Even before the release of the 2001 films, there have been rumours of Lord of The Rings (LOTR) heading to an Orlando theme park. Over the years, rumours have suggested Universal1 are the leading contender for the franchise.
1: The theme park mentioned the franchise in a guest survey as early as 2010, according to Ken Storey (Storey) of Orlando Weekly.
The rumour has resurfaced online yet again, however this time it has some fascinating and corresponding information that would appear to back it up. One of the top sources of Universal Orlando Resort rumours has been Josh Young (Young) of Theme Park University.
Earlier this month, Young astonished many when he announced that he had heard are in Lord of The Rings attraction was possibly in the works full Universal. Just like before, it’s still far from being a done deal.
According to Young, the concept has moved from being a land in Universal’s Epic Universe to now being a replacement for the Toon Lagoon (TL) area of Universal’s Islands of Adventure (IOA, where it will reimagine Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges (BBRB).
Even though the specific ride system has yet to be decided on, Young points to two options; one being an underwater roller coaster-style track, whilst the other is a magnetic system similar to Shanghai’s Pirates of The Caribbean.
Young also said that Universal Creative used a recent closure of BBRB’s to test some different styles of boats for the all-new attraction. This isn’t the first time BBRB was rumoured to be closing.
Ahead of the all-new raptor-themed roller coaster currently under construction in the Jurassic Park area of IOA, Universal Creative allegedly looked at potentially re-theming the TL ride to fit into the Jurassic Park theme next door, but eventually decided not to move ahead with the plan.
Around the same time, a dark ride work that was rumoured for TL was also quickly shelved. TL remains one of the most dated lands in IOA, so an all-new themed land wouldn’t come as a surprise even though some have questioned how relevant LOTR is today.
Amazon is reportedly spending a substantial amount of money on an forthcoming television series based on LOTR. The movies also remain popular despite their age. So essentially that blows the above theory out of the water!
It’s unclear at this time which timeline the rumoured Universal attraction would draw inspiration from. Following years of negotiations, a 2017 lawsuit settlement eventually opened up the ancillary licensing rights to the film version.
This settlement has finally allowed movement in many long-planned LOTR concepts, including the above-mentioned television series. If Young is right, this new LOTR attraction would be the flagship ride for a fully fleshed out LOTR land which completely replace TL.
The LOTR attraction caused BBRB and the Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls to close. Despite their reputation, both attractions represent a different era of Universal. especially when budget concerns were much more of a focus than they are today.
Whilst still enjoyable, the intellectual properties (IP) of the two above-mentioned attractions don’t draw guests in the same way that a LOTR attraction would.
It’s expected that, similar to the two Harry Potter lands at Universal, the new Lord of the Rings land would include fully themed experiences throughout, including walk-around characters, themed retail, and performance spaces,” Storey said.
The all-new LOTR land wouldn’t open until after Epic Universe, Young estimates an opening date of 2025 at the earliest. This lines up with when Disney is expected to have much of Epcot’s historic transformation to be complete.
Whilst most fans are looking towards Epic Universe, however Universal realises/understands it must continue to put new and thrilling attractions into its two current parks, if they hope to keep guests coming back.
The LOTR project at Universal still appears to be very early in its planning, however, there’s still plenty of time for someone involved to pull the plug…
…What are your thoughts? Would you like to see a LOTR attraction/land at Universal Orlando? Let us know in the comments below.