Walt Disney World Almost Acquired the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Here’s Why It Didn’t

For years, one of the biggest attractions in all of Florida has been the magical Walt Disney World. In addition to Disney, Universal Orlando Resort has also become a popular theme park in the area. These two rival attraction companies have always been in competition, but they have both stepped up their game in recent years. A lot of this has been due to the enormously successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.

What if the world of Harry Potter had been a part of Disney World? New information from theme park historian Jim Hill tells us what the original plan could have been.

This was tiny. Itty bitty. There were two attractions. Basically, it was going to be Buzz Lightyear. You were going to be in an Omnimover attraction with a wand instead of a gun, and you were moving through basically a Dark Arts teaching class. The other aspect was going to be a Care of Magical Creatures Petting Zoo.

Hill described Disney’s plans as a “mini-land” in a corner of Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom including the DADA class attraction, the petting zoo, and a Leaky Cauldron quick-serve restaurant. After hearing these plans, J.K. Rowling decided that her world was better off somewhere else, eventually landing in Universal Orlando Resort.

Disney’s plans for a Harry Potter mini-land were definitely intriguing, despite their size. The petting zoo, for instance, would have included animatronic creatures that would interact with guests, such as a hippogriff that would reciprocate a bow.

The result of Disney’s loss was, of course, Universal’s gain. Universal Orlando Resort created a world that was larger and more ambitious than any feat it had ever attempted. The Harry Potter attractions have turned out to be undeniably beneficial for the park, with guests coming exclusively for the Wizarding World.

The success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter seems to have sparked a fire under Walt Disney World since it has since built attractions on the same scale – Pandora: The World of Avatar and the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. While Disney may not have had the resources for a world of this scale before, it certainly does now and has helped greatly in its competition with Universal.

Overall, it seems J.K. Rowling’s decision to go to Universal Orlando Resort was mutually beneficial for the two parks. The competition between Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World has caused the creation of a magically immersive experience for each guest at either park.

How would you feel if the original plans for the Wizarding World had been completed? Let us know in the comments!

Hannah Howard

I am a proud Hufflepuff and am completely captivated by the Wizarding World. I can typically be found on the couch working on articles with my laptop, my cat, and a cup of coffee.