Posted by Anthony Zumpano on September 16, 2009 03:19 PM
Like "Sorcerer's Apprentice II": The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a theme park
at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure whose 2010 opening was recently announced
, promises to be not only a nirvana for Pottermania, but also a magical display of branding.
That one of the most popular brands in the world—having grown from a book to a multi-volume series that spawned several films to a merchandising empire—is entering the enchanted land of roller coasters and amusement attractions shouldn’t surprise even the most naïve Muggle. The depth of the source material, from settings to characters to plots, makes not merely a couple of Potter rides, but a complete mini-theme park featuring its own “interactive shopping” experience, a no-brainer branding extension.
While Potter fans polish their wands in anticipation for the park’s opening next spring, Universal executives hope Harry can work a little magic on their own brand. Having the number-two theme park in Florida isn’t a bad thing, but to be a strong Avis to Walt Disney World’s Hertz, Universal knows it has to “try harder.” By teaming with a franchise that’s already a multimedia licensing phenomenon, the theme park greatly upgrades its current brand formula, which can be summed up as “Marvel Comics and Steven Spielberg” (e.g., rides based on Spider-Man and Jurassic Park).
Harry Potter’s spell on fantasy-crazed fans has yet to wear off, so Universal is banking on that young wizard’s brand to strike theme-park success like the lightning on the scar of Harry’s forehead.