You’ve read all the reasons why non-Potter Muggles should get excited over Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty of what the Potter faithful can salivate over.
If you’re fully steeped in the mythology of Harry Potter and can rattle off, say, the backstory of the Great Lake off the top of your head, you still aren’t prepared for everything that Universal’s Gringotts Wizarding Bank is going to throw at you.
Now how’s that for a reason to get excited?
#5 – Harry’s in the ride
For the past year, we’ve been wondering whether Harry actor Daniel Radcliffe would make an appearance in Escape from Gringotts, particularly given his reluctance to don his school robes again now that it’s been three years since the final film. And even though we received (unofficial) confirmation that he would, indeed, make his presence felt on the ride, there’s still been rumors floating about that we’d more hear Radcliffe than actually see him.
It’s time to put all those rumors to rest.
Universal’s concept art clearly shows Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger all in the ride, and, what’s more, actor Warwick Davis (who portrays Griphook in the films and, apparently, in Escape from Gringotts) definitively states that we’ll see material from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, starting right after the lot of them has plunged through the Thieves’ Downfall (more on this in just a bit). The moniker of “the Boy Who Lived” seems to be appropriate once again.
This still, however, leaves open the distinct possibility that Harry won’t be seen more than just once or twice in the ride; it seems that Ron’s brother, Bill, will be the main character during your journey through Gringotts’s vaults.
#4 – Flirting with the dark side
Just as with Star Wars, the true fun of the Harry Potter mythos lies with its villains – and although it’s great news that guests will be able to see Harry himself on the ride, it’s the presence of Lord Voldemort that is truly the most compelling for any fan.
Voldemort, of course, is nowhere to be seen in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, which is no great surprise, given its placement (largely) within the first half of the Potter series (Sorcerer’s Stone to Goblet of Fire). Finally being able to come face-to-(nose-less)-face with the Dark Lord himself should be a great deal of fun, and it will undoubtedly make Escape from Gringotts’s finale (one of Universal’s historical weak spots) one of the best in the business.
And just to ensure that the attraction has the biggest punch possible (no pun intended), old Voldey will be bringing along a bunch of his friends – some of which are new to the sequence in question – including the deliciously evil Bellatrix Lastrange and the large, bumbling, but-still-deadly security trolls decked out in suits of armor.
These villains should make for a more exhilarating ride experience, much more so than Draco Malfoy or the Whomping Willow ever could (sorry, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey).
#3 – Magical interactivity
The audio-animatronic goblins that line Gringotts’s Grand Hall are more than just extremely impressive set dressing – they’re there to stare you down and, occasionally, talk to you.
This is just one added layer of technology and interactivity that Universal is implementing to make the Wizarding World seem that much more magical. As the various goblins count their money and update their records, they look up and make eye contact with you, as if they’re living, breathing creatures. It may not seem overtly impressive, particularly when juxtaposed with multi-million dollar next-generation theme park rides, but it’s actually an incredibly deft touch and one of the most complete ways of bringing guests more fully into Harry’s wondrous world.
It’s the little details, after all, and Diagon Alley seems to be getting them in spades, putting all other theme park lands to shame.
#2 – A new window on the past
As mentioned previously, Escape from Gringotts is set during Deathly Hallows, Part 2, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are attempting to breach Gringotts Bank’s security in order to sneak into Madame Lestrange’s vault and snatch away one of Lord Voldemort’s precious Horcruxes. This immediately raises the theming bar, as being able to step in right alongside Harry is infinitely more immersive and captivating than hitting up a greatest hits montage of the films – as Forbidden Journey essentially is – ever possibly could be, but Universal even one-ups this upgrade.
However, rather than just re-tell the story from the film/book, as most attractions’ grand ambition simply is, Universal Creative and Warner Bros. have literally opened a brand-new window on this well-trodden tale: guests will be just the other mine-car-track over, watching those scenes from the source material play out in the background as their own parallel story plays out in the foreground. Think of it like Back to the Future, Part II: Potter fans will be able to go back and see the scenes in-between the scenes, showing what the fabled trio was up to when the camera/author wasn’t looking.
Not only will this provide a must-do experience within the Harry Potter pantheon, it also once again pushes the envelope of what is possible within the theme park industry – and there’s no doubt whatsoever that this will be the start of a new trend that’ll last for the next few decades the world over.
#1 – The first new story in years
Yes, placing a Potter fanboy actually inside Harry’s story might be one of the most sure-fire ways to have a hit on your hands, but actually inventing new stories takes it to a whole new ball game.
The premise is simple: Muggles now have the opportunity to open their own accounts in the wizarding bank (never mind why), and that’s exactly what guests are doing, hopping on a mine car to jaunt down to their brand-new vaults. It just so happens, of course, that this is exactly when Harry, Ron, and Hermione go Horcrux hunting, and our worlds end up colliding.
Having Muggles be involved is the first wrinkle in this new storytelling variation, but there’s a second, far bigger one. Somehow being tipped off to our heroes’ intrusion, Belllatrix and Voldemort make an appearance at the subterranean vaults – and they’re none too happy to see stinking, filthy Muggles suddenly there, let alone the likes of Harry and company. The only rational decision to make, of course, is to simply kill everyone and be done with it.
This isn’t just a simple retelling, then – it’s actually a parallel timeline, one that coexists with the source material’s and which weaves in and out of it, but one which is nonetheless distinctly different.
It’s hard to come by new Potter stories, placing Escape from Gringotts right alongside the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film trilogy as the last refuge for fans ravenous for new adventures within the wizarding world.
Now that you’ve read what Potter-heads will love, see what non-Potter fans have to look forward to. Then, be sure to check out our recent breakdown of Diagon Alley’s other must-ride attraction, the Hogwarts Express.
Already seen those blog posts? Then learn more about the Harry Potter expansion by visiting our complete guide to Diagon Alley. And, finally, if you want to track the very latest developments, join your fellow vacation planners and Potter fans in the OI Forums.
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