The Wizarding World Expands!

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Mar 30, 2017

Posted by: Dawn Johnson | Comments

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The wizarding world created by JK Rowling is so expansive, and has such a rich backstory, there are endless possibilities for new park and tour experiences for fans, a fact Warner Bros. and Universal Studios seem committed to exploring.

Plans are already rolling to bring a new nighttime show to the Universal Studios Orlando and Japan skies using projection mapping. Now it appears plans may be underway to develop a new ride or attraction for one or more theme parks, just as we also celebrate the opening of the Forbidden Forest at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London and enhancements at Universal Studios Hollywood.

The Orlando Business Journal has uncovered Universal applications for two new patents, which may hint at the magical rides they are interested in developing. The first is identified as a “vehicle transportation room system and method.” Take a look at the diagrams below.

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According to the patent, the conceptual is described as follows:

“The launch room vehicle may include one or more show elements, such as displays, animatronic characters, speakers, fog machines, strobe lights or the like configured to operate in sync with each other and the movement of the launch room vehicle and/or ride vehicle.”

“In particular, during operation, the show elements may create an impression among the patrons that the ride vehicle is being pushed and/or pulled by an entity presented in the partial room. For example, the animatronic character may represent a monster, wizard or other entity that appears to cast a spell upon the ride vehicle.”

It’s evident that the walled room is retractable and meant to introduce the ride while immersing the rider in the surrounding environment using a mix of visual and special effects. The Orlando Business Journal suggests that the animatronic figure shown may be a ghost, but ghosts do not feature prominently in the Harry Potter story and films.

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The only major scenes involving ghosts include Harry’s interactions with Moaning Myrtle and with Helena Ravenclaw. For the sake of  speculation, then, if the figure were a ghost, the launch room could be sending riders into the Chamber of Secrets or on Harry’s frantic search for the lost diadem, ending in a flying escape from the fiendfyre which engulfs the Room of Requirement.

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It is equally possible that the animatronic figure represents a wizard, perhaps Voldemort, or Dementor, already featured in others rides. The article also notes the brick-like markings on the opening behind the figure and suggests it may be a fireplace. If that is the case, the ride could be intended to launch guests into the Floo Network with a series of magical effects. How the figure plays into that is unclear, though, since Harry never used the Floo Network under duress. It would have to be an expansion on the story.

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For example, Voldemort could intercept the ambitious young wizards and corner them in the Ministry of Magic–a version of the Order of the Phoenix storyline–forcing them to retreat into the hall of Floo Network fireplaces, which sends them on a twisting journey for which they were unprepared. Or, the doorway could be something else entirely, with the bricking simply meant to show the internal structure of the wall when the door is opened.

Whatever they have in mind, Slash Film is banking on these plans corresponding with the long-rumored removal of the Dragon Challenge from Hogsmeade in Universal Studios Orlando’s theme park. The land required to safely operate the ride with proper clearance is as large as Hogsmeade itself and could easily be used to house multiple new attractions.

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Though it is very likely the attractions will keep us in Harry’s world, Slash Film suggests the amount of space that would be freed up could easily be used to create an entirely new environment, perhaps bringing the Fantastic Beasts storyline into reality. The article cites the second set of patent plans to support its reasoning.

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The patent describes the design as follows:

“Patrons may get the impression that they are entering one completely integral and unified theater, when in fact each seating section is a separate maneuverable seating area.”

“In some embodiments, certain virtual prizes (e.g., virtual gold, diamonds, trophies) may be presented by a light source hovering in the airspace inside the structure including the puzzle theater and the patrons may operate the maneuverable seating areas to collect the virtual prizes.”

Slash Film speculates this would be the perfect setting for Newt Scamander, famed Magizoologist. Guests could be attending a lecture on a few of his magical creatures when the beasts get loose, running amuck throughout the hall, while riders must maneuver to help him catch them.

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The question, then, is how Universal would reasonably transport us there. Currently, visitors can ride the Hogwarts Express from Kings Cross Station to Hogsmeade Station to move between parks. How would it then move guests to 1920s New York? Or Paris, site of the Fantastic Beasts sequel? Or an English lecture hall set in some other time?

It could incorporate the first proposed attraction, which is a launching system. The Ministry of Magic does, after all, possess the means for time travel. Perhaps a Ministry representative will send helpful wizards and witches back in time via time-turner in order to help Newt do something important!

Realistically, its unlikely Universal would be planning to build a Fantastic Beasts park before most of the storylines have been revealed. Newt’s future adventures and Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s dynamic duel will undoubtedly take place in Europe, as they run concurrent with the events leading up to WWII, so it wouldn’t make sense to invest in a New York-centric park.

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But they may be in the midst of intense planning now in order to have a concept ready to unveil after the release of the fifth and final installment. Whatever Universal comes up with, it’s clear they have some of the most creative minds in the business on the job, and the results will be a magical addition to our experience of the wizarding world. The only downside is how long we may have to wait for it.

In good news, however, ongoing upgrades and enhancements are being made all the time and can be enjoyed even now!

Attractions Magazine announced that Universal Studios Hollywood doubled the frame rate on its Forbidden Journey ride, taking it from 60 frames-per-second to 120. The ride initially opened with 3D visuals, but it was found to make viewers nauseous and was quietly removed last year. This alteration to the flat 4K imagery is meant to create a better experience without the drawbacks.

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Universal says the frame-rate change offers “superior clarity and remarkably sharper images than previously shown, with imagery that is stunningly ultra-realistic” and will “create a seamless integration between the ride’s elaborate sets and its spellbinding media.”

Harry Potter fans will also be able to journey through the Forbidden Forest at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London tomorrow, and some of our favorite alums reunited on location Monday to celebrate the opening of the tour addition!

To get visitors even more excited about the highly-anticipated public opening, they even tweeted a sneak peek of part of the tour!

James and Oliver Phelps, Evanna Lynch, and Warwick David must have had a lovely reunion as they returned to their old whomping stomping grounds! And we don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to join them there as Warner Bros. and Universal continue to open up amazing new ways for us to enter the wizarding world for ourselves. They lived it on set, and we lived each and every page, but in the end, we are all participants in a story that’s come to life unlike any other.

Read the full Orland Business Journal and Slash Film articles for more on the Universal patents and expansion plans. Also read the Attraction Magazine article for more details on the Forbidden Journey ride, featured in multiple Universal theme parks.





The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.