Friday, June 8, 2012

Hogwarts Express to be an E-Ticket Attraction

©2012 Warner Bros. Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.
When discussing the forthcoming expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida, Gringotts is always thought of as the sole E-Ticket of the expansion.  Then, there is discussion of walk-throughs or family-friendly dark rides.  Many have overlooked the possibility of the Hogwarts Express ending up being a legitimate attraction, let alone an E-Ticket.  Most assumed it would just be basic transportation.  Even more assumed that the train would not happen at all (no room, capacity nightmare, ticket problems, etc.)

The Hogwarts Express is indeed coming, and the permits Parkscope discovered on June 1st are indeed for it.  A contractor who worked on Phase 1 (and perhaps 2) of WWoHP has been making waves the past two days by making some rare posts on WDWMagic.  Early on, he claimed that the Hogwarts Express could become the second E-Ticket of the expansion, and it appears, that nothing has changed.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term "E-Ticket," it originated with Disney when they had ticket books for attractions.  An E-Ticket was required for attractions like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Carribbean, and Space Mountain.  Today, the term is used to describe attractions of great scope, detail, and theme.  For example, Forbidden Journey, Spider-Man, Tower of Terror, and Kilimanjaro Safaris would be E-Tickets today.

First off, here are the posts:

 "An elevated backstage train track will link the 2. With some nifty outside-but-not fx for the train windows."-marni1971
"The connector is the train ride itself. This attraction is turning out to be the second E-ticket for the expansion. It's much more than a train me. The technical challenges are many but the reward will pay off immensely!"-WhyLightBulb
"Screamscape is pretty close although the projection/media system will be far more advanced than the example Lance gives. During tests people have been getting a bit sick due to the ultra-realism and depth perception. The media actually needs to be created in layers with varying speeds represented based on the speed of the train and sequence. As far as in cabin effects, let's just say that the cabins could get a bit chilly at times for one example."-WhyLightBulb
"Exactly. We tried single layer video and it caused motion sickness. It was determined that synch. between motion and video was not the cause in this case. What we are working on now is extremely labor intensive and technically complex and will make for a very realistic experience. The results based on early tests are stunning. let's hope the support, financially and otherwise, continues as it has so far."-WhyLightBulb
Dementor on Hogwarts Express
©2012 Warner Bros. Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.
As you can see, we seem to be in for a real treat when Phase 2 opens in a few short years.  From WhyLightBulb's posts, it seems safe to assume the Hogwarts Express ride will feature the scene from Prisoner of Azkaban where Dementors attack the train looking for Sirius Black.  In the scene, the train comes to a complete stop, rattles, and Dementors enter compartments.  Then, everything gets dark and very, very cold.  This is what happens when Dementors attack.  The best way to recuperate from a Dementor attack is to eat Honeydukes' Chocolate (which you will be able to purchase when you arrive in Hogsmeade.) It is exciting to see they are going for a realistic experience with thrills and chills.  Hopefully, while realistic and scary, the ride will still be accessible to most guests.

What would be very cool, in my opinion, would be for random ride sequences like Star Tours 2, but I am not sure what else they could do.  It will also be interesting to see what happens on the journey from Hogsmeade to Kings Cross as nothing of note happens in the films or books.

Ocean Express gives us an idea of what the Hogwarts Express may be like
It will be very fascinating, in time, to see how they accomplish the window effects and what the train will be like exactly.  All we have to go on at the moment is the possibility of it being similar to the Ocean Express at cean Park in China.  We also know it will be backstage and elevated.  From the outside, it will need to look like the Hogwarts Express when we load and unload.  This project is very exciting because not only will the finished product be ground breaking, we have little idea how any of this will be accomplished.

Screamscape's proposed Hogwarts Express layout.
One thing is certain, this is not just a form of transportation, it will be an experience.  Along with the Dementor attack, we have Kings Cross, Platform 9 3/4, and Hogsmeade Station to look forward to.  The scope of this project is huge.  And when you have the train linking the individually awesome Phases 1 and 2, it will be a sensory, emotional, and magical experience.  Potter fans will lose their minds, and I think true theme park fans will also.  I do not think anyone ever (realistically) saw this coming five years ago when Phase 1 was announced.

As of 6/7/12, the three Hogwarts Express permits are still under review by the City of Orlando.  In the next month or so, we should see them laying out the stations and track.


Visit wdwmagic for a good discussion on the rise of Universal which of course includes WWoHP2 talk.  The discussion was started by the same article that inspired our series of articles entitled "Universal Century" posted last month.  Marni1971, Lee, WDW1974 (Spirit), and WhyLightBulb are good posters to keep an eye on.

And as always, discuss WWoHP2 on Orlando United.

Follow @CaptMichael87 and @Parkscope for updates on Twitter, and please keep checking the blog.

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