Image a world of magic, fantastic beasts and amazing toys and candy; seems great right? But it's not real, so you could never go there... until now! using astounding and realistic modern technology Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida has really created magic at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley.
Diagon Alley is the second magical park at Universal Orlando, the first being The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade. Built in 2010 Hogsmeade was the first place you could experience the magic of Harry Potter. It includes 4D rides, huge roller coasters, shops and restaurants just like those in the Harry Potter books and movies. The park was a huge success prompting the demand for more, a new park: Diagon Alley.
Harry Potter and The Escape from Gringotts
Escape from Gringotts is the main attraction for Diagon Alley. You ride a bank cart inside the wizarding bank and battle Voldemort, giants, and dragons and even meet Harry, Ron and Hermione along the way. But how does this ride make you see and feel like you are really there? The ride uses a motion simulator to take riders through drops and turns without really moving using the help of wind generated by fans and 3D screens. On the ride you wear safety goggles a.k.a. 3D glasses, so it's like you are watching a movie where you interact with the characters and set. The “video” you watch while riding was filmed using a set covered in green screens so that special effects like magic spells and fire could be added in later. Even some of the original cast of the Harry Potter series was used in the ride like Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley). Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts isn't the only ride in Diagon Alley, there is an even more famous place to take an adventurous ride in the Wizarding World; The Hogwarts Express.
The Hogwarts Express
In the Harry Potter series the Hogwarts Express is used to transport students from London to Hogwarts. So naturally that is what the Hogwarts Express does at Universal Orlando. The Hogwarts Express takes riders from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade all while feeling like you are traveling with Harry Potter and his friends. The windows in the compartments you ride in are actually 3D screens. On the outside window Hogwarts pulls into view, you see a centaur herd gallop through the Forbidden Forest and the Weasley twins advertising their new business. On the inside window you see Dementors and listen to Harry, Ron and Hermione in the hall. The ride even looks like an old coal powered train with smoke and piles of coal.
The Hogwarts Express is supposed to have traveled 100s of times from London to Scotland and back so the creators of the Universal Hogwarts Express had to recreate the effect of having traveled hundreds of miles. The engineers used drills, sandpaper, and hammers to scratch, dent and rust the train to make it look used.
A Place of Magic
So why go to all this trouble using millions of dollars and years to perfect band new technology? Simply to add so real life magic to our lives and to convince us that everything is possible even if it’s not real magic.