Hey Thrill Seekers,
On June 18th 2010 the world of theme parks was turned upside when Universal Orlando officially opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I remember before the launch that sceptics were playing down the area and were sceptical about the area as a whole.
How wrong they were, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure opened to a rave reviews. I was lucky enough to speak with one of the guys at Universal who had a very hands on part in bring the Wizarding World to life and he gave me a bit of insight into the pain staking procedures all involved went through to make sure that everything was just perfect.
JK Rowling and her team had final say on everything from the snow on top of the building at Hogsmeade down to the taste of Butterbeer. The process was long and exhausting for both parties but in the end they made something not only beautiful but something that totally changed the landscape of how theme parks build IP led lands.
Fast forward four years and Universal raise the bar again with the introduction of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. If Hogsmeade was the learning curve then Diagon Alley is the masterpiece. The same crazily high level of detail is still there and still overseen by JK Rowling herself. One example that springs to mind is on the Hogwarts Express, the seating material found on the train is the exact match for that shown in the films, so much so that Universal representatives travelled to the UK to gain samples.
The introduction of Interactive Wands and a fire breathing dragon have helped push Universal to the very forefront of immersive worlds and the once perceived risk of investing all that cash in Harry Potter in hindsight seems silly. Universal have set the standard that all other new “lands” have to live up too.
So what does this mean?
Competition between huge companies is great for the consumer, what this level of detail means is that the King of Orlando, Disney has to step up and raise its game.
This week we got a glimpse at what Disney’s Star Wars Land is going to look like… and in my opinion they’ve taken a page out of the Harry Potter book of theme park attractions and gone heavy on the detail.
A Star Wars themed marketplace looks to have all the detail you’d want to truly immerse yourself in that World. The promise of Droid interactions and grabbing a quick drink in an establishment you’d except Han Solo to hang out in, seems a great touch.
Everything seems to be going in the write direction and for me, we have Harry Potter to thank and long may it continue.