Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Universal Studios Hollywood held a press conference yesterday to confirm that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is coming to Universal Studios Hollywood. Hogwarts Castle and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride will be built but Universal didn't announced yet an opening date, just saying "“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be as impressive as what has been created in Orlando – and is expected to transform tourism in Los Angeles for decades to come. It will be a fully immersive environment for the entire family that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life and is faithful to the visual landscape of the films, including a majestic Hogwarts castle to serve as the centerpiece of the themed environment. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be created with the same commitment to authenticity and the same level of talent and resources as its Orlando counterpart”.
When Screamscape released the news last monday that Harry Potter Wizarding World phase two might be built at Universal Orlando instead than Islands of Adventure it was a shock for theme parks and Harry Potter fans as for the first time in theme park history a land might be divided between two theme parks. As you know Lance revealed that the Jaws area at Universal Orlando - which will be closed early January - could be transformed in Harry Potter Wizarding World phase two. And as you can see on the video above Universal also confirmed yesterday that "the Orlando Wizarding World would also be expanded, with details about that promised to come sometime in the future".
Lance said that "they did not confirm if the Phase 2 expansion was coming to replace Jaws but his sources keep saying that the Potter expansion will take the place of Jaws and Amity areas". So, if Lance sources are right this Potter phase two at Universal Studios Orlando will be the "London" part of Harry Potter stories and guests will board the famous Hogwarts Express which will transport them from Universal Studios ( London ) to Islands of Adventure ( Hogwarts ). The idea as i've written early this week might look half-genius half-insane but if this is confirmed - which i hope, personally - how could they do it? Let's have a look at that thanks to Google Earth.
On the Google Earth screen capture above - click on it to enlarge the picture - you will see that Harry Potter land in IOA and the Jaws area at Universal are not specially close. We can even say that the Jaws area is at the other end of Universal Studios. Also, you'll note that they don't have a lot of room available in IOA behind the Potter phase one, and this could explain the incredible idea of Universal. Below, another shot of Wizarding World from above coming from the excellent Theme Park Guy website.
Now, considering the distance between the two areas, how could they do it? On the next Google Earth screen capture below i've tried to imagine how they could resolve the problem. On the right you'll see the space that might become Potter phase two, formerly the Jaws and Amity areas. As you see its a pretty big space and, because guests are supposed to board the Hogwarts Express to go to Potter phase one at IOA they'll also need to create the train station which could be located in the back as i've put it on the picture. Why in the back? Because the train will need to go from there to IOA and in my opinion the best way is to go around the park through what is basically now parking lots, with a track which would be parallel to the avenues outside the parks. It will be also simple to create 3D projection tunnels like the one Universal created recently for King Kong 3D at Universal Hollywood. They could use the same technology to create amazing projection effects during the ride aboard the Hogwarts Express, and most of all they would have the space to do these tunnels along this road.
Now, they will also need an arrival train station at IOA and i think they have the space available to build it in the location i've put on the picture above. They still will have to create a link from the IOA station to the Potter phase one entrance, but that's the easy part.
However in my plan there is some element that might be a problem for a railroad track going the way i've put it. If you look at the picture you'll note that there is at least two backstage cars entrance and obviously they will need, in this case, to have the cars and trucks going under the railroad track. Anyway, they don't have a lot of choice as the others choices would mean to have the railroad track going through the Studios which would be more difficult.
One last thought: if you remember well the Potter movies, Harry Potter and all other young sorcerers embark the Hogwarts Express on the 9 3/4 platform which is a hidden one. And they access it by going through - literally - a column of the train station. Universal won't probably reproduce this effect for the guests but i thought "how will i do it if i have to?". I think that the best way to do it would be to recreate part of the station, including the train station columns, and on one of these columns - which are mostly square columns - to have three of the sides really built in "hard". And the side which would face the guests could be a projection on a mist screen giving the illusion that it is as hard as the other sides of the column. You need to have a lighting quite dark to hide the trick but it might work....as long as there is no technical problems with the mist screen which would have to work fine all day long, and that's not easy. But if it works, you then could ask the guests - by group of one, two or more depending how many they are in each group - to run towards the column and "go through" to access this 9 3/4 platform!
Anyway, this amazing Universal idea has yet to be confirmed and may be they will simply put the Transformers ride where the Jaws attraction is now and the dream will be over!
Pictures: copyright Theme Park Guy, Google Earth