Wednesday, August 22, 2007

turn on the bright lights.

This Harry Potter phenomenon is fascinating. I have a hunch that Stoler sold out, left the last garrison that he and I occupied…and read one of the books.

Full disclosure: I read Book Two in 7th grade (however, that was before the supermegahype that seemed to have happened within—my uncle was a fervent HP nut and bought me a book to try and convert me to Potteranity) and saw the 1st and 5th (latest movie).

Well, I’m not going to ruin the article because I can’t write half as deftly as the writers at Slate…but anyway, here it is: a discussion on why Disney passed on first rights to building the Harry Potter theme park.

I’m not fully convinced that this park will be successful past its second or third year. Yes, I know Harry Potter will probably join the hallowed halls of universally adored books (along with “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Five People You Meet in Heaven”…of which I have only read one—care to take a guess?) if it hasn’t already.

Disney was smart to pass--$800? Sure, it’d be cool to have a waterfall leading you into the park…but does it really matter to seven-year-olds who still have snot on their t-shirts? Big businesses make money by having new attractions, sure—but they also stay in the black because they make smart decisions.

Universal is already playing second-fiddle to Disney’s mammoth parks—second in this game is really like fourteenth-place. They could have easily added rides that would have appealed to people, but they’ve decided to go and base an entire park based on one story of a magical boy who has magical friends and goes to a magical school.

Universal’s biggest problems go hand-in-hand: they have few rides, and the ones that they do have are tied into movies that are 10-20 years old. Back to the Future? The ride focuses on a trip to 2015, an incredible time in the (not-so-distant) future complete with flying cards and floating skateboards. Jurassic Park? Sure, it’s a lot of fun, but have ten-year-olds even seen the film? Do they even care?

Harry Potter will be well read and well regarded for the foreseeable future—but at what point will the Potter references seem outdated and passĂ©? Within fifteen years? Will people still want to pay $100 (this is a $700 discount from the price Disney had down as the entrance fee for its HP-Park…$800 is steep for me to even comprehend now…$4500 for a family of five to enter for a day?) to join Harry and Ron at Hogwarts?

This isn’t the best idea. Universal are being blinded because they are viewing the future in Pottermania tinted bifocals. This is a terrible long-term decision that will ultimately prove costly and could finally put the park (though not the conglomerate itself) out of business.