Given that Universal’s Epic Universe has had a brief pause in construction, some plans may have shifted, and most people are wondering what that means for the upcoming theme park’s Wizarding World land. While I don’t believe this land has been cancelled, it definitely seems to be going through some changes.
Let’s dig into where we think the new Harry Potter themed land for Epic Universe stands now, and what its main attraction could be, like in today’s rumor update. (See the video version of this story for additional visuals.)
First announced in 2019, Universal’s Epic Universe will be the company’s third theme park in Orlando. It’s currently being built a couple miles south of the existing resort, and is rumored to contain lands based on Nintendo, Universal Monsters, How to Train Your Dragon and more.
One of the lands we have expected for the upcoming park from the start will be based on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This will be the third Wizarding World land for Orlando, after Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida.
While initially this new land may have incorporated some elements of the new film series, it is looking like Epic Universe’s Wizarding World will not be based on the Fantastic Beasts movies.
Located in the northeast corner of the park, this land will contain one massive dark ride rumored to take place within the British Ministry of Magic—even though the streets leading into the land are expected to be themed to Wizarding Paris.
Early in development, the land itself may have been designed to take place within the time period of the new Fantastic Beasts series. So, the area was designed as Place Cachée from the second film, and one of the land’s two main attractions was to be set within the French Ministry of Magic.
Many of the magical creatures from the series would likely be found hiding in windows and peaking out from rooftops, not only tying the land to the new movies, but also adding kinetic energy to the area.
However, it’s starting to sound like the land will no longer be tied to the early to mid twentieth century time period of Fantastic Beasts after all. Instead, we now believe that the entire land will take place around the same time as Harry Potter series—just as the first two Wizarding World lands do.
As of now, it seems like the land will still feature the Parisian streets and Place Cachée, with themed shops, bakeries, and such, but now it will be set much later in time, closer to modern day. Permitted plans call for two quick service restaurant locations within the main part of the land as well.
The attraction that was originally planned to be set within the French Ministry is rumored to have been cut from Epic Universe, (seen in green in the map graphic above). This would’ve been a Virtual Reality ride where we could pilot our very own flying broomstick. It was rumored to have been designed similarly to The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride at Lionsgate Entertainment World, the world’s first high capacity VR attraction.
It’s rumored that this attraction will still be built, but now it will be located next door to Diagon Alley, replacing the now closed Fear Factor Live show at Universal Studios Florida. It will most certainly no longer be themed as the French Ministry however, now that it will be set within London, but the attraction itself is expected to be essentially the same experience.
So, for now, there does appear to be a gap in the plans for the new Wizarding World land at Epic Universe. Luckily, the VR attraction was not the area’s largest attraction, so the land is not losing its anchor. This empty space may be saved for later expansion.
The site plans for this land do show a possible theater of some sort, located in the back-middle of the area. There have not been any rumors for what types of shows we could see here, but some have speculated it could be used for wand battles or wand training, essentially acting as this land’s variation of the Ollivanders wand show, but with higher capacity.
On the back-left side of the area will sit the massive show building for what appears to be the largest dark ride at Epic Universe. This is what we think will be the British Ministry of Magic. It’s not clear how we will get from Wizarding France to the British Ministry, but we do have an idea of how we will get inside.
Guests will enter large fireplaces to get into the Ministry using the Floo Network. Special effects will seamlessly bring us to the other side of the wall, where we will now be standing in the huge hall leading to the atrium of the British Ministry. There will also be fireplaces to exit the building, which may exit through phone booths on the other side.
The ride entrance itself is thought to be inside the massive atrium area, and all of the queue will be contained within this building. As for the ride itself, it’s probably still too early to know what this experience will be like for certain. Some believe the original plans called for a trackless ride system for this attraction, but those plans weren’t exciting enough, so were changed.
Now, the leading theory is that it could employ some sort of suspended ride system. There has been speculation that it could be a ride system similar to the now defunct Kongfrontation at Universal Studios Florida, where a scissor-lift-like system could lower and raise the ride vehicle while traveling along a track attached to the ceiling.
Instead, I wonder if this ride could accomplish essentially the same type of motion profile using a new suspended ride system that was recently patented by Universal. Originally intended to be used for an Iron Man themed ride at Islands of Adventure, this ride system was then experimented with for the Jurassic World Adventure ride at Universal Studios Beijing.
While the patented concept didn’t work out for those attractions for various reasons, this Wizarding World attraction could be its time to shine. Now, of course, there is only one type of ride vehicle I could imagine for such a ride system… The flying Ford Anglia.
Since the ride system uses multiple suspended cables, which can be lowered and raised independently, the feeling of a wobbly flying car can be achieved easily. The car can appear to land and take off as the ride system allows for going up and down, without the track itself changing elevation.
It’s worth repeating that this is still a theory, but if it were true, I feel it could be an incredible addition to the already great lineup of impressive rides based on the series, while also offering something new that will feel quite different.
As for the land’s missing second attraction? If they wanted to continue the French theming for that side of the land, without having to build the French Ministry, perhaps the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic could find a home in this corner of the park? If they don’t want to build the school itself, any sort of attraction featuring students from the academy, but still set in Paris, could work here as well.
Whatever they choose to do here, I think it is safe to assume it will be saved for a phase 2 expansion for the Wizarding World at Epic Universe. There will not be enough time to design a replacement in time with construction already beginning for the park.
However, that isn’t to say that Epic Universe will not be getting another attraction elsewhere in the park to help balance out the removal of one from here. The CEO of NBCUniversal did say earlier this year that Epic Universe would contain something based on Illumination. That’s the animation company behind films like Minions, Sing, and The Secret Life of Pets.
I’ve spoken before about how I could definitely see The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash family ride from Universal Hollywood getting its own mini land here at Epic Universe. There are a few expansion spots where the attraction could be added, and since the ride is already designed, it may even be ready on opening day.
That’s all for now, but if you’d like to bring a piece of the parks home, Souvenir Scents has candles and wax melts that smell like Butterbeer, the ET ride, and more. Save 10% off every order with my promo code PARKSTOP10 at SouvenirScents.com.
Be sure to check out the video version of this story for additional visuals, and see our recent Epic Universe construction update. For a deep dive into all the areas of the upcoming park, see our Everything We Know story.
Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email address below to never miss an update. Original Photos: Alicia Stella | Official Concept Art: Universal Orlando | Main Image: Wizarding World | Other Images as Captioned