Could the Disney theme parks be the next potential location for a Lord of the Rings-themed attraction? We reported back in January and also in February that tongues were wagging about a possible Middle-earth theme park partnership between Warner Brothers and Universal. There was even documentation that the Saul Zaentz Company had registered “several uses for Middle-earth properties that includes theme parks.” But those rumors seemed to have fizzled.
Now it seems that, “Disney and Warner Brothers have either signed or are very close to singing an agreement that will bring “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie-inspired areas to the Disney Parks.” WDW News Today is reporting that the partnership has been in the works since late last year and is now practically a fait accompli. The story claims that Disney may incorporate a Middle-earth attraction as part of an overhaul at the California Adventure park in Anaheim, CA. It also suggests that Disney may be looking for Hobbits to give them an edge over Hogwarts in order to compete with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area at Universal Studio’s theme park.
WDW News today says, “As with any rumor, you should take this with a grain of salt until it is actually announced.” Is it likely that Disney would be able to overcome the hurdles that have hung up similar ventures? That they could overcome the long-held anti-Disney prejudice from within the Tolkien Estate itself? TORn staffer Demosthenes points out Tolkien’s Letter #13, where he famously insisted that he would “veto anything from or influenced by the Disney Studios (for all whose works I have a heartfelt loathing).”
Additionally, should the supposed negotiations be happening on the studio level, making an end-run around the Tolkien Estate, it seems unlikely that Warner Brothers would be keen to work together after Disney stole Oz out from under them when they released Oz the Great and Powerful earlier this year. “The Walt Disney Company did not own rights to the original 1939 The Wizard of Oz movie but moved stealthily to mount an audacious raid on the story and leave a rival studio flat-footed.”
But perhaps TheOneRing.net’s April Fools’ story this year was actually prescient and we will enter an era where Hobbit feet and Mouse ears can coexist in one big glorious theme park universe. Or maybe we’ll all just have to aspire to visit the real Hobbiton for a while longer.