J.K. Rowling's empire engulfs Orlando
In yet another step to suck away the hard-earned green in millions of family entertainment budgets, super-rich author J.K. Rowling has given the go-ahead for a planned Orlando theme park based on her gold mine of a character, Harry Potter. Says the St. Pete Times:
Universal Orlando has signed a deal to transform a corner of its Islands of Adventure park into a multi-attraciton “theme park within a theme park” called the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”
Slated to open in 2009, the biggest expansion of the park since it opened will jut off the existing Lost Continent area and likely include re-theming the Dueling Dragons roller coasters.
Park officals are mum on what other rides are part of the more than $100-milllion project, but the new themed area will include mock-ups of Potter icons Hogwarts castle, the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade village.
Universal was locked in a fierce battle with Walt Disney Co. over the theme park rights to the Potter books and movies which grossed more than $3.5-billion for Warner Bros. Pictures.
Reportedly Disney’s talks were de-railed by artistic disputes with Potter author J. K. Rowling. Universal, which labeled the highly secretive negotiations “Project Strongarm,” prevailed in a joint venture with Warner Bros.
“The plans look incredibly exciting,” said Rowling. “I don’t think fans of the films or books will be disappointed.”
Added Tom Williams, chief executive officer of Universal Parks and Resorts: “We are going to devote more time, more money and more executive talent to ensure this entire environment is second to none.”
We can only hope the average muggle will keep an emergency $20 buried in their wallets.