This is all going to take some time, but good to see some love being poured into the original park!
The only gripe I have with this plan is, if I am wrong and the Harry Potter stuff will be split between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios is that now everybody who visits will have to buy the two park pass, which is double the price. Of course I understand the business strategy behind this decision, Universal will make loads more money because nobody will visit and see just half the Harry Potter stuff, but it is a little unfair, especially since a lot of people only go to do WWOHP without doing the rest of the rides. Perhaps they will create some special "Harry Potter" ticket which gives visiters access to both parks but only to the Harry Potter sections in each. They could use wristbands and those with access to the whole park wear one color while people who only have access to Potter wear another. This probably won't happen, but its a nice thought!
And also to add to the Ollivanders being larger over at USF, the idea is to have 1 queue line and 3 different "show" rooms where the wand choosing display/show would happen like in the current Ollivanders in Hogsmead (hopefully this will make the line move faster!). And to those saying Ollivanders belongs in Diagon Alley, why yes it does, but there's also a branch located in Hogsmead in the stories (at least that's the way I remember it being).
A local funplace had an attraction, where you could do a simulated train ride through the french countryside. That was like 20 years ago and they used projections, but together with some movements and vibrations of the train car, it was quite convincing and with todays HD technology, it probably would work quite well.
1) An awesomely themed area with new rides, new restaurants, and new stores.2) I personally love the Harry Potter series, and this seems complete with attention to canon, so fans won't be too disappointed. 3) Higher attendance for Universal = more money = better upkeep of attractions = higher ratings = more attendance = much more money = expansions of other areas/new rides. Sure, that's a stretch, but that is where this expansion will eventually lead. 4) The ride seems very innovative and on a level that none of us have ever seen before. I really hope it isn't 3D, though.
1) Universal is venturing away from its roots as a studio park. Yes, we're still riding the movies, but not Universal movies. 2) Jaws is gone. This makes me sad. One of my favorite movies and one of my favorite attractions, soon to be remembered as the ride that never worked the way it should have. Some people see this as a pro, but I'm going to miss Jaws. 3) Two park ticket. A lot of people are seeing this as a bad thing, and I'm not really sure why. Universal is a nicely themed park with plenty of good rides; I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to visit it. It's a little extra money, but at least you get the full experience.4) Halloween Horror Nights. I'm sure for many of you, this means nothing. However, HHN is a huge moneymaker for Universal and it is also a really great themed event that attracts thousands every year. With Harry Potter in Universal and IoA, where does the event go? Not only that, but they lose a house from the Jaws queue, which held the first ever HHN house.
So, I'm not sure what I think of this. It seems like it will be great, but I think that maybe HP should stay in IoA.
TL;DR There are pros and cons and nothing will always please everyone.
Also, why would Universal want to put itself in a position where people may actually label the two areas – one as better than the other?
This one boggles the mind two… Are they really considering combining the two parks into one? That strategy defeats the purpose of trying to sell guests on visiting for more than one day. It presents operational problems as well. Both parks would need to operate on the same schedule.
If they remain separate then there are issues with access control. Can you imagine turnstiles in the middle of an attraction? What about ticket sales? Do you sell tickets within the attraction to those who only purchased for one park, but change their mind? What a staffing nightmare.
Then, how do they handle the ticket pricing structure? Does Universal give away the second gate or do they hike prices to the current one-day, two-park price that will probably not be well received by the public.
It should also be noted that there is a large distance between Harry Potter (existing) and the Jaws/Amityville area that spans the back of house operations.
This plan doesn’t make sense. J.K. Rowling was apparently really demanding on the little details of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Splitting the attraction doesn’t sound like something she would endorse.
What makes sense is expanding Harry Potter within Islands of Adventure.
The Lost Continent has been the area of the park that guests have never really identified with it. Its two attractions - Poseidon’s Fury and Eighth Voyage of Sinbad - are both dated and arguably attract the least amount of interest of any of the park’s regular attractions. Poseidon’s Fury was poorly rated in its original form that they changed the story.
Clearly, Universal had no problem doing away with a large portion of The Lost Continent when they built the Wizarding World, so why not finish the job?
There are good reasons to expand Harry Potter in the current park. Demand exceeds capacity on some days and frequently during the busier periods. Also, the expansion would invite repeat visits from those who’ve already visited and continue the publicity machine that has benefited Universal.
Personally, I think much of this has come about from the timing of the two announcements – Jaws/Amityville closing and Harry Potter expansion. Do they really relate? I hope not.
So what I want answered is why keep what remains of The Lost Continent?
Universal will be the new "must visit" park and attendance should increase on par with IOA. The drawback is the crowds, of course. I never wanted UO or IOA to become another Disney where you can't even walk around...
I am sure they will allow early access for on-site guests like they do at IOA, which will be nice as it's the only way we visit USF. The new area will also make the rest of the park seem less crowded for the first few hours after opening which I absolutely love.
I hope there is some news about Hollywood's Harry Potter project. They could take the best elements of Florida's projects and build them sequentially or together to have a big bang announcement.
Assuming that Rowling can do what she will, apparently she hasn't objected.
"What makes sense is expanding Harry Potter within Islands of Adventure."
I think its safe to say that they will eventually change the Lost Continent to Harry Potter while also adding it into the Studios Park. What I don't get is why this is odd to you?
The more you learn about the Harry Potter stories the more you will love them...and as wonderful as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been up to this point it is about to get more than twice as wonderful with these exciting new additions.
There is a reason that MILLIONS of people are coming back again and again to experience the magic of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts...that magic is found in the DETAILS that folks know and love from the books. Having tasted Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice...having flown with Harry and Ron...having listened to Professor Dumbledore welcome us in his office inside Hogwarts...of course we are going to want to return...to spend as much time as we possibly can in this wonderful, non-muggle place! And, having watchedDeathly Hallows...who wouldn't want to visit Gringotts? Who wouldn't want to eat in the Leaky Cauldron? Who wouldn't want to visit Weasley's Wizard Wheezes? Who wouldn't want to visit the shop where Hagrid bought Hedwig for Harry?
To understand Universal's decisions...all you have to do is look at the size of the Harry Potter fandom...how it has breathed new life, new excitement into the Universal Resort and ALL OF ORLANDO. Is it really any wonder that Universal plans to remain absolutely faithful to J.K. Rowling's vision?
It sure don't take a rocket scientist to imagine the size of the crowds in both Universal Parks when these newdreams come true... Nothing breeds success like success.
I, for one, cannot wait to board the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station...to eat at the Leaky Cauldron...to walk down Diagon Alley...to explore and boldly go where Muggles have never gone before...
There are truly magical times ahead...to enjoy it fully all you have to do is simply believe in the magic!
And, prepare to meet up with a few more old friends...I can't imagine Gringotts without Goblins for instance...and who knows who we'll spot in Weasley's Wizard Wheezes? And maybe we'll be able to get Wizard Robes fitted to our size...just like Harry and Draco. Wouldn't that be wonderful?
Bring on the magic...build it...and watch those Harry Potter fans fly in, once again, from all corners of the world...I'll see ya there.
Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail.
Wild Ol' Dan
And someone has said, it's exploitation.. Well, that's what Universal does. They exploit good movies. They even exploit movies that don't even own like Men in Black; and Simpsons is not Universal either. Universal's goal is to increase their attendance for both parks, and thus that's what they are doing. If you really don't want to be ripped off by Universal, than just don't go. If you say that you aren't going to pay for 2 days, or a park hopper, than just go to one of the Harry Potter's, and be done with it.
While their parks may never compete with Disney's attendance its pretty clear that Universal's team will never be gun-shy when it comes to taking bold action.
The only question now is when the attraction will open? Think about it this way: The Fantasyland expansion opens in 2012-2013. Potter (maybe) Spring 2014. Avatar 2015-2016. Orlando WILL REMAIN the theme park capitol of the world.
I don't know the marketing / expansion plans for the parks, but from what I have seen and know about how theme parks operate (thanks to 10+ years experience working in them), this looks like an idea that, if it is true, would backfire completely. I think they should take out a couple of the soundstages in the back behind the Sinbad area, that would be plenty of space for expansion, and from my understanding those aren't used much for TV / movie production now. I think one is still used for storage of Mardi Gras and HHN floats, but any of the soundstages could be used for that. I personally feel that the Jaws area should be turned into the Transformers attraction similar to what USH is getting. I think the whole feel / design / theme of it would fit well with the MIB ride.
Is your name on a list now, Robert?
(personally, if I was Universal I'd be less concerned about who posted it and more concerned about who leaked it)
As for the 2 park admission option...they have one...it's pricy, but it's not double the price...the single park is 85 dollars for one day, both parks is 120 dollars for one day. If you are going to the park for WWoHP, you'll pay the 2 park pass price...if you don't care about it, you won't.
USF would be foolish to not capitalize on a money making opportunity. AND, if another film series comes about that has as much money making potential as Potter, they'll probably rehab other areas too...or, in 20 years, when there is something that will make money better than WWoHP, they'll get rid of that. They go where the money is...and they always will.
I'm always suspicious of "Confidential" information coming from theme parks, specially one with Universals power and something as huge as a giant HP expansion. Mostly because they come with HUGE non-disclosure agreements everyone who sees them has to sign. From concept designers to everyday employees who are told what's going on. Something about this is bugging me, Seaworld made even us Part-time employees sign a NDA even to be TOLD about Journey to Atlantis before the announcement happened. I can't see USO being any less tight lipped about something THIS major. Which leads me to think it's either a fake or someone is in seriously deep trouble.
So unless this is the President of Universal Creative or some other Executive from the park doing an "publicity leak" I'm not buying yet.
Personally I'll wait for the announcement.
I don't think Mr. Niles would risk the reputation of his site by running something that would bring TPI negative consequences. Given that every other theme park site I visit has picked up the story, not to mention the Orlando Sentinel, without questioning TPI's legitimacy or accuracy, I think it's safe to say that this is legit.
@Carrie, just remember what I said back in the JAWS thread. I'll happily admit to being wrong as long as you do the same.
I was responding to Annie. Sorry for the confusion!
And that's a great thing for the industry - it stokes enthusiasm among fans, and makes people want to start saving up for a trip, as opposed to budgeting their money for something else.
My attitude is this: If I get information that believe to be a) accurate, b) newsworthy, and c) of interest to my readers, I'm going to publish it. Frankly, I don't care what theme parks think about what I write. I don't get down when they get upset about TPI writing something negative, and I don't get too up when they're thrilled with what we write. I want our reporting to be accurate and the opinions submitted here to be honest. If they are, I'm satisfied. If they aren't, I want to fix that.
I work for you, our readers, and not for the theme parks. If someone at Universal did or did not want this information published, that's not of primary interest to me.
One more thing - it bugs me a bit when people who are supposed to be covering this industry act more like agents for theme parks - looking to parks for permission to post things, and allowing parks to pick up the tab for their visits and travel in return. That's not how I operate, and I am sincerely thankful for our readers who appreciate that.
As a former Universal employee of 6 years, I know that the backstage road you mention running past Jaws (where I worked!) is extremely busy day and night. To put a train running down the middle to IOA would be dangerous. The employee grill, wardrobe, and other service bldgs are just too congested on that back access road. That said...
I've heard a Transformers attraction was going to be built in place of Jaws/Amity. I've seen no plans and only heard it from a few Universal employees, but that doesn't mean much, either.
I think replacing the Lost Continent Gringotts, Diagon Alley, and even Hogwarts express would be a great idea. The entire area of Lost Continent would double the size of the The Wizarding World...and would keep it IN the Wizarding World. The current Hogwarts Express facade in Hogsmeade could be easily replaced with a real train attraction running within the Wizarding World. Kinda like the People Mover in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom.
Just my 2 cents...
Second, as I wrote in the post, I won't talk about where I saw this information, but I will say that I am completely confident that the individual who gave me access to this information will not lose a job with Universal. And that I go to great lengths when posting information to protect the identity of my sources. There is a *lot* that I saw in this information that I withheld from my report, out of concern for people's jobs.
And to top it all off you "guarantee" that someone will lose their job because Robert betrayed their confidence in his desire to get this information out on the web.
I say you are full of crap, Anonymous.
This site has been around for over a decade because Robert maintains high standards of journalistic integrity. This site is neither in the tank for any park nor is it a mean-spirited critic of any park. It provides a fair-minded view of the theme park industry without the distractions of the fanboys so prevalent on other industry sites.
Robert Niles and Theme Park Insider have earned the respect of the theme park industry through hard work and consistent fairness. I seriously doubt that Universal will take down the "Voted Tops on TPI" banner over the entrance to Mythos or deny Robert access to Thierry Coup because he violated some esoteric standard that you think journalists should adhere to.
Really Anonymous, you sound like a loser who runs a rival site that was scooped by TPI. If you are actually a Universal suit, sign on and get a handle, and have a respectable discussion instead of sniping from the shadows.
I Respond: Do you have ANY evidence that some sites have "have gotten this information weeks ago, and sat on it"? For crying out loud theme park muggles like Perez Hilton ... ("PEREZ HILTON?!") broke this story as early as December 6th (!!!).
Quoting from that story: "According to alleged PLANS (did ya get that Anonymous ... "PLANS"), this HP expansion into Universal Studios proper will be replica of London as portrayed in J.K. Rowling's books. Specifically, young witches and wizards will get to travel down through the gateway in the Leaky Cauldron and be transported to Diagon Alley. While some of the stores - such as Ollivanders Wand Shop - can already be found at the Wizarding World across the way, rumor is that this will be a more "true" representation fo (sic) the locale, as seen in the movies. The HIGHlights (sic) of this expansion will include a new dark coaster ride in Gringotts Wizarding Bank and the chance to ride the Hogwarts Express train from Platform 9 ¾."
Having said this (and so much more than my musings) Mr. Hillman nails it so definitively in a post that is worth repeating: "I find it highly amusing that someone who uses an anonymous post would have the temerity to talk about ethics ... Really Anonymous, you sound like a loser who runs a rival site that was scooped by TPI. If you are actually a Universal suit, sign on and get a handle, and have a respectable discussion instead of sniping from the shadows."
At this point I think the most affirming aspect of this thread is that Mr. Niles' loyalty to his sources is surpassed only by the loyalty of his regular readers. Readers who have the decency not to hide behind anonymity when questioning another person's ...(ahem) ... "ethics."
"Ian Maclom?" Please!
Theme parks as well as movies have a great uphill battle to fight when it comes to publicizing their new concepts. Online is a vast network of theme park and movie sites that hang on every single bit of information when it comes to game changing concepts. What we are doing here is giving Universal free press directly to the people that want the information the most. Any bit of writing that we do in regards to a ride will never fully explain what it is like to actually experience the attraction….therefore since it is not possible to spoil the ride, the only thing we can do is market the ride directly to the fans.
Just like the White House, these leaks happen for a reason and usually with approval from the top. The key here is to prove yourself trustworthy by only letting as much out of the bag as the company wants you to know….a teaser, if you will….much like a movie preview….but by showing that you appreciate the source and will only go as far as the source allows you to go, then it opens doors to act as a trustworthy conduit for other “leaks”.
To be honest, I get the feeling that Universal just wanted to put to bed the wild speculation about what was really going on at their park and for once try and get the word out there to the people who are upset that Jaws is closing that they are really working in the interest of their loyal fans, working their hearts out to bring you something that you cannot get anywhere else. If you think deeply about this, the Jaws closure is a black mark in Universal’s book, therefore they want to turn around fan opinion and quickly. What you are not hearing about is what the plans are for Universal California…..a plan that potentially could spoil the attraction if it is in some ways similar to what is already in Florida.
This is all marketing on behalf of Universal……enjoy it while we are getting it…..
The problem, you ask? That the existing Wizarding World can get very overcrowded.
This is not a new problem theme parks have had. And the solution is always the same: build something people want to go to as much as they want to as the existing E Ticket attraction(s). But, the thing is, you need to do it far away from the existing stuff to make it work.
Think for a minute, why is DHS basically a half day park to many? Easy. Two of the main attractions are about 2 minutes from one another, with a major show for the park about another minute away. Building E ticket attraction next to other E ticket attractions makes it so the crowds hit one corner of your park and never go anywhere else.
Universal had this issue. One cannot argue that the existing Harry Potter stuff has been a success. But, due to the size of Islands of Adventure, along with existing contracts and the like, you could not build more Harry Potter stuff there and successfully split up the crowd there. Should the rest of the Lost Continent be taken down for Potter stuff? Yes. But, will that sold any overcrowding at Forbidden Journey? Nope. They needed a big, big attraction far away from Wizarding World for that to work.
Doing Potter phase 2 in Universal Studios succeeds in doing what they wanted. It will split up the crowds, getting some people to hit Gringott's first, and others to hit Forbidden Journey first. Which is what they want. It also has this nice side effect of making people go to 2 parks (and lets face facts, Universal wanted that, they like money.)
I, for one, am pumped about this ride. And about the Hogwart's Express thing I kinda called in an earlier post (though I thought it would be underground, since with LCD 'windows' you have no need to be above ground.)
For those of you who posted that there is no way that they could pull a train off to both parks or that this isn't possible cause they are getting rid of a HHN haunted house area or that tickets would be a nightmare if you go back and forth between two park, just settle down and take a deep breathe for a minute. The people at Universal Creative wouldn't be doing this if they didn't have a plan in place. Are you really trying to tell me that the people who came up with WWoHP, Kong 360, Transformers, etc. couldn't figue out how to re-route a road to an employee parking lot? If this does happen you better believe that UC will have a plan and will make it happen.
All in all I have to say that that I like the decision by Universal and I know that they will do a good job with the detail as they always do. I just hope that they can add a more family friendly Harry Potter ride to one of the parks. Good bye Jaws you will be missed!
Implied, of course, is that the HP worlds in IOA and USF would become part of the third park.
Personally, I think putting Diagon Alley within steps of Hogsmeade "breaks the magic" a bit, if you will. Heck, I originally wanted Diagon Alley in Hollywood. But if it is to go in Orlando, I'm happy to see plans for it in USF - I prefer that site for it to IOA.
Placing Diagon Alley within USF also does more to grow attendance for the entire resort rather than one park, helping Universal to grow market share as a multi-day destination resort. Keeping HP in IOA leaves Universal as a one-day detour from Disney for most fans, nothing more.
Finally, the speed with which Universal has moved to start demo on Jaws and Amity point toward a replacement that's ready to go - not one where IP contracts remain to be signed.
Again, all we have here is a set of plans. We won't have a real attraction until it opens. But for that, well, I'm looking forward to that day!
What makes TPI such an exceptional site is not just the content. It's also the site's proprietor who not only sets notably high standards, but adheres to those standards himself.
However there is one big part that does not make sense. Let's say someone buys a one park pass to IOA. They go to WWOHP, and then want to ride the train that will hopefully be built, over to the other HP land at USF.
Would they not need to buy a ticket to the other park? If so it would be very inconvenient to find out when they are already over there ready to take the train. Would they sell tickets to the other park there?
That part makes no sense. Unless they decide to start charging a new price that includes both parks always. Other than that I agree this sounds exactly what they will do.
This post was incredible, Robert. Regardless of what anyone may say, the Wizarding World has brought a lovely respite of prosperity to a once fledgling Universal. As much as everyone wants to complain about how they feel it can't be done, or how terrible it is going to be, look back in time to the really bad whiplash everyone gave Universal when they announced the Wizarding World. Knowing the standards that Universal previously held themselves to, we all didn't believe it could be done. Yet, we walked in hoping that someone at Creative would make us, the consumer, proud. And there it was. The most amazing thing we had ever seen created by Universal. Something that we said was "Disney caliber."
Here they are, about to do it again, and here you naysayers are again, trying to tear it down. Believe me, they will do it again, it will be amazing, and all you crybabies who want to bash them for creating something truly wonderful don't have to come! I'm sure that Universal will survive and flourish without your 80-120 bucks per ticket you would have spent, because everyone else in the world will be here. There you go, they have let you off the hook.
Get over it. While Disney recoups and figures out a massive rebuttal with Avatar (one can only hope....), Universal is taking the opportunity to flourish and grow with the beauty that will be London.
And while we are on the subject, I say that instead of boo hooing about Jaws, we should remember that bad old shark for the fond memories he has given, and the Skippers who toiled out in the hot sun, the rain, and the freezing cold all to give a spectacular show for 21 years. It would not have been without them. And if you really are hurting for some Jaws action... Well... There's always YouTube.