Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter logo

New: March 2017 – Now with 120 frames per second projection in the movie components of the ride.

A completely new huge show building has been constructed on the site of the Universal Amphitheatre, to contain the signature attraction of the Wizarding World. An incredibly detailed totally immersive dark ride using state-of-the-art technology, high-definition 4K projection and ride vehicles that put you in the middle of the action as Harry and his friends travel through the imagination of J K Rowling.

Dates: The attraction first opened at Universal Orlando on June 18, 2010.
The Universal Studios Japan version opened on July 15th 2014.
The Universal Studios Hollywood version opened, along with the rest of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, on April 7th 2016. There was a soft opening / technical rehearsal on February 12th, 2016, and there have been occasional rehearsals during the weeks leading up to the official opening date.

It was built on the Upper Lot, on the site of the former Universal Amphitheatre.

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About the Ride

The Forbidden Journey is a state-of-the-art immersive thrill ride that takes place inside the Hogwarts Castle, which is the centrepiece of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
From the opening until March 2017, the movie elements within the ride used 3D HD projection to really immerse the guests in the sequences. This was an exclusive for the Hollywood Wizarding World. However, due to a number of complaints of motion sickness, the 3D element has now been removed, and replaced instead with a higher frame rate of 4K projection. See Press Release below. 

More about Attractions at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Preview video from Universal Orlando Resort, 2010

Soft-Opening Photo Gallery (courtesy of ThemeParkConnect.com)

Queue Line

Technology – The Queue Line – Animated Portraits

The most impressive element of the queue are the living portraits that are hung around Hogwarts. 
The technology behind these is straight-forward, and is covered by this patent US20110273485 which confirms that it’s basically a standard HD monitor screen with 2 filters and a textured front surface. The first of the filters is a neutral density screen. This is used in the photographic and movie industry to cut down on the amount of light that passes through it without affecting the colour (so in other words, the brightness of the screen is reduced to tone in with the other non-animated portraits on the wall, so that it doesn’t look like a screen). The second filter cuts out some of the colder colours and makes the portrait appear warmer and natural toned, not artificially lit. The front layer is a plastic textured surface which makes the screen appear like an oil painting (including brush strokes). 

Technology – The Ride

Guests on the attraction are seated on 4 person benches, which initially seem to be fairly traditional ride vehicles. However, under a ‘spell’ from Hermione Grainger, the bench takes flight, and it becomes clear this is no ordinary ride vehicle. The attraction uses a number of KUKA Robocoaster G2 robotic vehicles to transport the guests around the Hogwarts castle. The vehicles follow a track around the show building (covered by this patent), with the guests on the end of the robotic arms, around 15 feet in the air. The robotic arm accurately follows the various exhibits and projection screens, with the vehicle remaining on the track all the way.

Projection Dome layout for the 3 movie portions of the ride (from the patent)

Technology – The Projection Domes

There are three domes within which longer projections take place, and these are on a rotating frame, enabling the ride vehicle to follow its’ own screen for the duration of the movie sequence, while the screen continues to move around. I believe this is the source of many motion sickness problems, because while the projection implies the flying bench is flying forwards through the castle and grounds, the vehicle is actually moving around the edge of the circular track, in a sideways direction. 
The carousel projection technique is covered by this patent

Press Releases

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., March 23, 2017 — The spectacularly captivating and highly acclaimed “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” thrill ride at Universal Studios Hollywood’s “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” takes a technological bow with the introduction of enhanced 4K-HD ride film projecting at an astounding rate of 120 frames-per-second and designed to offer guests an even more immersive glimpse into J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.
This progressive enhancement replaces the earlier 3D film component of the ride to create a seamless integration between the ride’s elaborate sets and its spellbinding media. The attraction’s storyline remains the same.
Originally projected at 60 frames-per-second, the new ride media now displays at twice the frame rate offering superior clarity and remarkably sharper images than previously shown, with imagery that is stunningly ultra-realistic.
Hailed by press across the globe as a tour-de-force, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” has enjoyed a vast array of critical acclaim, such as:
“The combination of the stunningly detailed queue and the state-of-the-art ride make Forbidden Journey the best dark ride in the world.”
“All roads lead to Hogwarts castle, home to possibly the most immersive, amazing and utterly convincing dark-ride and queue ever invented. The detail at every turn is exquisite.”
An achievement in pioneering theme park ride technology, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” is a multidimensional thrill ride located within Hogwarts castle. It features a groundbreaking robotics ride system, fused with elaborate filmed action sequences and immersive visceral effects designed to take guests on a once-in-a lifetime whirlwind adventure.
Spiraling and pivoting 360-degrees upon an elevated ride track, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ushers guests on a journey alongside Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley as they venture through some of the most memorable scenes from the movie, including a Quidditch match where they narrowly escape a dragon attack, as well as close encounters with Dementors and the Whomping Willow.
A spectacular attraction unto itself, the iconic and picturesque Hogwarts castle sits at the heart of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” providing access to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Hogwarts castle is a breathtaking reproduction from the movie, housing narrow stone passageways and chambers that invites guests to walk in the famous footsteps of the film’s heroic character where they will encounter many familiar places along the way, including the Mirror of Erised, Professor Sprout’s Herbology class and a selection of baby Mandrakes, Dumbledore’s office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Hall of Talking Portraits, the Fat Lady portrait at the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room and the Sorting Hat.
Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood is a masterful recreation, faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including as its iconic focal point, Hogwarts castle.
From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” transports guests of all ages to the very places they read about in the stories or watched on the silver screen.
“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” resonates with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverages at multiple locations, including Three Broomsticks™ and Hog’s Head pub, as well as the Magic Neep and Butterbeer™ carts.
A foray through the shops adds to the authenticity of the land with eight retail venues and locations, including Honeydukes™, Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges™, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium™ of Confiscated Goods.
The architecturally stunning land also features Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor family coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff™.

Construction Photo Gallery

Credits

      • Producer: Paul Daurio
      • Creative Director: Thierry Coup
      • Art Director: Alan Gilmore
      • Ride System by Dynamic Attractions

Cast

      • Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
      • Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
      • Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
      • Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
      • Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
      • Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
      • Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
      • James Phelps as Fred Weasley
      • Oliver Phelps as George Weasley
      • Warwick Davis as Professor Flitwick
      • Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom

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