Universal Orlando has released a new photo offering a first glimpse at the elaborately-themed entrance to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction, the cornerstone of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion to their Islands of Adventure theme park.
Since the ride’s entrance area is not at the center of attention in the original photo, I had to enlarge and crop the full image, resulting in the somewhat blurry picture you see above. (If/when Universal releases a high-resolution copy of this photo, I will update this post.)
Blur aside, a few new details can be seen in the photograph.
The obvious focus when walking to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction is the immense replica of Hogwarts Castle towering overhead. Guests pass between two winged hog statues to enter the castle grounds.
Update: Just after posting this, I was told by someone who attended a recent Wizarding World preview that the pillars underneath the winged hogs “have a fiber optic effect in them … that magically makes the words ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’ appear every few seconds. Amazing.” He noted that it’s a similar effect as the Hollywood Tower Hotel sign that is posted outside Disney’s Tower of Terror attraction.
But this shot also reveals a first look at the “test” seats, located just to the right of the entrance. These seats give approaching guests a chance to see how it feels to pull the over-the-shoulder harnesses down, which will be required to ride. According to The Disney Blog, these seats also feature a sensor that will inform guests if they are too large to properly fit in the harness. Since the ride will feature “dramatic aerobatics,” placing guests on the end of a large robotic arm, it’s certainly necessary to make sure they are safe. And while just two seats are placed here for testing, it has been said that the ride will feature 4 side-by-side seats per “enchanted bench” ride vehicle.
Posted next to the test seats is what appears to be one of the ride’s many safety signs, letting guests know what to expect. At the top of the sign, the black rectangular area is likely where the attraction’s wait time will be posted. It should be noted that there are appears to be space for up to 3 digits there, indicating that wait times are surely expected to top 100 minutes.
Hogwarts Castle has shaped up to be one of the most impressive attraction entrances in all of Orlando’s theme parks and when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter grand opens on June 18, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction will certainly be the center of attention.