Universal shows its practical side with a new animated Hagrid

May 6, 2019, 10:22 AM · Think Universal is all screens and no practical effects? Well, Universal Creative is now saying, "challenge accepted."

Universal Orlando this morning dropped teaser photos and a video for what it is calling its most advanced animated character yet — a seven-foot, six-inch Hagrid that will host the upcoming new roller coaster in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

Hand-sculpted by Universal Creative using a digital scan of actor Robbie Coltrane, Hagrid's face sits atop an animated figure dressed by the same costume team from the Harry Potter films. The animated figure is programmed with 24 different body movements and facial expressions. And Coltrane recorded a custom audio track for the character that will be used on the ride.

Hagrid IRL
Photo courtesy Universal

(And if you are wondering why we keep calling this an "animated figure" instead of an Audio Animatronic, that's because the other term is a trademark by a certain competitor down I-4.)

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opens to the public on June 13 and will feature a menagerie of those magical creatures on a roller coaster ride that will offer a variety of thrills while being a bit more family-friendly than the Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coasters it is replacing.

And it will show that, yes, Universal can do a practical-based narrative ride, too. Stay tuned for more coverage leading up to the grand opening. For discounted tickets and vacation packages to the Universal Orlando Resort, please visit our Universal Orlando tickets page.

Replies (22)

May 6, 2019 at 11:03 AM

As a certified Harry Potter Nutcase, let me just say that this makes my Monday morning. Love the dragon hide gloves: An excellent and practical choice.

Universal's bit coy though, announcing the animated figure and then not showing it actually move. Perhaps that'll be in another teaser.

May 6, 2019 at 11:58 AM

My question is, will this animated figure be on the actual ride, or somewhere in the queue (like Cyborg on the many versions of Six Flags' Justice League ride)?

The Mummy figures on Revenge of the Mummy were some of the most advanced when the Florida and Hollywood attractions debuted 15 years ago, but are shadows of their former self nowadays. A figure that's close enough to moving trains to be seen and appreciated on the ride will be much more difficult to maintain than one in the ride queue or station.

May 6, 2019 at 11:20 AM

With 24 different body actions and a script directly from Coltrane I would bet it is in the queue somewhere. They must have learned their lesson for that awful Hermoine impersonator on the train.
My question is are they going to have Express Pass immediately or wait a while? If not it better be open for EPA.

May 6, 2019 at 11:20 AM

Could we be seeing a Disco Hagrid in the future ..... :)

May 6, 2019 at 11:27 AM

Surely the obvious place for this figure is on-ride in Hagrid's Hut...?

May 6, 2019 at 11:30 AM

It is rumored that the Blast-Ended Skrewt will be in the hut.

May 6, 2019 at 12:24 PM

Currently there is no EPA for Islands until July. They probably won’t open it with Express but might add it I’d the ride isn’t too problematic.

May 6, 2019 at 12:37 PM

Where did you get that info, the website only lists EPA hours thru the end of May?

May 6, 2019 at 3:19 PM

On Saturday I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2. No spoilers because you now can see so in a TV ad for the show but Hagrid makes an on stage appearance.
I was surprised at how emotional I got during those scenes of the show. I've read the books, seen the films, but to see him come to life on stage was magic.
He is such an important figure in the WWoHP and an emotional center to Harry's journey. If there was only one human character to be created as an annimatronic, I think they picked the right one.

May 6, 2019 at 5:10 PM

I apologize, but during the four nights we were in NY you just can not avoid seeing images for the show and his presence is among those images.

May 6, 2019 at 6:20 PM

yeah Rob... i saw it too yesterday...but your suppose to #keepthesecrets!!!!!

May 6, 2019 at 6:23 PM

It is a play about Harry Potter like duh it is going to have Hagrid in it. Might have Harry potter in it as well. There might be magic and wands used as well in the play.

May 6, 2019 at 6:48 PM

OMG, what are you going to do, walk thru NYC with a bag on your head? Have you ever been there? The ads are UNAVOIDABLE!
@Rob, did nothing wrong!

May 6, 2019 at 6:53 PM

Yeah if you have ever been to NYC before it is impossible to not see the ads. When I bought my tickets online the harry potter play website had hagrid in the background as well, It is not like a secret that he is in the play.

May 6, 2019 at 7:58 PM

I will happily keep the secrets. But if they are showing a character heavily in ads, I don’t believe that is a secret the producers are trying to keep.

May 7, 2019 at 3:49 AM

A humanoid character is always tough, Ellen is a great example how difficult it is, but they nailed it with Hagrid. Looking at the background this must be the hut.

May 8, 2019 at 5:45 AM

Universal Creative continues to excel in the development of animated figures. Beginning with 'Men in Black: Alien Attack' -- which is peerless in its use of animated figures, practical sets and effects -- and continuing through the two Imotep figures in 'Revebge of the Mummy', UC deserves high praise in its consistent effort to swing for the fence.

May 8, 2019 at 5:52 AM

Seeing as how the Warner Bros Harry Potter tour in London already has a couple of animated Hagrid figures at various stages (they built some for stand-in shots), it shouldn't have been too much of a leap to make this.

May 8, 2019 at 4:09 PM

I am surprised.....

It only took 18 comments for someone to make a negative comment about Universal Creative building a state of the art animated figure.

Disney Fanboys - "Universal builds too many attractions with screen-based effects!"

Universal Creative - "Ok, we'll build you an attraction with more animated figures in it."

Disney Fanboys - "Your new animated figures are rather pedestrian. Maybe you should add a strobe light and make them totally awesome like Disco Yeti."

Universal Creative - "????"

May 9, 2019 at 7:14 PM

@Ian, you have no idea what you are talking about. Any animated figure (even the simplest) require large amounts of effort to create. Any theme park that makes a 7.5' animated figure deserves nothing but praise, whether Universal, Disney, or any other park.

May 10, 2019 at 7:14 AM

Haha! Well *that* hit a nerve. I'm just saying I've already seen Harry Potter animatronics like these on the Warner Bros tour in London. They are indeed very impressive and look fabulous. But if a small(ish) exhibition in London can do it, I would expect Universal to do so too - especially as they're working with the same people.

May 10, 2019 at 9:42 AM

Got it, Ian.

Unfortunately, over the years on this site, Disney Fanboys have made ridiculous assertions about Universal's efforts to up their game. We even had one poster go so far as to say that the walkways and vistas in Disney parks were "magical" while Universal's parks were no better than your average Six Flags park. I believe that poster got banned from the site for other nonsense (Robert, are you still a paid agent of the Universal PR department? lol), but we still have our Disney diehards who seem to have no objectivity whatsoever.

Facts are, both Disney and Universal are upping their game, and deserve our accolades when they give us top notch attractions and lands. (and great systems like FastPass+ which has made visits to the overcrowded Disney parks halfway tolerable.)

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