelerate some e-ticket attraction to open the same year so as to not concede the spotlight to Universal? Maybe push up phase 2 of California Adventure?
From Anon Mouse on December 1, 2011 at 4:56 PM
This attraction will elevate the theme park significantly beyond its current perception. It is mostly a locals park, but it is very attractive to the tourist crowd who loves movies from the traditional Hollywood.

Instead of merely seeing set designs, park patrons will get an immersive attraction that exceeds Disney. Universal will be a destination attraction.

From reading the many reviews of The Wizarding World, I hope they improve upon it instead of a mere copycat. Some shortcomings are low capacity shows, lack of slower family style attractions, and little for kids to do. There is much source material to pull, but little land to do it. Pity.

From Robert Niles on December 1, 2011 at 5:00 PM
We did a 'what would you do?' post a while back where we tried to shoehorn Potter into USH. It's a tough fit. But you better believe I'll be asking Thierry Coup about this when I interview him this afternoon. (Yep, I'm on Singapore now at USS.)
From Brandon Mendoza on December 1, 2011 at 5:25 PM
I'm sold! I hope it does happen. Considering the economy right now, it's difficult for people to travel across the nation to see Hogwarts. Yes, it might take away from the unique-ness of Florida's Hogwarts, but I have no problem with this. Heck, I wish they would bring MIB to Hollywood too!
From David L. on December 1, 2011 at 5:58 PM
Great! I'm glad to see that USH will get more than just Transformers. With the DCA expansion,USH is really getting pushed far back. A different(improved?) HP world would be great to see, but if it turns out to be a near copy(minus the dueling dragons due to space), Disneyland will continue to top the park everywhere(from what i can tell from reviews, photos, etc...). Transformers will be great, but with the cutbacks, it won't stand up to carsland or the rest of the DCA expansion. This will force Disneyland to do something regardless due to the HP fanbase. DCA phase two would be great, but i think a constant improvement throughout will be enough(at least 2 new C+ ticket attractions per year for a while). However, I hope HP isn't all that USH has up their sleeve, and if it is, I hope they make it better than the original.
From chris cona on December 1, 2011 at 8:03 PM
Don't put it at california leave it in flordia theres something better you can do!
From Dominick D on December 1, 2011 at 8:09 PM
^object style="height: 390px; width: 640px">

(Sorry, just had to add that no LOL)

This will be an exact replica of Orlando's. If it was Diagon Alley, it would be fine. See the discussion for more.

From Lucas Lee on December 1, 2011 at 9:50 PM
WHAT!? NO! We dont need it. We need something new. Orlando already has it. We need something new if we want to bring in more people. The Orlando people will have no reason to visit Hollywood. They already have one. Ours would probably just be a smaller version of it.
From Tony Perkins on December 1, 2011 at 9:54 PM
This is great news. Universal could rip out an entire side of the upper lot for HP land. Will anyone really miss Shrek 4D? I'm hopeful there will not be a non-dueling Dragons coaster, and instead there is a family dark ride, in addition to Forbidden Journey and a show. I think it will be an improvement in Florida, and the country is big enough to easily support two HP lands on opposite coasts just as there are two Magic Kingdoms.
From Anon Mouse on December 1, 2011 at 11:29 PM
I do not think they will rip out existing rides for Harry Potter. It is much too costly and it will take too long. Besides, I think the park is ripe for an expansion. USH is much too small of a park to be competitive with Disney's two parks in Anaheim. The potential for USH to be an equal competitor to Disney is much too enticing to pass up.

I think they will revise the tram ride. The upper lot where there is the tram boarding area and towards the end of the tram ride route can be ripped up easily and turned into Hogwarts. No retrofitting necessary. There must be 20 acres available to turn USH into a major theme park.

If they are smart, they will design into it potential for large shows like fireworks displays, special effect ladden wizards shows, and plenty of family rides. Why not add a train ride, taking advantage of the hilly views just like what the movie did? You can board the train in a station just like what Harry Potter did and ride towards Hogsmeade.

There is plenty of potential if Universal is smart to do it right.

From Eric G on December 2, 2011 at 9:34 PM
Anon Mouse, you should do some research because it's apparent that you don't know anything about the situation with Universal's neighbors and the limitations that are imposed on the upper lot. Fireworks displays? Yeah, right. Theme park expansion in the upper studio lot. Not going to happen.

Harry Potter if built will more than likely replace existing attractions. There are numerous attractions that are ready to go - Terminator 3D, Shrek 3D, Waterworld and the neighboring Nickelodeon area. Another possibility to expand the park's boundaries would be to remove the Gibson Amphitheatre.

Tearing down existing rides and attractions is simple. Building new ones is what takes so long.

Finally, I'd like to point out that Universal Studios Hollywood is very much a tourist park. In some ways, more so than Disneyland. Tourists frequent the park for the studio tour and its connections to Hollywood. The fact is more tourists visit Southern California because of its connection to Hollywood and movies and television rather than theme parks.

Disney will finish California Adventure next summer. I don't know what all this talk about Phase 2 is. The project is over June 2012 and the addition of new attractions will slow significantly. The next major project in Anaheim will more than likely involve parking and then eventually the property south of Katella.

From Anon Mouse on December 2, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Eric: There's nothing factual about anything you written. IF you had facts, you would present them instead of asking me to do your work based on how you feel about the situation. Prove what you wrote, then I'll respond.

I wrote what I felt needed to be done to get the work done quickly. Gibson is not part of the theme park. Exactly what are proposing by citing numerous attractions. They are all around Universal's upper lot in patches with Terminator in one area and Waterworld in another. The Wizarding World will not integrate in the park as a separate land. It will be significantly scaled down.

Demolishing existing attractions on a hillside is a big risk. That's why I said they should look for virgin territory. A big patch of undeveloped land. As for fireworks, neighbors can complain, but it happens even with Disneyland.

From m johnson on December 2, 2011 at 12:49 AM
I say use the War of the World and Jurassic Park set area. They have a good amount of room there to build hogsmead and the castle. You can use the hogwarts express train to take them over to hogsmead.
From Anon Mouse on December 2, 2011 at 12:57 AM
Here's something interesting.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/23/news/la-trb-universal-studios-hollywood-20101119

The location of Hogswart and Hogsmeade can take out significant portions of the existing Studios Tour if they decide on a new direction for the park. (The article doesn't say that. I'm only saying this since this new announcement has changed everything.)

From Ashleigh Noad on December 2, 2011 at 5:57 AM
It really bugs me when theme parks do this. I totally understand why, but why don't they just do something else? Islands of Adventure is supposed to be the only place you can experience (currently) the 'magic' of Harry Potter without all the 'This is how we made the film' stuff.

Bit disappointed. If they do Diagon Alley and attractions that haven't yet been seen, I'll be pleased. But knowing Universal, they probably won't.

From Joseph Catlett on December 2, 2011 at 7:04 AM
I'm torn on this one. I loved Wizarding World in Orlando, when my wife and i went last year we had a blast. It would be cool to have chocolate frogs and butterbeer here in SoCal where we live, but I have a feeling that everything else will just be a smaller carbon copy....but I hope I'm wrong.
From Amy Smith on December 2, 2011 at 8:50 AM
So...does this count as a contractually obligated expansion? Or is this just Universal exercising its right to open lands in other parks? If it's the first option then I'm with Vader on the NOOO! As an Orlando Potterhead, this does not work for me! If this is option two and WWoHP is still getting an expansion (with gringotts coaster!) then I am okay with it. I will say that if they do build Hogwarts in Hollywood, I would appreciate it if they could finish building Hogwarts in Orlando first - I think they forgot a few buckets of paint to cover up a giant white building we've got here...
From Eric Oh on December 2, 2011 at 9:00 PM
Here's what i think, get rid of the golf course that's located on the backlot, and use it to make the WWoHP, and have trams drop/pick you up, it's like HHN, they did that with Terror Tram, so they should do that
From Eric G on December 2, 2011 at 9:33 PM
Lakeside Golf Club is a private golf club and Universal doesn't own the property. The club is surrounded by residences. Also, it is separated from the Universal Backlot by a storm channel.

It was my understanding that Universal ended the terror tram drop off in 2010 due to noise complaints from the neighbors on Blair Drive. I didn't attend HHN this or last year. Is that correct?

I think it's obvious that if Universal proceeds with this plan they will redevelop a portion of the existing theme park on the upper lot. They've got more than one attraction that is dated. Waterworld- a cool show, but a box office disaster from 1995. Terminator 3D- a movie franchise that peaked in 1991 with the theatrical release of Terminator 2.

From Manny Barron on December 2, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Some crazy ideas about where to put this attraction or land. In reality there are only 2 places to do this. Both on the upper lot.

One would be to tear down T2:3-D, Coke Soak, Mels Drive-in, possibly House of Horrors and the old Wild West Stadium on the western portion of the upper lot.

The other would be to tear down the Gibson Amphitheater(which was rumored to be replaced some time ago), the Water world Stadium and probably Shrek 4-D and the Curious George area on the East part of the upper lot.

Maybe the lower lot but a lot of the soundstages they still use for production. Off to the side of Transformers would be a possibility but USH is first and foremost a movie and TV studio so reducing production capabilities may not happen for Harry Potter.

From 76.172.59.124 on December 3, 2011 at 3:29 AM
Wonder why no ones suggested expanding the entrance out over the remaining surface lots DCA style.

With a little creativity you could utilize from a rethemed T:2 (already on the chopping block and a nice transition from the British section), bridge over the turn around (a la downtown Disney in CA), demo Saddle Ranch, and all along the backside of CityWalk (FJ's giant show building could get stuck in the far corner nearest Jurassic Parking). A fair amount of property.

Would require some heavy rethinking of the entrance to be certain, but no more complicated than the DCA 2.0 work that's happening.

Only question here is how that all jives with the cranky neighbors.

From 86.8.110.175 on December 4, 2011 at 9:41 AM
This was very much on the cards seeing how much extra profit Universal Florida made in Harry Potter lands first year the only question was how much money Universal was going to want to pay J.K Rowling for the privlidge of having the rights to exploit this lucrative venture.
From 71.165.92.113 on December 5, 2011 at 10:14 PM
I really like USH 1st because it's an actual movie studio not a tourist location & also it's impressive how they've actually managed to make the 1st theme park here.
I think they should remove the Gibson, because i seriously don't even know what that is, so it must be unimportant! There the should make the castle with HPFJ and then build kind of a indoor version to replace the Hippogriph and destroy Waterworld and try to fit as much of the Dragon Challenge and build the villange where Shrek is & build somethin else in the Curious George related to harry Potter of course!!!

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