12:45 pm EDT, March 22, 2017

Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion plans begin to come to light: Forest, Floo, and more

Information concerning Universal Orlando’s inevitable Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion plans are starting to leak as the theme park patents up and sources begin to talk.

A pair of reports from the Orlando Business Journal this week have revealed that the Dragon Challenge coaster — which was built prior to the existence of The Wizarding World — is expected to be knocked down and replaced by a new dark (indoor) ride with forest elements. OBJ’s report says:

The new rumored ride would do away with the entire coaster approach and go with more of an indoor/outdoor dark ride concept using approaches made popular by other rides.

“From what I was told, it may have a portion as if you are in a forest — with part of the ride outside — and other parts indoor designed to make you feel like you’re outside. It sounded more like a dark ride using technology like The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man as opposed to a true coaster where the G-forces guests feel come from the track,” the source added.

Hypable has heard similar plans from a source, who said that a Forbidden Forest and one other expansion are in the pipeline.

On the potential Floo Network, the Orlando Business Journal reports:

Most intriguing is the patent of the vehicle transportation system that talks about using a retractable “launch room” that would cover ride cars on multiple sides with walls. “The launch room vehicle may include one or more show elements, such as displays, animatronic characters, speakers, fog machines, strobe lights or the like configured to operate in sync with each other and the movement of the launch room vehicle and/or ride vehicle,” said the patent, noting the launch room would move alongside the ride car to keep guests in the experience.

One patent image shows a launch room with an animatronic figure, possibly a ghost, in front of a fireplace — possibly an entrance to Harry Potter’s Floo Network — and the subsequent image shows the fireplace having a retractable wall while that opens a way for the ride vehicle to be propelled forward. “In particular, during operation, the show elements may create an impression among the patrons that the ride vehicle is being pushed and/or pulled by an entity presented in the partial room. For example, the animatronic character may represent a monster, wizard or other entity that appears to cast a spell upon the ride vehicle,” said the patent.

Here are a couple glimpses of the patents showing the Floo idea as well as the room that can move guests around. Think of the room like the Haunted Mansion’s portrait room — the elevator moves so slowly that you don’t realize you’re being transported to another area. The Wizarding World’s transportation room may not move slow, but it could sneakily get guests to other areas of the attraction.

OBJ says the expansion could open in 2020, which is the same year Universal will open their Nintendo themed land. It’ll come one year after Disneyland and Disney World’s Hollywood Studios open their Star Wars lands.

There’s also chatter that the expansion could be related to Fantastic Beasts, but I’m not convinced that’ll be happening in the existing Wizarding World lands. It’s for the same reason that the Fantastic Beasts script book isn’t available in the Harry Potter land gift shops: They’re keeping the timelines/worlds separated.

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