Published: January 23, 2014 at 8:22 AMIs there a link available to watch the webcast live?
Published: January 23, 2014 at 9:33 AMI watched that whole webcast hoping and praying for something that, as a loyal reader of this site, I didn't already know or figured would be a part. However, as soon as I saw that they "brought people in from the park" I knew it was a rouse. It was nice seeing a bit of the inside of the Hogwarts Express but besides that, did we really learn anything we didn't already know or assumed? I'm extremely disappointed, being a universal guy, that nothing was brought forth. I feel like universal owes me 30 minutes.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 10:21 AMSo does the Gringotts name confirm that Daniel Radcliffe will return as Harry? I remember last year he said that wasn't going to participate in filming footage for the new land.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 11:44 AMYeah but Disney would have to dye the gray out of Daniel Radcliffe's hair to film the scenes for the ride since this would be open sometime around 2025..haha
Anyways, I was disappointed that I already knew pretty much everything that this webcast had to say. But I have learned to trust that Robert knows everything about new rides and expansions before anyone else. Thanks for taking the fun out of it Robert!....haha..jk
Published: January 23, 2014 at 12:17 PMI'm surprised they didn't mention Horizont Alley and Carkett Market in the webcast, these are two new areas inside as well that were mentioned in some of the printed stuff that I was unaware of.
Yeah there is still more to this than has been announced.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 12:19 PMTheme Park Insider: Ruining Universal Orlando's webcasts since, what, 2010 or so? ;^)
Harry, Ron, and Hermione are in the new ride, along with dark wizards (possibly Voldemort - I can't confirm from the concept art I've seen). AA goblins will be in the queue, and don't forget Bill Weasley's office, either. (I believe that might be a film effect, such as Harry, Ron and Hermoine in Forbidden Journey's queue.)
I suspect that the footage for this was filmed long ago, possibly in conjunction with the filming for FJ.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 12:49 PMThat this is going to be an amazing addition to the theme park cannon is not in doubt.
But why oh why can't Universal just be grown-up and sensible about all their expansions and just tell us, in advance, what we have to look forward to. This 'pretending we aren't building anything' and then 'let's tell you the names but nothing else' is a rubbish way of treating your fans. Every other theme park releases good quality descriptions of what they are building and that enhances the fans' anticipation. Does it 'spoil' their enjoyment? No. Does it make them salivate like dogs until opening day? Assuming the attraction is good one then yes!
Diagon Alley will be stunning. I just wish Universal would treat their fans and potential customers with a bit more respect and trust.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 12:49 PMTrue there was no shocking news but it is nice to get confirmation.
This is just further proof that the mouse is getting to be the old man in the room. stuck in his ways and refusing to change. Universal has managed to create a whole new land in the time that it takes Mickey to put together one ride.
I predict that Toon Lagoon is next on the Universal refresh list. I would love to see Marvel replaced with DC but thats the fan boy in me. I know it will never happen.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 1:39 PMFor the anonymous commenter above, Carkitt Market is the covered plaza outside the exit of Gringotts, between the Gringotts building and the building housing Ollivander's. There's an O'Corke's Cooling Beverages stand in the middle of the market. I suspect that's Diagon Alley's version of the Butterbeer cart.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 1:59 PMI also should note that while Woodbury promised a "summer" opening in today's webcast, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke had said "spring" last fall.
From a variety of sources, we've pegged June 13 as the official opening date for Diagon Alley. However, if I were running Universal, I'd be promoting a "summer" opening with that date in order to avoid disappointing visitors booking April and May dates. So maybe today's opening information isn't in conflict with what Burke told investors, after all.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:13 PMRobert wrote: Theme Park Insider: Ruining Universal Orlando's webcasts since, what, 2010 or so?
Absolutely true! What a yawner. Wake me up when Robert posts his next scoop! Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to the expansion, but I was disappointed in the webcast, for sure.
However, the contents of the expansion were confirmed, at least: one E-ticket family coaster, a train, an expanded version of an old show, one new restaurant, and a bunch of shops. Was hoping for another ride in there somewhere, but I am sure it will be fine. Quality, not quantity, I guess.
Question: how come Universal never rolls out the A-list actors from the movies, or JK Rowling herself, for these events? It's like a Star Trek convention without Shatner or Nimoy... seriously, what's the point?!? Not saying the actors present aren't solid co-stars, but for an expansion of this magnitude one would think the top players could come down from their lofty perches and help out. Makes Universal seem somewhat second rate when they can't entice Harry Potter himself to show up for the announcement of a new "Harry Potter" ride!
Come on, Universal, you're in the big leagues now, step it up!
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:18 PMThe A-List actors don't show up until the opening. That's what usually happens. They don't show up to the announcements.
I am sorry they are opening so late. I will be in the Orlando area in early May. I probably will skip Universal to save money. For the next trip, I will only visit Harry Potter after everything is ready.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:21 PMAhhhh!! I was the anonymous commenter about Toon Lagoon above. I forgot to log in...anyway...I agree that saying summer is playing it safe. My thought is that it will be late June some time. Very early summer. My wife is a team member there so she has been keep an eye out for when the employee preview will be. The pre soft open if you will.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:24 PMThis might be a stupid question, but do you have to have a park hopper ticket in order to ride the train ride? I would assume they aren't going to let you ride from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure and get off on the other side if you only purchased a one park pass?
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:37 PMAnon, why? Is there a rule somewhere that says the A-list HP actors can't show up for HUGE web announcements? It's not like any of the Big Three are all that busy making other movies these days, is it?
Derek, that question is exactly the type of question we wanted answered in today's webcast when Universal had the attention of enthusiasts everywhere. But no dice.
Sing and a miss, Universal, swing and a miss.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:35 PMPark to Park access is required to ride the Hogwarts Express, this has been revealed several times already. Word has it that there'll be ticketing space within the confines of the station to help folks upgrade.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:36 PMTo be fair James, it's not like Disney always books A actors for their attractions. Didn't you ever wonder why Larry the Cable Guy (if you can call him an A actor) was the only one who showed up to Cars Land and not Owen Wilson? Heck, Wilson didn't even participate in the ride and Lightning McQueen was voiced by Keith Ferguson. And I think Disney's just flat out given up on trying to get Tom Hanks to do Woody inside the parks and just calls brother Jim to do the job.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:43 PM@James, I wasn't comparing Universal to Disney, so let's not turn the conversation a direction none of us wants to go. I was just curious why Daniel Radcliffe, who is barely working these days (does playing Igor in another Frankenstein remake really count?), couldn't be involved? Seems like a fair question to me.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:41 PMThis is a request for Robert Niles to do an analysis of Universal's Potter merchandise for the new land, Diagon Alley. I'd love to see his opinion on how he thinks sales will be for all the "magical items"...and how Universal's strategy is different from Disney's merchandising decisions.
What I would like to see Robert compare is Universal creating all these specific, magical shops with really obscure items in them: magical robes, magical creatures, brooms, Weasley's Wheezes, etc. I can't imagine that the sales of these items will be as big as the generic theme park items that Disney crams into every shop. Universal's new shops in Diagon Alley sound a lot like the kind of shops that Walt Disney had in the original Disneyland...really unique, specific, location-appropriate, and interesting. Stuff you could only find in a store in Disneyland.
Today, however, Disney Consumer Products wants the same generic and cheap junk in every store in "the Disney Parks". It's like going to Wal-Mart when shopping at Disney, instead of unique boutiques. Universal seems to be going the "unique boutique" route. This is amazing news.
Now, what I'd like Robert to look into with his sources is how Universal executives will treat the merchandise sales in Diagon Alley. Will they switch to generic merchandise in the future? Or will they stick with the unique boutique items regardless of how much profit they bring in? What's the expectation for sales for these to be "worth it"?
To me, Disney could be such a better place if it had the unique items. It seems like the Disney executives are so clueless. If a store would make $1,000 more a week by selling generic junk than really cool themed merchandise, Disney will go with the junk.
Will Universal switch to junk if it would make that $1,000 more? That's what I don't know and would like to hear Robert weigh in with since he is an expert on Universal.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:42 PM@James Rao --
Daniel Radcliffe is in a few new movies coming out, and he's also doing another Broadway production. He's doing tons of projects. I think you are pretty uninformed about his career.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:52 PMWell, excuuuuuuuuuuuse me, Annette! I only keep track of the major productions, not local theater and Syfy-channel caliber flicks. ;)
BTW - A quick check of the show listings for London's West End indicate Radcliffe's "The Cripple of Inishmaan" ended on 8/31/13... So we're back to just Igor which comes out in 2015, unless there is something on a Danny Radcliffe Fansite I missed?
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:51 PMHey now, I wasn't trying to steer us into the dark abyss. I was just trying to point out that it doesn't seem fair to penalize Universal for their celebrity bookings when Disney and other companies are guilty of the same sin.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 2:58 PMIt was just a question. Not really a critique, even. Curiosity is all. But if the answer is that Universal isn't bringing in the big names (I use the term "big" loosely in this case) because Disney's CarsLand opening didn't have Owen Wilson, well that answer is just sad.
Besides, Owen Wilson is waaaayyyyyy busier than Ol' Danny Boy.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 3:02 PM@Derek
I would have to go back and watch it again but I do believe that he said in the first few minutes of the webcast that you do have to have a park to park to ride the train. Also on the new Harry Potter part of the Universal Orlando website there is a section that tells you that you will need a park hopper to ride the train.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 3:12 PMBrent, you are correct... "Park-to-park admission is required for the train ride" is mentioned on several reports about today's webcast. I can't verify it is on Universal's website, though, since it is down for maintenance right now.
I don't remember Woodbury mentioning this fact on the webcast, but I was a few minutes late (had a meeting run long) so if he said it early in the webcast I may have missed it. Will re-watch when I get home.
Swing and a bloop single?
Published: January 23, 2014 at 3:17 PMIf this doesn't get Uni (or all theme park) fans excited, I don't know what will.
Grand opening is going to be nuts.
Lastly, this is the problem with sites like TPI... Robert is so well informed, almost nothing will be a surprise. He was the first to show the (Universal intentionally) leaked plans for Gringotts ride.
The mystery around this land was one of the worst kept secrets in theme park history. I am glad they gave the Gringotts ride a fitting name. At least you can surmise what the ride will be from the title.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 3:19 PM@James Rao -- You consider a starring role on Broadway in NYC to be "local theater"? My goodness, that's pretty ridiculous. Daniel Radcliffe starts on Broadway on April 12th, 2014. You must have missed that in the "research" you did.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 3:20 PMP.S. Universal Orlando's site is in "maintenance" mode right now. Not sure if it's just high traffic or they are updating.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 3:30 PMAnnette,
The short answer is... what sells will get restocked. But you will continue to see the firewall that keeps generic Universal stuff (and other non-HP) out of the Wizarding Worlds. J.K. Rowling drives a hard bargain. That's why you don't see Coke products for sale in the Wizarding World, either. (No HFCS allowed, per JKR.)
Disney lost its way when it decided to try to hold down production and warehouse costs by producing more generic "Disney Parks" stuff than sharply focused park- and land-specific merch. But it sells well enough that Disney's not in any apparent hurry to change its approach.
But the Potter license limits Universal to what it can sell in the Wizarding Worlds. So it really just comes down to which Potter items sell, and which don't.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 4:08 PM@Annette, Like I said, there are probably plenty of Danny Radcliffe fan sites I missed in my quick research. But come on, the dude is not that busy. A limited run at the Cort Theater of a show he performed in the West End and a role as Igor in a movie coming out in 2015 do not a busy bee make.
Maybe he had to take a job as a waiter to make ends meet and couldn't get time off to help Universal?
@Brent, Woodbury called the train ride a "one of a kind, two park experience", and gave no other ticket details, however many sites do state that "a park-to-park ticket will be required to take a trip on the Hogwarts Express." Guess the info comes from the main Harry Potter site but it is still down for "routine maintenance".
What do we think about this news? Personally, I don't know why anyone would go to Universal and not go to both parks, however, if a "park hopper" is required, that kind of stinks. I find there is enough in both parks to occupy a full day of my time without the extra expense of park hopping. I have never park hopped at any park. Even the Disney parks. Seems like a huge money grab (which it is - and it is an understandable money grab, as well).
I am not sure I am pleased about this news, since I am not a park hopper, but will have to wait until all the facts are out before making a final judgement.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 4:09 PMI see Screamscape is all about keeping their fans informed... crickets on the Potter news.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 4:12 PMI will be so happy to see some AA Goblins, thrilled to see an AA Dragon breathing fire on the roof, I will pass out if they give us an AA Voldemort! I am hoping they sell action figures around the 3 .50 inches size. The POPCO company produced a wonderful line of action figures, but they were not sold in the US. I have imported many from the UK at a hefty price. I have created a 4 foot model of Hogwarts and I want more action figures! ( oh, I mean my kids want the action figures) lol Super excited and so happy to be a Universal annual pass holder ( Universal actually cares about their locals and treats them right)
Published: January 23, 2014 at 4:33 PM@James Rso
The official webcast version from Universal that is only 8 mins long does cut out where he says you need a park to park ticket. If you watch the full version it is in there. I knew I wasn't crazy. lol
Go to 5:25
Published: January 23, 2014 at 6:34 PMMy Gosh!!! Annette Forrest made a post where she isn't fawning over someone's post??!! What's next, my Mets winning the World Series???
Published: January 23, 2014 at 7:55 PMAny inkling what the height requirement might be for the Gringotts ride?
Published: January 23, 2014 at 8:08 PMGosh, I must be a wimp, but I am disturbed by the bickering back and forth. I find one post and one response pretty sufficient myself.
In any case, I'm excited about the land. I think they've done an amazing job with the property and I'd like to think those in charge at Comcast/Universal are doing this all on their own. But in reality, I know it's because of the control JK Rowling wields over the entire franchise. Good for her!!
It's not like Universal had a home run with Rip Ride Rockit, afterall. I love the music on-board, but California Screamin is still the ride that comes to mind when I think about music on a roller coaster. Even moreso than Rockin' Roller Coaster. Too bad RRR wasn't a B&M inverted steel roller coaster. That ride is such a disappointment, and I think it was because they tried to skimp on the costs. It doesn't work, plain and simple. You get what you pay for.
I think the Harry Potter lands can be looked at and learned from by all other parks around the world, but I really do think JK's involvement is what really pushes it over the top. I'm afraid to think that without her being so hands-on, it would have been less than it is. Or less than it would otherwise have been.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 8:37 PM@James Rao -- I saw that Daniel Radcliffe is in rehearsals for his latest Broadway show (this is his third, after Equs and How to Succeed in Business) because I read it in Entertainment Weekly's website. It was also on Yahoo news and the Today Show mentioned it too. Those are hardly "Daniel Radcliffe fansites".
In reality, you just are not very well informed, but you chose to say Daniel Radcliffe is not very busy. I don't know you, but I doubt you are currently in rehearsals for a Broadway show and have any new movies coming out.
Just because you don't know something (important) about a subject you are talking about doesn't mean it was only reported "on fansites".
Published: January 23, 2014 at 8:39 PMWe've heard that the height requirement for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts will be 40 inches.
And everyone, chill, please. No one knows who will be at the Diagon Alley premiere -- not even Universal, at this stage. Celeb appearances aren't set until they happen.
Published: January 23, 2014 at 9:22 PM@Annette You take me far too seriously if you really think I was out exploring websites for Danny R. I wasn't. But a quick check of highly reputable sites like People.com, Wikipedia, and IMDB shows he has one limited engagement play opening later this year, the role of Igor in Frankenstein coming out in 2015 (yay, another adaption of Mary Shelly's tired work), and a part in something called Tokyo Vice in preproduction. Now, I may not be a Rip Ride Rockit scientist, but one play this year and two films next year does not seem like a TON of work to me.
So I ask, why wouldn't the GREAT Daniel Radcliffe come down from Hogwart's tower and be part of an announcement about a ride bearing the moniker of the only character he has ever portrayed about which anyone on this planet even cares? I think it is a fair question.
But like someone posted earlier, maybe he'll slum with his "fans" during the actual Grand Opening of the ride sometime in late Spring? Summer? September? We'll see.
And to be honest, I am extremely well informed, just not about Danny Boy. But in discussing things with you, I now know who to contact if I have a question about his illustrious career in the future. Good for me.
@Gabriel One person's "bicker" is another person's "witty repartee". On the other hand, and to your point, trash is trash, right? And I dumped a load of it today! Man, it feels good to write again!! ;)
Published: January 23, 2014 at 9:37 PMLOL... loved the French accent too. Best performance Radcliffe has given since... well best performance he's ever given, really.
Ha ha... my wife, who was reading over my shoulder, just asked me who the heck Daniel Radcliffe is!! HA HA HA..... Guess he hasn't achieved "household name" status yet. Not to worry, Annette, my wife isn't very well informed either. She only knows the actors in the Twilight films. Additionally, we're both complete and utter idiots. The rest of the people in the village think we're pretty funny, though.
Published: January 24, 2014 at 12:06 AM@James Rao --- I really hope you feel that "the great Harrison Ford" should appear on command whenever anything to do with Indiana Jones is done in the Disney parks. Or that the voice cast featured in the Simpsons cartoons all should have been there for announcements made about Springfield at Universal. Just because someone is in a movie doesn't mean that person is required for the rest of his or her life to appear when an announcement is made about something happening with that project.
By your logic, where was "the great JK Rowling" when this announcement was made? Surely, you can agree that Ms. Rowling has more to do with Harry Potter than Daniel Radcliffe, who is an actor hired to play a role in several movies while Ms. Rowling is the woman who created Harry Potter and also has a signed contract with Universal for these theme park projects.
Why aren't you bemoaning the fact that Ms. Rowling was not there? Why do you have a need to malign Daniel Radcliffe and his career? You spend a lot of time dwelling on this one young man's location for someone who claims he has a wife.
Published: January 24, 2014 at 4:33 AMAnnette, I've watched Harrison Ford movies for many years. Harrison Ford is a favorite of mine. Even my wife knows who Harrison Ford is. Danny Radcliffe is no Harrison Ford. Your comparison is laughable at best.
And, for the record, I did "bemoan" the fact that JK Rowling wasn't there. Feel free to go back and read my first post in this... discussion.
Thank you for playing. Have a nice day.
Published: January 24, 2014 at 6:47 AMTwo things here...I saw a previous comment still wondering about needing a park to park ticket and it not being mentioned in the webcast. You will. I know someone who works in pass sales and they are hiring for that right now. There will be a dedicated pass sales section in Kings Cross.
Second. For an opening date the Power Pass blockout dates run from June 14-Aug 14. I would bet on June 24th give or take a day or two.
Published: January 24, 2014 at 6:58 AMCouple of things-
Surely they could have at least have gotten Richard Harris as Dumbledore to make an appearance for the announcement. What is he doing these days?
It will be great to be able to buy a frozen cup of butterbeer in the Studios park. I can barely make it from IOA to the Studios park now with a cup of frozen butterbeer. Last time I tried, I only had a small portion left by the time I made it into the Studios park. It'll be nice to supplement my addiction in both parks with minimal walking.
Sweet! We're going to have two restaurants in the Studios park serving bangers and mash!!! Um, yeah...
Finally, does anyone have any ideas of how they could do a tribute to Jaws in the new area? Seems only fitting to include some kind of a small gesture toward a classic ride that once graced that spot.
Oh, and do they plan to remodel the restrooms east of the London area? They seem kind of out of place with the Amity themeing they have right next to the area. I noticed that when I was there earlier this month.
Published: January 24, 2014 at 11:11 AMA Richard Harris appearance would have been spectacular, I'll say that. ;^)
Published: January 24, 2014 at 4:16 PM^You would think he'd be dying to be part of the festivities. It's a grave matter. We should dig into it.
On a more serious note, Richard Harris was truly an excellent Dumbledore. Seemed like he just popped out of the pages of the books right onto the screen. The film series took a big hit when he passed away. R.I.P Mr. Harris.
Published: January 24, 2014 at 7:13 PMLOL James!
Published: January 25, 2014 at 4:00 AMAlthough I'm following this project closely I even got some new stuff out of it. Like seeing the inside of the train was very exciting and I was very impressed by it.
I'm also very happy to hear the Gringots ride isn't a coaster and is family friendly. Universal already has an amazing dark ride coaster in The Mummy ride so it's great they developed something new.
There is still much that will be revealed but seeing the amazing details in the many shops makes me want to brows and explore every single one of them.