The rumors have been confirmed! A new scripted Harry Potter television series is coming to the newly renamed streaming service Max (formally HBO Max), but what could that mean for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands and attractions in the Universal theme parks around the world?
The Harry Potter movies are based on the books, but The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley at Universal theme parks are based on the movies. That means the new Harry Potter television series (and its new cast) could create challenges for Universal theme parks – or could it provide opportunities?
“We are delighted to give audiences the opportunity to discover Hogwarts in a whole new way,” said Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO of HBO and HBO Max Content. “Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon and it is clear there is such an enduring love and thirst for the Wizarding World. In partnership with Warner Bros. Television and J.K. Rowling, this new Max Original series will dive deep into each of the iconic books that fans have continued to enjoy for all of these years.”
According to the announcement, the Harry Potter series will be authentic to the original Harry Potter books, and while the eight films in the blockbuster Harry Potter franchise do follow the storylines of the book series, many diehard Harry Potter fans felt key parts of the novels were left out to accommodate the average length of a family-friendly movie (though the final book – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – was split into two films).
By staying true to the original novels, the series could actually open the door to introducing new characters and experiences in the parks that may not have been considered because the lands stuck to the movies.
This includes one of J. K. Rowling’s coolest “plot twists” centered around Rita Skeeter, the nosy reporter played by Miranda Richardson in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” While the character seemed well-developed in the movie, those who read the books know her biggest secret (and how she gathers dirt for her articles about Harry) is that she’s an unregistered beetle Animagus – a mystery uncovered by Hermione who captures the journalist and puts her in a jar so she’ll stop spreading rumors.
Another character from the books who would be a welcome addition to the theme parks is Hogwarts’ resident poltergeist Peeves, a mischievous ghost who could certainly share the responsibility of haunting the bathrooms near Three Broomsticks restaurant with Moaning Myrtle.
Staying true to the books is also important to the author, J. K. Rowling (who will serve as an executive producer for the series).
“Max’s commitment to preserving the integrity of my books is important to me,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being part of this new adaptation which will allow for a degree of depth and detail only afforded by a long form television series.
Last, but certainly not least, the new series will feature new actors portraying beloved characters that are already closely associated with the film cast (and recently, we shared AI-generated artwork that speculated about several iconic roles). But with current theme park attractions relying heavily on appearances by cast members from the movies, we wonder how (or if) the new cast will be incorporated.
It seems unlikely the existing rides featuring actors from the films – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and the Hogwarts Express – would switch to actors from the new series, but a ride upgrade with the new actors is possible. It also could mean future experiences and attractions might incorporate new cast members, especially characters who have not been featured before (although that will likely depend on how popular the show is).
A golden opportunity may even present itself at Universal’s Epic Universe, which many expect will have an area dedicated to the Wizarding World, though whether it will be another Harry Potter-based land or themed to the Fantastic Beasts franchise remains to be seen.
For now, Harry Potter fans can continue to enjoy the books, movies, and theme park lands while they wait to see what magical surprises the new Harry Potter television series has in store.
What new things would you like to see incorporated into the theme parks and shows? Let us know in the comments below.