They’ve built WHAT now?!

I have JUST been told by a friend that a rumoured Harry Potter Theme Park is now in completion and will be opening in Spring 2010. I first heard about plans for this Theme Park a couple of years ago in the papers, along with artists renderings of what the final completed park would look like and what attractions it would have. But, after not hearing anymore about it (partly out of lack of interest for the most part in anything Harry Potter, and partly because I guess they were avoiding making it too much of common knowledge so that people will be more excited about it!) I assumed that plans for it had been scrapped for whatever reason they may have. In hindsight, this was probably a bit dense of me to think that they WOULDN’T do this – it’s the ultimate “raking-it-in” idea, really! But still, my friend has sent me a link to the promotional video for the Theme Parks opening. This link, I have also decided to post below, so thanks for the link Jamie!:

http://www.universalorlandoresort.com/harrypotter/first_look_uo.html

Now, first of all, I’ve noticed two majorly disappointing things – 1) WHY is it in America when it’s actually a British institution, set in Britain and has a British cast, and could potentially make even more money by setting up partnerships with airlines for all the people who would be travelling to come to it? and 2) How come it’s being put in Universal Studios Orlando (which, admittedly, is Theme Park Central and would definitely have the funding to undertake such a monstrous project) when the production company behind it are Warner Brothers, who are situated (perhaps more fittingly) in Los Angeles?

Whilst these might only be trivial things in the long run, there are many other things about this Theme Park to mention. I’d like to put in at this point that I’m NOT saying either way that this is a good idea or a bad one – completely unbiased as yet as I haven’t seen enough of it to make a full decision either way yet. BUT, I have seen enough from the video to know this much:

Firstly, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (as it is now called) is most definitely a HUGE corporate investment, much in the same way Disneyland is. This is basically Disneyland for teenagers who are “too cool” to go there anymore. Immediately, as you go through the entry gates, there is the “Main Street” of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is basically a mixture of the Hogsmead Village and Diagon Alley. So, in short, this is where all the money-making happens!! Hugely priced themed pubs, Sweet shops where the kids can get all sugared-up for the day, joke shops and souvenir shops where you can buy ANYthing that you can slap Harry’s bespectacled mug onto (que the introduction of the I Heart So-And-So T-shirts and Hermione’s range of perfume…) for whatever price they deem “reasonable”, all behind massively printed signs and bright lights to get the kids interested in just how much cash the Adults are carrying on them at the time… But, one thing I did think was cool, was the Wand Shop that you will be able to go to where you can supposedly get your own personal wand. This is that fine line between bringing in people’s wallets and bringing people into the magic of Harry Potter Land. Having your own personal wand for the day will make ALL the difference for certain people – crossing that line between consumerism and fantasy-brought-to-life.

The rest of the park looks to be pretty straight forward – rides and attractions and shows all based around the different features of Harry’s world. The Hippogriff rollercoaster, the Dragon fighting attraction, etc, all of which would clearly be backed-up by the highest of effects budgets considering just how much this franchise has now been able to rake in. Also, the Hogwarts Castle Adventure looks like it will be an all-encompassing, multi-sensory, fully immersing dive into the World of Wizards, where the guests will fully believe that they are part of this magnificent world that up until now they have only been able to read about or see on the screen thanks to Hollywood Effects and CGI. Or, at least, that’s the angle that they will be going for…

The promotional video obviously explains more about what the park will have, but it is set to open its gates in Spring 2010, so you can expect families with young kids or couples that are a bit too geeky for their own good to be booking their summer holiday to Orlando a lot this year, and expect to be paying for it for quite a while afterwards! It does beg the question as to whether the amount of expenses would be worth the memorable experience of it all – so it could either be the most magical Theme Park thought up, or a shine to ALL that is consumerism! But, I guess that will all be revealed once it has opened to the public, or once we see more of what The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer.

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2 Comments

  1. i disagree with the fact you put so much naivety towards theme parks and consumerism; after all weren’t the likes of disney and universal set up specifically to generate profit from films and tv shows that specifically generate sufficient revenue themselves to continue to do so in anothet medium? lets face it, there is a reason why we dont have a howard the duck ride instead of a star wars one or rides based on some box office flops. i do believe that referring to something that has become an internationally acclaimed series of books and films voids it of being a british institution too, okay it may have started here but doesnt the uk have a saw ride? not very british really but once again it knew it would reel in the money. one final justificstion for being in an american theme park could be an issue of space perhaps? considering the number of people that will visit this, its best to have a location that can cope successfully with greater quantities of people.

    • Thanks for your feedback, its very much appreciated. Whilst I do agree with some of the things that you’ve said, Disney (as corporate and conglomerate as it is) is an institution – an umbrella organisation that has its fingers in many pies, so to speak. Universal, also, is an institution and was actually designed to bring people more BEHIND the movies than actually INTO them – The Universal in Hollywood actually only has the one rollercoaster, the Jurassic Park ride and the Simpsons simulator. The rest is mostly behind the scenes tours, stages, and stunt shows that show you how they do effects in films and how much work goes on in the movie making industry. I totally agree that having it situated in America is almost definitely an issue of space and probably funding as well – a project such as this must not have come cheap, I’m sure, and especially in this economical climate as well! And yes, whilst we do have a Saw Ride at Thorpe Park (which I have yet to go on, shamefully!), we don’t have an entire Saw Theme Park, which is the parallel I’m drawing. Admittedly, I’m not the hugest fan of Harry Potter out there and think that the films have become a little bit dull now, but you have to admit – this is clearly going to be the one place in the world where you can buy anything with Harry Potter on it. I know it will bring in countless revenue, and do very well for itself, and perhaps (one day) I will be curious enough to go and see what it’s like. My main point about this was that its not just one “area” of an overall theme park devoted to Harry Potter, it is its own entire park. Ok, give us a Star Wars Theme Park where you can ride speeder bikes and meet Wookies, and I might not be complaining, but it would still be very comglomerate as well. Even if it would be cool…


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