Is Harry Potter or Star Wars winning right now?

July 1, 2019, 1:17 PM · Which speaks more to you: the power of the Force, or of magic? In your fantasy world, do you wield a lightsaber or a wand? Do your robes identify you as a Sith or a Jedi... or as a Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff?

As two of the largest theme park companies in the world this summer double down on two of their most popular entertainment franchises, we would like to know which one appeals more to you.

So let's ask the question: Star Wars or Harry Potter?

We've asked this question before, but with so many new attractions (and films!) based on these two franchises, it's time to ask again. Have the new movies and rides at the Disney and Universal theme parks changed your feelings about Star Wars or The Wizarding World? If so, have your feelings changed to the point that your allegiance has flipped?

Hermione and Rey

Disney has opened the first phase of its Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland, with a duplicate of the Black Spire Outpost from the newly canon planet of Batuu opening at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios on August 29. Meanwhile, Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure has opened Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, a "story coaster" that brings the Forbidden Forest to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade.

Galaxy's Edge opened without its largest ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which Disney says will open at both installations of the land "later this year." Yet Hagrid's opened with issues of its own — diminished capacity that led Universal to put the ride on a daily "delayed opening" status until further notice.

Disneyland opened Galaxy's Edge on a reservation-only basis for three and half weeks, switching on June 24 to a virtual queue system that it's only had to use on that one day. Meanwhile, wait times elsewhere around the resort are at the lowest levels in years, as extra capacity from Galaxy's Edge soaks up some visitors while price increases and expanded blockout calendars have kept others away.

Universal Orlando saw 10-hour waits for Hagrid's on its first day of operation and has yet to roll out the Virtual Line for the ride that it had teased. But strong demand and limited capacity have kept average wait times around three hours... when the ride is open.

Ultimately, this is not an either/or battle where one park's success necessitates another's failure. Both Star Wars and Harry Potter can be huge hits for the Disney and Universal theme parks, without one taking fans from the other. But it remains unlikely that both franchises appeal to fans equally. I suspect that for the overwhelming majority of us, one of these franchises pulls us toward the parks more than the other does, even if both might appeal.

So which is it? Obviously, the franchises itself is important here — the movies and books that introduced us to these characters, places, and stories. But each the work of the parks' creative teams matter very much as well. The implementation of Star Wars or Harry Potter in the Disney or Universal theme parks can draw us closer to these respective franchises... or leave us feeling cooler toward them.

What is the state of your relationship with these two popular franchises right now? Which one is speaking louder to you? And how to do their respective theme park attractions affect that?

Replies (25)

July 1, 2019 at 2:18 PM

Its a bit of a tough call (especially since I'm going by YouTube videos rather than having seen any of the new developments for myself).

Universal has two connected Harry Potter lands, and with the brand-new Hagrid coaster, now has three e-ticket attractions, and a secondary coaster. Star Wars Land has one B-ticket attraction, and the promise of one E-ticket ride coming. And, maybe, the potential of moving over Star Tours. By the look of the land, Galaxy's Edge is every bit as detailed and immersive as Harry Potter Land - but it is only part way to completion, and is already playing several years of catch up to-boot.

As for the franchises outside of the Theme Parks? Well, I'm still enjoying Star Wars. I wasn't the biggest fan of the Last Jedi movie, but still look forward to seeing what happens in the next chapter, and what Disney does with the Disney+ TV shows. On the other hand, after that last Fantastic Beast movie, I don't think I will be going to see the next one.
Of course, both franchises will have legacies that will extend beyond any "new chapters". In the end, its just a great time to be a Theme Park geek.

July 1, 2019 at 3:01 PM

How about another choice in the pole.

Fan of both, They are both killing it.


July 1, 2019 at 3:11 PM

I'm with Jeffrey, I think both are doing great at the parks. Me, I've loved Star Wars since I saw the first movie in 1977 and adore it huge. But I acknowledge Universal's stunning job with Potter as those rides are amazing. But I think that both parks are doing a great job so hate how it has to be an "either/or" instead of loving both equally.

July 1, 2019 at 4:02 PM

Star Wars land is great - but by no means a game changer. Not opening the second, supposedly bigger attraction, has been a mistake in hindsight.

July 1, 2019 at 4:44 PM

Why is this about winning or losing? Two theme park companies both producing superlative impressively themed lands with major attractions... I'm not a fan of Potter but think their lands are fantastic. I like Star Wars but I'm not a rabid fan - I just know I'll enjoy walking through Galaxy's Edge. For me it's win-win.

July 1, 2019 at 4:50 PM

I made my first visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on Sunday, June 30th. I really enjoyed my time at Black Spire Outpost yesterday. I entered the section at about 9:15am and stayed until around 3:00. In that time I did just about everything I had hoped to. I did a little shopping. I did a little eating and drinking and I rode Smugglers Run twice, including one mission in the cockpit all by myself. I guess you could call me Rob Solo... at least for that flight. I also spent a good bit of time simply watching, listening and thinking about how the land works.
The environment is amazing and the cast members really play their parts well. I also understand why the Imagineers choose to create a completely unique location in which to set this land. It makes sense in the broad scheme of things.
Seeing the Millennium Falcon is a thrill. It’s iconic and such a big part in so many of our lives. I know the intent was to give us a place in which we could be the protagonist rather than simply visit locations were Luke, Leia, Han and the others had their adventures. And I think on a certain level it works. I never opened the Disney Play app aspect of what they have built. I’m not much of a gamer and so that wasn’t my primary concern. I’m sure I will on subsequent visits.
What was missing was the vicarious fun of seeing guests able to more fully immerse themselves in the place. I love watching people dressed in their house robes walking down the street in Hogsmead as if on their way to a class. I know Disney is extremely strict in the US parks about what guests can and cannot wear, but I think it is a mistake to sell Jedi Robes on Batuu but not allow guests to wear them. It is fun watching kids casting spells on Diagon Alley. There is no similar enjoyment seeing someone tapping on their “Datapad”. It makes the environment feel less alive as those “Travelers” seem to be checking their Twitter rather than engaging in the environment. It is fun seeing how Chewbacca, Rei and other characters interacted with the guests, especially kids. It’s good; it’s just not as good.
Perhaps things will improve once the other attraction opens. It sounds like it really is the marque attraction for Galaxy’s Edge. Time will tell.
As others have said, why do we need to worry about which is better when both environments have so dramatically changed what we have come to expect in theme park attractions. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

July 1, 2019 at 7:58 PM

Harry Potter Land is based on the original characters, Star Wars Land is based on new characters. Harry Potter fans are still coming out for 10 hour waits for a new ride based on the original characters. Star Wars fans, at least the fans that have kept the fire going for 40 years, think the franchise is going down.

I really don't expect the Rise of Skywalker to change that, unless J.J. Abrams can pull some magic out of his hat. Yes, the new films are blockbusters, but they are blockbusters because people have so much affection for the original films.

July 1, 2019 at 8:51 PM

Can we talk about those survey responses?

July 1, 2019 at 9:21 PM

If we are just talking the original trilogy, I prefer Star Wars, but every movie after, except maybe 2, are garbage, therefore Potter wins for me!

July 1, 2019 at 9:33 PM

To those saying Star Wars doesn't seem to be as much of a success as Potter because the lines aren't as long, I consider that to be a success in itself for Disney.

Lets be serious there was a LOT of opportunity for things to go wrong. Disneyland is a small park in right in the middle of a massive population base with the international draw of Hollywood right down the street. Disney played it smart, if they just opened it like Universal did with Potter it could've been a disaster that would make the news all over the world. Bad openings are a huge deal at a place like Disney because a lot of the people are tourists, its not like Six Flags where people can just come back, if the ride breaks down or has a 10 hour wait people want their money back and/or their memory of "going to Disney" turned out to be a nightmare.

Obviously no one really knows how WDW's is going to go, but with DVC and AP previews, as well as EMH for 3 hours every morning, as well as EMH at MK every morning, I applaud Disney for trying to ease the blow as much as possible. Universal clearly rushed the testing process of Hagrid in order to meet a summer deadline and as a result now they have major issues. They did the same thing with Diagon Alley the opening of that coaster was absolutely pitiful.

July 2, 2019 at 4:02 AM

I usually vote and find polls interesting here, but why is there a
"Neither franchise does anything for me right now"...
and not a "Both do it for me"...?

July 2, 2019 at 7:27 AM

Simple answer: both. Love both franchises. I have not been to GE, but will in a year or so. Will not go until it is fully armed and operational. Complex answer: It depends. I grew up on Star Wars. I did not grow up on Potter, but Universal clearly knocked it out of the park, pun intended. The problem is where Disney is now- a victim of their success. For my family to visit Disney at a moderate resort, it would cost us close to $8000. That is more than a European or Hawaiian vacation for us. A trip to Universal is easily half that, and with the Unimited Express Pass, arguably more fun for some members of the family. Once the other attraction opens at GE, it will be interesting to see how they handle the crowds. I honestly doubt anyone in my family will desire a lightsaber or droid, so the cantina will be the only other experience other than looking at the props around the land and the two rides. Theme parks are meant to be visited with families, and one family member despised and rebelled at the micromanaging aspect of FP+ at a recent WDW trip, which affected others enjoyment to a degree. This is not an issue at Universal, so that plays into a favor for Potter. Also, say what you will for the Avatar attraction, we all unanimously found Gringots and Forbidden Journey to be superior, even though Flight of Passage was a great attraction, so I really hope the Star Wars attractions are a step up. I really look forward to GE, however. I tend to spend a decent amount of time at the Launch Bay just looking at props, so I imagine the simple act of walking around will be a treat. I doubt there will be many unbiased opinions in this thread, and I wish it were an apples to apples comparison.

July 2, 2019 at 8:26 AM

I'm a LOTR fan, so Star Wars or Potter doesn't do a great deal for me, although I do like walking round the Potter world at UO, and taking in all of the surroundings. A few weeks ago, when I visited the Potter world at Universal Studios for the first time, I have to admit I was very impressed. Although I thought the Gringotts ride was poor.

So it remains to be seen if SWGE will have that same awe inspiring feel about it when I first go to DHS after it opens. I'm pretty sure it will.

Ask me the same question in a couple of months when I've had chance to wander around SWGE and been back to UO. Hopefully I will get chance to try out Hagrid's ride, as well as Smuggler's Run, although I'm not hopeful of flying on the Falcon until the FP+'s become available.

July 2, 2019 at 9:50 AM

I've always leaned towards Star Wars, but Universal's WWoHP lands are quite a sight to behold. I have yet to experience Galaxy's Edge, but cannot stop geeking out about our SoCal trip coming up in just 3 weeks. I've been far more obsessed about Galaxy's Edge than I was about our first trip to Hogsmeade just a few months after it opened. Part of my obsession has to do with my aversion to Disney crowds and the relative complexity in visiting any Disney theme park in contrast to Universal (though Disneyland is far simpler, which is why we chose to visit Galaxy's Edge first in California). Also, I recognize that Disney is notorious for changing up rules and procedures at the drop of a hat, so my obsessiveness at carefully watching crowds, lines, and reservations 3,000+ miles away is to get a feel for what is going on so that our 3 days at DL/DCA will be as productive and fun as possible. While I recall watching the 8+-hour lines snake around IOA back in 2010, I knew that by the time we visited in October (back when October was still a relatively quiet time to visit Orlando) the crowds were going to be more manageable, and for the most part they were.

I do find it interesting to see people make assessments of Galaxy's Edge based solely on the crowds, and to see Disney be so reactionary to the perceived lack of mobs flocking to Batuu. From all indications, this is exactly what Disney wanted. They deliberately cloned the land at each American resort to reduce the demand from East Coast Star Wars fans flocking cross country to the smaller Disneyland Resort. While I don't think delaying Rise of the Resistance was intentional, it has also acted as a crowd-calming force for those not wanting to pony up $150+ to see an incomplete land. Imagine if Hogsmeade opened without FJ, PtWoA opened without FoP, TSL opened without SDD, or if Cars Land opened without RSR, that's how people are viewing Galaxy's Edge - maybe not to the same degree, but it's comparable. So, combine the ability to visit Galaxy's Edge on either coast along with the marquee ride still under construction, and you can see why Disney is not seeing the intense crowds that were predicted. I don't understand why this is seen as a bad thing, or why Disney feels the need to fill the parks to uncomfortable levels by offering discounts and lifting certain pass restrictions. Similar to the month-long reservation/soft opening period, Disney can use the next few months to allow Galaxy's Edge to break in while it simultaneously increases the overall capacity of Disneyland. Short lines throughout the park should not be seen as a detriment or as a sign of failure/disappointment. They should be happy that what they've delivered appears to be very well received and seeing reasonable lines with an appropriate level of excitement, while on the other coast, Universal is struggling to meet demand for their new coaster that can't seem to operate consistently. Huge lines and demand is good for initial publicity, but at some point those lines need to become manageable or guests will simply give up, particularly when they're paying hundreds of dollars just to get their families through the gate. After a month of operation, a park should have a new ride broken in and running at least close to optimal capacity. While lines are long for Hagrid's, if only a few thousand people a day actually get to ride it, how successful has it been? It certainly looks like the best new attraction of 2019, but if the tens of thousands gravitating to UO can't get on it, what will be its legacy?

When all is said and done, I bet there will be many books written about 2019 and its place in theme park history.

July 2, 2019 at 12:19 PM

Comparing the theme park offerings and the films of the two franchises are two different things. At the parks, it's HP in a landslide. Maybe RotR will be the ride to end all rides, but at this point for Galaxy's Edge, it's not even close to the Wizarding World. Galaxy's Edge doesn't fit well in DL and is underwhelming at best. Hardly any entertainment or walk-around characters. No restaurant. A C-ticket simulator ride featuring a character that hardly any guests have heard of. No iconic music. Too much empty space with nothing to do. No classic trilogy characters. Bored looking CMs who have given up role-playing. Looks like a bombed out Middle Eastern town. No promised droids. Blue milk is no butterbeer. Unfortunately, Florida's SW land will be the same, but perhaps for the Paris version Disney will learn from all the mistakes and offer a better formula.

For the films, both have amazing core stories with the original SW trilogy and the eight HP movies, but both franchises are rapidly sliding with their new film offerings. The first Fantastic Beasts film had me nodding off a few times, and I couldn't get past the first 15 minutes of the second one. The new SW films have suffered from the same problem as Fantastic Beasts with dull as doorknob characters and incoherent storylines. They're visually beautiful spectacles but without substance and emotion. They're bland corporate product with no heart. By contrast, Marvel has been treated with love and care, and is doing great, and I hope Disney produces a land worthy of their hottest property, but I'm doubtful.

July 2, 2019 at 12:34 PM

Who's winning? The Fans. Disney fans should hope that Universal will be there a long time to encourage Disney not to rest on their laurels.

July 2, 2019 at 1:08 PM

Robert I have had a theory for over the last year that the crowds and excitement, maybe even passion for a new land/ attraction will come from the Marvel additions to the parks. I'm 46 and grew up with Star Wars , my kids have not. This 25 and under generation are Marvel Fans, that's what they grew up with. I would expect to see the extensive wait lines come when they open the Spider Man attraction next year. I think Disney needs to be ready to apply the Star Wars crowd plan to the upcoming Marvel attractions. Right Plan, wrong application.

July 2, 2019 at 4:58 PM

Simple answer........we are!

July 3, 2019 at 8:00 AM

I'm a fan of all the HP movies/books, as well as a fan of the original trilogy, and to a lesser degree EP I, II, III. I'm notsomuch a fan of the latest movies in the SW saga, but they are OK.

Having visited HP lands on both coasts as well as what is currently open as Galaxy's Edge, I'd give the edge to HP. The original game-changer in the theme park industry still has a level of detail and way of bringing you into the original storyline that GE does not match. Smugglers Run is a good ride, build-a-droid is neat, blue milk is kinda terrible. They don't capture the imagination like riding Hagrid's motorbike through the forbidden forest, taking a romp through the vaults of Gringotts, doing real magic with wand selected for your by Olivander, and drinking delicious butterbeer.

I'm interested to see how Rise of the Resistant changes things, but for now GE remains a good, even very good, entry -- but not "great".

We all win when there is competition though. Universal's new park in 3....2.....1......

July 3, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Russell Meyer wrote:

"So, combine the ability to visit Galaxy's Edge on either coast along with the marquee ride still under construction, and you can see why Disney is not seeing the intense crowds that were predicted. I don't understand why this is seen as a bad thing, or why Disney feels the need to fill the parks to uncomfortable levels by offering discounts and lifting certain pass restrictions."

That`s easy to answer: it`s all about the bottom line. Greedy shareholders only seem to be happy if the parks are earning MAX dollars...never mind if the guests are miserable.

I agree with Russell`s post. Let`s hope the situation at WDW will also be reasonable, not out of control. Given that the online reviews for the land and Smuggler`s Run have not been universally (pun not intended) enthusiastic, I think a lot of fans are waiting for ROTR. That`s going to be the game changer, if it`s even nearly as good as expected.

July 3, 2019 at 6:35 PM

Can I throw out a question? Why is ROTR expected to be such a game-changer? Based on the preview video they put out, the ride itself appears to be slow-moving in multi-person vehicles reminiscent of the Universe of Energy. I admit that the AT-AT's look cool as heck, but beyond the immersive aspect of the sets themselves, I'm not seeing the potential for E-ticket level thrills. Am I missing something?

July 5, 2019 at 7:27 AM

There are a few outlets that have posted spoilers of what the experience will be like on RotR (don't read them if you want to be surprised). If these are to be trusted (and most are pretty consistent with each other and have been accurate in past Disney predictions and rumors), RotR is going to be one of Disney's longest ever attractions in terms of total time (aside from shows and movie-based attractions). If you ever had the opportunity to see Star Trek the Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton, think about that full attraction in the Star Wars Universe with Disney-level theming and modern technology. I don't want to get too far into it, but it does sound like the attraction will be a multi-stage experience with the dark ride portion frequently shown in concept drawings, and touted as one of the longest dark rides in Disney history, that is only a part of the full attraction. Some close followers of Disney have gone as far as labeling RotR as Disney's first F-Ticket attraction. The level of ambition with RotR is likely what is causing the delay in its debut.

July 5, 2019 at 9:45 AM

Hmmmm.... hadn't heard all of that. Thanks for the info, Russell. I am intrigued....

July 8, 2019 at 10:41 AM

I still say that building a land based on the ST and on an unremarkable location was an unwise move by Disney. I think fans would have been far more intrigued by a Corascant or Tattoine and in a new park (at least in CA). And lets face it Luke, Leia, Han and Darth Vader are still the characters that everyone wants to see despite Disneys best efforts to replace them with Rey Finn and Kylo.

July 6, 2019 at 3:10 PM

All the advance word about ROTR suggests that the ride will be the stateside answer to Shanghai Pirates, and possibly the most elaborate ride Disney has ever built.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive