New details of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter have been revealed after the official website for Universal Orlando's new headline attraction was updated.
The new website includes descriptions of the attractions, shops and restaurants that will make up the Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure. It also features a virtual fly-through tour, which shows off the layout of the Potter-themed land including Hogsmeade Village and the iconic Hogwarts castle.
The site's description of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the only all-new attraction to feature in the Wizarding World, all but confirms that it will be centered around a "broomstick" flight experience. Universal says Potter fans should "get ready to soar above the [Hogwarts] castle grounds, as you join Harry Potter and his friends on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, coming face-to-face with an array of magical creatures."
The description is consistent with the Wizarding World advertisement that Universal intends to run during the Superbowl next week, which features two children following Harry Potter on broomsticks. The Forbidden Journey is expected to use a ride system based on Kuka's robotic arm technology, as seen in the recently-opened Sum of All Thrills at Walt Disney World's Epcot. To simulate a broomstick flight, guests would be mounted on one of the arms, which could provide the freedom of vertical movement needed to simulate soaring into the skies.
The site also reveals a few new details about the ride's plot. It is already known that it will incorporate elements from all of the Potter movies, and that the stars of the films will reprise their roles. Universal has now revealed that creatures from the movies including Dementors, Hungarian Horntails, Acromantulas and the Whomping Willow will all feature in the ride.
Existing rollercoaster Dueling Dragons will be renamed to Dragon Challenge, and given a plot based on the Triwizard Tournament. Universal promises that "guests will marvel at the blazing Goblet of Fire and the shining Triwizard Cup" as they pass through the ride's rethemed queue, with the previous Fire and Ice coasters being renamed to the Hungarian Horntail and the Chinese Fireball.
The Wizarding World's other rollercoaster is Flight of the Hippogriff, an updated version of "kiddie" coaster The Flying Unicorn. The queue will see guests pass by Hagrid's Hut, with the character dispensing instructions on how to properly ride a Hippogriff. The coaster itself is described as being "woven from wicker and decorated with fluttering leaves representing feathers". A "real" Hippogriff will also feature in the attraction.
Meanwhile, the launch of a new competition by the Today Show has led to further speculation on the Wizarding World's opening date. The competition offers a school class a trip to the opening day of the Wizarding World, and closes to entries on March 19. However, public voting for the winner will continue until April 29, and the rules of the contest state that all travel arrangements must be made a minimum of 25 days prior to travel. This suggests an opening date in late May, in time for the vital Memorial Day weekend. However, the contest rules do state that all dates are subject to change, and it is likely that the Wizarding World will be in action on a "soft opening" basis prior to its official Grand Opening.
Teachers hoping to win their class a trip to the opening must produced a three-minute video answering the question "Why is my class extraordinary?". Full details of the competition can be found on the USA Today website.
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