The Dark Arts rule in Universal's new Hogwarts Castle show

April 12, 2019, 1:34 AM · Something wicked this way comes... and this is what being bad is like, maybe I don't want to be good.

Universal Studios Hollywood tonight debuted its latest castle projection show in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle. High winds across the Los Angeles area prevented Universal from including all the planned elements in the show, including Universal's first use of drones in a theme park show. (We got a brief glimpse of a few going up in a test before the first performance.) But even in its "B" mode, Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle excels as the best version of The Wizarding World's castle show yet.

Don't look for a traditional story here. Consider this more Universal's "Impressions de Dark Arts." The show paints a moving visual portrait of dark landmarks, creatures, and wizards — from Borgin & Burkes to the Dark Lord himself. Accompanying the visuals is an engaging soundscape that deepens the dark tone of the eight-minute show, highlighted by an original arrangement of Harry Potter film themes, recorded for the production by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Those visuals include the most intricate yet produced for a Hogwarts Castle show, including a shimmering magical effect across its surface when Lord Voldemort appears. Leading up to that moment, we see the castle overrun by spiders, by Inferi, and by mountain trolls. The impression is clear — the onslaught of evil remains incessant, even against The Wizarding World's fortress of light.

In the end, that fortress crumbles under Lord Voldemort's killing curse. But as Professor Dumbledore reminds us, "happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times." The Stag Patronus drives the Dementors, Death Eaters and even Voldemore himself from the castle, though it remains in ruins at the end of the show, leaving the watching crowd silent for several moments after its conclusion.

But the castle soon repairs itself and life goes on... until the next performance.

I spoke with Stephen Siercks, Universal's Senior Director of Entertainment Production, before the first performance about the production. And our video includes a look at that drone finale that we missed tonight.

Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle opens officially on Saturday night, April 13. But Universal will offer a second night of its after-hours Dark Arts premiere event on Friday. The show continues through Sunday, April 28 then returns on Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27. The show will premiere at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure later this year.

For tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood, please visit our Universal Studios Hollywood tickets page.

Replies (1)

April 13, 2019 at 5:35 AM

I'm looking forward for the full show but this already looks very impressive.

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