The finishing touches are being placed on Universal Orlando Resort's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley for its summer grand opening, and we have brand-new details about the new The Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts experience! Watch the video and read on to find out what's in store for Muggles everywhere…
Remember that insane sequence in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 when Harry and his friends go into the depths of Gringott's bank and find themselves on a wild, rollercoaster-like ride and escape atop a Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon? Surely you knew that would one day become a theme park ride, and now your fantasies have come true!
"We're creating a very unique twin park experience, and [guests get to] really live the full [Harry Potter] story now, which is quite cool," Alan Gilmore, Art Director for the Harry Potter films as well as Universal Creative, tells ETonline. "We took our film set design and just made those real. We fleshed out what's behind the bank, what's inside the bank, what's under the bank…"
As guests enter the bank with a 60-foot dragon sitting atop, "breathing fire to let you know something special is going on," they can expect a wild race through a labyrinth of underground Gringotts vaults, encountering Death Eaters and the villainous Bellatrix Lestrange before coming face-to-face with He Who Must Not Be Named. Yikes!
That description is just a fraction of the incredible experience promised: "It's so layered, and so detailed," explains Gilmore. "Like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, we made the new ride a very immersive experience from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave, so it's not just a queue in a ride; the queue is a ride as well. And there are moments along the queue that are experiences of their own right, like small rides."
Gilmore goes on to detail some of the fun experiences that happen as Muggles wait to start their underground adventure: "We have the banking hall which I call an experience because it's a 'wow' moment. It really is – there's nothing like it. You then pass through the smaller spaces behind the bank; you get into the back offices, and you get to see a place nobody's ever seen before, where you have your security photograph taken by the goblins to make sure you're cleared for access back there, and then you walk along the corridors and hear the sounds of people behind doors, you see shadows of characters, you notice for some reason that Harry, Ron and Hermione are in the bank also; they're behind the door having a meeting, and that's curious. Then you pass through Bill Weasley's office – he works at Gringott's bank – and visit the elevator lobby where they take you deep down underground to the depths of the bank. This is a whole new little ride as well, a whole little show, a really cool experience.
"You emerge in a very dark, dank cavern way below Gringott's Bank, and then take a journey to the load stations, where you board your Gringott's cart, and that's where you have the real fun. You go on this brilliant journey, first meeting Bellatrix Lestrange and goblins. Bellatrix has infiltrated the bank and it's an emergency – you have to get away – so there's a real rush to avoid whatever bad things are happening. It's a full 360 environment, so any direction you look in, there's something to see. It's 3D, and the resolution of the visuals are the highest grade, in 4K, which is the best you can get now.
"It's a really, really cool ride, and you'll get to meet Harry, Ron and Hermione in there. You'll meet He Who Should Not Be Named, and you'll see security trolls, and you'll see the dragon, which will take a big part of your journey as well. He will help you and Harry, Ron and Hermione escape from the bank and get away from troubles going on."
Bring your magic wand and your Dramamine! The Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts experience is part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, launching this summer within Universal Orlando's second theme park, Universal Studios, with all-new experiences based on the Harry Potter film world's signature areas of London, Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley. The new Hogwarts Express ride will connect between the new Diagon Alley attraction and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade (which opened in 2010 at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park) for guests with park-to-park admission.