Over the past year or so, Orlando Park Stop’s Alicia Stella has reported about all of the rumoured attractions for Universal’s Epic Universe (EU). While she reported in detail about certain rumoured attractions, Stella couldn’t do the same when it came to the rides in the forthcoming park’s Wizarding World land. It’s safe to suggest the details weren’t available at the time.
According to Stella, new rumours for the land seem to suggest that one of the rides would allow fans of Harry Potter to do something they’ve always dreamed of, soar on a flying broomstick. Courtesy of Stella’s information, let’s investigate the pioneering theme park technologies that could make this ride a reality.
Designed to be Universal Orlando’s new theme park, Epic Universe has been rumoured to have lands and attractions based upon properties like How to Train Your Dragon, Nintendo, Universal Monsters, and the Wizarding World.
The latter land will be the third Wizarding World in Orlando, after Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida. Rumours suggest EU version of the land will feature two attractions themed as two Ministries of Magic.
According to rumours and site plans, the land’s largest attraction on the left side of the land was to be set within the British Ministry of Magic. The land’s other main attraction on the right side of the land was designed to resemble the French Ministry.
Though Stella speculated on what these attractions could be, there was never any firm rumoured details for either of them, until now. The land’s second attraction, the one Stella believes might be set within the French Ministry, is rumoured to have been designed as a Virtual Reality (VR) experience where guests would be able to pilot their very own flying broomstick.
It would utilize a VR headset, a motion base, and multiple types of interactive controls to be used in a combination to allow you to take off into the sky on your own Wizarding adventure. Stella says the first ride that was developed combining these types of technologies was The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride. The world’s first high capacity VR experienced opened in 2019 at Lionsgate Entertainment World.
The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride has a capacity of 240 guests per hour, the most for any VR attraction at the time. However, judging by the site plans for the area, Stella believes the EU attraction could hypothetically hold as much as 12 times as many riders. Unlike the Twilight VR experience, the Wizarding World’s version would place each rider into smaller loadings zones, Stella suggests. This would allow for a personalised experience.
The EU attraction is rumoured to have six preshow rooms, where groups of 24 guests would be fitted for the headset (excluding the VR elements). Rides would then be split up and shown to their brooms inside of adjoining smaller rooms of six guests each.
After mounting their flying broomstick (and seemingly fastening their safety belt), the VR elements would be lowered from the ceiling and attached to the headset they’re already wearing using quick snap magnets. This is comparable to the way the Mario Kart ride in Super Nintendo World has riders snap in the main part of their augmented reality glasses. Stella suggests that this would make loading and unloading much faster, because the resizing of your headset is done before even entering the “ride chamber”.
A patent for a ride vehicles with dynamic movement was published by Universal recently, and could have been developed for this particular project. The patent describes how it would not only move ride vehicles in accordance to a predetermined routine, but input from the rider would cause the ride profile to change on the fly for their individual ride vehicle. Just like the Twilight ride, the EU ride could have small groups of riders travelling together through the virtual experience, but leaving some level of control or decision making would still be up to the guest.
The ride system patent also shows examples for a similar system that could potentially use small screen domes rather than VR headsets. It’s common when it comes to Universal patents, these variations may be included as additional uses, and aren’t necessarily their main purpose. Part of what makes the Twilight ride experience successful is being able to look in any direction, being able to not only control where you go, but also what you see by turning your head.
It has been rumoured that Universal has spent time developing a type of virtual reality that would potentially cut down on the possibility of motion sickness. Rather than only matching the motion of the headset to what the user sees in the viewfinder, as may be the case with the guest’s VR headset, this attraction would take the motion of the ride vehicle into account. Potentially, this should help to eliminate the disconnect between what the head and body are doing helping to reduce the possibility of motion sickness.
Going a step further, the Twilight ride also uses hand trackers to synchronise movements of the rider’s virtual representation in real time perfectly. For the Harry Potter attraction, this could potentially mean that not only guests would be able to fly their own broomstick for the first time in a Universal theme park. But maybe, guests would be able to perform magic with a wand whilst virtually flying!
Another possibility would be the ability to participate in a Quidditch match reaching out to grab the golden snitch or score goals virtually. Though the story aspects of the attraction are not yet known, Stella says these are technically possible using the above-mentioned technology.
That’s it for now! Stay tuned to Orlando Theme Park Zone for further Universal’s Epic Universe updates.