One of the largest attractions coming to Epic Universe is believed to be based on the British Ministry of Magic, as seen in the Harry Potter films. There has been some mystery as to what this massive new attraction might be like, including what type of ride system it will utilize and what the story might be about.
With new details for the current version, as well as how the concept may have evolved over time, here’s everything we think we know about the Ministry of Magic ride at Epic Universe. See the video version of this story for additional visuals.
Moving the Idea to Epic Universe
Originally rumored as an expansion for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, there was talk surrounding Universal’s desire to bring this iconic location from the films into the park. While it may have been planned to replace the Fear Factor Live stage in its early iterations, the concept was eventually moved somewhere where they have much more room to work with instead.
Universal wasted no time preparing their newly acquired plot of land near the Orange County Convention Center back in 2017, and officially announced a new theme park in 2019, named Epic Universe.
Official concept art for the new park appears to feature four themed lands branching out from a central hub area. While Universal has not yet confirmed it, we do believe one of these lands will be another Wizarding World, the 3rd such land in Orlando.
Epic Universe’s Wizarding World
The land itself has been expected to feature settings and creatures from the newer Fantastic Beasts films, including 1920’s Wizarding Paris, but the main attraction for the land was always planned to take place within the British Ministry of Magic.
A second attraction was originally planned to go along with this entry area, also tied to the Fantastic Beasts films. It was going to be a Virtual Reality attraction where you get to fly on a broomstick, but rumor has it that that attraction has been cut from the park. Permits are still active for its structure however, so we may still get something on this side of the area.
Despite the land’s possible integration of the Fantastic Beasts property, (if they still go through with it,) the main attraction set within the British Ministry is expected to take place during the Harry Potter era, around the late 1990s.
Entering the Ministry of Magic
The main reason for relocating this ride concept from Universal Studios Florida to the new Epic Universe park was likely the blessing of space. Now the concept could be expanded upon, not only expanding the main ride area, but also fleshing out the entry and queue areas in a much more impressive way.
With visible construction on the area beginning now, we are just starting to get a sense of how large this structure will be.
Guests will enter large fireplaces to get into the British 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 Ministry’s atrium. There will also be fireplaces to exit the building, which have been rumored to exit through phone booths on the other side.
The ride entrance itself is thought to be inside the grand atrium area, and all of the queue will be contained within this building. There aren’t any rumors for the queue’s setting, but interdepartmental paper aeroplane memos flying overhead would be a nice touch.
The Trackless Concept
An early version of the attraction was rumored to have been designed as a trackless ride, similar to Rise of the Resistance, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, or Runaway Railway at Disney parks.
Despite multiple in development at the time, Universal apparently scrapped all trackless ride concepts some years back after running into technical issues with Skull Island: Reign of Kong. (The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, which ended up being built as an omnimover, was originally designed as a trackless ride for example.)
This early trackless ride was rumored to have featured a story surrounding the trial of Dolores Umbridge, taking place after the events of the original stories. Our trackless ride vehicles would load in a courtroom setting, but during the first scene, Death Eaters would arrive to break Umbridge out.
Our courtroom seating sections would then break apart, moving throughout the ministry in a small group of three or four, similar to other trackless rides. The story would have likely involved the good guys attempting to capture her while battling against the Death Eaters, all while showcasing various locations seen in the films, as well as new ones developed specifically for the attraction.
While the trackless concept itself was canceled, we believe that the fireplace entry, hallway, and atrium were left intact for the new version. Plus, it is possible that some of these story details may have carried over from the original concept as well.
A New Ride Design Rises
As has often been suggested by fans of the series, it does appear that a different ride system was considered after the trackless idea was scrapped. This one would instead feature an elevator.
Just like the lifts of the British Ministry in the stories, the idea would allow the ride vehicles to move in multiple directions.
This concept was supposedly first designed to utilize a suspended ride system, which Universal has patented. We spoke about this ride possibly using a suspended ride system in a previous story, but mistakenly speculated it could be used for a flying car. Instead, it appears to have been designed for a new type of elevator ride.
Rather than a thrilling drop ride, like the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, this patented ride system instead would carry riders up and down between two different levels at much less thrilling speeds.
The point of the system is that while the riders are experiencing a scene on one level, the other level’s scenery could be changing. That way, the car could travel up and down, back and forth, multiple times, but appear to arrive at a completely different floor of the building at each stop, even though it’s really only the same two physical locations.
Due to its ability to utilize the same small ride area but set dressed as multiple locations featuring their own sequences, the patent explains how the entire ride path could actually be duplicated entirely with multiple elevator shafts. Similar to Tower of Terror, you could enter one of several elevator shafts, and experience the same ride at the same time as others in another shaft, increasing the ride’s overall capacity.
One Last Change in the Plans
This is not the end of the story though, as one more major change appears to have happened to this ride concept in the last few years: the ride vehicle itself.
Rather than simply utilizing a suspended ride system, the current rumor is that this new ride will instead use a modified version of the SCOOP vehicle from The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal Parks.
The ride is still expected to utilize elevators, but instead of using suspension cables to raise and lower the riders, they can incorporate the elevator technology they already use on Transformers: The Ride 3D.
The Transformers ride has a split level design to maximize its use of space, and to get riders from between levels, the cars actually rise up and come back down seamlessly during two different scenes on the ride. The media projected in front of you follows your car, so it’s difficult to notice your upwards and downwards motion.
On the new Ministry attraction, they could utilize the rising and lowering feature from Transformers, but this time allow us to see that we’re actually moving up and down. And with this ride vehicle’s full range of motion, we could also move forward and backwards, and left and right, just like the elevators we saw in the Potter movies.
This attraction is not expected to use 3D glasses, but will likely contain projected media. It’s possible there may be layered screen effects, where projection mapped backgrounds or screen media of characters could be overlaid with magical wand effects on a see-through layer in the foreground. This would let us move around a scene while magic is flying through the air around us.
Also, similar to Jurassic World Adventure in Universal Beijing—which uses the same ride vehicle base—animatronics, real sets, and wraparound screens may be utilized to place us into the action without the need for 3D glasses.
Possible Second Ministry Attraction
Even though we now have these rumors for how the ride may work, we still don’t know anything about the story. It’s possible some aspects of the original trackless concept could have carried over, including using Umbridge as the villain, but it’s still too early to know.
With a theater planned to be connected to the British Ministry attraction, it’s also possible that the courtroom setting could have been split off from the main ride, and into its own attraction at Epic Universe. We still don’t have any information for this theater show, other than approved building permits seem indicate it will have at least 642 seats.
We’ll be keeping an eye on more permits for this area to see what else we can learn, as well as construction to see if work on the ground lines up with early site plans.
We will continue to follow progress on Epic Universe, as it happens, so be sure to subscribe to the news feed or the YouTube channel to never miss an update. You can see the video version of this story for additional visuals.
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