["Hedwig's Theme" plays]
Andrew: Because spring has sprung and we're turning a new leaf, this is MuggleCast Episode 264 for April 28th, 2013.
[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 264. We're in our final countdown. Dun dun duh.
Andrew: Sorry to start the show off on a note like that, but Micah, Eric, and I are here. We have a couple of news items to talk about. We've got Pottermore and we've got some voicemails.
Eric: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: I have some thoughts on Pottermore, and I'm going to try to stay positive about it this time.
Eric: Stay positive.
Micah: You try.
Andrew: A new leaf.
Micah: I want you to try. I cannot promise the same thing.
Eric: We're operating like a swear jar now, here on MuggleCast, but it's for like the Pottermore negative jar, and we have to pay a quarter every time we're negative about Pottermore. So we may still make some comments that don't sit right with people who really love Pottermore, but we're paying the jar.
Andrew: I just thought, it's spring time, new leaves are on the trees. Everything is blooming. I thought I would bloom into something more beautiful, and that would be somebody who likes Pottermore.
Eric: And also something beautiful is the royal family of England.
Andrew: Yes. They visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour the other day, Micah. Did you know this?
Micah: I heard about this, yeah. And JK Rowling just happened to be there.
Andrew: Well, of course it was planned.
Andrew: So do you want to tell us about this? Are you still our news man? [laughs]
Micah: I don't really think it's right for me to be the news person anymore.
Andrew: All right, you're fired.
Micah: I'm gone? That's it?
Andrew: MuggleCast 264: It ends here. [laughs]
Micah: You know what?
Eric: Why can't you be the news man anymore?
Micah: There might be something - or rather someone - who agrees with you, Andrew.
Andrew: What are you talking about?
Micah: As far as my knowledge of the Harry Potter world is concerned these days.
Eric: Oh, God.
Micah: I actually guest-hosted an episode of Alohomora!, which is a podcast over on MuggleNet, just like ours and MuggleNet Academia. And for people out there who may not have heard of them, I definitely suggest giving them a listen. They do some really great in-depth analysis of the series, going chapter by chapter. So I was on the show, and I thought I did a great job because let's face it, how long have I been doing this now?
Eric: Eight years.
Micah: Seven years, eight years. Yeah.
Andrew: You're a pro. You're a seasoned pro.
Micah: Over 260 episodes. I've spoken to David Heyman, David Yates…
Micah: …Warwick Davis…
Andrew: Wow, name-dropping.
Micah: Right? I mean, come on!
Eric: Well, you did lose that duel, Micah. You lost that duel.
Micah: Maybe. Yeah, I did. But look, you know what it was? I gave it to David Heyman.
Micah: I mean, how are you going to have him on the show and not have him win the duel?
Eric: This is true. It was rigged. It's fake.
Micah: But anyway, this is the point. AmyH wrote a review on iTunes, which has four stars, and she says:
"Love the show, but screen your guests better. The best part about your show is that you know so much and can share so much insight about the HP world. You also usually have guests who present different viewpoints and remember different information, thereby improving the conversation as a whole. Your recent episode with Micah (sp?) did not live up to that. He didn't know much at all and kept rehashing a weird horrible fan-fiction-esque joke so much that I almost turned off the episode partway through. Stick with people who can enhance the episode - I didn't feel like this guy did so. Love learning about HP though and hope to hear many more!"
Eric: So that was a review of Alohomora!?
Micah: That was a review of the episode I was on, on Alohomora!
Andrew: You've lost your touch!
Eric: Tough break, Micah. Tough break.
Micah: I must have lost my touch.
Andrew: You have.
Micah: I can't enhance the episode?
Andrew: Well, try to win people back today. I'm sure you'll have lots of interesting commentary prepared.
Micah: I'm going to try. I'm not going to say one bad thing about Pottermore. I'm not going to say one bad thing about JK Rowling.
Andrew: Oh, okay.
Eric: And definitely, whatever you do, don't mention fan fiction.
Micah: Yeah, what was with that?
Eric: I have no idea.
Micah: I thought people were all about that.
Eric: [laughs] Certain people?
Andrew: So like Eric alluded to, the royal family visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was kind of a nice little surprise, I don't think we knew it was going to happen. Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Harry, the three of them were there for an inauguration - it was The Duke of Cambridge's Inauguration. I don't know exactly what that means, inaugurating a place, but they gave a little speech about what Harry Potter has done for the British film industry. And then they had a tour, and they went around the Harry Potter sets, and they hopped on the Batmobile - or the Batcycle, whatever that is - because that's at the WB Studio Tour as well. And great pictures, JK Rowling was there, and in the background of one of them you can see Neil, her husband, David Heyman, David Yates, and Mike Newell. Mike Newell, of course, the Goblet of Fire director. David Yates, the Order of the Phoenix through Deathly Hallows director.
Eric: How must that be, to be them and just get a call saying, "Hey, you want to come over to Leavesden? We're going to get Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Harry over here."
Andrew: [laughs] Yeah.
Eric: And Leavesden, where they lived for years and years and years, and now it's just this tourist place…
Eric: …and they're going to go and meet the Queen… the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Andrew: I also wonder if this was JK Rowling's first time at the Studio Tour because if you think about it…
Andrew: …we've never seen photos of her at the… I'm serious! We've never seen photos of her at the Studio Tour. Not even the red carpet grand opening, I don't think she was there.
Eric: She's avoided it like the plague. I don't know why.
Andrew: Well, it took…
Micah: She was probably writing The Casual Vacancy.
Andrew: Oh, maybe.
Eric: Yeah, that's true.
Andrew: Yeah, but…
Micah: I'm making that up. I don't really know if that's the truth or not.
Andrew: [laughs] Of course not.
Eric: Well, the thing of it is - honestly though, we've heard nothing but great… Andrew, have you gotten a bad review of the Studio Tour? I mean, everybody seems to really love it.
Andrew: Yeah, the only complaint I'm aware of is that it's not the theme park. [laughs] Because all the Brits seem to be like, "Why isn't there a theme park here?"
Andrew: "We made the books and films." But yeah, everybody really likes the Studio Tour.
Eric: And I wanted to mention, I'm looking at the post on Hypable, and there's a video of Kate Middleton and Prince William dueling.
Andrew: Yeah, it looks like they had fun with their… they were given some wands and there's some photos of them pointing their wands up in the sky, and it's cute.
Micah: She better be careful. Isn't she pregnant?
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: It couldn't be good for the baby.
Andrew: I have sources there who tell me in that photo of JK Rowling and Kate Middleton that Kate is actually trying to get her to come on MuggleCast…
Andrew: …and JK Rowling is apparently still saying no.
Eric: Yes, I can caption this photo. "You'd like it!"
Micah: Can I just say though, I've been very impressed by the response of our listeners who have tweeted at JK Rowling, asking her to come on to the show before we wrap up in August.
Andrew: Yes. Thank you.
Eric: Your challenge was met with, I'd say, a renowned, resounding response.
Andrew: Yeah, and it's been really fun to retweet those on the MuggleCast Twitter…
Andrew: …to continue riling up the troops. And one person said, "You know, I don't think the Twitter thing is going to work," and I said, I replied, "I know. Don't worry, we're trying other channels as well."
Andrew: This is just a fun, public way to try and gather...
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Micah: So in this picture here, do you think JK Rowling is saying to Kate, "Hey, let me tell you about what it's like to be queen"?
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: Yeah, maybe she's...
Eric: A passing of the torch. Symbolic, metaphoric.
Andrew: They were both wearing polka dots that day.
Eric: I see Jo in a coat. I don't see her polka dots.
Andrew: Well, if you look at her lower half, she's wearing a... if you scroll through the pictures, and there's another one, and her skirt is also polka dots.
Micah: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: Oh, stop it, Micah!
Micah: You said her lower half!
Micah: What do you mean, yelling at me?
Andrew: Well, I...
Eric: This is why... you're not enhancing the episode right now, Micah.
Micah: Yes, I am!
Andrew: [laughs] But I doubt they planned that. I'm sure that was a happy coincidence and they have...
Eric: Oh, my God. I do see it. Yes, Jo is in polka... slightly larger polka dots, though.
Eric: But she's more seasoned. So...
Andrew: Representative of her financial wealth compared to Kate.
Eric: Yeah. [laughs] The width... the diameter of the polka dot.
Andrew: Yeah. But everybody loved those pictures. They were all around Facebook and Twitter that day. I think that was on Friday. So...
Micah: But this is going to become a trend though, isn't it? When you have celebrities... and I guess in this case more dignitaries, but celebrities visit the Studio Tour. Just like with the theme park down in Orlando - and soon to be LA - you always get these alerts, these photos, that surface of celebrities going on rides and doing the tour and stuff like that.
Andrew: Mhm. Yeah, but this one, this is as big as it can get in England, I think.
Eric: Yeah. This is huge, and...
Andrew: British royalty.
Eric: I'm signed up for press from the Studio Tour and they sent an email and they were like, "We have really, really, really big news." And it was this, so this is a big deal. And for David Heyman, David Yates to show up and be present as sort of the figureheads, the people who were behind what they were essentially about to see when they were walking in and then saw... it's just really cool. It was almost like a royal wedding I wanted to say, except it wasn't televised. It was just an official, stately event. It's pretty cool.
Micah: Has President Obama gone over there? I know that his daughters had visited the set at one point, but I don't know if they've been to the... or have they?
Eric: Yeah, I don't know. That would be an interesting question.
Andrew: I feel like that's not a priority for President Obama.
Andrew: Maybe his daughters.
Eric: He's got to, like, end world hunger.
Micah: Maybe in a couple of years, right?
Andrew and Eric: Yeah.
Andrew: Three, four more years. Then he could go.
We're going to continue with the news in just a moment, but first it is time to remind you that today's episode is brought to you by Audible.com. Audible is the Internet's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 100,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including audio versions of many New York Times Bestsellers. For listeners of MuggleCast, Audible is offering you a free audiobook to give you a chance to try out their service. I have a timely recommendation for you this week: The Great Gatsby. It is about to be released in theaters this May. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role. Now, the audiobook version is narrated by - you'll never guess this - Jake Gyllenhaal, of all people. [laughs] He narrated this new version that has been released to time with the theatrical version of the story by F Scott Fitzgerald. You can get it for absolutely free by visiting AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast. Now that it's summertime, we're all going to be spending more time out and about, enjoying the warm weather. And maybe you're walking around, maybe you don't want to carry a book around. Maybe when you're walking the dog or just going on a walk or run, or sitting out at the beach, closing your eyes, sitting by the lake, by the creek, by the river, all you got to do is pop in your earbuds and listen to a book rather than actually reading it. Very, very great service, especially now, for summertime, when people are spending more time outdoors just relaxing. Visit AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast to get an audiobook - perhaps The Great Gatsby [laughs] narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal, I love that he narrated this one - for absolutely free. AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast. We thank Audible for their support of the show.
Andrew: Micah mentioned the theme park a moment ago. There are a couple of theme park updates. First of all, the Hollywood one, that's officially going to happen now. It was announced in December 2011, and they said they were going to do it, but it only got green-lit a couple of days ago by NBC. [laughs]
Andrew: So now construction is going to begin Summer 2013 - so this summer - and there's no opening date yet but it's probably going to be like 2015, I assume.
Eric: So this is California you're talking about?
Andrew: Yeah, the Hollywood Wizarding World, which is probably going to be somewhat of a clone. It's not going to have... I mean, I don't know how... they don't have much room, so they're not going to be building that Dueling Dragons coaster. They're definitely going to have Forbidden Journey, we know that, and I assume they'll have the Hagrid ride as well.
Andrew: Buckbeak. And the shops. So I think this is going to be a smaller one of Orlando.
Eric: Well you always said there was no room, but aren't they actually tearing down an amphitheater or something?
Andrew: Yeah, they're taking out the Gibson Amphitheater.
Eric: I mean, that's a pretty big deal. That's a lot of space.
Andrew: Yeah, but they had zero space to build this. So they have to knock out something.
Eric: Oh, okay. Yeah.
Andrew: It's not like they have a lot of land to work with to begin with, and the Gibson theater. It's just that they have no land. [laughs]
Eric: [laughs] Okay.
Andrew: So yeah, they're knocking out that and the Curious George ride and the WaterWorld thing.
Eric: Yes, I saw an angry tweet. It was like, "F you, Curious George!"
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: "Move in, Harry Potter! Woo!" And I was like, that's a little harsh for the monkey, okay?
Micah: Curious George was big time back in the day, okay?
Eric: You remember this, Micah? You're telling us a story?
Micah: Yeah. Absolutely.
Andrew: And down in...
Micah: There's no more to that story. That's it. That's all.
Eric: It was big in its day. I believe you, man. The Man in the Yellow Hat? The big yellow hat? I remember that, kind of, from my childhood. A little before me.
Andrew: Down in Orlando, there's the expansion happening there. The London slash Diagon Alley land at Universal Studios, and they're making big progress. I mean, if you look at these photos, there are... it's completely vertical now. You can see the London waterfront, how the buildings are going to line the London waterfront. You can see Platform 9 3/4 because of the archway. It's just really coming together really quickly. It's rumored to be opening next summer in June or July, and...
Micah: Is that why LeakyCon is going there next year?
Andrew: I don't know. You would think, you would... yeah, that must be why. [laughs]
Micah: Does somebody have some inside information we don't know about?
Andrew: No, that just must be why.
Andrew: Well, it's... they're... I don't know if they have reliable inside sources, but it's a fair guess.
Eric: Yeah, I agree.
Andrew: ...somebody told MuggleNet that there's going to be an announcement in another four or five weeks, I think, at this point. So...
Eric: Yeah, they were down... some of the MuggleNet staff was down, and I don't have the full story either. I haven't talked to them yet. But they were down in Orlando for the Quidditch World Cup which was in Kissimmee, Florida, and they went to Orlando and started talking with some of the staff, and they got some confirmations, I guess, that there would, in fact, be a Gringotts cart coaster. And so we were saying for a while, what rides could they do in the Muggle world? The Muggle world is typically pretty boring, but having the Diagon Alley side of things instead of just the Hogsmeade, they could do a Gringotts ride. So we were looking forward to that.
Andrew: Yeah, and I still think it'll be based on the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 scene.
Eric: I think so too, considering what... Bellatrix was there, or they were filming...
Eric: ...scenes for the train as well, right?
Andrew: Yeah, but the Bellatrix thing - that would make sense if it's going to be... I forgot all about that, that the...
Eric: Getting into her vault and...
Eric: ...stuff like that because, yeah, something like that. I think you're right. And then, if they do have her on the train, it would be like... I believe the news was that there were multiple sequences, so that maybe different things happen to you when you're on the train at different times.
Eric: So maybe one time you'll get there safely, another time the Death Eaters will board the train or something.
Eric: I don't know.
Micah: Could be Dementors.
Andrew: Do you get a ticket refund if you don't make it all the way to the other side?
Eric: [laughs] And then you don't have to buy a park pass. They're just like, "We'll let you out here." Or maybe the lady will come by with the trolley and make you buy park passes if you want to go in between.
Andrew: Well, I'm kind of imagining it'll also be like the Star Tours ride at Disneyland where there's... the new version of it, there's multiple story-lines and outcomes. It's completely random each time, so you get different stories each time. So I'm thinking maybe it could be something like that. I just... this train idea just sounds like a mess to me because it's going to hold a limited...
Micah: Positive, Andrew. Positive.
Andrew: Well, it's...
Andrew: Well, yeah, but it's going to hold a limited number of people. Imagine how many people are going to be wanting to ride this train. The wait is going to be so long for this ten-minute ride. Of course it'll be cool and everybody will want to do it, don't get me wrong, it's just... it seems like the ride capacity is not going to be very high. I have a headache just thinking about waiting in line already.
Micah: It's like taking the subway in New York.
Eric: Only with more space to move around.
Micah: Eric, you touched on this a little bit, but do you think maybe you could see different scenarios play out depending on the actual time of day? So morning versus in the evening, you'd have different scenarios playing out?
Eric: Maybe, but what kind of thing would they do, morning versus night?
Micah: Scarier stuff at night. I don't know.
Eric: Oh, I wonder. That would be interesting if it was for time of day. But yeah, if you... if the line is long, like Andrew was saying, you'll wait in the morning and get on at night. [laughs]
Andrew: Yeah. They did such a great job with Forbidden Journey. And that's a good point, Micah, because when you're riding this train, you're not going to be able to look out real windows. By the way, I don't know if... in case people forget, the train is going to connect the existing Wizarding World with the new Diagon Alley land. They're both in... they're in separate parks, so you're going to take this train and there's this train track that runs behind Universal. You're not going to be able to look out the real windows because you would just see buildings...
Micah: Oh, okay.
Andrew: ...so that would be lame. So it's going to be virtual. So yeah, Micah, when you're riding that at night, you would think that the scenes are going to be all nighttime scenes versus...
Micah: Yeah, it would make sense.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, it does make sense.
Micah: And then, how about people to play out roles on the train itself?
Micah: Similar to characters that we see at the Wizarding World right now, and nobody really comes to mind other than the wizard in Ollivander's shop and the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons...
Eric: And the train conductor.
Eric: Everybody loves the train conductor.
Micah: Oh, yeah. Can't forget about the train conductor.
Eric: But they do have strong actors...
Micah: He's going to have a job now. He can't just stand outside the Hogwarts Express.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: See, I wonder if they're...
Eric: They put him out of a job.
Andrew: I wonder if they're going to keep that train there.
Micah: Probably not.
Andrew: Yeah, I'm split on that.
Micah: Maybe they'll change it into something else.
Andrew: Because that's such a great photo opportunity, and you won't be able to stand in front of the real train, obviously, once the real one is there. So I feel like they may actually keep it.
Eric: I think... yeah, I agree. I agree with that.
Andrew: It'll be interesting. I'm excited to see all the changes.
Micah: So are we anticipating another grand reopening in this case?
Eric: I certainly am. I call dibs on getting the MuggleNet pass to go there.
Eric: I'm really interested. Yeah, it'll be a lot of fun.
Eric: Considering the last time... well, there were two. There were several, I feel like, grand openings throughout the years. But the most recent one was the Home Entertainment Celebration when the eighth film came out on DVD, and they just rolled a red carpet out from the center of Hogsmeade all the way out to... past the Sinbad thing and... yeah, it was just a lot of fun and they kind of... the environment fit. But for Universal, why wouldn't they? Right? They have City Walk, they have their whole hotel experience. I guarantee you there will be another big event for that.
Andrew: Oh, yeah.
Micah: I have a very serious question: Will they move Ollivander's?
Andrew: I think...
Eric: That's the thing, yeah.
Andrew: Yeah, I think there's speculation about that. They should just have it in both lands.
Eric: I think that's the practical - or rather the capitalist - thing to do, is be like, "This was Ollivander's Hogsmeade outpost and always was," but they'll probably build another one and also have it in Diagon Alley at the same time. Because wands are among kind of the... I don't want to say the coolest merchandise, but a lot of people really dig them.
Andrew: And the line for that was so long always, and you have to stand outside to wait to get in. So...
Eric: It's true.
Andrew: ...having two will maybe alleviate that...
Micah: That's a good point.
Andrew: ...a little bit. Even though it's two separate parks. So it may not alleviate it at all. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. I'm trying to remember the last time I was in the park at Universal in Florida. It was probably August, last August during Ascendio. But even then, the Harry Potter merchandise had completely overtaken the regular Universal Studios gift shops which I was blown away, but there just really wasn't enough shelf room in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to cover all the merchandise that you could possibly get. And so it was duplicated and repeated, even over in the regular park where you cannot access the Wizarding World without having an Islands of Adventure pass and going in Islands of Adventure. Back in Universal Studios, those gift shops, too, were overrun with Quidditch gear and house scarves and all that other stuff. So clearly Harry Potter has just completely overtaken... it's like Harry fever all over again, but the regular park. And that was long before, like you're saying... the regular Muggle world side of it isn't even open yet and already I've just seen all this Harry Potter stuff everywhere, so I'm sure it'll be huge whenever it happens.
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