What will close at Universal Studios Hollywood to make way for Harry Potter?
Published: April 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM
I've heard from enough second-hand sources that I'm pretty well sold that the Hollywood version of the Wizarding World is going in on the east side of the park, around Waterworld. But what will have to be removed to make way for Harry Potter? Here's an aerial view of the Orlando Wizarding World:
And here, to the same scale, is an aerial view of the east side of Universal Studios Hollywood (images via Google Maps):
In the upper image, that big building to the lower left is the show building for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Since we've been told that Hogwarts is coming to Hollywood, let's assume that's the same building that's providing the centerpiece of the Hollywood version. So we have to fit that building somewhere into the space shown in the lower photograph.
In the lower image (Hollywood), the large, white semicircle is the Gibson Amphitheatre. The blue area below and to the left of the amphitheatre is the Waterworld show. The grey area to the direct left of the amphitheatre is the Shrek-4D theater.
To my eye, there's no way to make the Hogwarts building and Hogsmeade street fit in the Hollywood site without removing both the amphitheatre and Waterworld. Maybe there might be space to fit in the Flying Hippogriff coaster, too, depending upon how buildings align on the site.
Perhaps Universal could fit the Hogwarts building onto the site of the Waterworld theater, and run an abbreviated Hogsmeade street toward it, which would save the amphitheatre. But Hogsmeade is such a potential cash cow, which all the merchandise, food and Butterbeer revenue it brings to the table, that I think Universal might be better off financially with an expanded Hogsmeade than it would with the amphitheatre.
The Gibson faces competition from long-standing rivals, the Greek Theater and the Hollywood Bowl, in addition to new competition from the Nokia theater downtown and the former Kodak theater in Hollywood, neither of which existed when the Universal Amphitheater was expanded and covered in the 1980s. But the nearest Harry Potter attraction is in Orlando, more than 2,500 miles away.
I haven't see Universal's financials on the amphitheatre, but as a fan, I would gladly trade the loss of one more concert site near downtown LA for the expansion of Hogsmeade and a larger Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
By the way, I tried to look up the building permits for the Wizarding World project, but that portion of Universal Studios Hollywood lies in unincorporated Los Angeles County, which doesn't list building and construction permits online. To see them, I'd have to visit the LA County Department of Public Works Building and Safety office that covers Universal Studios.
Inconveniently enough, that office is located… inside a trailer on the backlot of Universal Studios. Universal has its own County Building and Safety office. It's almost like Reedy Creek!
So let's throw this open for discussion again: What would you like to see Universal do to fit Harry Potter into Hollywood?