a look @ harry potter’s wizarding world
With much of the world abuzz about the release this week of the latest (and what’s said to be the last) installment of the Harry Potter movie series, I thought it appropriate to blog about a place that brings the character, his cohorts, and their world to life, in 3-D, in an amusing amusement park way. Back in January I had the opportunity to not only visit Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey within Hogwarts castle in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL but to also attend a presentation from Thierry Coup VP of Creative Development for Universal Creative and executive in charge of media production for Universal Parks and Resorts, who has played an integral role in shaping the blockbuster rides and attractions at Universal Orlando Resort including this latest addition. Not having read a single of the HP books nor seen one of the flicks (to the certain gasp of my eight year old nephew who is handily plowing through all of the tomes) and being the unfortunate sufferer of motion sickness, I wasn’t too keen on wandering the mystical streets of Hogsmeade let alone attempting the fanatical ride at its terminus.
However, intrigued by the thought and effort that went into the design of the park, to replicate an old English fictional town, with full attention to detail in every gable, every window detail, every patch of fake snow, every stone and brick, I thought I should take a gander. Details such as the moving anima-tronic owls high in the rafters, including smears of droppings, that many may miss they are so well-integrated. Or the fanciful interpretation of olde steeped roofs, worn cobbled streets, and a foreboding castle perched high above the village.
Or the deep marketing thought given to perfecting the butter beer (of which they had sold over a million mugs barely six months into operation, well explained in a recent Huffington Post article). Or how purposely minute are the shoppes in square footage, decked out with special effects themselves, to make the sometimes hour plus wait to enter for the privilege to purchase some Potter bobble at an over-inflated price almost seem worth while.
Or the multimedia dazzling afforded visitors along the long queue into and through the castle, as they wait the 90 minutes or more for the four-minute whiz through the wizard’s world on a topsy-turvy multimedia ride that almost proved too much for this weak stomach. Thank goodness for Ginger People candies.
However, what resonated the most in the perspective of design, as I learned from Thierry’s talk, is the perspective that the Wizarding World provided the original set designers for the films, who were called in as part of the professional team that dreamed up this attraction. In the world of film they needed only design a couple of walls for one scene, only a single back drop for another. Harry’s world in ‘real life’ allowed them to finish the vision in all dimensions, providing a fulfilling, tactile, five-senses experience for themselves, and for all.