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Will Middle Earth find its way into a theme park

Will Middle Earth make to a theme park with the Hobbit's first movie being released

From robert morris
Posted December 13, 2012 at 7:16 AM
With the first of three Hobbit movies being released midnight on Thursday....

If this portion of the trilogy equals the LOTR will that bring Middle Earth to a theme park near you.

While its does have challenges from expense to build on a proper scale and lack of an easy sale item such as Butter beer, Princess dresses or wands.

It does bring a ultra popular book series and when all said one of the most popular movie franchise of all time.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Dominick D
Posted December 13, 2012 at 7:28 AM
IOA or MK are the perfect fit for LOTR. At IOA it could go at Toon Lagoon or Lost Continent. At MK Tom Sawyer Island would be replaced. Disney could akways use the Fire Mountain ride plans they had and use it for a Mount Doom ride. As for IOA, something that doesn't rely on screens would work fine.

From robert morris
Posted December 13, 2012 at 7:56 AM
Like IOA idea

Ripsaw as Rivendale

Sweet Haven becomes Long Lake

And the shops are the shire, knock down ampitheater and make a Mt Doom ride

Nice Idea Dom

Different post subject...but also think Marvel could make a great Transylvania

From Dominick D
Posted December 13, 2012 at 8:09 AM
Transylvania would make a great land if Universal's up to it.

From robert morris
Posted December 13, 2012 at 8:20 AM
I'm thinking build a Dr. Frankenstein's Castle around the base of hulk including the back half...and instead of "I think it's going" to "he's alive" when the launch happens along with a lighting strike

Mad Scientist for Dr Doom

Spiderman becomes Dracula or Von Helsing if a Dracula castle goes where ampitheater is with a themed ride and a winged coaster launching from its top

Storm force is surrounded by trees and themed for a bad night in the wilderness

Streets get cobblestones buildings refaced

Captain America becomes a permanent walk thru haunted house and the lagoon side has an homage to the Black Lagoon (yes technically wrong but I think works)

From Tim Odom
Posted December 13, 2012 at 9:42 AM
I am not 100% sure of many things in life, but I am sure of this: Lord of the Rings (and other associated Tolkien materials) will never make their way into Disney parks. J.R.R. Tolkien hated Walt Disney and Disney Studios, and reportedly had it in his will that Disney could never get ahold of the LOTR rights. Two quotes of note, first from Tolkien Letter #13 (from 1937):

"It might be advisable [...] to let the Americans do what seems good to them — as long as it was possible [...] to veto anything from or influenced by the Disney studios (for all whose works I have a heartfelt loathing)."

Then there is this gem, from a letter to a fan in 1964:

"I recognize [Walt Disney's] talent, but it has always seemed to me hopelessly corrupted. Though in most of the 'pictures' proceeding from his studios there are admirable or charming passages, the effect of all of them to me is disgusting. Some have given me nausea"

Since his family protects these works fiercely, I doubt there is any situation where they would agree to letting Disney have the rights. Ever.

Some other park might get the rights, but I sincerely doubt it. While I would love to have a Middle Earth section of a theme park, I really doubt that his family would sign off on anything.

From Dominick D
Posted December 13, 2012 at 10:43 AM
I never knew Tolkien hated Disney so much. If Universal made it it would have to be in the Tolkien's vision.

From robert morris
Posted December 13, 2012 at 11:01 AM
And remember The Hobbit and LOTR are Warner Brothers properties...so building in someone's image in that enviroment shouldn't be a problem for Universal

Really like Toon Lagoon for Middle Earth, I always thought JP for Middle Earth...but Toon actually make more sense

Dom what you think of Marvel conversion to Transylvania

From Tim Odom
Posted December 13, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Universal would be the only hope for a theme park Middle Earth, and even then I would put it at VERY remote. Tolkien's family is very protective of his works, and it would take a lot more than money to get the rights. Yeah, it would still take a lot of cash, but I don't think it is all about money to them.

Not to be a buzz kill here, but Middle Earth is not coming to a theme park for the foreseeable future.

From Dominick D
Posted December 13, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Robert, Universal just needs to hand the rights over to Disney and then Transylvania can become real. I would love if they made Transylvania.

Tim's right. The Tolkiens are super protective. Recently they sued Warner Bros. over Lord of the Rings Online, saying it wasn't part of the contract with the films.

From Andy Milito
Posted December 13, 2012 at 2:18 PM
Dang, it's a shame they're so protective. Universal or Disney could do so many great things with LOTR...

From AJ Hummel
Posted December 13, 2012 at 5:56 PM
As much as I'd like to see a Lord of the Rings land added to a park, I've got a feeling that the only way we'll ever see any attractions themed to the franchise is if someone created a whole Middle-earth park.

Could it be done? Yes. It wouldn't be too difficult to design a park where each area represents a different region of Middle-earth, and there are enough locations and events within the stories that a whole park's worth of attractions could be created. However, it would probably have to be located in the United Kingdom and the Tolkien family would probably want complete control over which concepts are and are not included. These alone would be enough to discourage most developers, although a Middle-earth park could possibly become the most popular non-Disney or Universal park.

Could it be done? Yes. Is it likely to be? No.

From Tim Hillman
Posted December 14, 2012 at 7:14 AM
A Middle Earth park won't be built in the UK because the cost to build a park like that properly would be $2-3 billion, and that limits the park to all-year locations where the ROI can be decent. If it happens, it will happen first in Florida or California, and then spread to the rest of the world once the concept is proven and the Tolkien family is satisfied with the product (and the cash flow).

From James Rao
Posted December 14, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Just saw The Hobbit earlier today (2D, no frills). Thought is was really a quite amazing film. Not sure why some folks are whining about it being slow. I can only shake my head in wonder...

Anyway, the whole time I kept thinking: "Why isn't this world at a theme park near us?" Just some really great, immersive environments, and stellar action sequences that would easily lend themselves to theme park attractions and shows. Middle Earth has to be the Holy Grail of creative properties out there now that Star Wars, Marvel, and Harry Potter have been gobbled up. Someone better be talking to the Tolkien people and offering them whatever the heck they want. "Back up the Brinks Truck," as the saying goes....

From Wilson Matt
Posted December 14, 2012 at 11:30 PM
If Disney did build a land for Middle-Earth, I would imagine it would go in at Hollywood Studios. Not sure if any of you are familiar with the site, but a blue-sky plan for DHS was drawn up at IdealBuildout that included:

http://idealbuildout.blogspot.com/2012/08/illustrative-plan-dhs.html?m=1

Seems like it'd be an amazing park, overall, if Disney would actually invest in making the park what it could (should) be. I believe SWW mentioned once that he had drawn up a plan for an entire park set in Middle-Earth, but he hasn't posted that one yet.

From Bryce McGibeny
Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:01 AM
I wouldn't mind Toon Lagoon being replaced with Middle Earth. However, I love Popeye & Dudley far too much...

From Rob Pastor
Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:43 AM
Bryce: I agree. Those are probably the best two water rides in existence (with apologies to the excellent theming of Splash Mountain).

From Mark Fairleigh
Posted December 16, 2012 at 3:23 PM
James, I totally agree about The Hobbit. Fantastic experience and never slow. If any parts were slow, it slipped by me, I was so enamored with all of it. Course, I've loved Middle Earth and Tolkien's mythology since a kid...so that could have clouded my perception. Sorry for the interruption, back to the show. ;)

From Anthony Murphy
Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:44 PM
The Hobbit also has a MGM connection.....Disney had a park called MGM???

Anyway, I think it might be good at DHS. I feel that a Star Wars land would be good

From Matt Babiak
Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:52 AM
^^^But then Disney lost the rights to MGM, so now they can't use their properties.

From Tim Odom
Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:57 AM
Again, Disney will never, ever get the Middle Earth rights. Ever. The Tolkien family follows his wishes to the T, and since Tolkien himself hated Walt Disney and his company (to the point of nausea), they would never agree to Disney having any sort of oversight on any Middle Earth property. Ever. I don't like being a Buzz Killington, but really, it won't happen, no matter how much money is thrown at them.

If you think it is a money thing, think of this. After Return of the King was released, the studios wanted to hop right onto making The Hobbit. There were 2 obstacles in their way. The first was that United Artists had acquired the rights (back when they could actually acquire the rights) before the original movies came out, and MGM eventually bought United Artists. New Line, of course, was not happy with that, and Peter Jackson was not happy with how much money he got from New Line for the original films. So, Peter Jackson wanted to make the film, but along the way they had to have some lawsuits. Many, many lawsuits, complicated further by the fact that MGM went bankrupt during this. That eventually got resolved, but you see the result with not 1 studio being responsible for this, but 3 (New Line, WB, and MGM.) Yes, this production (from the financial end) was a mess.

Second was that the family absolutely did not want a Hobbit movie, even though a studio (or 3) owned the rights. This meant even more lawsuits. Of course, they lost them, cause the rights were signed away legally. However, no one expects the family to sign away anymore rights, including the rights to any of the other Middle Earth books like The Silmarillion. With the simple fact that the Lord of the Rings trilogy grossed, approximately, a bajillion dollars, and that the Hobbit films will probably bring in somewhere near the same, they could sell the rights to The Silmarillion for an absolute ton. They won't, even Peter Jackson admits they won't. It's not about cash, it's about keeping the texts that JRR Tolkien wrote safe from others.

So, yeah, I think every fan of the series would love, absolutely love, for there to be a Middle Earth in a theme park. However, I am afraid it will just never happen.

From Wilson Matt
Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM
The family wouldn't have a say, from a legal perspective, one way or another. The bottom line is that the content contained within either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings trilogy (including the appendices) can be used in any way the studios see fit, as long as the end product is "tangible" and/or a "consumer based product". The Tolkien Estate recently sued Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, and the Saul Zaentz Co. because they had engaged in selling mobile games based on the works, which were only able to be downloaded and did not come in any kind of "tangible" form. Whether the Tolkien Estate liked it or not, if the copyright holders for The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings decide to venture into the theme park business, they'll be able to do so with whomever they like.

From Tim Hillman
Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:14 AM
I'm totally confused here. What's so darn sacred about the works of J.R.R. Tolkien?

If Tolkien and his family had never wanted his books to be used commercially, he never would have published "The Hobbit" nor "The Lord of the Rings," and his family would have never consented to the adaptation of his books to the screen. So why should we even think that the books will never be brought to life in a theme park or appear in the theater?

If the right amount of money is thrown at the Tolkien family as well as allowing them an acceptable amount of creative control, they will grant the rights to somebody to put the stories in a theme park. It may not be Disney because of the purported animus that Tolkien had towards Walt Disney, but somebody, probably Universal, is going to bring these works to a theme park one day.

From Tim Odom
Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:33 PM
A lot of people are confused at how the Tolkien estate acts, but they have been exceedingly protective of the works. To the point that it is almost infeasible to try to fight it. As for theme park rights, I am sure that that would be specified in contracts. They argue, with varying degrees of success, that they own the rights to all of his works and they should have the right to refuse. If there is any room for them to fight, they will. And it will be a long, protracted fight, that will last for years.

Effectively, they will protect his works for as long as they can (ie, til they become public domain.) Until then, I sincerely doubt we will see a theme park presence. I wish I was wrong, but the Tolkien family fights everything here (including all of the Peter Jackson films, they *really* don't want any commercialization of Tolkien's works, despite the fact he had the books commercially published.) I know, it all makes little sense, he published the books and made a ton of money off of them, but they are trying to keep the 'purity' of his vision, akin to how Alan Moore has basically shunned every single adaptation of his work since none of them can be his pure vision. It is, quite frankly, a bit nuts. But it is how they do things, for whatever reason.

From James Rao
Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:55 PM
Okay, so steal the idea but call it Lord of the Finger Braclets or something. Fantasy authors have been ravaging Tolkien's works for decades... Disney or Universal can do it too!

From Anthony Murphy
Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:44 PM
I would think that if there was going to be a Lord of the Rings ride/land/restaurant/annoying gift shop, it would have happened already.

As for Tolken disliking Disney, how about PL Travers (author of Mary Poppins)? She hated the idea of Disney turning her works into a movie. Now, her character is just a relevant, made a career for Julie Andrews, and created one of the best live action Disney movies ever made.

From Tim Hillman
Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:33 AM
After doing some research I think I may understand the problem a little better.

J.R.R. Tolkien had no problem publishing his works or selling the rights for movies and merchandising to "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings." The Tolkien article on Wikipedia even indicates that Tolkien wished he had published the books and sold the rights even earlier than he had so he could have enjoyed the profits and retired sooner.

The problem appears to be with Tolkien's son Christopher who seems to want to define himself as his father's archivist and protector of the crown jewels. Christopher Tolkien has spent an inordinate amount of time cataloging and completing (some of the unfinished manuscripts) his father's works. From a pop psychology viewpoint, the son is trying to live up to his father's legacy and keep himself relevant by being overprotective of the materials his father created.

I seriously doubt that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of J.R.R. Tolkien will have any problem licensing the Tolkien library to the maximum extent possible once the son relinquishes control of the Tolkien literary estate to the younger generations. I’ve seen it happen before with all kinds of businesses and ventures. The first generation creates it, the second generation sustains it, and the third generation liquidates it. The allure of big and easy money is too powerful.

From Dominick D
Posted December 30, 2012 at 7:46 AM
According to insider Disneyhead on various sites, Universal is in negotiations for LOTR.

From Bryce McGibeny
Posted December 30, 2012 at 8:12 AM
Hahaha, saw that over on Orlando United. Very exciting! Also, he mentioned that the Jurassic Park addition is most likely going to happen once Transformers: The Ride is done. Yay!

From David L.
Posted December 30, 2012 at 10:08 AM
Yes, it needs to be in a park. And yes it can happen. I'd prefer that Disney take it because they could throw a lot more $ and quality at it, but if given Potter treatment, it could do well at Universal too (Lost continent at first, then the massive plot next to Men in Black?).

I think creating Middle-earth in two locations as two different time lines(Hobbit time and 50ish years later) would work the best.

From Tim Hillman
Posted December 30, 2012 at 10:45 AM
There's a big chunk of land behind the Lost Continent that's occupied by what appears to be sound stages and warehouses that could be used to build a Middle Earth land. I know the sound stages are used for HHN, but I'm sure that adequate space for HHN scare houses could be designed into a LOTR land or built elsewhere. Mythos, Poseidon's Fury, and Sindbad (if it isn't taken out in the Potter expansion) can all be re-themed to LOTR. The only problem is RRR which dominates the backside of this area. Of course I'd gladly swap RRR for a LOTR land.

I'm not sure if I like the idea of using the area near MIB.

From Andrew Dougherty
Posted December 30, 2012 at 5:17 PM
In not to find of Potter in both parks. But I can live with that. After Transformers and Harry Potter open up in USF Universal should have no trouble getting guests to that park anymore. IOA recently has been fine in the past few years. But after those rides hitting USF could becom the new IOA with Despicable Me Transformers and Potter. So you want new things to help lure people to both parks. Lord of the Rings replacing The Lost Continent would be ideal. Through in the Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon upgrades/rides and you should be good.

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