MuggleCast 246 Transcript
[“Hedwig’s Theme” plays]
Micah: Because we answer the question, “What’s bigger news, a theme park in L.A. or expansion in Orlando?” this is MuggleCast Episode 246 for December 9th, 2011.
[Show music begins]
Andrew: This week’s podcast is brought to you by Audible.com, the Internet’s leading provider of audiobooks, with more than 100,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including fiction, non-fiction, and periodicals. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast.
[Show music continues]
Andrew: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode 246! This is a very special episode recorded late at night in December, a cold winter’s night. We’re here to discuss the big Wizarding World news that was made earlier this week. Eric, Micah, and I are here. Hello, excited gentlemen.
Eric: Yes. Hello.
Micah: I thought you were going to cue that song by the Counting Crows when you…
Andrew: What’s that song?
Micah: “A Long December.”
Micah: When you were making that comment earlier.
[Eric makes music sounds]
Eric: Yeah, got it.
Andrew: I don’t follow the…
Micah: I don’t know what Eric is doing, but that sounds…
Micah: …nothing like the song. [laughs]
Eric: I think that was – you know what?
Andrew: That’s the song in his mind.
Eric: I confused Counting Crows and Collective Soul. That’s my bad. That’s my flaw…
Andrew: It’s okay.
Eric: …for the world to see.
Andrew: Well, we are going to talk about the Wizarding World, there’s a lot to talk about, of course, L.A. and also Orlando. It’s a transition time for the Wizarding World Orlando and a creation time for Wizarding World L.A.
Micah: I think we’re going to have some interesting discussion about this because I think the big question is going to be, is it bigger news that the one in Orlando is expanding or that there’s one coming to Los Angeles?
Eric: Which is hotter news…
Andrew: That’s a hard question.
Eric: …on this cold winter’s night?
Andrew: Let’s… [laughs]
Micah: Not where…
Andrew: Let’s all ponder that.
Micah: …Andrew is.
Andrew: Well, yeah, it is kind of chilly here. We’ll ponder that while we get through some other news first. Micah, tell us what else has been going on that’s worth discussing.
Andrew: There’s been a lot of stuff, but it’s a lot of crap.
News: Pottermore Site Updates
Micah: Well, let’s start with Pottermore and…
Micah: …I’m going to try – because it is late at night and I’m not as hyped up…
Andrew: You’re mellowed out.
Micah: Yeah, a little bit mellow here. They put out a release earlier in the week, a blog post – actually, I think it might have been even over the weekend – about the fact that they are going to be down for a period of time, And this is got to be somewhat disconcerting news to people who are still new to the site, maybe they’re just getting acquainted with it, more so to the people who are not Beta testers. I’ve seen a couple of e-mails where people say, I was away over the summer, I came back hoping that in October I was going to be able to access Pottermore as a new user because I didn’t get a chance to get in during the Beta period, and now I’m going to the site, and it’s down and I can’t even register, and I can’t even get access probably until sometime next year. I just want to know what is going on with the site. What changes are they possibly making to it? And why hasn’t it come online fully yet? It’s very frustrating for a lot of people out there.
Andrew: Mhm. Well, it seems like there are just server problems. I mean, that seems to be the clearest issue and we know when it launched, it was down frequently, we were getting that purple message of death, so to speak, “Pottermore is unavailable. Please try again later.”
Andrew: And I think that’s what they’re fixing.
Eric: Yeah, and according…
Andrew: It’s not – they’re not adding features.
Eric: No. Yeah, according to the release, it says, “The work we’re carrying out is technical, so there won’t be many obvious differences to the site but to help us test our work, we’d really like you to log in and explore the site once it’s back online.” So, I think it’s clear that they are actually – they are testing – they are improving the capacity of the site, maybe it’s load time, maybe it’s how many people can be on at once because – and about people being disappointed that it’s not up yet, I stated before, okay, take it down as long as you need to, but once you launch it, don’t fail again. Once you launch it – make sure it’s strong before you launch it and then there won’t be any of these problems that we keep seeing or purple screens or any more of this downtime that’s jarring and disappointing.
Micah: And here’s the thing, though, it is going to be down for a week and it first went down as scheduled on December 3rd, and so probably until at least the 10th, if not to the beginning of next week. But with all of the work that’s been going on on the site and the fact that it’s not going to officially open until some time in 2012, when they open, are they just going to open with Sorcerer’s Stone or are they going to include Chamber of Secrets? How are they going to work this out? Because you have a lot of people now who have been in the Beta period for several months who are going to be eager to get a new book when the site officially opens and not go through the whole experience all over again with Sorcerer’s Stone.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, they have to have a big relaunch. I think their safest bet may be to just throw some extra material from J.K. Rowling in there from Sorcerer’s Stone…
Eric: I agree, yeah.
Andrew: …because Chamber of Secrets will take too long to develop. I mean, there’s artwork, there’s all that content, the code has to be written, that’s a huge amount of stuff. So, at least if they added J.K. Rowling’s stuff, maybe that could be a little easier.
Eric: So, like…
Andrew: I don’t know if it is, but it seems like it.
Eric: …keep the same moments, obviously, but yeah.
Eric: Or just add stuff, yeah.
Andrew: Add stuff to the moments, yeah.
Eric: Yeah, I haven’t – really, honestly, I haven’t completed Pottermore yet, so – for Sorcerer’s Stone from the Beta testing.
Andrew: Yeah, I don’t know if I have either.
Eric: So, I’m excited. I mean, I’m still kind of excited to get to the later chapters.
Micah: And one final thing I just wanted to add about this because I know we do get a lot of e-mails, we’re not trying to bash Pottermore. There are a lot of good things about it, but I just think the way that it’s come across so far has been less than enjoyable for a lot of people.
Eric: Great things about Pottermore, I’ll list them: number one, it makes a good paperweight, number two…
Eric: …if you’re [laughs] really, really bored to tears…
Andrew: No, no.
Andrew: Be fair. I think a real list would be the new content is great, it’s nice to see this very in-depth website from J.K. Rowling. And actually, my list doesn’t go very far.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: But look…
Andrew: It’s nice to be Sorted…
Eric: Yeah, I think we’re all…
Andrew: Go ahead.
Eric: …genuinely – as fans of the Harry Potter series, we are genuinely excited to see this in a position where it succeeds.
Andrew: Yeah, sure.
Eric: So, we’re all excited to see this team who continues to bring them down. It’s actually a good thing because it shows that they’re still working on perfecting it and…
Eric: …it’s comforting knowing there’s a team behind this that are caring about the site, continuing and…
Andrew: Right. Every day.
Eric: …doing – they just want to make it do what they said it was going to do, and…
Eric: …that’s very good on them.
Andrew: All right, what else is going on in the news?
News: Sotheby’s to Auction Multiple Rare Harry Potter Books
Micah: Well, a little bit of auction news if people are interested in bidding this holiday season for some interesting Harry Potter gifts.
Eric: 500,000 pounds.
Eric: 500,000. Do I have 500,000 pounds?
Micah: Yeah, exactly.
Eric: Do I have 500,000? Do I hear 10,000? 10,000?
Micah: I don’t have 500,000, so I would not be able to purchase. But it initially started off, the report, that Sotheby’s was going to be auctioning off a very rare deluxe first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and now that whole auction platform has expanded to include more than just that book, so there’s multiple books that are available, including a complete set of deluxe Harry Potter volumes, the first four, so I guess Sorcerer’s Stone through Goblet of Fire, signed by J.K. Rowling. And I’m assuming that the proceeds are going to charity, but I’m not seeing that anywhere in the post that I’m reading right now.
Eric: This deluxe edition – I’ve never really – I don’t think I’ve ever seen this art before anywhere.
Andrew: Yeah. Well, the cool thing about it is that it’s the first edition, too. It’s a first deluxe edition.
Andrew: And all this artwork is from the original illustrator and it’s pretty beautiful. It’s great, it’s really great. And the artwork is just fun to look at because it is really the first interpretation of Harry Potter, of Jo’s story, way before the movies came along, as were several of the U.S. and U.K. books but this is just a really special set.
Eric: So, currently it’s going for – oh, 30 to 50,000 pounds.
Andrew: That’s the estimate, right?
Eric: The estimate…
Eric: …for the deluxe edition of Philosopher’s Stone.
News: Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Included in Top 10 Films of 2011
Micah: Okay. Well, the final bit of news, there was a recent article that Deathly Hallows – Part 2 may have taken one step closer to being nominated for Best Picture because the National Board of Review named the final installment in the Potter film series one of the top ten films of 2011. Now, the National Board of Review is often looked at as a prelude to the Oscars. So, this whole Oscar push is starting to gain a little bit of steam for Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and I’m sure it’s not going to stop. It’s just going to keep on going all the way until – when are the awards? February? March?
Eric: Are they February? Andrew, do you know? Oscars.
Andrew: Yeah, I think so. Yeah.
Eric: I thought they were, too.
Micah: Did I make that up?
Andrew: Or February, January. Something like that. But yeah, it’s soon, and David Yates, David Heyman, David Barron, and Helena Bonham Carter were actually in L.A. for a couple of things. They were here for a BAFTA ceremony which I attended, but also something that I attended was a Deathly Hallows – Part 2 screening held by Variety, which is a big trade publication in Hollywood. And it was the screening of the film, of course, and then a Q&A afterwards, and the three Davids plus Helena spoke, answered questions from the audience, and it was really a nice time and Helena is just so funny.
Andrew: She is just on fire.
Eric: What did she look like? I mean, this time because…
Andrew: Oh, she looked like her…
Eric: Oh, okay.
Andrew: …normal self. I mean, she wasn’t dressed as Bellatrix.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: But that was just another example of a way that they’re being very – it’s kind of another little Oscar push.
Eric: Yeah, because they have this presence in L.A. now, that they’re building.
Andrew: Yeah, right. And the billboards everywhere and…
Eric: This is a good transition into our top news story.
Micah: Well, just to make note there that the Oscars are Sunday, February 26th. I looked it up.
Eric: The end of February.
Andrew: Oh, okay.
Eric: And they’ve changed hosts a couple of times. Who’s hosting now? Does it say?
Andrew: Billy Crystal, right?
Eric: I thought it was but then I heard that somebody else…
Eric: …was doing it instead.
Andrew: No, no, no, it was first Eddie Murphy.
Eric: Yes, that’s what I heard.
Andrew: And then Billy Crystal took over because Eddie Murphy bailed out because of drama with the producer…
Andrew: …and all this.
Eric: Yeah. I have that Rolling Stone magazine with Eddie Murphy on the front and I read the whole…
Micah: Billy Crystal is the man.
Eric: Billy Crystal is the – well, he’s tried to test it, too.
Andrew: Yeah, he’s done Oscars…
Micah: He went to my high school.
Andrew: Okay. So…
Micah: That’s a little MuggleCast nugget for you.
Andrew: Yeah, well…
Andrew: …hopefully he’ll give you a shout-out at the Oscars.
Micah: I doubt it.
Andrew: All right. Before we continue with today’s news, we’d like to remind you that today’s episode is brought to you by Audible.com, the Internet’s leading provider of audiobooks, with more than, get this, 100,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature and featuring audio versions of many New York Times bestsellers. For listeners of this podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook to give you a chance to try out their great service. One audiobook to consider is Inheritance, Book 4 in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. It was just released and those of you who are big Eragon fans will not want to miss the fourth and final book in the series. It’s the much-anticipated, astonishing conclusion to the worldwide best-selling Inheritance Cycle. So, to get Inheritance or any other book of your choice, visit AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast. Again, that’s AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast, and we thank Audible for supporting the show.
Main Discussion: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Open at Universal Studios Hollywood
Andrew: Now it’s time to talk about, of course, the big story: Wizarding World of Harry Potter coming to Los Angeles. Now, does anybody remember when these rumors started? I’m not talking about a couple of weeks ago. I mean, there was never really any concrete info about the Wizarding World possibly coming to Los Angeles…
Eric: No, it was definitely out of the blue.
Andrew: …from what I remember.
Eric: I remember – I mean…
Eric: …there were plenty of talks about it being overseas, the mayor of London a couple of years back said it should, then there was – the rights to have a ride were being considered in India or somewhere to have a single Harry Potter attraction there. But I mean, I think from the outset – we always talked about it on MuggleCast but as I recall – I mean, one of your concerns, Andrew, living in L.A. was the size of the park, that it might not be feasible to really do one because I believe you had mentioned that Universal Studios Hollywood is quite cramped.
Andrew: Yeah, and it’s kind of in a hilly area, so that kind of hinders the amount of space they can work with, too. But last week, The Wall Street Journal broke the news that a Wizarding World park was going to be announced by Universal and Warner Bros., they were closing in on a deal. Interestingly, Disneyland was also in talks to be getting the park, which just…
Andrew: …blew my mind because I couldn’t believe that Disney would, a) make the same mistake twice by not…
Andrew: …winning [laughs] over Universal, but then also just that Warner would step away from Universal and say, “Hey Disney, it’s time for you to have a go at this.”
Andrew: But I think it was ultimately for the best. I imagine they would have had to make some big changes if it were to be in Disney because Disney would have wanted creative control.
Eric: Yeah, they would have had to have…
Andrew: I would have to think Universal owns rights to a lot of this stuff.
Eric: You’re right, they would have had to have all different merchandise.
Andrew: Yeah, so it just wouldn’t have worked.
Micah: Mickey already has a wizard costume, though, doesn’t he?
Andrew: Right. Yeah, he could have been…
Eric: Awww, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Andrew: They don’t need Dan Radcliffe.
Andrew: They could just use – so that didn’t work out, but that’s fine. I think Universal doing the second park had to be done. Let’s see, and then so – I guess we’ll run through the details first.
Andrew: What we know so far.
Micah: Which is…
Andrew: We don’t know much.
Micah: [laughs] Yeah, very minimal, I was going to say.
Eric: What happened today? Because you were at the park this morning, right?
Andrew: Yes, I was at the park, which I was thrilled to be able to go to because it’s literally twenty minutes from my apartment, so it’s, like, oh wow, a few years I’ll be able to…
Eric: Get a Butterbeer.
Andrew: …bounce over there whenever I want.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly.
Micah: Who knew Hogwarts was right down the road…
Micah: …from you all this time, Andrew.
Andrew: I know, all this time. I used to be excited about the Hollywood sign, and now…
Micah: Those people who did Finding Hogwarts, [laughs] all they had to do was…
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Micah: …come and visit you!
Andrew: They didn’t have to travel abroad, yeah. So, what we do know – we know a little, but we actually know a lot because the park is supposed to be very similar to what’s in Orlando right now, so that tells us a lot. There’s going to be the Hogwarts Castle, there’s going to be Forbidden Journey, there’s going to be rides and shops, there’s going to be cramped entry ways and exit ways, and [laughs] people are going to get in the way.
Eric: That’s the thing, and I don’t want to cut you off here, but I mean, remember in Florida there were four-hour lines to get into the park and those lines were the length of the park. So, if Universal Studios…
Eric: …Hollywood is smaller than Islands of Adventure in Florida, we’re going to have some serious trouble, not to mention there’s more people…
Eric: …in L.A. than there are in…
Micah: Can I ask a somewhat stupid question?
Micah: Does Universal Studios Hollywood have an Islands of Adventure section, or is that exclusive to Orlando?
Andrew: That’s exclusive, yeah. So, let’s talk about where they’re going to build it. This info actually did come out today, not from Universal during their event, but when the Washington Post was talking to a couple of Universal people afterwards, Universal President – I don’t have his first name – Meyer said, “We’re not landlocked,” in response to, “Oh, do you have room to build this?” He said, “We’re on 400 acres on this lot and 200 of them are still not developed.” So, that’s pretty big and I mean, if you look at it on Google Earth, you will be hard-pressed to find 200 acres of land or half of a park…
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: …available. So, I don’t know totally what he’s talking about, but…
Eric: I think he means they’re going to have people commuting. [laughs]
Andrew: But – yeah, I guess. I don’t know. But anyway, he goes – the L.A. County Supervisor chimed in as well. He said they’re going to be knocking out the Gibson Amphitheater, and the Gibson Amphitheater is right next to Universal. It’s kind of attached to it actually, but you can’t really just walk up to it, you have to go through separate gates. And I actually made a whole map on Hypable because I’m obsessed with all this news.
Andrew: And so that does take up a good chunk, so if they were to cut that out – and the Gibson Amphitheater is very old, even though they still hold events there, they most recently hosted the MTV Movie Awards there…
Andrew: …so it’s still used for big events. So, they’ll knock the Gibson Amphitheater out and they’ll have all that room behind it because behind the Gibson Amphitheater is really nothing, just a lot of Universal backstage stuff. So, it’s actually a cool plan and it will definitely work, I think, and you can even see some undeveloped land right behind it, so maybe that was part of what he was referring to.
Andrew: But yeah, I’m feeling good about the size thing now, now that he’s answered that question.
Eric: Yeah, the L.A. Times had – their list of questions, actually, earlier in the week, their first question was, where – or the second one was, where will the land be located?
Andrew: Yeah. And they did – I mean, at the event today, they had said it will be within the existing Universal property, so that put to rest immediately, “Are they going to build this elsewhere?”
Micah: Yeah. Well, here’s the big question I have about this: It’s going to be essentially a replica of what exists in Orlando. Other than for convenience for people who live in Los Angeles or California, proper, I guess, and sort of everybody that’s closer to the West Coast, what’s the draw there versus going to Orlando, especially with the news that the Orlando park is going to be expanding and have more to offer than what’s in Los Angeles?
Andrew: Yeah. Well, one thing to keep in mind is – and this may be a stretch, but for all we know, the Orlando expansion, whatever they’re planning for that, could also be put into Hollywood.
Eric: That’s true.
Andrew: We don’t know for sure. Or they could have at least one extra ride, so…
Micah: That’s what I’m saying, I’d like to see something…
Micah: …that’s different about Los Angeles that’s going to…
Andrew: Yeah, I agree.
Micah: …offer people…
Eric: I mean, historically, don’t they actually just duplicate the rides, though? I think if…
Eric: I mean, because Terminator 2 3D is in Hollywood, right?
Andrew: Mhm. That’s actually right where the event was today.
Eric: Oh okay, because… [laughs]
Andrew: Right outside of it.
Eric: …on the L.A. Times site, it says that that’s actually due to be torn down contractually.
Eric: So, but things like that – the rides are more or less the same, but they still both work because they’re on opposite coasts.
Andrew: Yeah. And I mean, that’s the thing, they are on opposite coasts. So, let’s say if you live anywhere in the Midwest, even anywhere in the western half of the country, I would assume you would probably be more inclined to go to L.A. for the Wizarding World. I mean, and you have other attractions or theme parks here as well. You’ve got Six Flags, you do have Disney.
Andrew: You have Knott’s. I mean, there’s quite a few. Sea World.
Eric: It’s true, and…
Eric: …if you’re in town or in the state for something like Comic-Con or VidCon or…
Eric: …any of those and you want to…
Andrew: [laughs] VidCon.
Eric: [laughs] …go by and see the Wizarding World, then you don’t have to go to the other side of the country to do it. So…
Micah: Yeah, I was also going to throw in there, it might be a bit of a stretch but I really don’t think it is, people from Japan, people from Australia…
Andrew: Oh yeah.
Micah: It’s a lot easier…
Micah: …to go to Los Angeles – exactly.
Eric: Than it is to Florida.
Micah: Than it is to go to Orlando.
Andrew: Yeah, and we can’t forget, it’s not like everybody in the world has been to Universal Orlando to go to the Wizarding World. So, there’s going to be…
Eric: Although waiting in line, it would seem like that. [laughs]
Andrew: [laughs] Yeah. But there’s going to be an incredible amount of people who will be inclined to go just because it is in Hollywood and they won’t be making that decision, they’ll just say, “Oh, it’s in Hollywood.” A lot of people can road-trip. I mean, it’s just a simple ride through the desert for most people if they’re outside of L.A.
Eric: Now the other thing about L.A., of course, is the stars, Andrew.
Andrew: [laughs] The celebrities.
Eric: The stars, they – some of them – quite a deal of them live in L.A., don’t they? [laughs]
Andrew: Right. So, what are you saying? We’ll find them there? We’ll bump into them?
Eric: Will we be seeing – yeah, will we be seeing more of that?
Andrew: Yeah, I would think so.
Eric: Not to mention Evy Lynch, I’m sure they’ll build her, like, a penthouse or something in Hogwarts.
Andrew: In Hogwarts Castle, yeah.
Eric: If she were to ask. But…
Andrew: So, we know where the park is going to be, generally, we know kind of what’s going to be in it. I mean, do you guys think it was the best idea for the second park to be in L.A. or should it have been elsewhere?
Micah: That’s the key question, isn’t it? My other question I was going to ask you guys was, how does this affect orlando, though? Because by in large, to me, Los Angeles is a bigger attraction to people who are vacationing or who are coming from overseas than Orlando is. It just has more to offer, you just pointed out a lot of the other theme parks that it has. But there’s a lot of other things, I think, that draw people to California on the whole, don’t you agree?
Andrew: Somewhat. I mean, Orlando is the theme park capital of the world, there’s no doubt about that. I mean, Disney World is just a monstrosity and it pummels Disneyland in sheer size alone. But yes, there is certainly a ton of compelling things out here for people to do and I’m sure Universal Orlando is a little peeved about – ultimately it’s true, they will lose some business, some people will decide to go to L.A. over Orlando. But Universal Hollywood is going to suffer that a little bit, too. So…
Eric: Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. I think – I don’t know. I can only see this as kind of a positive thing to kind of spread people out. I mean, [laughs] look, it’s another opportunity for Butterbeer. Butterbeer on two coasts now instead of just one in the real world, so I’m happy that Hogwarts is duplicating, that the magic of Harry Potter is spreading. But also it might actually take the lines down just a little bit in Florida, especially over summer which actually may help things.
Andrew: Yeah, that could be nice.
Micah: To answer your question, though, I’m sorry I directed it off of it, but I think that in Los Angeles – the problem that a lot of people are going to have is that now you have two Potter theme parks in the United States. You have nothing in the U.K. and nothing in the rest of the world as it stands right now. You have the studio tour coming to the U.K. in March of next year, but that doesn’t provide, I think, the – it’s not the same. I mean, it’s a different experience than what the theme park is going to provide, and so I’m wondering if there are plans for that down the road. I know there was a couple of other countries discussed where there are already Universal parks, about adding the Wizarding World there as well in the future…
Micah: …because it doesn’t seem like they’re going to stop at just Los Angeles. But I think U.K. based fans are started to get a little aggravated that nothing [laughs] is being done in their country.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean…
Eric: At the risk of sounding ignorant, I don’t really think that theme parks are that big overseas. I mean, America…
Eric: Short of Japan, theme parks, roller coasters, it just seems like the emphasis has been on the United States for a very, very long time for those kinds of attractions. And with the new park coming to L.A. it will be a quick flight over the water, a quick fifteen-hour flight over the water…
Eric: …from Japan. So, maybe actually having it on the other coast – because you said, it is closer to Hawaii, it is closer to Australia, it is closer to Japan, New Zealand, and Fiji.
Micah: I’m not trying to be the U.S. ambassador for British theme parks here, but…
Micah: …I’m just noticing things that we’re seeing, people making comments on Facebook, Twitter…
Andrew: Well, and if you…
Micah: All these places…
Andrew: And if you look at the sheer success of theme parks around the world, America owns it. [laughs] They are just – people come to America for theme parks. If they want to go somewhere in the world for theme parks, chances are they will go to America. There’s the most stuff here, simple as that, and it’s thanks to Disney and to some extent, Universal and those other ones.
Eric: So, here’s a question I had, because we all know this to be true and this is kind of – I guess it will transition into talking about Florida. But Florida has just seem to be consistently overwhelmed by the success of their Potter park since day one. I mean, they had Butterbeer mugs that were supposed to last two years and they lasted one week [laughs] which is why they had to go to the different-style mugs. And all that stuff, the merchandise, everything, has just – their quarter profits that they posted, all way above their expectations. So, in doing this in L.A., is it saying that Universal Studios Hollywood needs the money? Is it kind of a sure bet instead of doing something original? Or what do you guys…
Andrew: It’s a sure bet, that’s what it is.
Andrew: I mean, some Universal exec last week called Harry Potter, the Wizarding World in Orlando, a “reset mechanism,” as in they add it to the park and it revitalizes the park. And so that’s what they want to do here. I mean, they’re just printing money every time they…
Andrew: …produce one of these new parks. However, they do need to move fast. I mean, one of the other things we haven’t talked about yet is the opening date of this park, and it’s supposed to be somewhere between 2015 and 2016. And that’s kind of a long way away and there’s not movies to keep people excited, so it’s, like, will the excitement be there? I mean, I’ve been wondering, am I going to be living in L.A. in four or five years?
Eric: That’s true.
Andrew: I mean, [laughs] it’s just such a long time from now, I don’t know where my life is going to be in four or five years.
Micah: Yeah, and you also – you asked me this question, I think it’s an important one to bring up, what’s the state of these websites going to be…
Micah: …in that timeframe? Because…
Andrew: Yeah, it’s a long time.
Micah: …not to say that the sites aren’t going to be around, but are they going to be as active and involved as 2011?
Andrew: Yeah. And I’ve been trying to think of an example to relate this to, how time just passes and – but I really can’t. I mean, I guess what you can say is that, for example, Disneyland, they reopened a classic Star Wars ride called Star Tours, they redid it inside and out, digitally, the storyline, and everything. When they reopened it, it was a huge opening all over again. I mean, Star Wars stars were there, some of the biggest fans were there, camped out hours ahead of time. So, I think they can hold their popularity and people are really drawn to living in these stories, what they stared at on screen for so long, finally, they can actually be inside and it’s great.
Eric: Yeah, that reminds me, speaking of Star Wars reminds me of Episode 1. There you have it, it was twenty-five, twenty-six years since Return of the Jedi when Episode 1 came out, and the buzz just kind of kept getting bigger.
Eric: I belonged to a Star Wars fan club or something when I was in, like, third grade and I got these updates on the filming of Episode 1. But it was huge, it was absolutely huge, and the fans are just waiting for it. I think it would be smart, in closing for me about this Hollywood park, if they do do it differently.
Eric: Maybe if they still had the same rides, fine, but change something big like the layout, the direction, or…
Andrew: Yeah, I bet it will be adjusted slightly in that regard.
Eric: Yeah, and just kind of – definitely make it more of an open space, too, as well because I think one of the things Florida lacks is a really solid outdoor eating area, something that – or even like a common area because everybody around you is always going to a specific place, and there’s not really much time to kind of sit down and take it in.
Micah: Yeah, I like that.
Andrew: Well, I mean, I think to some extent, it will stay the same in many regards because they like that perspective of how where you enter near the Hogwarts Express in Orlando and you see Hogwarts in the distance, and below that is the buildings of Hogsmeade, it’s a beautiful entrance. But yeah, I do agree it should be mixed up somewhat.
MuggleCast 246 Transcript (continued)
Main Discussion: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort to be Expanded
Micah: Well, that’s a good tie-in to the Orlando expansion which we should touch on a little bit more because there’s been…
Micah: …more information than just, “It’s going to expand.” There’s been a lot of rumors as to what exactly the Universal executives are going to do, and you talked about walking into Hogsmeade and seeing the Hogwarts Express right there, and one of the things that they were talking about in a few of these articles was tying the old Universal park in Orlando to the Islands of Adventure via the Hogwarts Express.
Andrew: Mhm. And I’ve been a big fan of them knocking out the Poseidon’s Fury ride which is right out front of the Hogwarts Express and that stuff because it just seems outdated. But I mean, this new rumor pretty much blew my mind. So, they announced a few days ago that they are going to remove the Jaws ride at Universal Studios, that’s not the same park that the Wizarding World is in. And then just a couple of days later when they made this Wizarding World Los Angeles announcement, they also said, oh yeah, and also Wizarding World Orlando is going to expand – a significant expansion. And there’s these rumors that are very strong, I’ve heard from multiple people, the Screamscape site and a couple of these employees who work there, that this is true, they’re going to be knocking out the Jaws ride and building the London side of Harry Potter. And the coolest part of it all is that the two parks would be connected by Hogwarts Express.
Andrew: Yeah, and it’s about a half a mile distance between the two parks, between the Wizarding World and where Jaws is right now. So, that could be a nice little trip. I imagine the train would be moving slowly. But the other angle to this and where Universal is brilliant and where it may piss off a lot of people, is that you would have to have two park tickets to get into both parks.
Eric: It’s true.
Andrew: You would have to have a two-park ticket to ride the train.
Eric: It’s true, but at the same time, the two-park ticket is really the only way to get your money’s worth, in my opinion.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean…
Eric: These days…
Eric: …with tickets, you need the multi-day pass, multi-park pass…
Eric: …to really even justify spending a hundred dollars to get in.
Andrew: No, I agree with you, but I’ve seen a lot of comments where people are saying, “I cannot believe – how could they do this and build…”
[Eric and Micah laugh]
Andrew: “…two separate parks?”
Andrew: “And we’re going to be forced to…”
Micah: This is exactly…
Andrew: “…buy two park tickets.”
Micah: …what you were talking about before with revitalizing Orlando, revitalizing Los Angeles. That Universal Studios park is about as outdated as it comes with respect to rides, and I think what this will do is it will help pick things up in that particular park.
Andrew: Yeah, absolutely.
Eric: On that exact topic, when I was in the regular Universal park just a couple of weeks during the Home Entertainment Celebration, I went into the Universal – the regular park, Universal Studios, to kind of look around – I was actually shopping for Christmas, don’t tell my mother.
Eric: And [laughs] I noticed, actually, that the main gift shop – when you walk in, there’s this huge gift shop. There was Harry Potter merchandise, quite a bit of Harry Potter merchandise in the regular Universal park which currently…
Micah: So, that’s a tip for people, actually…
Micah: …who don’t want to wait in line…
Micah: …in the Wizarding World.
Eric: Yeah. Well, it’s a tip but also the thing about it is my reaction was negative, it was, “What is this Harry Potter stuff doing in the regular Universal thing?” Because without a ride to justify it, without something to anchor it in the Universal’s regular park, clearly and disgustingly, that’s where the money is going.
Andrew: Yeah, but remember – I mean…
Eric: …Universal is just like…
Micah: There’s one in the airport, too.
Eric: …”Oh, people like Harry Potter stuff.”
Andrew: Yeah, exactly.
Eric: “Let’s put a…”
Andrew: That’s what I was just going to say.
Eric: That’s a little different, that’s a Universal store. This is in the regular park, it’s, like, hey, nothing in this regular Universal park is worth selling, worth this shelf space. Due to all this demand for Potter stuff, we’re going to put extra stuff over here. You may not even have a ticket to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter but now you can buy a little “Norbert that comes out of its egg” puppet and all these brooms and shirts and wigs and skirts and sweaters. I was a little upset because there was no Hogwarts to back it up in the park. But – and that’s already there. But if they have this sort of Muggle side of the world, I’m super excited for it.
Andrew: Yeah, and it kind of makes sense to have the two separated in terms of realism so there is a little journey, and the Hogwarts Express is obviously perfect because I mean, let’s say they build Platform 9 and 3/4. [laughs] That would be really cool on the Jaws side. Yeah, it’s a cool idea. Now how about some of these rides? I mean, one of the ones that was rumored and we’ve talked about before is the one in Gringotts or something related to Diagon Alley.
Eric: Yeah, I guess it really didn’t make much sense that they would do a Gringotts ride if they only really had Hogsmeade as a setting, you know?
Eric: They would need sort of the Diagon Alley setting to be able to do the Gringotts coaster.
Eric: So, this idea, I love.
Andrew: Yeah, the more I think about this, too, just because imagine stepping out of the existing Wizarding World and then five feet later, you’re in Diagon Alley. It just wouldn’t really feel right, I don’t think.
Eric: Right. But to take a train or to – because the other thing is that the Jaws ride is in the far back right of the – I want to say – I don’t know the cardinal directions. It’s the back right end of the corner of the park – of the regular park.
Eric: And the park is to the right of the Universal Islands of Adventure on the left and the Wizarding World is in the back left of that park. So, it’s the furthest possible distance from the park entrance and also from each other if they were to build it where the Jaws ride is…
Andrew: Yeah, it’s kind of…
Eric: …which is really cool.
Andrew: It would have to go backstage for a good – the whole thing, the train ride would have to be backstage. And they’d also have to knock out a lot of buildings backstage because – unless it’s going to go above them. But then I think they’re going to do some sort of tunnel where you obviously don’t want to be riding the Hogwarts Express through the back area [laughs] of Universal…
Eric: [laughs] Yeah.
Andrew: …where there’s people walking around in costumes with no heads on.
Andrew: So, I think they would do some sort of tunnel and…
Eric: And have it be like a video thing?
Andrew: Yeah, because I was thinking in Disney when you ride the train, in some parts, you go through these tunnels and you see these sort of stage areas, like you go through a dinosaur world, and you see all these dinosaurs and stuff, and you’re passing by them.
Eric: Oh, cool.
Andrew: So, I think it could be something like that, maybe.
Andrew: Obviously not with dinosaurs, [laughs] but…
Eric: No, here I was thinking they would have to teraform the back lot to get it to look like the viaduct and things like that. But you’re right, if they just have a tunnel but maybe instead of the windows of the train, it’s like a video screen or something…
Eric: …that shows you the English countryside, that would be…
Andrew: Yeah, that would be cool.
Micah: So, my understanding that how they’re going to lay this out is – at least in concept for right now, you would have London and you would have the opportunity to go into an area that would take you to Platform 9 and 3/4, you would get on the Hogwarts Express and you would also have off of London the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, and somewhere in there would lead you out to Diagon Alley and I guess Gringotts where the ride would be. Is that kind of what people are thinking about? Or am I just making this all up in my head? [laughs]
Eric: I really wonder – I wonder how much of it would be Muggle London because we’re talking about Diagon Alley and that’s actually still magical. I’m wondering how much of the park would be sort of like Charing Cross Road or any of those kind of famous London – because I think when you’re heading towards Jaws, there’s The Mummy ride and The Mummy is – obviously as a film – is set in London, in Britain, so I’m thinking that those buildings – I don’t really remember if they look British at all or if there’s cobbled streets or anything, but they could really theme that whole area to look more British and then by the time you get to the park – or the Harry Potter side of things…
Eric: Even if it’s…
Micah: I’m just reading this here, it says:
“Phase 2 of the ‘Wizarding World’ would include a new section of the park to take over where the ‘Jaws’ and ‘Amity’ portion…”
Micah: …Amityville Horror, right? Is that what they’re talking about?
“…portion recently closed down. The rumored plans include a reproduction of London, which would house Diagon Alley – a ‘true’ location for Ollivander’s Wand Shop, Gringotts Bank with an amazing new roller coaster cart ride, and the Leaky Cauldron. Additionally, they would add Platform 9 and 3/4 where patrons would pass through the Muggle side and be whisked away to Hogsmeade Station via an actual train ride on the Hogwarts Express.”
Eric: So, we’re talking about…
Micah: This is massive work.
Eric: …two rides.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s huge.
Eric: But we’re talking about two rides, though. Two rides because we have the Gringotts ride which is the only one they’d really have to develop hard, think hard to develop because they’ve got to build it underground or in the wall or whatever they do – however they do it. But then the train ride, which would work. But I think they could actually get away with only adding two more rides…
Andrew: Yeah. No, I agree.
Eric: …but just have it be a nice themed area with obviously the Leaky Cauldron to eat at and all the shops in Diagon Alley.
Micah: Right. [laughs] They see dollar signs in those merchandise shops.
Andrew: Yeah, of course. And I think they would move Ollivander’s to the London side.
Andrew: And then maybe put something else there or probably just expand that store that’s there. [laughs]
Eric: Well, they said a true location, I think they just mean a bigger store [laughs] because…
Eric: …those waits for Ollivander’s in Hogsmeade is three or four hours on bad days.
Andrew: Yeah, they could just do a second one, I guess, that would certainly help alleviate the wait. Or just redesign Ollivander’s completely in the London side and make two or three Ollivander’s, but obviously you don’t see all two or three of them, you just go into one entrance and you’re directed into room one, two, or three.
Andrew: Yeah. So, a lot of big rumors going on. It’s – again, 2014 – I think The Wall Street Journal report said 2015 and the L.A. Times said 2014. And then I saw a report today saying 2015/2016, so a lot of this stuff is very…
Micah: Is this for the expansion or for the L.A. park?
Andrew: Both. I heard the expansion was 2014, which I guess could make a little more sense because I mean, they already know – well, they know when they’re closing up both parks.
Micah: I was just trying to remember how fast it took the Orlando park…
Eric: To do it the first time?
Micah: …to develop because I thought we were looking at a further timeline, and it actually ended up being created and opened a lot sooner.
Andrew: Yeah, I’m not sure. It was announced May 31st, 2007.
Eric: I thought so. Or right before the last film.
Micah: And it was open…
Micah: …in the spring of 2010, right?
Andrew: Yeah, but it was, like, June, right? And it was, like, late June.
Andrew: So, that’s just over three years.
Eric: Three years…
Andrew: So, that’s not bad, actually. That was pretty quick, yeah.
Eric: That would put it into the 2014/2015 range.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right.
Micah: For the expansion, obviously, it depends how much work they would need to do and how fast they start it.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I think the expansion probably would have been a lot easier if they weren’t doing it over at Universal Studios.
Eric: You think so?
Andrew: Well, yeah, just because – well, I mean, just because of the sheer size of it. I mean, they’re going to have to add…
Andrew: …so much, they’ve got to build that entire – they have to take out a tremendous amount of stuff to make room for the Hogwarts Express. That’s going to be an amazing construction feat that they’re going to pull off. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, but the thing is I’m sure that the merchandise that they’ve sold thus far has already paid for [laughs] this addition to the park and the next two.
Eric: You know?
Eric: It’s spectacular.
Listener Tweets: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Los Angeles
Andrew: Well, we got some comments from those who follow us on Twitter, Twitter.com/MuggleCast. Bradyboy writes:
“I live on the East Coast, won’t impact me much, although the crowds will be much better in Florida when I go.”
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: That’s the spirit!
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, maybe. I’m not sold that this is going to alleviate the crowds. But…
Micah: Well, remember, [laughs] just as we were discussing, you have a few years before those crowds lessen in Orlando.
Eric: [laughs] Go down.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Thomassholan wrote:
“Stoked! An HP theme park within a couple of hours of San Diego, and it won’t cost an arm and a leg to go. Once I’m in the park is another story.”
Oh, because he’s going to be spending a lot of money. taylor_waylor18 said:
“Looking forward to it!”
“I hope they have unique experiences at each park and L.A. is not carbon copy of Orlando.”
“So excited! Hogwarts will be a thirty minute drive instead of a five hour flight! Went to ‘Wizarding World’ Orlando once. Can’t wait to see how it compares.”
“My first thoughts were: There can only be Hogwarts!”
I guess she meant one Hogwarts.
“But I will still be going. I wish the U.K. would get a theme park instead.”
And finally, mariaggonzalez says:
“I couldn’t be happier about not having to travel 3,000 miles to go to the ‘Wizarding World’!”
So, see you guys, lots of locals here are very thrilled…
Andrew: …about this.
Butterbeer Tastes Different in Los Angeles?
Eric: Well, the other thing – during the event today, were they passing out Butterbeer? Because I saw…
Andrew: Oh, yeah.
Eric: …your pictures.
Andrew: This is the best part.
Eric: They had the costumes, right?
Andrew: Yeah, they had the costumes and I wanted to take a picture of one of them, but I felt like it was kind of creepy, [laughs] so I decided not to.
Andrew: But yeah, at the end – and when they invited media to it, they called it a Butterbeer toast to the Wizarding World, they didn’t really want to announce it. But they brought out Butterbeer at the end and I have to say, it was so nice to have these fresh Butterbeers. They look just like they came out of the Three Broomsticks in Orlando, just have them here in Los Angeles. I was so thrilled to see that.
Eric: So, that Butterbeer didn’t sit on a plane or a train for, like, 35 hours?
Andrew: No, I think they made it there.
Andrew: I think they made it there in the park.
Eric: Which is dangerous.
Andrew: And I hate to…
Eric: I would hate – yeah?
Andrew: Go ahead.
Eric: I would hate to be the courier with that recipe or something, [laughs] carrying it across…
Eric: …the other side of the coast because spies would want that, you know?
Andrew: [laughs] Right. But I have to say and I hate to put a damper on this, but – and this is not just me, this is two other people.
Andrew: We were all in agreement that the Butterbeer tasted different. Now, it’s the same cup.
Andrew: It’s the same froth, but something about the soda, it was off. And I jokingly suggested maybe it’s the L.A. water.
[Eric and Micah laugh]
Andrew: But I don’t know if that’s actually [laughs] what the issue is.
Eric: So, it was off. Hmm.
Andrew: Yeah, it was off. Ben – I brought that up to Ben earlier tonight. He suggested, “Well, maybe it’s because in Orlando, you’re sweating so much…”
Andrew: “…that it just tastes so much more refreshing, whereas here…” [laughs]
Eric: Poor Ben.
Andrew: “…your body is okay, so…”
Eric: He’s had a rough go with things in Florida.
Andrew: Anyway, so over the next couple of years, we will continue to update you on this. Hopefully sooner rather than later…
Andrew: …we’ll see at least some concept art about either the expansion or Wizarding World L.A. I mean, because when they announced Wizarding World Orlando back in 2007, we got concept art right from the beginning, so…
Eric: Yeah. Yeah, that’s true.
Andrew: …hopefully we’ll see some L.A. stuff soon.
Eric: Maybe. MuggleCast…
Andrew: By the way, J.K. Rowling commented on this…
Andrew: …in the press release, she said, “I am delighted that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been so popular with fans since the opening in Orlando last year, and I am sure that the teams at Universal and Warner Bros. will bring their expertise and attention to detail to Hollywood to make this new experience equally as exciting. P.S. Sorry Micah about Pottermore.”
[Eric and Micah laugh]
Eric: Wow, she included that right in the whole…
Eric: …press release.
Andrew: I thought that was nice. I guess…
Micah: That is…
Andrew: …she knows the way to get to you.
Micah: Yeah. Oh, she knows.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: Okay guys…
Eric: Yeah, what’s J.K. Rowling doing, huh? Seriously.
Andrew: I guess planning another theme park. Maybe this is what she’s been busy with. Just kidding.
Eric: She could update her Twitter. Seriously.
Andrew: Yeah. Well, don’t forget to visit MuggleCast.com, it has all the information you need about this show.
Eric: Yes, of course.
Andrew: We have another episode this month, it is going to be our Year in Review show and also our third or fourth annual [laughs] MuggleCasties.
Andrew: This is, of course, where we give you a variety of categories, you know, the J.K. Rowling award.
Eric: Award. Very, very secretive.
Andrew: Yeah. Most Shocking Story, all these different categories related to Harry Potter, and we’re going to be doing the polls online this year and then we will announce the winners on the show. And it will be a year in review and that will be out in a couple of weeks, and that will be it for 2011.
Eric: Right. Onward to 2012.
Andrew: I think that will put us at close to thirty episodes for the year, so that’s not bad.
Eric: It really isn’t bad.
Micah: Okay, I’m just looking at this right now. The first annual MuggleCasties were in 2008, so this would be…
Micah: …the fourth.
Eric: I thought so. Very nice.
[Show music begins]
Andrew: 2008, 2009 – oh. Well, that’s cool.
Eric: We’ll have to copy those old categories and…
Eric: …see if we can work some new ones.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, definitely. All right. Well, from Hypable.com, I’m Andrew Sims.
Eric: From MuggleNet.com, I’m Eric Scull.
Micah: And I’m Micah Tannenbaum.
Andrew: We’ll see you next time for Episode 248 – 7.
Eric: Live from the Wizarding World…
Eric: [laughs] 247. Live from the Wizarding World California. See you in four years!
Andrew: Yes. Goodbye.
Micah: [laughs] Bye.
[Show music continues]