If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ve probably heard of Universal Studios Islands of Adventure’s new section, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The 20-acre, $200 million expansion is replacing much of the “Lost Continent” area of the park and putting in a massively themed replica of the village of Hogsmeade and the nearby school of Hogwarts. What you might not have heard is just how much they’re trying to replicate the environment from the movies. (That picture to the right is the facade of their Hogwarts castle, which is enough to make a Rowling nerd stain his wizard robes.) Here’s the latest info on the magically nerdy project:
First off, if you want to get a good glimpse of a 3D layout of the park, USA Today has released a map of the park you can print out that will turn into a 3D “augmented reality” version when you show it to your webcam. You can download it here.
The latest news is that the park will feature a replica of Ollivander’s, the wand shop where everything goes frickin’ crazy until Harry finds and fingers his special wand. Apparently, they’ll be recreating that experience too, and kids will be able to try out wands while everything goes batshit crazy around them.
The village will also feature replicas of the magical shop Dervish & Banges, the candy store Honeydukes, Zonko’s joke shop, and a toy store featuring all the stuff that Hogwarts’s groundskeeper Argus Filch has confiscated from students. There’ll be an owlery where you can send actual mail that’ll be stamped as having come from Hogsmeade. And if you’re hungry, replicas of the Hog’s Head and Three Broomsticks taverns will sell you food and actual, non-alchoholic butterbeers.
Oh and if you’re just in it for the rides, they are:
The Dragon Challenge: This is a rethemed version of the already existing roller coaster called Dueling Dragons, which put riders underneath two “fighting” dragons called “Fire” and “Ice.” It’ll be rethemed to the Triwizard Tournament and the two dragons will be the “Hungarian Horntail” and the “Chinese Fireball.”
Flight Of The Hippogriff: Another rethemed existing ride, this one used to be a small family coaster, “The Flying Unicorn.” Now it”ll be a “training device” that Hagrid uses to teach students how to ride the half-horse, half-bird, all-abomination Hippogriffs.
Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey: The biggest ride in the land, this ride will use KUKA industrial robot arms (think giant auto-assembly line robots) to move guests through various parts of Hogwarts. They haven’t revealed the storyline, but eagle-eyed fans have noticed a wizard in promo videos that look like the Hogwarts co-founder Salazar Slytherin, who’s never been actually seen in any Harry Potter book or movie (but had a cartoon of him posted on J.K. Rowling’s website).