Disney World's uninspired plans for a Harry Potter-themed mini-land have been revealed. The so-called House of Mouse has been synonymous with success for decades now. As well as acclaimed animated films, Disney has a number of popular theme-parks around the globe. Lately, their focus has been on live-action remakes of their own animated classics, such as the upcoming Lion King and Aladdin. They are also dominating the box office through Marvel Studios and the juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Not everything they touch has turned to gold, however. Since purchasing Lucasfilm, their additions to the Star Wars franchise have divided opinion and seen somewhat diminishing returns. As it turns out, they also let certain rights to another coveted franchise slip through their fingers. The world of Harry Potter has held a significant place in pop culture for well over a decade now. Starting out as a series of best-selling books by J.K. Rowling, the magical tales of witchcraft and wizardry has spawned an equally successful series of films, a sell-out stage play, and the second installment of a prequel franchise hits theaters next month. Before Universal capitalized on that enormous popularity with their parks, Disney sought to secure the rights.
Speaking on a recent podcast (via SlashFilm), however, theme-park expert Jim Hill revealed details of their underwhelming pitch. Rather than the kind of full-scale recreations of environments that Universal opened to the public, Disney's plans were to replicate the Buzz Lightyear: Astroblasters ride, but with wands instead of guns. The scenario would have seen fans on an Omnimover, moving through a Defense Against Dark Arts class. In addition, plans were in place to build a petting zoo inspired by the Care of Magical Creatures classes. According to Hill, the latter idea was a "direct response" to Universal's Triceratops Encounter. The petting zoo would have been essentially been a copy, but with hippogriffs and other mythical creatures instead of dinosaurs.
Rowling was understandably unmoved by Disney's pitch, prompting her to take the IP straight to Disney's competitors. As Hill elaborates, however, the failure to secure the rights wasn't a total loss - especially for fans. Seeing what Universal did with Harry Potter and the popularity that followed, they were forced to take things to a new level in order to remain viable competition. The fruits of those efforts are set to be the aforementioned Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge - which will see Disney finally break their "No Alcohol" rule - and an MCU-inspired Super Hero Land.
Legions of Potter fans will no doubt be glad to hear this news, no longer having to wonder what might have been. Rowling has proven to be an increasingly divisive figure of late. Not only has she experienced backlash for offering little more than lip service in regard to LGBTQ representation, but also for her insistence on keeping Johnny Depp involved in Fantastic Beasts 2. Whatever your thoughts on those topics, however, Rowling definitely made the right choice in saying no to Disney.