While much of the vast entertainment found in Diagon Alley and the rest of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is passive – watching a show or riding a ride – Universal Orlando has added a bit of interactivity to even better immerse guests into the story.
Interactive magic wands are not only part of the new Diagon Alley experience, but are also being retrofitted into Hogsmeade Village in the original Wizarding World, making window displays and other props animate upon command. Just like in the “Harry Potter” films, all it takes is a quick incantation and a swish and flick of the wrist to make magic happen.
Video: Interactive wands in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade Vilage at Universal Orlando
There is a small variety of these new types of wands to choose from, available in a few styles. They are roughly $45 and come with a map to help find the spots around the Wizarding World that can be activated.
(Photo via SlashFilm. Check their article for more experiences with the interactive wands.)
Once they officially debut on July 8, wizards and witches will also be stationed vaguely nearby the medallions the mark magical locations to help assist guests in understanding what to do.
Medallions show the motions the wand should be moved in as well as the phrase that should be spoken. Spells will sound familiar to Potter fans, such as Wingardium Leviosa and Ascendio. The magical results make objects levitate, raise, lower, repair, silence, appear, disappear, and create many other amusing actions.
The interactive wands seem to be IR-based with sensors/cameras watching for movement. Speaking the spell out loud is not necessary to trigger the effects, but it does add to the fun. The technology is quite responsive and when some of the more major effects happen (like the massive lighting moment seen in the video above), all that tech instantly fades away and it does feel like conducting magic.
It remains to be seen what will happen when Diagon Alley grand opens and crowds of people are all trying to trigger the effects simultaneously or lining up to make it happen. Making an effect happen may feel a little less magical to a guest who has already seen that effect ten times before they get to try it themselves. But it certainly adds some extra life to all corners of the Wizarding World.
Universal isn’t the first to add interactivity to its parks, but these additions are definitely among the best seen so far. Though it costs a premium to get wands that trigger effects, there’s no doubt “Harry Potter” fans of all ages will be eager to try out the famous spells for themselves.