Universal Orlando confirms more details about Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

May 12, 2014, 10:21 PM · Update: It appears that the grand opening of Diagon Alley will be June 20, as Universal is sending out invitations for a media event on June 17-20. Stay tuned for more information.

Universal Orlando Resort Tuesday morning revealed more details about Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, the centerpiece attraction at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley land, opening soon at Universal Studios Florida.

We first reported an overview of the story and effects on this new roller coaster dark ride in December 2011, and expanded upon that post with a detailed scene-by-scene description of the ride in February. Warning: Spoilers abound at those links!

Universal concept art for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Here's the (relatively spoiler-free) TL;DR — You'll meet goblins and Bill Weasley in the Gringotts Bank offices in the queue, before descending into the caverns below, where you'll board motion-base roller coaster trains for a ride through an underground battle between Harry and his friends and Voldemort and his allies. Trolls and dragons add to the mayhem in an immersive experience that blends film with a wide variety of practical effects.

Gringotts train
The Orlando Business Journal just published this photo from Universal of the new Gringotts ride vehicles. Compare that with the image we first leaked on New Year's Eve in 2011, below:

Gringotts train concept

If you'd like to win a trip to the Grand Opening of Diagon Alley, NBC's Today Show is taking entries all week, giving away 25 trips for up to four to the grand opening. Visit sweepstakes.today.com to enter, starting Tuesday morning at 8am Eastern. You can get the answer to the entry form's daily question by watching Today, but don't need to provide the correct answer to enter to win. You can enter just once a day, but can enter again each day between now and Sunday for additional chances to win.

For a complete summary of all of coverage of Universal's four Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter, in Orlando, Hollywood, and Japan, please visit our Harry Potter page at themeparkinsider.com/wizarding-world-of-harry-potter.

Replies (24)

May 13, 2014 at 12:01 AM · Getting it right like this is why I always follow Theme Park Insider Robert.

I think you can allow yourself a slightly self-satisfied smirk right now :) Well done!

May 13, 2014 at 3:41 AM · As we've said before: "TPI - Ruining Universal's Big Announcements Since 2009!" Nice work, Mr. Woodward Niles!
May 13, 2014 at 5:37 AM · Are we any closer to knowing an opening date?
May 13, 2014 at 7:36 AM · No inside info (yet) but I'm placing my bet on June 24th. Summer starts June 21st and blockout days for the Power Pass start June 14th. That would give 10 days of soft open and be in the summer time frame they keep saying.

Also no word yet about a team member preview. There was a team member event in Hogsmeade but it was mainly just a pep rally. No real info on Diagon alley.

May 13, 2014 at 8:45 AM · Kudos to the Universal Orlando team for making the opening of Disney's SDMT a literal non-event.

Disney is and will continue to be the big dog in the Orlando market, but Universal Orlando is crushing them in the attraction development and public relations fields.

Someday, the development of the Universal theme parks and their battle for market share will be used as a case study on how an upstart should take on an industry giant.

May 13, 2014 at 9:02 AM · Only a non-event for the niche enthusiast crowd (us) that moves from one theme park news announcement to the next more quickly than a rabbit...uh, well, you get the picture.

Disney had their moment in the sun at their media event last week, now it is Universal's turn. Next it will be Disney again when SDMT actually opens at the end of the month, then Universal when Harry Potter Part Deux (Electric Boogaloo?) actually opens (late June?). Somewhere in between they'll be other parks like Busch Gardens (Falcon's Fury) and Six Flags Great America (Goliath) that make a few smaller waves as well. Us enthusiasts are like honey bees bouncing from flower to flower, blithely unaware the the rest of the world probably couldn't care less. And TPI regulars are the worst of the bunch since we know all the "news" two years before everyone else!

May 13, 2014 at 9:14 AM · So excited for this section to open. Heading 1,800 miles to Orlando specifically to take in the experience. Special thanks to Robert and this site for its continued reporting on the subject. Quality work.
May 13, 2014 at 9:53 AM · After finally watching the two minute video posted in the Universal blog, is any of the footage actual ride footage? It just looked like scenes from the film.... If it is actual ride footage, then WOW!
May 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM · Yes there were multiple aspects of ride footage in that video... Of note is the trolls in armored suits part.
May 13, 2014 at 10:23 AM · ^Not so much the peripheral aspects of the ride, but the coaster itself. Upon further viewing the coaster scenes all look like shots from the film... But are the POV shots actual ride footage?
May 13, 2014 at 10:37 AM · WOW!!!!!!!! Enough said....
May 13, 2014 at 11:42 AM · The details of this attraction are unbelievable. Universal is setting the new standard in Theme Park entertainment. Disney better be taking notice and Avatar will have to be pretty damn great.

May 13, 2014 at 11:47 AM · It speaks well for Universal Creative that one look at the video isn't enough for most viewers to decide which footage is from the ride and which is from the movies.
May 13, 2014 at 12:57 PM · After re-watching a bit of the film upon which the ride is based, most (if not ALL) of the actual ride footage is from the movie.

Well, that's a real bummer. I feel a bit cheated now. Shucks. I knew it was too good to be true.

So kudos to Universal Creative for good video editing if nothing else, I guess.

Here's a youtube link if you care: HP 7 Pt 2.

May 13, 2014 at 1:01 PM · I just looked at the concept and finished product a bit more closely. Other than a couple items, like the front of the car where there is a second light above the large one being removed so the front row has an unobstructed view, these are almost a 100% match.

Still not sure how Robert got his hands on those such a long time ago, but I am convinced the "leak" must have been intentional where they hand picked Robert to break the news.

Either way, it just lends more credibility to TPI. Congrats, Robert.

May 13, 2014 at 1:28 PM · I'll just have to wait for the ride video after it opens. I'm relying on you spies out there.
May 13, 2014 at 3:30 PM · It looks like it could be a pretty okay ride after all.
May 13, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Two short shots, at 1:06 and 1:13, appear to be footage that will be included on the ride (Bellatrix, and the trolls).
May 13, 2014 at 7:25 PM · Agreed... But the rest of the video is just a highlight reel from the film. Universal better deliver the goods or I see a class action lawsuit for false advertising! Maybe they should flash a message on the screen like, "Actual ride footage", during the five seconds of...uh...actual ride footage.
May 14, 2014 at 6:19 AM · The reports of original movie ride footage that I've seen on other sites is apx. 1 minute broken into small snippets.
May 14, 2014 at 8:26 AM · With all the interviews in this two minute advertisement, I doubt seriously that there is a full minute of "actual" ride footage. I think Robert's assessment of about ten seconds of actual footage is a lot closer to correct.

On one hand, I now find the video to be misleading and disappointing, but on the other hand, I fully expect the ride to be wonderful and amazing and am probably happier without the spoilers.

May 14, 2014 at 8:11 AM · To be fair, they never talk about the footage in the video or say that it is ride footage, so it is only an assumption that the footage we see is from the ride.

However, I agree that the video is fairly useless in that it just not give you any real information. The creators talk about how great it is, and then we get a couple seconds of actual moments from the ride. It's just a lot of puffery.

Doesn't make me any less excited about the ride, but the video doesn't add much.

May 14, 2014 at 10:19 AM · The video has enough descriptive information for it be useful. It described the story of Beatrix and Voldemort that runs parallel to the original Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as a 2.1 sequel. Of course they are not going to reveal much about the attraction itself, but the animatronic bank tellers are quite nice to see. The thing is with the ride running 4 minutes long, you're not going to experience much in that time frame. You have to comfort yourself by getting in that long line and doing it over and over again.

With the bones in place, I wonder if they should update the ride itself with new sequences. Did you know that Harry Potter lives on?


May 14, 2014 at 12:19 PM · ^The film, inspired by Harry Potter’s Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will follow the adventures of the book’s fictitious author, Newt Scamander, a Magizoologist. Newt's story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry's gets underway... ZZZZZZZZZZZZ... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... huh?...uh...sorry...

The first film of the planned trilogy is set to release on Nov 18, 2016.

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