Does Disney Own Harry Potter?

Is Harry Potter Owned by Disney?

It is no doubt that Harry Potter has become one of the most recognizable literary icons in recent history, which leads many to wonder if Harry Potter is owned by the Disney Corporation. The short answer is no, Disney does not own any of the rights to the Harry Potter franchise. The long answer is a little more complicated, but a lot more interesting! Keep reading to find out how Harry Potter, Hermione, and Hagrid almost joined the ranks of Mickey and Minnie and why the Harry Potter franchise isn’t owned by Disney.

What is Harry Potter?

Harry Potter is a franchise centered around the titular Harry Potter in the magical school of Hogwarts. In Harry Potter’s world, magic exists but is hidden away from people who can’t use magic, who are called muggles. Formally known as the Wizarding World, the Harry Potter franchise includes iconic characters like Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Dobby, Hagrid, Severus Snape, and of course, Harry Potter. Goblins, mermaids, centaurs, and house-elves are commonly found creatures in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Set across 7 books, 8 movies, and even spin-off series, the world of Harry Potter is certainly detailed and offers much to explore. Harry Potter was written by J.K Rowling and Rowling still retains partial ownership over the Harry Potter franchise to this day.

Many people identified with the concept of Harry Potter and it quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Almost everyone who has read or watched Harry Potter has fantasized over receiving their letter to Hogwarts and wondered what Hogwarts House the sorting hat would assign them. This vast world paired with a wide audience made the Harry Potter franchise a perfect setting for a theme park like Disney.

Disney Almost Owned Harry Potter

Fairy tale style architecture at Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom
Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, also Almost the Home of Harry Potter.

Long before Harry Potter became a global phenomenon, the Disney Corporation actually had the opportunity in 1997 to purchase the publishing rights to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the United States. Disney later declined to purchase the publishing rights to the first book in the Harry Potter series. The Scholastic Corporation later bought the rights to publish the first Harry Potter book in the United States while changing the name to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Believe it or not: Harry Potter and friends almost became permanent residents of Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Back in 2004, the rights to a Harry Potter theme park were put to auction and Disney offered to buy the theme park rights for 4 million dollars. Disney envisioned a small land themed around Harry Potter located inside Fantasyland. Collaboration and negotiation between Disney representatives and Harry Potter representatives over plans for the Harry Potter land went on for 16 months before ending.

Why Disney Does Not Own Harry Potter

J.K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter franchis, reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the White House Garden.
J.K Rowling reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the White House.

Despite the Disney Corporation almost buying the theme park rights to the Harry Potter franchise, a few key factors resulted in the lack of Harry Potter in Disney today.

One major reason the plans for Harry Potter fell through was a difference in creative vision between J.K Rowling and the Disney Corporation. Rowling felt that plans presented by the Disney Corporation did not fully capture the magic of Harry Potter while the Disney Corporation thought some of the requirements made by Rowling were either too expensive or too restrictive.

Some of the features required by J.K Rowling for a Harry Potter themed area that were denied by Disney include a train ride to Hogwarts and a secret entrance to Diagon Alley. Interestingly, these are 2 features that became a reality in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios.

Who Owns Harry Potter?

While Disney does not own Harry Potter in any sense, Harry Potter is owned by other notable individuals and companies.

One of the most well known owners of the Harry Potter franchise is the original author, J.K Rowling. While the Harry Potter franchise originated with Rowling, J.K Rowling only retains ownership over the publishing and theatrical rights to the series.

The movie rights to the Harry Potter franchise are owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment. This means that every Harry Potter movie, as well as the Fantastic Beasts movies, are all owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios, a Competitor to Disney.
Hogwarts in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an area in Universal Studios Orlando themed entirely around Harry Potter. While Universal does not own any rights to the Harry Potter franchise, Warner Bros. Entertainment licenses the rights to Universal Parks & Resorts, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal which is a subsidiary of Comcast. There is also a Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Japan, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Studios Beijing, although the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando is the most well known.


Harry Potter is not owned by the Disney Corporation at all, but at one time there were plans to incorporate Harry Potter into the Disney theme parks. The introduction of Harry Potter and friends into Fantasyland almost became a reality if not for creative and budgetary disputes. While Disney is no stranger to buying intellectual property as seen with Marvel and Star Wars, we can only wonder what the Disney theme parks would be like if Disney did own Harry Potter.

What do you think? Is Harry Potter destined to join Han Solo and Iron Man in becoming Disney property? Maybe the magic of Disney and the magic of Hogwarts are just too different for one another? Let us know in the comments below!

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