But before we resume with a look at Dervish and Banges next week, let us tell you about the contest that Universal announced today to celebrate the grand opening. It's a trip for four to the opening of The Wizarding World in Hollywood, followed by trips to the other Wizarding Worlds — at Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Japan, as well as to the "Making of Harry Potter" experience at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
Fans can enter online at tripadvisor.com/wizardingworldhollywood between now and Feb. 24. Entries are limited to one per person, per day. The prize includes roundtrip airfare for four to Los Angeles, Orlando, Osaka, and London, as well as a four-night hotel stay at each destination. The winner also gets four two-day tickets to each of the three Universal resorts, plus four one-day tickets to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, as well as $500 total for ground transportation, and $200 a day for food (up to $3,200).
The winner will be selected at random, in early March.
As for the current status of Hollywood's Wizarding World, as we mentioned in our report from the park last week, the exteriors of the new land appear to be complete, and team members have been said to be training in the land already. Flight of the Hippogriff has been running test trains since last fall, and it's hard to imagine that Universal couldn't soft-open the Wizarding World well in advance of the April 7 debut if it wanted to. In fact, we suspect that the selection of April 7 as an official opening date had more to do with ensuring that other projects around the park were completed in time for the big media event than waiting for the Wizarding World itself to be finished.
Even as fans look forward to the opening of Hollywood's Hogsmeade village, many people have been talking online this week about the possibility of a second Wizarding World in Hollywood — a Diagon Alley expansion, much like the one at Universal Studios Florida.
To repeat what we've said before — the last we heard from insiders about this, Universal's "Evolution" development plans called for Diagon Alley to go on the space currently occupied by the Waterworld stunt show. By also eliminating the Shrek theater, Universal would have the space needed to run a Hogwarts Express ride between the two lands. The trains would have to stop between the two stations to play their shows, as the actual trip between the two lands would take only a fraction of the time it requires in Orlando. But Universal could cram the ride in if it wanted to.
And Universal would need a Hogwarts Express ride as there is simply no space on the Waterworld site to fit an Escape from Gringotts ride. The bank itself would be included in the Hollywood version of the land, but its entry hall would serve only as an expanded version of the Gringotts Money Exchange goblin encounter that's relegated to a storefront down the street from the bank in Orlando. But we've not heard the certainty about this plan to convince us that it is a done deal, leading us to suspect that Universal is waiting to see how Hogsmeade does in Hollywood before it makes a final commitment to the plans.
Previously On the Road to the Wizarding World Hollywood:Tweet
As for the future, I've heard that there are three plans for Harry Potter, Part 2 and USH is waiting on a few things before they decide which option to choose. According to what I've heard, the three plans are:
1. Build Diagon Alley on the site of Waterworld. This version of the land would not include the Gringotts coaster, but it would include a static motion simulator attraction, the Hogwarts Express, and everything else present in the Florida incarnation. From what I've heard, this was the preferred plan up until about a year ago when the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe started moving forward, which leads to...
2. Remove Revenge of the Mummy and build Diagon Alley in the Lower Lot. This version of the land would be identical to the Florida version, including the full Gringotts coaster. This also goes along with the Lower Lot development plan currently in progress (which will include two other new attractions (Secret Life of Pets dark ride and reportedly a Jurassic World ride) along with the relocation of the Studio Tour station and a complete overhaul of Jurassic Park). In addition, this solves the issue of what to do with Mummy once the reboot premieres next year. According to my sources, this is currently the most popular plan. However, there's another Harry Potter film in development, which leads to...
3. Instead of Diagon Alley, build a brand new Harry Potter expansion based on Fantastic Beasts in the Lower Lot. This would likely be themed to New York City and would likely feature three attractions (one or two major attractions plus a smaller attraction). Naturally, there would be no Hogwarts Express or equivalent attraction with this concept and it would be completely separate from the Hogsmeade area. I've also heard it is possible that the New York theme could expand to the entire lower lot, with most of the area set in present-day New York City while the Harry Potter area would be 1920s New York City (possibly entered through a time portal or similar).
As I always say, treat these rumors as nothing more than pure speculation for now. However, I've heard USH is looking at a 2020 or 2021 opening date for the expansion, so there should be signs by the end of this year or beginning of next year about what they are up to. If I had to guess, I would say that they'll probably commit to the location by the fall and then decide which of the concepts to build based on the reception of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
A reboot does not mean The Mummy ride is not needed anymore. It should mean the ride should be overhauled. Nonetheless, replacing it with Diagon Alley is a good idea.
Anonymous Poster 2 (184.108.40.206), my hunch is that the new area would incorporate the Mummy footprint in addition to several surrounding soundstages. Looking at an aerial view, I'm thinking most of the alley would be where Mummy is now with the Gringotts ride building replacing the soundstages to the north/northeast.
Anonymous Poster 3 (220.127.116.11), from what I've heard option 2 would include the Hogwarts Express, but the exact route is unknown. USH is built on the side of a hill so figuring out how to run a train between the two areas is a bit of a challenge.
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