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The Birth of the "Land"

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Disneyhead, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. Disneyhead

    Disneyhead Veteran Member

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    More specifically; The Multi-Attraction/Single IP Land. This story could also be called "How Harry lost Mickey".

    For the purposes of this story, we will pretend Bugs Land@DCA doesn't exist, because it's existence plays no part in what came later.

    The Preshow

    The relationship between Team Potter and Disney goes all the way back to 1997, when all the studios were bidding on The Sorcerer's Stone movie. Disney low-balled it seeing all kinds of red flags. First off, it breaks the first rule of filmmaking, "don't work with kids". Disney also hated JK's demand of an all British cast and crew. Specifically, crew. Disney uses their own crew. But the biggest red flag was JK wanted total control of the characters and story. Well, obvioisly, WB won that round. Disney's second attempt to gain access to the Boy Wizard was after the success of SS. Disney tried to get the rights for the rest of the films. But WB thwarted that. Disney's third attempt to get Potter was an attempt to buy Scholastic Publishing, but the Disney Board balked at the price.

    The First Inkling

    On July 16, 2006, Jim Hill posted that Team Potter had signed a "Letter of Intent" with Disney for the theme park rights. 5 days later, on July 21, 2006, Robert Niles responded by saying he had recently heard that, in fact, Team Potter had signed a "Letter of Intent" with Universal. Oddly enough, they were both correct.

    The Backstory

    In 2001, Disney approached Team Potter about a theme park attraction. They were turned away because, at that point, WB was working on a stand alone attraction concept. They eventually built one in Australia. It was popular, but WB struggled at making it profitable. By 2003, WB gave up on that and called Disney. Team Potter signed a "Letter of Intent" with Disney in June 2003. But it was not an "exclusive" deal. There was already a Potter thing in one of the Legolands.

    Within a month Universal was aware. At the July 2003 "Meetings With Bob", a quarterly executive luncheon with Universal Orlando President Bob Gualt, Bob was asked "Where are we with the Potter and the LotR rights". Bob's response was, "Disney has Potter locked up, but I think we can get the Tolkiens. They hate Disney".

    From June 2003 to the Fall of 2004, Team Potter and Disney went round and round. JK hated the first pitch, which was a simple wand based shooter with an exit shop. She demanded a "Leaky Cauldron" with a magical portal back wall into a village square AND the shooter ride. WDI drew that up and this led to the widely, yet incorrectly relayed story of JKs meltdown. The myth is JK was in a production meeting with WDI in Orlando and JK got so mad she stormed out of the meeting and went straight to UOR, where she showed up at the gate and demanded to see the boss. 3 days later, Universal had given her everything she wanted and construction started 10 months later. "Cool story, Bro." Only, it's true with every single fact being wrong.

    "The Meeting" did happened in the Fall of 2004, but in Burbank, CA. And JK blew up when the 3rd redo of the village square idea included a Sorting Hat spinner. She threw the plans off the table raging on the "Dumbo-dore" ride. She didn't storm out and go straight to UOR. The day long meeting did end at lunch, though.

    At this point, WB is in a bit of a spot. They were stuck between JK and Disney, and it was falling apart. So WB set up a meeting with Universal to see if they could offer them an out. Without specifics, they explained that JK's big issues with Disney were scope and adherence to the source material. (The aforementioned "Dumbo-dore" pitch had The Leaky Cauldron leading into Hogsmeade with a hat spinner and a tiny Hogwarts facade for the wand shooter that Universal Creative dubbed pigletwarts.)

    By April of 2005, UC was ready to make their pitch. They traveled to London with a cask of Butterbeer and lots of drawings. JK was blown away thrilled and yet declared it all wrong. She and the WB guys holed themselves up in the same hotel as the Uni guys for 3 days without talking to them. Basically, "you guys wait here. We're gonna go talk about this". When they all met at the end of the 3 days, JK had scribbled all over their plans declaring stuff in the wrong place. The stores were too big. The walkways too wide. Universal said, we can fix that. So that night, UC was on the way back to Orlando drinking champagne. They knew they had impressed her, but there was a long way to go before they could declare victory.

    The June 2005 meeting with Disney was the beginning of the end of the Disney "Letter of Intent". Unlike when WB met with Uni the first time where they were very non-specific about Disney's actual plans. JK walked into the meeting and said, "This is what Universal wants to give me". Bob Iger listened intently and agreed to rework the concept on a grander scale. After the meeting. Bob was rather uncomplimentary about Jo and declared Universal's pitch insane. He was mad. And ready to kill the project.

    The Wizarding Skillz of Bob Iger

    While all this Potter headache is going on. Bob had several irons in the fire. In Jan. 2005, Bob opened negotiations with Steve Jobs to buy PIXAR. Jobs is rather non-plussed with "Michael's Little Minion". By July, Bob's getting no where and feeling defeated on 2 fronts. He needs to figure out a way to sway Jobs and rid himself of JK. Taking what he learned in the JK meeting he transforms the concept and brews up a deliciously manipulative plan. A friendly lunch with his old friend Hawaiian Shirt Guy. Iger filled his head with vodka and dreams of walking in Radiator Springs.

    Iger got PIXAR.

    Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program

    Disney and Team Potter mutually agreed to break the "Letter of Intent" in Dec. 2005. Team Potter and Universal signed a "Letter of Intent" sometime in the late spring of 2006. And by July 21st 2006 Robet Niles is talking about it on the internet. In Jan. 2007, the rumor is picked up by the mainstream media when About.com wrote an article about it.

    The Aftermath

    "On the 3rd day of Christmas Potter gave to me.
    3 Toy Story Lands
    2 Star Wars Lands
    And a Banshee in a Big *** Show Building"

    Anyway, that's the story as it was told to me. I hope you enjoyed.
     
  2. Mr. EPCOT

    Mr. EPCOT Veteran Member

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    All of a sudden I really want DisneyWar 2.
     
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  3. Joe

    Joe aka TestTrack321 Staff Member Moderator

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    Heard some similar things and some different things. Did your song bird mention what parks Disney was interested in putting the attractions?
     
  4. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Premium Member

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    Since that explanation is so good, and I'd like to give it a bunch of likes but the site only lets me do one, I'll give it five thumbs up, and drink to it too. :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: :cheers:
     
  5. Disneyhead

    Disneyhead Veteran Member

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    It eventually grew into it's own separate gated mini-park that would have been next to MK on the shore of Bay Lake, north of the Contemporary.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
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  6. shiekra38

    shiekra38 Veteran Member

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    So basically what you're saying is JK was in a production meeting with WDI in Orlando and JK got so mad she stormed out of the meeting and went straight to UOR, where she showed up at the gate and demanded to see the boss. 3 days later, Universal had given her everything she wanted and construction started 10 months later.

    That's the gist, right?
     
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  7. Frank Drackman

    Frank Drackman Premium Member

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    Great stuff, neat to read. The only thing I recall reading was that JK really wanted an entrance, had hoped they could attempt going through the brick wall, just anything.

    Plus, she was smart enough to know that she did not want Mickey Harry dolls.

    It really sounds like WB really did look out for JK's vision.

    Also, the stuff about using an English crew...I recall the Olympics, the half time show or something...I realized how proud the English are of their artist. I mean, Madness played...I didn't even know they exsisted after like '84ish...

    When I am in The Wizarding World, I always see families (and I mean like three generations) just mesmerized, all sipping a butter beer, man, it must be a thrilling trip for folks like that!

    Disney priced me out, so, currently, I am happy UOR won out...I assume a day will come when they will price me out.
     
  8. Disneyhead

    Disneyhead Veteran Member

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    I haven't had a Disney AP since 2010 for the same reason. When you have to buy them the whole family it adds up quick.
     
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  9. shiekra38

    shiekra38 Veteran Member

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    Ironically (not to derail the thread), but there are certain elements of UOR that are worse value than Disney when you add it up...Butterbeer, for instance, is up to like $6 or $7....But that stuff is ignorable as the constant expansion and feeling of momentum is awesome...It means a lot to me as a passholder that I can go every month and see something new construction wise, or something opening
     
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  10. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Premium Member

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    One good thing about Butter beer, and the reason I don't mind the high price, is that Comcast/Universal uses a good portion of those profits to build new attractions & new hotels. I don't mind the prices when we get so much new stuff, so often. :)...And, I just renewed Alene's & my Universal AP's today. Still a good value, and we live far out of state (Pa.).
     
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  11. shiekra38

    shiekra38 Veteran Member

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    Oh yeah, worth every penny...You know it's going to be used for new stuff..Like I said, there is a general feeling of momentum around Universal that even first timers feel...Hard to explain..
     
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  12. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Premium Member

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    Yes, so different than Blackstone that pulled every penny of profit out Sea World/Busch Garden parks without putting much back in. And we see how that turned out.
     
  13. Frank Drackman

    Frank Drackman Premium Member

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    I get this, but it is easier for me to stop having butter beer, if needed (and I wanted to drink alcohol, I could keep a bottle in my hotel room).

    Now, living some 200 miles from Orlando, I can afford one AP for our 'staycation' destination. The family does want to go to Disney again some day, but I figure I can wait for the right FL RES offer or maybe just go to a not so scary during one of our UNI stays...stuff like that.

    I stopped renewing when our renewal plus the loss of the child price AP caused a huge price bump one year we just could not do. We stopped staying on site long ago (unless we could get all stars or something for under $80 a night...

    I felt the food had really gone down in value, too much work to even get a table anywhere...and on and on...but if they instead just raised the price of soda to $10, we might still be going there, just drinking more water...
     
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  14. LieutLaww

    LieutLaww Premium Member

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    Butterbeer is currently $7.50 in the parks, I have consumed a number of them over the last 2 days lol
     
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  15. Nick

    Nick Staff Member Moderator

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    The only kind of Butterbeer i've bothered to get since it's debut is Butterbeer Ice Cream. Gives the taste of the Butterbeer foam (the only good part) and it's far cheaper than a Butterbeer.

    At these prices, Universal better be thinking of offering an alcoholic version of BB soon. It was alcoholic in the books.
     
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  16. Disneyhead

    Disneyhead Veteran Member

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    Ewwww, I no likey Butterbeer.

    Makes me want to shave my tongue.
     
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  17. shiekra38

    shiekra38 Veteran Member

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    Well, it's harder for some of us to ween ourselves off the stuff

    And $7.50 is a bit ridiculous...I may only have to have 10 next time I go
     
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  18. UK-Trigg

    UK-Trigg Veteran Member

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    I'm spooked.....

    Been sat on the Eurostar train reading jay bangs and how the WB meeting went down back in the 90s. Got me thinking how much I'd like to read a book on the modern day workings of theme parks, especially since I've been following more since those early days and more so how the potter deals came about.

    Imagine my disbelief when I open up the forum to find your thread, mind blown in more ways than one

    Awesome facts and really well written buddy, thanks for sharing.

    Guess I won't need to buy the book now either.
     
  19. UK-Trigg

    UK-Trigg Veteran Member

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    Maybe that's why uni used the park within a park spiel, if JK was expecting a mini parks at Disney then uni wanted to offer up similar.

    Ha ha funny
     
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  20. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Premium Member

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    That Warner meeting was something else. Universal just loved to play hardball. Even over a paltry $70,000 or so.....Worked out well though. I like IOA way better than I would have liked Cartoon World. Plus Marvel tie in is worth a heck of a lot more than DC. Spider Man, the trend setter, may never have happened, if the deal was sealed.
     
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