Recently the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located at Universal Studios’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando Florida, opened to rave reviews and packed crowds. One review posted on miceage.com by Kevin Yee at, http://miceage.micechat.com/kevinyee/ky060810a.htm, was more than flattering and called the newly opened area one of the best themed in the theme park industry. Guests are treated to an amazingly detailed recreation of the fictional town of Hogsmeade, made famous in J. K. Rowling’s ever popular Harry Potter series of books and movies.
The star attraction, based on Harry Potter’s world, and called the Forbidden Journey, is being called the most advanced theme park ride ever created. In addition to this ride, guests can wander into a wand shop, or sample such fictional drinks as butter beer or pumpkin juice.
But how will the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter affect attendance at the Magic Kingdom, and other Disney theme parks in Orlando? Publicly, Disney officials welcome any increase in tourism in central Florida, be it at one of their theme park or another, as more visitors means more potential guests for the four theme parks that Disney operates at Walt Disney World.
In fact, ever since opening in the early 1970s, management at Walt Disney world has had a friendly relationship with other businesses in the area, including other theme parks. Some believe that the expected increased attendance at Universal Studios, due to the popularity of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, will bring in families who were postponing a trip to Walt Disney World, and who now might consider spending a day there in addition to spending time with Harry Potter and his friends.
However, as many industry insiders have noted, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter takes themed entertainment to a whole new level. Previously, Disney was considered far and away the leader in new technologies, and immersive details, and this attention to detail and innovation has made their theme parks popular world wide. The list of the top ten most visited theme parks in the world are regularly dominated by Disney’s parks, such as Orlando’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot, the ever popular Disneyland in Anaheim, in addition to the spectacularly themed Disney Sea in Tokyo.
Recently however, Disney has suffered significant difficulties with keeping their theme parks competitive. The much criticized Disney’s California adventure, now renamed Disney California Adventure, was built on the cheap and with “off the shelf” rides which could be found it generic theme parks all over the world. The resulting drop in attendance at Disney California Adventure lead Disney to work on a multiyear construction project to add new rides, and a new water show, to the beleaguered theme park. Disney’s first theme park in Asia, Hong Kong Disneyland, which is based on the original Disneyland in Anaheim California, has had disappointing attendance in its first few years of operation.
In part to step up to the challenge of Universal’s newest creation, a new Fantasyland addition is coming to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando in 2012, which Disney obviously hopes will please guests as much as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2319184/new_fantasyland_coming_to_walt_disney.html?cat=16.
But will this be enough to return Disney to the number one spot in the theme park industry? While the new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, and the additional changes to Disney California Adventure will likely please some guests, it may be several years before Disney even considers building something on the scale of Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
However, that doesn’t mean that Disney imaginers don’t have plans tucked away for a whole new Disney theme park. As many have noted, there is additional land available in Walt Disney world for the construction of a fifth theme park. Currently the four major theme parks at Walt Disney World include the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Studios, and the Animal Kingdom.
For years, rumors have circulated that Disney would be building some sort of “Villain’s Theme Park.” What would be included in such a theme park is unknown, though a version of Disney’s ever popular Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Extravaganzas might be find a permanent home in such a theme park. More on that later.
While some Disney executives may be upset that they couldn’t work out a deal with J. K. Rowlings to have Hogsmeade on Disney property, especially considering how spectacular the addition is, the competition between Universal and Disney can only mean good things for guests. And without a doubt the ball is in Disney’s court.