Since ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ area opened at Universal Studios Florida 12 years ago, rumors of a ‘Lord of the Rings’ themed land at either Universal or Walt Disney World have swirled around the internet. In 2010, shortly after the opening of ‘Wizarding World’, a guest survey was apparently sent out by Universal to gauge public interest in other themed lands. The survey went on to inquire about a potential Lord of the Rings themed ride or area:
“Imagine if you will a world unlike any you’ve ever visited before: it’s Middle Earth, the ancient and beautiful land forged by J.R.R. Tolkien as the backdrop for his two most well known creations, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Walk as a human among dwarves, elves, orcs and hobbits — all faithfully recreated and portrayed in the spirit of the original characters as they appeared in both the books and the movies. In this land you’ll experience one-of-a-kind rides and attractions that bring to life some of the most memorable experiences of Tolkien’s world including Bilbo’s hobbit hole, the fortress at Isengard (before it was destroyed) and even the dark world of Mordor — including the terrifying volcanic Mount Doom.”
Many websites (including, of course, TOR.n!) reported on these rumors, but there has been nothing to substantiate them. Some rumored concepts that have been floating around for the past few years included areas themed around Hobbiton and Rivendell, Middle-earth shops and dining, a boat ride, a ‘Fall of Gandalf’ flying ride (similar to the ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’ ride at Universal Studios), ‘Escape from Moria’, and a Mordor/Eye of Sauron dark ride.
Cut to 2019: Universal Studios Florida announces that they are creating a 4th theme park (along with Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay) called Epic Universe. Universal has not officially confirmed the new themed areas of this park yet, but the first phase opening (sometime in 2025) is heavily rumored to include areas tied to Super Nintendo World, How to Train Your Dragon, Universal Monsters, and another Wizarding World area (possibly a Ministry of Magic dark ride).
Along with these potential areas, as well as a hotel, shopping and dining areas, are 2 large plots of land set aside for expansion of the park. One area, which is over 20 acres, is next to the proposed Wizarding World land, and it is thought that Universal is holding onto this area should they acquire another large IP (Intellectual Property), which The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit most definitely are!
The theme park fansite ScreamScape recently reported that their sources indicated the first planned expansion for Epic Universe will be to bring the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth to the park. Whether that would include The Hobbit and the upcoming Amazon tv show is not known. Since the park isn’t scheduled to open for another 3 years, an expansion is most likely 5-10 years away (at least).
At this time, Universal Studios does not have the rights to any Tolkien property. It is worth noting, however, that although the Tolkien Estate holds the rights to Professor Tolkien’s literary works, the movie, merchandise, and theme park rights belong to Middle-earth Enterprises. So it’s not impossible that Universal could buy the rights to design a land, as they did for the Harry Potter franchise. Again, we want to stress that this is all speculation and rumor – as of this writing there are no official plans for The Wizarding World of Middle-earth!
What do you think about a Middle-earth theme park area: “Yay!” or “No Way!”