The date of the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been revealed: Friday, June 18, 2010.
In addition, DanRadcliffe.co.uk was invited to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A detailed tour guide of the walkthrough and journey through Hogwarts Castle can be read below by clicking the Read more button.
Please note: the synopsis will contain intricate details of inside of Hogwarts, so if you donâ€™t want to be spoiled and experience the tour yourself, it would be advisable not to read.
Photos released from Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey can be found in our galleries.
Two stone winged boars sitting atop pillars greet eager Harry Potter fans down a long road leading to the dungeons of Hogwarts Castle. Through the arched entrance betwixt a set of a high mountain of rock are long, dark corridors dimly lit by small wall torches. To the left of the corridor is the first of many notable features from the Harry Potter books and films: the gold-framed Mirror of Erised. It sits in a nook in the wall, the musty mirror luring Muggles and wizards alike to seek their deepest desires. A few feet down is the One-Eyed Humped Witch, which mischief-makers like Fred and George Weasley, as well as Harry Potter, use to sneak into Hogsmeade village via the Marauderâ€™s Map.
The maze-like fence for the queue making up the Hogwartsâ€™ greenhouse, set with potted plants across and throughout, are the next stop after the dungeons. Towards the end of the queue, and before re-entering the castle, a set of Mandrakes are lurking ominously in their soil, as if waiting to be pulled out to wreak terror.
The history of Hogwarts takes centre court when returning inside the castle, where a couple of bronze statues stand in the corridor. The first is that of the Hogwarts architect, which has actually been featured in the Harry Potter films as that standing outside of the Great Hall (which Harry and Ron hide behind in Chamber of Secrets when trying to put Crabbe and Goyle to sleep). Moving down the queue is the four-House point system, where long glass cylinders hold Gryffindorâ€™s rubies, Ravenclawâ€™s sapphires, Slytherinâ€™s emeralds, and the amberish jewels of Hufflepuff (Gryffindor and Slytherin were nearly neck-to-neck). Another bronze statue sits on the left side of the corridor after the point system, this time of an elderly wizard, who is revealed to be the first Headmaster of Hogwarts. Looking straight down the corridor is the massive griffin which turns into the spiral staircase leading to the Headmasterâ€™s office.
The next corridor is a cramped one with a ceiling nearly 40 feet high, and full of hundreds of portraits. Four of those photos stand out: the moving images of the four founders of Hogwarts: Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff, and Rowena Ravenclaw. The four chat to each other, as well as to the Muggles queued for the tour and Forbidden Journey ride â€“ Slytherin sneers down at Muggles as lowly life forms, while Gryffindor tries to spot potential excellent Quidditch players. Their bantering mirrors the relationship the four had with each other, as shown by the Sorting Hatâ€™s songs: at first they were the best of friends and united, but Slytherinâ€™s need for pure blood and dislike for Muggles and Muggleborns drew them apart.
After listening to the four founders bicker for quite a bit, the next corridor leads straight into the Headmasterâ€™s office, a perfect rendering of that featured throughout the film series. Here the first actor contribution to the theme park is seen, where Michael Gambon, dressed as Albus Dumbledore, introduces himself as Headmaster of Hogwarts, and gives sage advice to those standing in queue. Echoes of sticking together and making the right choice are heard from the late headmaster. Gambonâ€™s Dumbledore is serene, a bit quirky, and wise as always, just as his book counterpart is.
Dumbledore does note, as always, that he is a staff member short this year. The Defence Against the Dark Arts post is once again left vacant, and Dumbledoreâ€™s left with no choice but to make Professor Binns of all people (or ghosts), the new professor.
Three of his students are not pleased with the staff change.
The Defence Against the Dark Arts room, used by Professors Lockhart, Lupin, Moody, and Umbridge in the Harry Potter films is the next room featured in Hogwartsâ€™ tour. Here we meet Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, who are, as always, up to no good.
Realising that Professor Binns is stuck teaching one of their favourite subjects, the trio, naturally played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, think up a plan for the visitors in queue to skive off class. Hermione, unsurprisingly, suggests reading "Hogwarts, A History," but admittedly states that perhaps they should sneak off to the Room of Requirement under Harryâ€™s invisibility cloak to do so. Hermione and Ron, as ever, bicker about the proceedings â€“ Ron gives the Muggles in line the benefit of the doubt, stating, â€œtheyâ€™re Muggles, not morons,â€ while Hermione casts a spell, which will lead them to the Room of Requirement and then to a Quidditch match.
The technology used to bring the characters to life is not like anything seen before. It is not a flat two-dimensional film against the wall, or even a shaky hologram. The size of the recorded footage is large enough that it is the exact size and height of all the actors, so it is as though they are standing on location, and the screen sits in a spot on the set that makes it appear as if they are actually there. It is not like watching the trio on scene; itâ€™s as though they are standing a few feet from us, guiding us to do a bit of mischief.
After Hermioneâ€™s clever plan is made and the trio run off under the cloak, the queue walks past the Fat Lady, played once again with great hilarity by Dawn French, who took on the role in "Prisoner of Azkaban." After making haughty comments about being bothered, she leads the queue into the Gryffindor Common Room. The same red and gold tapestries and walls that adorn the common room in the films are featured on the Forbidden Journeyâ€™s set. Three photos featuring a young student, an elderly wizard, and a witch, explains how the â€œenchanted benchesâ€ that the visitors sit on for the Forbidden Journey ride throughout Hogwarts actually work. From there, a quiet and empty corridor leads to the Sorting Hat, which introduces the actual ride itself.
The ride, according to Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative, features a mad Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Slytherin, featuring Harry, Ron, and Draco Malfoy in their Quidditch gear facing off one another. A dark tour of the Forbidden Forest, the Whomping Willow, and a face-off with the dementors is shown throughout the ride itself.
The Forbidden Journey is a 360-degree ride, which goes up, down, left, right, backwards, and more through the Hogwarts and Wizarding World experience. With a combination of exemplary production sequences featuring all the stars of the Harry Potter films, special effects that go well beyond fire and water tricks, and leave the explorer immersed so deeply into Hogwarts that they will be unable to distinguish real life from their magical surroundings.