Henry Poon's Blog

Orlando: entertainment and adventure at Universal Studios

The following blog post was written with the assistance of AI

We had a choice between going to Disney World versus Universal Studios, and by extension, that was really a choice between Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and we chose Harry Potter. Having arrived shortly after the park opened, we beelined it to the flagship Harry Potter ride, Escape from Gringotts, before the crowds grew and then we’d visiting the rest of the park later.

It was a really faithful creation of the actual Gringott’s bank from the movies – complete with the goblins moving about too. It was really like being teleported into the Harry Potter universe in the movies. And like the movies, the people in the photo frames talk and move too.

The ride itself is a 3D motion-simulated thrill ride. Riders go through the ride experiencing a short Harry Potter 3D film with a roller coaster integrated into it. The coaster follows a track with drops and at times converts into a motion simulator that shakes depending on what’s happening. When a troll on screen “grabs” the roller coaster and “throws” it, the rider experiences the movements in real life. The plot itself immerses riders in the Harry Potter universe, fighting the forces of Lord Voldemort, riding through underground vaults, and facing dragons.

The centerpiece of Diagon Alley is Gringotts Bank, with towering dragon statues guarding the entrance, with the one at the top breathing fire every fifteen minutes. Diagon Alley also features wand shops and pubs selling butter beer.

Throughout the area, there are various locations that interact with wands allowing guests to perform “spells” ranging from making water fountains spray water to levitating objects.

We also got to visit Springfield from the Simpsons. I didn’t go to any rides here, but it was cool just to see the different elements of the show in real-life like Duff Beer, Kwik-E-Mart, Krusty Burger, Moe’s Tavern, etc. The attention to detail here is excellent.

I also felt like compared to before, there’s now a noticeable shift towards motion simulator rides with 3D movies. Back then, the rides had to rely on physically built special effects, like for example, when Terminator statues would light up or when a character got thrown into the screen in the movie and then suddenly appear in real life running away. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the way things were. One thing’s for certain is that these 3D movies allow for special effects that weren’t possible before.

See more of Universal Studios here

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