Harry Potter’s Wizarding World & Forbidden Journey Update

Universal has been promoting the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter like crazy. A few months ago there was the augmented reality map that went out in an issue of a USA Today. I thought it was the coolest marketing idea I’d heard of in a long time. Unfortunately, the execution left something to be desired.

Augmented Reality Map
After holding the map in front of my web cam for tens of minutes at different angles I finally gave up. The first couple of tries, I got the map to work for a brief few seconds. On my laptop’s screen I saw myself holding the map, but castles and other features from the new land had risen out of it. It was a neat idea, but not worth the trouble it took to get it to work. If they ever do anything like this again they really need to provide more tips. I tried changing the lighting in the room, I cut the map out of the newspaper and taped it to a magazine, and I tried to sit perfectly still. It was pretty frustrating.

The Wizarding World on TV
As Universal’s a multimedia corporation, it was only a matter of time before they tapped into their television ties. Feature stories and commercials have been all over TV. Theme Park Syndicate writer Austin sent me an email about The Wizarding World being a part of a challenge on an episode of Celebrity Apprentice. Here’s the segment of the show where the cast visits the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

Watch the segment on NBC.com.

Ellen DeGeneres also featured the Wizarding World in a more in-depth look at the attraction:

I’m not a huge Potter fan, so here’s a description from the Theme Park Rangers of what they spotted in the video:

It’s the most footage we’ve seen from inside the construction walls, and of course, DeGeneres plays it for laughs throughout the five-minute clip. They enter several stores, including Dervish & Banges and Honeydukes, ride Flight of the Hippogriff (nee Flying Unicorn), sip some butterbeer and go through Hogwarts (which Ellen refers to as Hogwash.)
Orlando Sentinel’s Theme Park Rangers

Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey
Still no big reveal about the top secret Forbidden Journey ride that will anchor the new area. It sounds like a more immersive version of the Spider-Man/Curse of Darkastle rides with a robocoaster ride system instead of standard cars on a traditional track.

This video shows the highly detailed queue inside Hogwarts that looks super authentic. As Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative, guides the tour he gives the backstory of the ride. 

Theme Changes for Roller Coasters
The transition of Islands of Adventure’s Lost Continent to the Wizarding World has caused a couple of roller coasters to be re-themed. The popular Dueling Dragons will be known as Dragon Challenge. According to RCDB, the Fire Dragon will be called Chinese Fireball and the Ice Dragon will become Hungarian Horntail. Flying Unicorn has been re-themed as Flight of the Hippogriff.

What’s Your Take?
I’m by no means a Universal Studios or even an Orlando expert. Do you have any details to share about the Wizarding World? Please back up your information with links when possible.

Are you excited about the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Do you plan on visiting Islands of Adventure this year? Leave a comment below.