RUMOR: Universal Studios Plans Fourth Orlando Park and Wizarding World Expansion!

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Apr 03, 2018

Posted by: Dawn Johnson | Comments

BigNews, Books, Fandom, Fans, Fantastic Beasts, Fantastic Beasts Movie, Films, Fun, J.K. Rowling, Movies, News, Rumor, Theme Park, WIzarding World of Harry Potter Orlando

Rumors began circulating yesterday that Universal Studios is cementing plans to build a fourth theme park using land acquired in 2015 and 2017, which would almost certainly include an expansion of the lucrative and popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Any unconfirmed report must be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism until official sources announce the news. But, even news produced with a Quick Quotes Quill contains grains of truth, and it is the information that rings true which grabs our attention and gives us hope.

SlashFilm reports that the details of Universal’s plans come from an unnamed inside source close to Disney and More, a source which has yielded reliable information in the past. This, at the least, gives us a foothold from which to consider the news: Disney and More claims a fourth park could be completed as soon as 2023 or 2024 and that it could feature Super Nintendo World, Jurassic World, Lord of the Rings and–thrill of thrills!–the Ministry of Magic.

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Plans for Super Nintendo World were announced previously, but most outlets expected that addition to replace an older section of the existing park. If, however, it is brought over to the new park instead, that could leave room for other updates to the Universal Orlando Resort.

As for Jurassic World, it makes sense that Universal would capitalize on the success of the franchise, considering they already have a section for Jurassic Park. SlashFilm notes that it would be more reasonable, both logistically and financially, to upgrade those attractions or expand that part of the park, but Disney and More insists a new location would more fully embody the series reboot.

We acknowledge that a Lord of the Rings theme park would be magical in its own right. From the Shire to Rivendell to Rohan, Gondor and Mordor, there’s a wealth of story from which to draw, but that would depend entirely on Universal quietly securing rights, something which has not been announced.

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But what we’re most excited about and what, honestly, seems most plausible is the expansion of the Wizarding World to include the Ministry of Magic! Universal has already divided the world of Harry Potter into two locations, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, connected by the Hogwarts Express and featuring King’s Cross Station.

It is quite believable that an expansion would focus on another key locale central to the Harry Potter series, and the Ministry of Magic is, after all, home to the Department of Mysteries, numerous other magical departments, a hall with portals leading to the Floo Network and was the site of many pivotal scenes throughout the books and films. These include Harry’s trial for using underage magic, Arthur Weasley’s attack by Nagini, the fight over the prophecy, the confrontation between Harry, Dumbledore and Voldemort and the trio’s Polyjuice-fueled covert operation aimed at stealing the Horcrux locket from Dolores Umbridge. The possibilities are wide open!

In fact, Leaky suggested a year ago that Universal might take visitors to the Ministry of Magic after their latest patent applications were unveiled by the Orlando Business Journal. See the diagrams for the “vehicle transportation room system and method” below.

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According to the patent, the conceptual design is described as follows:

“The launch room vehicle may include one or more show elements, such as displays, animatronic characters, speakers, fog machines, strobe lights or the like configured to operate in sync with each other and the movement of the launch room vehicle and/or ride vehicle.”

“In particular, during operation, the show elements may create an impression among the patrons that the ride vehicle is being pushed and/or pulled by an entity presented in the partial room. For example, the animatronic character may represent a monster, wizard or other entity that appears to cast a spell upon the ride vehicle.”

The Orlando Business Journal suggested that the animatronic figure could be a ghost, but since ghosts do not feature significantly in the larger Harry Potter story, Leaky offered a number of alternatives theories, including:

“It is equally possible that the animatronic figure represents a wizard, perhaps Voldemort, or Dementor, already featured in other rides. The article also notes the brick-like markings on the opening behind the figure and suggests it may be a fireplace. If that is the case, the ride could be intended to launch guests into the Floo Network with a series of magical effects. How the figure plays into that is unclear, though, since Harry never used the Floo Network under duress. It would have to be an expansion on the story.

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“For example, Voldemort could intercept the ambitious young wizards and corner them in the Ministry of Magic–a version of the Order of the Phoenix storyline–forcing them to retreat into the hall of Floo Network fireplaces, which sends them on a twisting journey for which they were unprepared. Or, the doorway could be something else entirely, with the bricking simply meant to show the internal structure of the wall when the door is opened.”

The Ministry of Magic could also be used to launch fans into the wizarding world past and the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them story. With Harry Potter as a figurehead of the parks, Universal would be wise to take advantage of the popularity and success of J.K. Rowling’s latest venture, and it could be easily done.

SlashFilm suggests a fourth park would not open until 2023 or 2024. This could put it on track to coordinate a grand opening with the premiere of the fifth and final entry in the Fantastic Beasts series. With Crimes of Grindelwald scheduled for November 2018, and at the current rate of two years between releases, the third film could open in 2020, the fourth in 2022 and the last film in 2024. In this way, Universal could incorporate all of the locations and storylines from the series, since we have no doubt Rowling knows exactly where she’s going with this adventure!

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In last year’s article, Leaky raised this possibility as well, suggesting that Universal could use the proposed ride and Ministry of Magic locale as a way to ground, and explain, the thematic connection between the parks and respective series. We speculated:

“It could incorporate the first proposed attraction, which is a launching system. The Ministry of Magic does, after all, possess the means for time travel. Perhaps a Ministry representative will send helpful wizards and witches back in time via time-turner in order to help Newt do something important!”

And the second Universal patent uncovered could easily be a Fantastic Beasts-themed attraction as well. That patent is described as follows:

“Patrons may get the impression that they are entering one completely integral and unified theater, when in fact each seating section is a separate maneuverable seating area.

“In some embodiments, certain virtual prizes (e.g., virtual gold, diamonds, trophies) may be presented by a light source hovering in the airspace inside the structure including the puzzle theater and the patrons may operate the maneuverable seating areas to collect the virtual prizes.”

Consider the accompanying diagrams below. SlashFilm theorized, at the time, that they would be a perfect setting for Magizoologist Newt Scamander. They suggested it could be a lecture hall in which magical creatures get loose, and Scamander requires assistance recovering them.

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We admit the description could just as likely apply to an attraction within the Super Nintendo World, but we would much rather consider how such a configuration could also be adapted to a circus setting, such as the Circus Arcanus, which will feature in the upcoming Crimes of Grindewald. Perhaps it is the scene of a performance or exhibition. Patrons may be expected to interact with the performer, catching items thrown into the crowd–or dodging Credence Barebone’s obscurial outbursts.

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Or, if the new park will indeed focus on Fantastic Beasts rather than on another Harry Potter-centric story, these rides may incorporate elements of the films in ways we have not yet foreseen! As for the story we know and love, SlashFilm claims that the site of the Dragon Challenge will be transfigured into a ride taking visitors through the Forbidden Forest.

Given the proximity of that location to the Hogwarts Castle, it would be a fitting extension of the Hogwarts grounds. Though the Forbidden Journey ride already gives a glimpse of the forest, including an acromantula, a new attraction would be the perfect opportunity to incorporate the special effects perfected by Universal as fans flee Centaurs and hordes of spiders, visit Grawp, accompany Harry on his fateful walk through the forest to meet Voldemort and more.

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What do you think of these rumors, Potter fans? What would you like a fourth Universal Studios theme park to contain and how might the Wizarding World factor into it?

Read the full SlashFilm article for more details on Universal’s potential plans–and read on for a construction UPDATE on the Dragon Challenge grounds!

UPDATE: Construction on the Dragon Challenge Site

InsidetheMagic reported that construction has begun behind the walls which were erected around the Dragon Challenge site when it first closed in September 2017. Cranes are visible above the walls and posted around the perimeter are signs reading: NOTICE – Magic at Work – Your Patience is Requested.

At one point in the video recap (shown below), a portion of track can be seen. Whether this is a permanent part of the new attraction or a temporary fixture to be replaced as construction continues is unknown, but it seems to further confirm the site will house a new roller coaster!





The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.