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Harry Potter cast members reunite to shoot new scenes for Universal Orlando's "Escape from Gringotts" thrill ride

Harry Potter cast members reunite to shoot new scenes for Universal Orlando's "Escape from Gringotts" thrill ride

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Let's cut to the chase here: "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts" (i.e. the feature attraction for Diagon Alley, that new Harry Potter-themed land which will be opening at Universal Studios Florida later this summer) isn't just a thrill ride. It's really "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2.1"

According to Thierry Coup, the Senior Vice President of Universal Creative (i.e., the arm of Universal Parks & Resorts that designs all of the rides, shows & attraction for the Universal theme parks), the cast from the Harry Potter movies all really enjoyed returning to the Wizarding World. Getting the chance to reprise the roles that they'd played over the course of this eight part film series.


Thierry Coup makes a last minute camera check on before filming of some
new Wizarding World footage can get underway. Copyright Universal
Orlando.  All rights reserved

"I actually got to direct those scenes for this new Universal Orlando attraction in December of 2012. And it was obvious that the cast members who came back to be part of the Gringotts shoot really enjoyed the opportunity to revisit these characters," Coup said during a phone interview yesterday. "I mean, these performers had spent so many years working together on that acclaimed series of films. So it was clear that they really appreciated this opportunity to revisit the world of Harry Potter. Getting the chance to portray these iconic characters one more time."

Mind you, the adventure that Universal Orlando guests will experience after they climb aboard this multi-dimensional, multi-sensory attraction and then journey deep down into the caverns under Gringotts Wizarding Bank won't exactly duplicate what Harry, Ron & Hermoine went through in the final Potter book and/or the 2011  film which capped off this series.


HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and
© Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s14)
Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2014 Universal Studios.
© 2014 Universal Orlando. All rights reserved.

"J.K. Rowling actually gave us a lot of creative leeway when it came to 'Escape from Gringotts.' You see, the story that we wanted to tell with this Universal Orlando attraction kind of ran concurrently with the events which occurred during 'Deathly Hallows,' " Coup explained. "You see, our Guests just happen to be at Gringotts Wizarding Bank opening a new account on the exact same day that Harry, Ron & Hermoine are trying to break into Bellatrix Lestrange's vault to retrieve a horcrux."

Mind you, it isn't 'til their 20-passenger mine car is actually making its way through that vast complex of caverns directly under Gringotts (so that Universal Orlando visitors can then supposedly go inspect their newly-purchased vault) that these people finally cross paths with Harry, Ron & Hermoine. Their mine car is on a track which parallels the path of Potter's just as Harry, Ron, Hermoine & Griphook the goblin pass through Thief's Downfall. Which is this enchanted waterfall that Gringotts put in place to wash away any concealment spells & enchantment charms that would-be thieves might use in their attempt to break into one of the bank's vaults.


HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and
© Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s14)
Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2014 Universal Studios.
© 2014 Universal Orlando. All rights reserved.

And once that happens, Gringotts immediately goes on high alert. Thinking that they might be the would-be vault robbers, the Bank's brutish security trolls will then menace these Universal Orlando visitors. But that's nothing compared to what happens when Bellatrix Lestrange & He Who Must Not Be Named, Lord Voldemort arrive on the scene and are determined to do whatever they have to in order to protect that horcrux.

"Which I know is a departure from 'The Deathly Hallows - Part 2' movie. J.K. Rowling certainly didn't mention Bellatrix & Voldemort being on scene this early as part of the 'Deathly Hallows' book. But given that this action is happening away from where Harry, Ron & Hermoine are ... Well, J.K. actually gave us permission to include these scenes as part of our attraction because they could have possibly been going on while Harry, Ron & Hermoine were in the Lastrange vault retrieving that horcux," Thierry stated.


HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and
© Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s14)
Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2014 Universal Studios.
© 2014 Universal Orlando. All rights reserved.

What's genuinely intriguing about "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts" is Universal Creative used feedback that they got on Islands of Adventure's "Forbidden Journey" to help tweak their storytelling on Diagon Alley's centerpiece attraction.

"Don't get me wrong. Harry Potter fans really seem to love 'Forbidden Journey.' But the one complaint which we kept getting from our Guests about that Wizarding World attraction was that they weren't getting enough time with their favorite characters. That -- because 'Forbidden Journey' is really kind of a Harry Potter highlight reel -- we kept moving quickly from character to character, from place to place," Coup continued. "Which is why -- with 'Escape from Gringotts' -- we decided to confine this attraction to one specific place. Give our Guests lots of face time with some of the most famous characters from the Harry Potter world. Not to mention placing them right in the middle of one of the more exciting moments from both the books & the film series."


HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and
© Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s14)
Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2014 Universal Studios.
© 2014 Universal Orlando. All rights reserved.

That means facing down the 60-foot long, fire-breathing Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon which bars the way to the Lestrange family vault. Which Hermoine then sets free in a last ditch effort to escape from all the goblins & Deatheaters who are hurling curses at them (and Universal Orlando theme park guests) in the caverns far below those polished marble floors high above in the lobby in Gringotts Wizarding Bank.

And speaking of Gringotts' lobby ... During the 35 minutes that Universal Orlando visitors will spend wandering through the highly themed queue of this new state-of-the-art thrill ride, they'll eventually come face-to-face with a set of animatronic goblins.


HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and ©
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s14)
Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2014  Universal Studios.
© 2014 Universal Orlando. All rights reserved.

"Every lesson that we've ever learned from building other attractions here at the Universal Orlando Resort -- our award-winning "The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man," "Transformers: The Ride - 3D," even "Forbidden Journey" -- has been applied to "Escape from Gringotts." There's never ever been a theme park attraction like this before. One that uses so much cutting-edge technology in the service of telling this one really great story," Thierry concluded. "Which is why I can't wait 'til late this Summer when Universal Orlando Guests get the chance to enter Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Which is when they'll get the chance to join Harry, Ron & Hermoine on the ultimate Harry Potter adventure."

* - This story originally appeared in Jim Hill's blog on HuffingtonPost.com.

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  • "During the 35 minutes that Universal Orlando visitors will spend wandering through the highly themed queue of this new state-of-the-art thrill ride"

    What did you mean by this?  That it will take 35 minutes on a non-buy day to navigate the queue?  Or is this the anticipated wait time after the hype dies down?

  • That may be the amount of time spent in the queue once you finally enter the building, not counting the other hours you may spend in an outside queue.

  • From my understanding the extended queue is another lessen learned from the Hogwarts Castle queue. There guests often clog the flow by taking to long to linger in the separate area's that are excellent. So the queue now will have separate rooms (not unlike the Haunted Mansion or Tower of Terror. But unlike having 1 room there are many highly themed rooms with different experiences. At the end is the 4 minute ride where I'm sure you can chicken out of or go and enter it.

    The ride sound amazing and I can't wait to experience this experience.

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