'Harry Potter' theme park coming to L.A.: Is the phenomenon big enough for two coasts?

Potter-park-Phelps

Image Credit: Jason Redmond/AP Images

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando opened its doors just a year and a half ago, but executives are already planning to build a similar Potter-themed wonderland in Los Angeles. Earlier today, Universal officially announced its intention to bring Potter to Universal Studios Hollywood, while also announcing a planned expansion of the Orlando Potter exhibit. The announcement comes at an interesting moment for the franchise since, for the first time in its history, there are no new books or films on the horizon — which is to say, there are no more real Potter events left to celebrate. The big new Potter product — the interactive game/social media website/potential publishing venture Pottermore — remains trapped in beta.

Potter has been a a lucrative mega-franchise for a long time, and since the planned Hollywood park won’t open for at least three years, it’s worth asking: Is the Potter franchise big enough to support to separate parks? And can a franchise with a fundamental endpoint ever be as big as the Disney theme park global empire?

Universal is plotting this major construction project at a particularly fraught time in California’s economic history. As noted by the Associated Press, Governor Jerry Brown appeared at the announcement just a day after he suggested raising taxes. The park will reportedly generate 1000 jobs, and there is certainly a potential for a wand-induced halo. If the park does help the California economy, it might be a helpful roadmap for some of our troubled brethren in the eurozone. (Elevator pitch: What if Greece rebranded itself as “Harry Potter Land,” and everyone there carried a wand and pretended to speak with an English accent, or they could pretend to be Bulgarian and wear “I HEART VIKTOR KRUM” T-shirts? Instant bull market.)

More importantly, fellow Potter fans: Are there any rides you’d like to see in the new park? Or corners of the Potterverse that Wizarding World hasn’t explored yet? I’d like to see one corner of the park dedicated to the thrilling climactic Hunt for the Horcruxes. You’d start off visiting the Horcrux Cave from Half-Blood Prince, which would be a freaky kiddie pool with scary zombie puppets lurking in the water, where you’d find a locket. Then you’d realize that you have the wrong locket, and infiltrate the Ministry of Magic to remove the actual locket from a life-size puppet of Dolores Umbridge. Then for some reason you’d also have to find three Deathly Hallows, and there’s a snake involved, and something something the Elder Wand something something. Just like being in a movie!

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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