Harry Potter’s Wizarding World & Forbidden Journey Update

Pop Culture Theme Park News

Universal has been promoting the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter like crazy. A few months ago there was the augmented reality map that went out in an issue of a USA Today. I thought it was the coolest marketing idea I’d heard of in a long time. Unfortunately, the execution left something to be desired.

Augmented Reality Map
After holding the map in front of my web cam for tens of minutes at different angles I finally gave up. The first couple of tries, I got the map to work for a brief few seconds. On my laptop’s screen I saw myself holding the map, but castles and other features from the new land had risen out of it. It was a neat idea, but not worth the trouble it took to get it to work. If they ever do anything like this again they really need to provide more tips. I tried changing the lighting in the room, I cut the map out of the newspaper and taped it to a magazine, and I tried to sit perfectly still. It was pretty frustrating.

The Wizarding World on TV
As Universal’s a multimedia corporation, it was only a matter of time before they tapped into their television ties. Feature stories and commercials have been all over TV. Theme Park Syndicate writer Austin sent me an email about The Wizarding World being a part of a challenge on an episode of Celebrity Apprentice. Here’s the segment of the show where the cast visits the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:


Watch the segment on NBC.com.

Ellen DeGeneres also featured the Wizarding World in a more in-depth look at the attraction:


I’m not a huge Potter fan, so here’s a description from the Theme Park Rangers of what they spotted in the video:

It’s the most footage we’ve seen from inside the construction walls, and of course, DeGeneres plays it for laughs throughout the five-minute clip. They enter several stores, including Dervish & Banges and Honeydukes, ride Flight of the Hippogriff (nee Flying Unicorn), sip some butterbeer and go through Hogwarts (which Ellen refers to as Hogwash.)
Orlando Sentinel’s Theme Park Rangers

Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey
Still no big reveal about the top secret Forbidden Journey ride that will anchor the new area. It sounds like a more immersive version of the Spider-Man/Curse of Darkastle rides with a robocoaster ride system instead of standard cars on a traditional track.

This video shows the highly detailed queue inside Hogwarts that looks super authentic. As Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative, guides the tour he gives the backstory of the ride. 

Theme Changes for Roller Coasters
The transition of Islands of Adventure’s Lost Continent to the Wizarding World has caused a couple of roller coasters to be re-themed. The popular Dueling Dragons will be known as Dragon Challenge. According to RCDB, the Fire Dragon will be called Chinese Fireball and the Ice Dragon will become Hungarian Horntail. Flying Unicorn has been re-themed as Flight of the Hippogriff.

What’s Your Take?
I’m by no means a Universal Studios or even an Orlando expert. Do you have any details to share about the Wizarding World? Please back up your information with links when possible.

Are you excited about the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Do you plan on visiting Islands of Adventure this year? Leave a comment below.

14 Comments

  1. I'm gong down to Orlando at the end of August. My tri includes: both Universal Parks, Seaworld Orlando, Possibly Busch Gardens, and Disney. By my reckoning, that's 8 B&M coasters in that short two weeks. I happen to be most excited for Islands of Adventure becasue of the Harry Potter section of the park (loved the books, hate the movies). Also because of the three (technically two) B&M coasters. Coaster Critic, If you are willing (and If I get down there before you), will you allow me to post a review of the "Potter-Verse" on your site?

    • Sure Prof. BAM. You'll most likely get there before me. Unless something changes I'm not doing a whole lot of traveling this year since we've got a newborn. While you're at Busch Gardens Tampa keep an eye out for survey markers or maybe even construction by the end of August. 2011 rumors are picking up for that park.

      • Busch Gardens is a BIG maybe, but I shall look everywhere I can. I saw something on screamscape yesterday that shows the possible layout of the new ride, whatever it may be.

        • Probably a B&M or Intamin Hyper, or there could be a vey slight chance of a giga if they have enough room.

  2. While you're taking care of the newborn, may I borrow Avery so I can bag some of the kiddie coasters that require the presence of a small child?

    • Me first. I'm at 197 and if my daughter was ready I could get two more credits right here at my home park. Of course, I want to wait until she's ready. The worst thing I could do is pressure her into a ride and scar her.

      • that`s how it started for me, and i think you too CC. not suggesting it though.

  3. Woo hoo! Honorable mention! Glad you got my email ;).

    • LOL!

  4. Wow… I've been waiting for an update from this forever. Looks very well themed. I still want more info. on the robocoaster thing though.

    • Who dosent? 🙂

  5. I just received a photo of some of the cast members visiting the Wizarding World. Check it out <a target="_blank" href="http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4104697&id=36950461587&quot; rel="nofollow">here.

  6. I know I am a little behind in the times, and I should have commented on this post ages go. But I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and was very impressed. I started in Hogesmede and made my way through the shops (and even got hand picked from the crowd to go through the wand process). Needless to say, from a die-hard HP fan, I was in love. I was giddy and excited, and felt like a little kid again. But that isn't to downplay it at all. It wasn't cheesy, nor did it seem fake. It was really awesome. I could go on forever about my experiences, but I know this a coaster site… The Dragon ride was ok. It was a typical, hanging coaster from someone that doesn't know much about it. It was fun nonetheless, but not over the top. I think the park focused more on the authenticity of the world instead of the rides. However, the The Forbidden Journey ride was simply amazing. I purposely didn't read any reviews or news about the world, so it was completely unexpected. I left wanting to ride again right away. You truly felt a part of the wizarding world. Which for me… was a dream come true!

    • Thanks for the review, Rushel. I knew you'd like it. From all I've heard it's definitely a top notch attraction. Why am I not surprised that the person who was accused of being a witch was picked out of the crowd? 🙂

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