Expecto Patronum! Will we get to use our wands on a new Universal ‘Harry Potter’ ride?

08.29.16 10 months ago

Merlin's beard! A new patent from Universal Parks & Resorts seems to indicate a very exciting, interactive Harry Potter ride could be on the way. Wands at the ready!!

I'm a huge Harry Potter nerd, so I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando as soon as was humanly possible and just recently got the chance to visit the new area at Universal Studios Hollywood. They are tremendously impressive. Orlando has a bit of an edge as their Harry Potter area is more expansive, but at both you get completely immersed in the world while you're there.

The Orlando Business Journal reports on a newly discovered patent simply called “Video Game Ride” from Universal. The abstract for the patent reads:

A system in accordance with present embodiments includes a plurality of vehicles having vehicle interface circuitry and configured to accommodate one or more riders. In certain embodiments, a vehicle of the plurality of vehicles is configured to receive respective inputs from the one or more riders via the vehicle interface circuitry, and wherein the respective inputs are related to one or more game features of a game environment; and a game controller configured to receive information from the vehicle interface circuitry related to the respective inputs; and provide instructions to modify the game environment based on at least one of the respective inputs.

That's a lot of jargon but sounds as if it could be something similar to Disney's Toy Story Midway Mania ride or Universal's already-in-use Men in Black: Alien Attack. In both you sit in a ride vehicle and shoot at targets with a play gun attached to the car.

While the words “Harry Potter” are not included, the patent does give this magical example of how the ride would work:

For example, in a wizard-themed game, each operator interface 44 may represent a different wand associated with each character. The wands may be the players' own wands, and, in such embodiments, the game system 10 may link to the wands before the game start to configure game play and to authorize individual wands to interact with the game environment 14. Unauthorized wands would have no effect or ability to interact with features in the game system 10. [0031] Further, depending on the type of game configuration, the players 46a-46d may be competing on opposing teams or may be working together to accomplish a joint goal. For team-based play, the vehicles 12 may be scored individually as well as cumulatively. The various operator interface inputs may be pooled for a total vehicle score or may be arbitrated to the highest or lowest player ability to determine the vehicle path and/or game play or the influence an unfolding story. For example, depending on the game play, additional clues, plot points in the narrative, or avatar interactions may be revealed. In one embodiment, superior game play may reveal tie-in information to a game theme, such as movie release information or may reveal introduction of a particular character within the game theme In another embodiment, some game play may reveal clues or hints to let novice players catch up to more experienced players.

“Wizard-themed game,” “wands,” yeah, this is sounding very interesting. And “movie release information”? I wonder if this could be specifically tied into the spin-off trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Using wands to collect magical creatures who've escaped seems like a great use of these mechanics. 

Here's a bit more information from the patent which reveals you'll really need to practice:

In certain embodiments, the score input may include input from external sensors 90 that capture player motion, such as wand motion, and provide the motion characteristics as input to a score determination algorithm. If the wand motion is associated with a particular spell that is an effective spell for the game, the player's score may be updated to indicate a successful “freezing spell” or other spell has been cast.

Immobulus!

Orlando Business Journal also notes Universal made a deal with Nintendo last year, so this could also play into a different branded ride entirely, but the wand notes are too blatant to ignore. Both Wizarding World theme parks already have interactive areas where visitors can perform bits of “magic” with specially purchased wands. Please, please, please let this become a reality!

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