Today we will take a look around Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.
Needless to say, everything in this article can be considered spoilers since the attraction and Diagon Alley haven’t officially opened yet. However, I suspect it will soft open some time this week so they can at least do some run throughs with actual guests before it officially opens on July 8th.
The exterior of the building is absolutely stunning and in a smart move, the entrance to the attraction is not the corner of the building, but rather the side. This leaves the front door available for photo opportunities.
To the right of the queue entrance is a test seat. Riders must be 42 inches tall and the restraint system is very similar to Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Florida.
By the time this opens to the public, the lobby of the bank will be filled with stanchions and chains. There will be a lot of queue filling this room which will give you a good chance to soak in the details.
Lucky for me, there were no stations separating me from the goblins manning the teller windows at the bank. The level of detail on the figures is extremely impressive even close up.
Even the paperwork sitting on their desk matches the Gringotts currency that is sold in Diagon Alley.
Much like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the queue is just as impressive as the ride itself, if not more so.
The only animatronic goblin that talks is this gentleman who explains the procedures for opening an account at Gringotts.
Just behind him is a small spiral staircase that the queue weaves around.
Looking directly above the staircase is this gorgeous dome ceiling and crystal chandelier.
Rounding the corner, you go down a ramp and slowly closer to the vaults.
There are several bays where groups of guests are taken to have their photo taken for “security purposes.”
Guests are then handed a Universal Orlando Photo Connect Card that has a barcode with their picture info scanned on it. You can then purchase your photos at the exit of the ride.
Similar to the queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, there are newspapers that come to life with videos embedded in them.
After having your photo taken, the queue is split into two rows that file past the offices of the Gringotts Bank.
Listen closely and you’ll over hear characters from the Harry Potter films chatting about trying to sneak into the vault.
At the end of the hall are a set of double doors that lead into the first of two pre-show rooms.
The first pre-show uses a peppers ghost effect that is also used in Disaster at Universal Studios Florida by Christopher Walken’s character. Pictures and video don’t do it justice, but click on the video below to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
There is a ton of detail in this room from picture frames that come to life to ornate office fixtures.
Next we enter another holding room before entering the second pre-show.
A picture frame with “video” of the ride is playing while a goblin warns us that expectant mothers, guests with heart, neck or back problems should not ride.
Before us is an elevator designed to take us down into the vaults of Gringotts.
The floor of the elevator moves, but the actual room does not. Above everyone’s heads is a projection screen and the ceiling is “open air,” so you can see how quickly you’re “descending”. Think of it like a modern day version of the hydrolators from The Living Seas.
After arriving nine miles below the lobby of the bank, we are issued “cart goggles”.
These are the exact same glasses now used on the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and the new version of Star Tours.
After climbing a winding staircase we finally arrive at the entrance to the vaults of Gringotts.
Load is split into two platforms where two trains can be loaded simultaneously.
Trains consist of two cars with three rows per car. Each row can accommodate four guests for a total of 24 guests being dispatched at once.
An employee at Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts told me the ride can put through roughly 2,100 guests in an hour. Considering this is a roller coaster style ride system, those are pretty solid numbers.
Sadly, photography is not permitted on the ride. I am sure once soft openings start up, someone will get in there and film it. Meanwhile, the best way to describe Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a fairly mild thrill ride. The ride vehicle goes through several small dips, but nothing substantial or all that fast. Keep in mind, the experience can’t be too turbulent to make sure your 3D glasses don’t come flying off.
As you may have guessed, 3D projection is used through roughly 75% of the attraction and the track is surrounded by movie screens that completely immerse you throughout most of the attraction, There are certainly actual sets of going through various parts of the vault and caves as well. Overall I thought it was a great attraction that’s on par with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
I am not going through a scene-by-scene ride through of the attraction, after all, I don’t want to spoil everything. However, if you do have specific questions about Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, post them in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer them. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already click this link to like our Facebook Page and this one to follow Theme Park University on Twitter!