To be completely honest, every time I read the title to this new ride, all I hear is Tony Soprano calling his son AJ “googootz”. My brain is weird.
Universal Orlando has finally confirmed details regarding the new signature ride at the soon-to-be-opened Diagon Alley expansion of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” (a place I will go simply to gorge myself on butter beer). The Harry Potter and the Escape from Googootz — excuse me, Gringotts — ride will feature vehicles that seat twelve folks and carry visitors “through a Harry Potter story featuring villains, dragons and goblins.” Today, Universal revealed a bunch of new details on the theme park attraction, including Harry Potter and the Escape from Googootz photos and concept art.
Speaking with the Orlando Sentinel, Universal Creative Studios Senior VP Thierry Coup had this to say:
“We wanted the level of thrills that Forbidden Journey has but maybe make it more visual than physical in some ways, trying to strike the right balance. The time you spend in each scene with the characters is greater than we’ve been able to achieve in any ride. It’s really going to give you the sense of being there with your favorite characters.”
Furthermore, new projector technology and a nearly 360-degree screen will help immerse riders in the story at one point during the ride.The attraction’s storyline is set during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh book in the series, and the seventh and eighth movies in the film adaptations. The ride recreates famous set pieces from the films, and puts the guests in the middle of the action (sounding like a cross between the old Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios and the Dark Knight roller-coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey).
The exterior of the attraction, a recreation of Gringotts Bank, will feature a 60-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon statue on top. Guests will be filed through the bank, with the attraction queue transporting visitors through its marble lobby. Take a look at the concept art:
The plot of the attraction goes: “guests are there to open a new account at the bank, but they will find themselves transported smack in the middle of the action when Ron, Harry and Hermoine break into the bank.” (Which sounds way better than all the lollipops and free hats I’ve always gotten when opening an account combined.) “Harry, Ron and Hermione are searching the labyrinths of Gringotts to find a Horcrux to defeat Lord Voldemort.”
According to a Theme Park Insider rumor:
“A set of elevators will take you down 30,000 feet to the subterranean Gringotts vaults. Once guests are at vault level, you’ll pick up your 3D glasses in a tunnel-like room, before climbing a spiral staircase to the load platform.”
From there, the ride is essentially a roller-coaster. All told, it will last up to four minutes and completely immerse those brave enough to traverse its insanity into a Harry Potter story of their very own. Check out some more concept art and start getting excited:
An opening date for the new Wizarding World expansion has not been announced, but speculation from “insiders” estimates a grand opening in mid-June 2014. No word on if you get a giant Italian zucchini at the end of the ride or not.
**UPDATE** — The incomparable Peter Sciretta from /Film got a chance to speak with Harry Potter art director Alan Gilmore, who fleshed out details on the ride even further (the dragon comes to life in the ride!). Definitely worth a read if you love theme parks and or Potter.