Lord of the Rings Rumored for Universal’s Epic Universe – Orlando ParkStop
The Lord of the Rings getting its own land in Orlando theme parks has been one of the most rumored stories of the last 12 years. Since 2010, there have been countless rumored news reports, forum posts and videos, but could Universal Orlando’s next theme park, Epic Universe, finally close the deal?
Let’s take a look at all the rumored concepts and what rides set in Middle-earth were in development for the Epic Universe, in today’s rumors update. See the video version of this story for additional visuals.
Some of the first online stories about the possibility of a land based on The Lord of the Rings property came out in 2010, just two months after the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter land opened at Islands of Adventure.
These stories stemmed from a guest survey that was circulating. He asked users which possible theme park lands they would be most interested in adding to Universal Orlando. One of the answers was The Lord of the Rings.
The survey reportedly described this hypothetical land as follows:
Imagine if you want a world like you’ve never visited before: this is Middle-earth, the ancient and beautiful land forged by JRR Tolkien as the backdrop for his two most famous creations, The 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 the books and movies. In this land, you’ll experience unique rides and attractions that bring to life some of Tolkien’s world’s most memorable experiences, including Bilbo’s Hobbit Hole, Isengard Fortress (before it was be destroyed) and even the dark world of Mordor, including the terrifying volcano Mount Doom.
Of course, we can’t rely too much on customer surveys, but that may have meant that Universal was curious to see if there was any interest in the concept.
It would be three years later before this story would gain momentum, now with rumors that Universal AND Disney had signed deals for the theme park rights to these popular stories.
Disney was rumored to have added land as part of California Adventure’s redesign, giving them an immersive terrain to rival Universal’s Harry Potter worlds. The Universal rumor had a section of Toon Lagoon redesigned in Islands of Adventure, an idea that resurfaced 7 years later.
A legal battle over the rights between the film studio and the heirs of JRR Tolkien, which had been going on since 2012, seemed finally settled in 2017.
This sparked a new wave of rumors about the possibility of a theme park license. Around this time, Amazon entered into talks to create a TV series, which were secured a year later.
2018 saw an explosion of rumors that Universal was securing the rights and planning a huge theme park in Orlando. A story in “Disney and More” about Universal’s next theme park for Orlando was picked up and reported by dozens of outlets, more than a year before Epic Universe was announced.
This story said that “a territory of Lord of the Rings is highly regarded as one of the lands of this 4th park”, and as we will find out later, they were 100% correct.
Fast forward to 2020, just months after Epic Universe was officially announced, and Theme Park University reported that Universal was “quietly toiling through some Lord of the Rings land.” Again, this rumor was for a Toon Lagoon retheme in Islands of Adventure, just like Orlando Informer announced 7 years earlier!
This Orlando Informer story suggested that the new Toon Lagoon theme would contain “elaborate recreations of the Shire, including Bag End, Bilbo Baggins’ house as well as a few rides.”
The 2020 concept not only mentions changing the theme of Toon Lagoon, but also removing Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls and expanding the Popeye Barge to be twice as large.
It would also be upgraded, using newly patented technology to control the movement of the rafts using magnets underwater. This would create better show control, so you’re not dependent on the flow of rapids to get you around.
Two other ride concepts were also rumored around this time, including one that resembled the Spider-Man SCOOP vehicle with the ability to go upside down or hang from the ceiling. It seemed that several concepts were being dreamed up, perhaps as locations before the rights were even secured.
Which brings us to today, where Screamscape is reporting that a land of Middle-earth is planned as the first expansion for Epic Universe in Orlando.
Just as reported in 2018, we have evidence that concepts were at least in the works for a Lord of the Rings country between 2018 and 2019, as they are listed in several theme park designer CVs and in the online artist portfolio.
If the expansion rumor is true, there are two main expansion plots shelved at Epic Universe. The first is located between Super Nintendo World and the Universal Monsters land on the left side of the park. This land is only 7 acres.
The other is much larger, at over 20 acres, and is located on the right side of the park, right next to the Wizarding World area. Rumor has it that Universal is supposedly setting aside this massive space, which could become the biggest piece of land in the park, in case they secure the rights to another “Potter-sized intellectual property.”
Based on some of the concepts that would have been conceived in 2019, we get an idea of what they may have planned for this huge land, at least at the time.
In a possible exploration, the land would contain two main areas with a total of two E-Ticket level attractions, as well as a few smaller attractions. One area would be based on Hobbiton, with a section dedicated to Bag End. A river would separate this area from the second land within a land.
Guests would take a bridge over the river, revealing the grand structures of Rivendell, as seen in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. As you walk between the structures, gigantic screen windows would expand the world even further with lush waterfalls and landscapes that seem to be outside and stretch for miles.
The massive land would contain several stores and at least one large restaurant. One of the E-Ticket attractions was designed as a boat ride with mostly indoor scenes.
The biggest attraction, named “The Fall of Gandalf” in one concept, might have been a ride in a flying vehicle. Another concept for a small attraction was called “Escape from Moria”, and there would have been expansion space for another ride later.
These plans were made in 2019, after the four main lands of Epic Universe had already been locked down, so it seems that they were already considering this for an expansion when the park was announced in August of the same year.
While a Middle-earth land is still being considered for an Epic Universe expansion, plans may have changed since 2019, especially with “The Rings of Power” series debuting on Amazon Prime later this year.
Now that we’re up to speed on 12 years of Lord of the Rings ride rumors, we’ll keep you posted on any additional news we hear about this rumored expansion for the upcoming park.
Be sure to check out our Epic Universe thread for recent construction updates and rumors based on everything we know about this new theme park. See the video version of this story for additional visuals, and be sure to subscribe to the news feed so you never miss an update!
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