Rumor round-up for March 30, 2013: Harry Potter expansion details, Pixie Hollow in Adventureland, Disney’s Hollywood Studios rebranding

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The latest on the Wizarding World expansion

In surprisingly quiet fashion, Theme Park Insider posted a story this week that seemed to confirm many rumors on what would be involved in the heavily guarded Potter expansion at Universal Studios Florida. We also saw a couple new tidbits of information as well, including the entrance to Diagon Alley being hidden behind Grimmauld Place (headquarters of The Order of the Phoenix), Wyndham’s Theatre, and other locales of the famous West End of London. We all saw the beginning of this transformation months ago, when Universal worked on the waterfront area of this section of the park, and the recreation of this part of London looks to continue in a major way.

Harry Potter expansion at USF - March 27, 2013.
Harry Potter expansion at USF – March 27, 2013.

We’ve discussed several of the rumored shops and storefronts in previous Rumor Round-Ups, and now we can add a couple more to the list. The gift shop at the end of the Gringotts coaster attraction looks to be themed after Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment. You want to talk about detail? This is a store that wasn’t even mentioned in the Harry Potter books, it was first revealed as an extra on the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets DVD as they toured the Diagon Alley created for the movie. Later, JK Rowling’s Pottermore site confirmed the store’s existence in the Potter universe. Madam Malkin’s Robes store is a Potter staple, being mentioned in several of the Potter books, and it’s where students of Hogwarts get their school robes. This is also the very first place where Harry Potter met Draco Malfoy. With sales of $100 robes surprisingly high over at Hogsmeade Village, expect a store dedicated to Potter related apparel to do gangbuster business.

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Theme Park Insider also wrote that Diagon Alley will open in July 2014, which may be the biggest bombshell of all. While nothing would surprise me after seeing Universal destroy Soundstage 44 and create Transformers: The Ride 3D in less than a year, I don’t think anyone thought the Potter expansion would be open before 2015. That said, Universal taking reservations for its new hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, for dates starting on March 31, 2014 makes a lot more sense now. If the new Potter area is just half as good as it looks to be, masses will be swarming over to Universal, even more than the insanity of crowds that came this week, and those guests are going to need plenty of hotel rooms!

Visit the Harry Potter expansion at USF page in the OI Universal Center to learn more.

 

Goodbye Swiss Family Robinson, Hello Tinkerbelle?

Several years ago, when New Fantasyland was first presented to the public, guests were told that Magic Kingdom was going to receive a massive expansion dedicated solely to the Disney Princesses and the Disney Fairies. Somewhere along the way Disney management realized that there was almost nothing for young boys in this new area, and New Fantasyland became what we have today, with Storybook Circus and the areas for Beauty & the Best and the Little Mermaid. The Seven Dwarves mine train will complete the project in late 2013/early 2014, but the announced Pixie Hollow walkthrough area was completely jettisoned from the project (along with an elaborate, next generation technology-driven meet n’ greets with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.)

Now, thanks to Jim Hill, we’re hearing rumblings that the Pixie Hollow idea may come back to the table. However, instead of Fantasyland it will be recreated in Adventureland as a replacement for the Swiss Family Treehouse.

Pixie Hollow concept art.
Pixie Hollow concept art.

While many attractions in Magic Kingdom have stood the test of time and become iconic, such as Pirates of the Caribbean or It’s a Small World, the Swiss Family Treehouse just seems dated. Reimagining the Treehouse to the “Pixie Dust Tree” where Tinkerbelle and the other Disney Fairies hang out at would be new relevance to a “dead” attraction that never has a wait.

 

Disney Hollywood Studios to get another name change

A lot of buzz is flying around concerning Disney Hollywood Studios, with many feeling a major announcement concerning the future of the park is coming in May when the insanely popular Star Wars Weekends begins. While a Disney survey being sent to many people online is leading some to believe a bigger Star Wars presence will be coming to DHS, this week on the DisUnplugged podcast Dustin West discussed the building rumor of the park having yet another name change. When it originally opened in May 1989, DHS was known as Disney-MGM Studios. In January 2008 the name transitioned over officially to DHS, although many long time Disney fans still refer to the park as “MGM,” a fact that must drive Disney branding executives crazy.

Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The word going around is that the name will change to simply “Disney Studios,” which is definitely more in line with the naming of the other Walt Disney World parks, and it has a much better chance to catch on and finally move the phrase “MGM” out of the lexicon of park guests. With the rumored focus on an expansion of the Disney owned Pixar and Lucasfilm properties (like Star Wars), the Disney Studios name as a brand is much stronger and memorable than the current DHS. We’re also hearing again that the hated-by-many Sorcerer’s Hat – the icon of the park – will be removed. What’s interesting is that the Studios probably won’t go back to its old icon, the Earful Tower, as Disney Springs looks to be using a water tower as its icon. Disney also can’t use the Great Movie Ride façade, a recreation of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater, because they don’t have the rights to use that image for any merchandise or advertising. As anyone who has shopped for items from t-shirts to magnets, the icons of all four parks is a big deal. Magic Kingdom has the castle, Epcot has Spaceship Earth, Animal Kingdom has the Tree of Life and as of now DHS has the much reviled Hat, but what will we see in the future…

 

Agree, disagree, or have your own rumors? Leave a comment below. Or, check out all of our rumor posts.

 

[sws_author_bio user=”derekburgan” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Derek” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]

Taylor Strickland

Taylor Strickland is the Owner & Editor at Orlando Informer, the internationally awarded independent resource for guests visiting Orlando. In this position, he leads the website’s overall direction and day-to-day operations, working with a team of writers, editors, developers, and producers.

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Gemma
Guest

Interesting re the DHS name change. It has taken me all this time to stop calling it MGM, but I think that Disney Studios is quite unappealling and a bit boring. I have seen on other Disney blogs some new pictures with all of the icons of the parks, and a fehalf them have suggested that the Tower of Terror will be the new icon for DHS. Definitely wouldn’t complain at that one, as its a very prominent feature.

derekburgan
Guest

I agree Disney Studios is not exciting, but it increases the probability of people simply referring to it as simply “The Studios” in the way that they think of “MGM” now. Totally with you on Tower of Terror being the icon. What a great building and attraction.

Lorie
Guest

WOAH, WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE!!!!  Why in the world would the entrance to Diagon Alley be behind Grimmauld Place?  Good Lord, I hope that is just a rumor.  Not going through the LC would ruin it for true Potter fans!!!!!

derekburgan
Guest

Don’t worry Lorie, because of space limitations only “physically” speaking will the Wizarding World be behind Grimmauld Place and other London buildings, you will still enter Diagon Alley through the Leaky Cauldron.

Lorie
Guest

Phew, was worried there for a moment.

Jerry
Guest
In all honesty! They should retheme the treehouse anything but tinker bell! Sure its great but in adventure land does not fit tinker bell at all! and it will feel like a sore thumb! It will attract more people but also awkward since when you get out your greeted to jungle cruise and pirates! I say either retheme the attraction to something a little more adventurey or rerelease the swiss family movie in theatres to get new fans! As for harry potter, Its going perfect! not much i can really say just “Let withdrawl my coins before lestrange takes over!!!”… Read more »
derekburgan
Guest

Jerry, Ive got some interesting stuff on Hollywood Studios I’ve been trying to fit in RR-U. Hopefully soon and there’s major potential for that park to stand apart from the rest and really shine.

Jerry
Guest

I agree! There is so many things especially since disney owns marvel and can do alot but same time, legal issues with universal which also creates a bit of mess :/

Angela
Guest
Previously heard about the hat going at MGM, SO GLAD!! BUT…very sad that the Earful tower is being moved and will no longer be the centrepiece. I do not buy merchendise with that dang hat on it, and any other centrepiece, i think I would feel the same way :/ Shame they cant just call it MGM again and get on with it, but with the bankruptcy, theres no chance 🙁 however, MGM will never die, my children will call it that before they can read, Die Hard Disney Fans will win 🙂 Something I have been concerned about is the roumer… Read more »
derekburgan
Guest

Sorry to be the bearer of Bad News Angela but I think you can kiss Catastrophe Canyon good bye when (if) we get announcements of new things coming to DHS. It would definitely make more sense for an enlarged Pixar Place to connect straight to Cars Land, and CC is sitting in that valuable spot. I’ll be covering part of that story this week in the Rumor Round-Up. Sorry to be such a tease. :^)

Anon
Guest

I wanted to point out that Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment is already located in Hogmeade right next to Potages, very close to the Magic Neep. It is part of the facade of “shops” along the wall with the public conveniences.

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