[Show music begins]
Andrew: Welcome everyone to a special Muggle MiniCast Episode. You know we only do these on a special occasion and what better day than today - when we have learned many details about the Wizarding World theme park in Universal Studios Orlando? Eric Scull is here and Micah Tannenbaum - they're both here! Hey, boys!
Micah: What's going on?
Andrew: Micah, there's much going on. Eric, you are in Orlando right now.
Eric: I am podcasting from the hotel in Orlando.
Andrew: Can you see Hogwarts out your window?
Eric: I can - well, not at the moment, because it's dark.
Eric: Because the sun's not out.
Micah: You mean there's no lights on the castle?
Andrew: Yeah, what the hell? What's up with that?
Eric: Yeah, spotlight on the - yeah, no. When it's light out, I can see the top of Hogwarts from my room.
Andrew: Very cool. Well, look - that's the least of the excitement today. Eric got a first look at "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" the ride within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Universal Orlando, but acutally - we'll get to that in a second - but the bigger news I guess, you could argue, is that we finally have an opening date for the theme park.
Eric: June 18th, 2010!
Andrew: Ba ba ba ba bum! Well, this is very exciting, but surprising because the vacation - this is where I get really confused.
Eric: Yeah, it's very interesting.
Andrew: But apparently, this is normal according to another report. The vacation packages that fans can buy - they start on May 28th. So, as soon as May 28th, fans can go to the theme park. However, the official grand opening is not until June 18th.
Andrew: So, any insight on that Eric, or...?
Eric: Yeah. I called Universal about that because they - we received the release date which will be announced later today with a complete press release on the release date and the ride.
Andrew: Yeah, cool.
Eric: So, that's forthcoming from Universal later today - probably this morning some time, but I talked to Universal because I was like, "Hey, we got this release date, but on your website, you're selling these vacation packages, and the vacation packages start May 28th," and they said "Yes, in fact, people who have bought this vacation package" - and it's not - I guess it's not a slip-up, because what they're doing is they're honoring this vacation package. Anybody who purchased or does purchase this vacation package will get what they paid for. They will get what their vacation package promises which is an early admission to the park, a breakfast in the Three Broomsticks, and certain other details that they're selling. So, even though the park grand opening isn't until June 18th, anyone who buys this package - which you can fly in as early as May 28th and stay at the Universal hotels and go to the park and see it - they're going to let those guys in, so I know the other reports too - earlier in the day - talked about soft openings and that kind of thing...
Eric: ...where ovbiously they preview it to a few people - park guests because things like - logistically, they have to worry about exactly how...
Andrew: Crowd control...
Eric: Yeah, crowd control - for other reasons exactly like that, but I asked them specifically about a soft open - if they were actually - if that means the soft open was going to be three weeks in advance, and they said they have no dates for this official - if you'll be able to go up to the park, and say, "I want a ticket to Islands of Adventure that includes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Can you get me into Harry Potter?" They don't know when that's actually going to happen or they haven't released those details. All I know is that they are honoring this vacation package. So that seems to be the best way at this point to get into the park to be one of the earliest ones in the park.
Andrew: Right, fair enough. I assume the grand opening - so I guess the next question people are wondering is, "Well, what is a grand opening? Why is that June 18th?" And like Eric explained, there's probably - you know, they're probably going to be testing stuff out, but also I'm - this is just a guess, we don't know for sure, we - they didn't tell Eric anything, I assume. If they did, Eric, don't mention it. But I assume that June 18th is going to be around the time that they're going to have all the stars showing up as well. And I've been saying for a while, I'm guessing they're going to treat this like a movie premiere. They're going to have a red carpet rolled out going down Hogsmeade and they're going to have all the stars walk down it. Hopefully we can interview them. So, yeah - I'm guessing June 18th will be sort of like a red carpet grand opening event.
Micah: Yeah, and it's perfect because it's a Friday night. Or potentially a Friday night to be doing something like this, so it gives an opportunity for people to get there if maybe they want to attend the opening on a weekend, for the stars to get there. It's also right around the time that we know that filming is supposed to wrap up for Deathly Hallows...
Andrew: Yeah, exactly.
Micah: ...so that would be perfect timing.
Andrew: Right. Okay, so obviously there are a lot of details concerning the 'Forbidden Journey' ride itself and that Eric didn't get to ride the ride because it's probably not ready yet, but you did get to walk through the queue and the queue is apparently amazing.
Eric: [laughs] Yeah. The queue is like - the queue is like a different ride. It's interesting because - the 'Forbidden Journey' ride is set inside Hogwarts castle. We've known that forever - that it's going to be inside Hogwarts castle, but what's interesting is they've designed the queue - like everywhere from the moment you enter Hogwarts castle, there's railings and stuff for the queue, but it's actually - they're wide, they're further apart so you can actually - and there's an exit. Right before you get on the ride, you can actually just leave. You don't have to get on the ride because there are so many things set up in the queue, on your way to where the ride begins, that you can actually just tour Hogwarts castle without riding the ride.
Andrew: Ah, that's cool. So, it's like two rides.
Eric: Yeah, essentially and especially because of all this new technology that they just keep talking - kept talking about. Today in the interview, when we interviewed Mark Woodbury who's the President of Universal Creative, which is their creative department - we interviewed him and he just - he really kept emphasizing that there are these new technologies and you go to Universal and - have you guys both been to Universal Studios, Florida...?
Andrew: I have.
Eric: ...before and ridden these interactive rides?
Micah: Yeah, probably about ten years ago, [laughs] but they existed back then too - like Jaws and King Kong and a bunch of other things.
Eric: Yeah, Jaws and King Kong.
Andrew: And another good example - and I think the 'Forbidden Journey' ride is going to be like this, obviously better - the Spiderman ride. That thing takes you around on a robotic arm and it sort of throws you around into different scenes in Spiderman's world.
Eric: Everybody keeps talking about the Spiderman one too and I haven't ridden it yet. I was going to today, but I'm going to do it tomorrow, but basically, Terry Coop, who is the guy who was most directly responsible for the Spiderman ride, is the same guy who's babying, who's creating - this is his new baby.
Andrew: Okay, very cool.
Eric: So, it is the same guy who's doing the Spiderman ride - is doing the Harry Potter ride. So, this is an extension on that, but, obviously, ten years of extra special, extra physical effects. The reason they're bringing up the other interactive rides is because - we were talking about Twister. I remember the Back to the Future ride, the E.T. ride, all of these rides that Universal has, try and get you into the world and have immersive, interactive queue lines, but what I saw today in the castle, and what's going to be on the ride itself of Harry Potter is going to be beyond that and, honestly, Mark Willbury couldn't stop emphasizing that it's going to be beyond anything we have seen before.
Andrew: Well, let's talk about the four images that were released because...
Andrew: ...everybody can view those. They're on MuggleNet.com right now. First one, I think the most striking is the shot of Dumbledore's office. Now this is in the queue of the 'Forbidden Journey' ride. This is an exact replica of what you see in the movie. Right, Eric?
Eric: It's close except - well, actually in many ways - and this is the answer they're going to love me for giving - in many ways it's more...
Andrew: [laughs] Right.
Eric: ...of Dumbledore's office because...
Eric: No, honestly!
Andrew: You get more than the movies! Movies? Come to our park instead. No. I know what you're saying though. They...
Eric: This is the other thing though because when you walk on this set - and Andrew you've been to the set - you'll see something and it'll be Dumbledore's office, but the camera only ever sees one angle.
Eric: So they've never had to fully realize it. You know, the wall won't be completely finished because...
Andrew: Well, you know what - just one minor thing about that...
Andrew: There's two sets in - well, a few - but there are two long time sets at Leavesden Studios that are complete and those are the Great Hall and Dumbledore's office. So, I don't know how this Dumbledore's office is set up, but the key difference here is that there's actually a ceiling, right? [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. The ceiling is actually what I was going to mention...
Andrew: Oh, okay.
Eric: ...because I guess on the set there's not a ceiling.
Andrew: Right. There's no - it's just studio lights.
Eric: Right. There's supports and obviously studio lights where they've never had - they had the beginnings of a ceiling, but nobody has ever had to do it. Well, here they've had to do it because you're actually in the room, so it is a chamber. All of these rooms are chambers with ceilings and rafters and it's - honestly, I could go on and on about the ceilings I've seen today.
Eric: And I'm serious! I'm not - that's not me being eccentric. I mean it.
Andrew: I know, I know.
Eric: So Dumbledore's office - here's the thing too - I'm going to announce this because you go in and, believe it or not, Dumbledore welcomes you to Hogwarts.
Andrew: Oh, cool. How?
Eric: They have - how? I don't know, Andrew.
Andrew: No, well, I mean, is it audio? Is it a hologram? Is it - is Michael Gambon living there now?
Eric: I would [laughs] I would call it a hologram, but it wouldn't do it justice. It's lasers, actually. Lasers that are almost like they operate in 3D. So, it's like a 3D hologram of Michael Gambon that stands - in this picture you'll see the balcony up above the steps...
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh.
Eric: He's up there.
Andrew: I see.
Eric: And he's standing up there, and he welcomes you to Hogwarts and...
Andrew: Oh my God.
Eric: It's Michael Gambon in recorded video - everything. He actually looks so realistic, I wouldn't be surprised if he were living there now.
Micah: Is this the beginning of the ride though? Is this when people first get into Hogwarts? I know you said that you have the option to go to the ride or to leave the ride, but is this the beginning?
Eric: This is the beginning of the queue that we see Dumbledore. I mean - pretty much, in the queue, you start off on the ground floor. So you're actually in the dungeons at Hogwarts, which is really cool, and you walk up, and you go outside a little bit through the Greenhouses, which I'll talk about later. You end up in Dumbledore's office. He invites you to Hogwarts. He basically says - he gives a little history about Muggles and Wizards, and he says...
Andrew: Oh, wow.
Eric: ...Muggles are a specific - Muggles have never been invited to Hogwarts before, but here's what we do here. It's really - honestly, Michael Gambon - I've said before I was really impressed in Half-Blood Prince only about his acting, but he's really taken to the role of Dumbledore. I don't know how much they had to pay him, but he's really cool. He's a laser, hyper, high-tech, laser Dumbledore.
Andrew: Interesting. All right, well...
Micah: Did you take a look around the office at all to see how authentic things were? I noticed the lamps in there - a little bit not consistent with the books, but some other things around there that were familiar to you or you said "Oh, wow. I can't believe they actually included that in his office".
Eric: In his office in particular - honestly, I was watching Michael Gambon the whole time.
Eric: He - yeah. Things like books and props are either directly from the film set - the thing is the ride and the movie share the same artistic director, Alan Gilmore. They have him working, living in the park now. So they've basically taken everything from lamps and lanterns that you'll see in Dumbledore's office are actually from the movie. I don't know why you say they're not in - from the books, but I'm under the impression that everything is a direct replica if not actual props from the movies.
Andrew: So, when - so moving along in these pictures, we next see the Wall of Portraits.
Andrew: Now, where is this in regards to the queue. Where is it?
Eric: Honestly, I don't - exact order I forget because it was all a blur, but pretty soon after - I think it's after Dumbledore's office. You'll go around, and part of the queue goes in the portrait gallery, which is what they call it. They call it the portrait gallery. It's basically a hall. It's a triangular chamber, and it's not very big.
Eric: So it's enclosed, and there's a bunch of portraits, and on each of the four walls - even though I said it's triangular. It's enclosing, each of the four walls has one of the four founders of Hogwarts, and what is so interesting is that they've taken these portraits and they move and they talk.
Eric: So they're video, but the surface of them the looks very much like an oil painting.
Andrew: Oh, cool!
Eric: Like ridiculously so. It looks like canvas. I don't know how they did it...
Andrew: Very cool.
Eric: ...They had to take like a video screen, varnish it, paint it - I don't know how they did it. But the four founders talk to each other and insult each other, and talk - [laughs] - I mean, you know, all three of the founders gang up on Salazar...
Andrew: Ah, cool.
Eric: ...Gryffindor - Godric asks Salazar, when's the last time, you know, Slytherin won the House Cup after an insult about Muggleborns, so Slytherins says I'm not going to even dignify that question with an answer, and Rowena and Helena - or Helga - [laughs] - Rowena and Helga talk to each other, and all this while you're - while you're just literally standing below them. And they'll talk like about us, and about different goings-ons, and you know, things like that. But the four founders are really what makes it - they went and casted the four founders, and they filmed - everything from the portraits was filmed at Leavesden Studios, you know...
Eric: ...right alongside the movie...
Eric: ...they hired these actors, they're all approved by J.K. Rowling, everything from the costumes, same costume designers as the film are working, you know, costumes, a) for the actors, b) for the people that are working at the park, that I know of, you know, all of that.
Andrew: Okay, so Dumbledore's entrance. We see - well we see the entrance to Dumbledore's office, it's, you know, the giant phoenix, and we've seen it in the movies, it sort of turns upward and creates a staircase. You can't walk on that, right? That doesn't turn into a staircase.
Eric: No. No, that's - that is actually just pretty much for show. You actually - you come in through the Entrance Hall at some point - God, I forget where - you come in through the Entrance Hall, and you see first of all, is the - this statue of what they told us was the architect. So the man who built Hogwarts. And at first, I was sure it was Godric Gryffindor, because he's got a hat that looks kind of like the Sorting Hat, and there's a lion at his feet. But there's also a badger, and he's actually, he's holding Hogwarts on - he's holding like basically a miniature Hogwarts, like as if the ground were - you know that scene in Return of Jafar where he picks up Agrabah and he's like part of a rock? Kind of like that...
Andrew: Oh, okay.
Eric: ...where it's this big, just holding out - I'm sure this, I think I've seen this statue before! Must be in the movie or something.
Andrew: It is in the movie! Yeah, and Harry walks off it.
Eric: Yeah, that guy.
Andrew: Yeah, I think it was Chamber of Secrets.
Eric: So, he's got this huge statue of the architect, just right when you come into Hogwarts, and it's really awesome. And you go on, and there's actually the jewels, the House jewels. You guys remember this right? House points are tallied by jewels in the Great Hall. There's only one mention to it in the books, I'm pretty sure, or maybe a few, because they get destroyed later, but I was sure it was in my imagination. Well no, now it's fully realized. So you actually get to see the House hourglass, sort-of jewels.
Andrew: Yeah, we talked about that a couple weeks ago, and you were like, "It's never in the movies, I never see it!" I was like, "Look at the Great Hall!" Remember?
Eric: Yeah, yeah, but it's not in the Great Hall. It's in the Entrance Hall. The Great Hall and the Entrance Hall, it's separate.
Andrew: Oh. Well, they moved it I guess.
Eric: Yeah, I guess. I don't know.
Micah: So, Eric, did you say "sherbet lemon" when you walked past the Phoenix?
Eric: Sherbet lemon? No, I didn't, and I don't think that any of these - these were like the top website people - I don't think anybody did. I didn't hear them at least.
Eric: Because we were listening to Terry Coup, because the whole time we're getting guided by the man whose baby this ride is!
Andrew: Yeah, they had to act professionally Micah. This wasn't some game. [sighs]
Andrew: So, what other image have we not - okay, so finally the fourth image they released was a - excuse me [coughs] - was a screen cap from the video portion of the ride. So, of course, Eric didn't see this because it wasn't - they didn't go on the ride. We see Harry on a broom and the Snitch in the foreground, and Harry's looking at us, the viewer. It looks like you're going to be immersed in a Quidditch match.
Eric: Yeah. After you leave Dumbledore's Office and go through the portrait gallery, you actually meet the trio. Same deal, laser induced, high-res trio.
Eric: In the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, where evidently - you get a little intro from Dumbledore too - that they don't currently have a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher when you're there, so Professor Binns is giving a lecture. Basically, you walk into Defense Against the Dark Arts, and the trio says, "Hey, this is going to be boring as shit. You've got to come and meet us in the Room of Requirement and see a Quidditch match!" So, that's actually what they introduce...
Eric: ...and it's really well done, and I'm not going to spoil it too much here, except to say that it's really the trio, they really recorded it, da da da da...
Eric: ...and it's a little bit of fun.
Andrew: I remember there was a time when there were big rumors about, "Ooh, are they actually going to record stuff for the ride? Ooh-ooh."
Eric: Oh yeah, oh yeah! I am positive that the actors contributed heavily to the actual ride itself, which is described as a 360-degree film experience, but with the latest physical effects. Things that you can't even imagine, evidently.
Eric: It's what they keep saying, so I really believe them, because just going through this line and seeing this castle, the detail is unmatched in any of the previous Universal rides.
Andrew: Yeah, I can't wait.
Eric: And that's saying something. So, other than that, there's other portraits right before you go in to the ride. You go through Gryffindor Common Room, you see the Fat Lady, which is awesome. She's really awesome. And you go through, and there's actually three portraits that interact with each other, they - Oh god! I didn't even mention this! - The portraits, which obviously look like portraits, they walk into each other's frames.
Andrew: Oh, very nice!
Eric: So, they're all synced, so they all walk through each other's frames.
Eric: It's seamless, it's really awesome.
Andrew: So, you're really not going to be bored in this queue, this is one of the most entertaining queues ever. And especially...
Eric: It's really...
Andrew: ...when you consider the wait for this ride, especially when it first opens, it could be hours you have to to in this line.
Eric: They're still describing it officially as an hour long experience, including the queue and the ride.
Andrew: Yeah, that's one question I had. How long do you think it's going to take someone to move through the queue?
Andrew: Did they say?
Eric: From beginning to end, if the queue were full, I can't imagine.
Andrew: But moving steadily, you know what I mean?
Eric: Moving steadily...
Andrew: How much time are you supposed to spend in each area? How much time are you supposed to stay in Dumbledore's office?
Eric: It's a good question because I'm sure that these details - look, whether or not they're going to move people physically, or whether or not you're going to be able to roam it at your own pace - because the other thing is that the lines are a little bit wider, so you can actually just stand in a room if you want to or move ahead if there is no one in front of you.
Andrew: See, that could be a problem though. I think they're going to try to keep people inside something of a line because otherwise people are just going to try to keep butting in front of each other, you know what I mean? Possibly.
Eric: I'm sure that it'll either be worked out, or...
Eric: ...I'm sure that these are the kinds of things that - the reasons they do soft openings and stuff is to see how crowds will actually behave in this thing.
Andrew: Yeah, sure.
Eric: But the idea is so that you can either walk around Hogwarts, see all the areas and leave, or walk around and actually stay in a long line ride. So, depending on that, that's their choice. That's what they've decided to do, I think it's cool.
Eric: But, you know, just depending. Right before you go on the ride, there is the Sorting Hat, and he offers a warning about safety because they're these signs posted. Honestly guys, it mentions twenty five ailments.
Andrew: Oh gosh!
Eric: If you are afraid of heights, if you are afraid of spiders, if you have neck problems, all the stuff. If you're pregnant.
Andrew: If you are balding, if you are a man, if you are not familiar with the Harry Potter series. [laughs]
Eric: I turned to Jeff, and I said "Honestly Jeff, I probably have at least two of these things."
Eric: Because, it says you will be dropped...
Andrew: Are you pregnant?
Eric: Spun, turned, pulled, pushed, twisted, it says, you will be this, and it lists all these verbs.
Eric: It's unbelievable.
Andrew: Huh. That's funny.
Eric: So, I have no idea what to expect. Just also wanted to say, we walked on the road to Hogwarts, and it was awesome.
Andrew: We do want to save some details for the next episode of MuggleCast, so if you want to briefly go through a couple other things that really stood out that you think we could discuss. Obviously, we really encourage everyone to check out Eric's report on MuggleNet, if you haven't already. Very detailed. Oh, how about J.K. Rowling's involvement with this whole ride, anything to reveal there?
Eric: Yes! I can talk about this! One of the things Mark Woodbury was that first of all, no decision was made without all seven of her books present, and no meeting was held without all seven of her books in the room and no decision was made without all seven books in the room. In addition to that, everything from the actors that were in the portraits and all that, all of that was approved. Everything that's not a prop from the movie that was a special prop for showing up in Dumbledore's office is approved by J. K. Rowling. They have had this extensive and expansive relationship with her that really, they could just not stop talking about. It was awesome.
Andrew: That's cool.
Eric: Yeah, she's approved everything! It's not going to be, Universal does Harry Potter, it's going to be, Harry Potter comes to life.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Micah: You said that if you don't want to go on the ride, you can continue on through the queue. What is there after? Did you go and experience that at all, do you know - was there anything else in the castle that you could go see?
Eric: Yeah! For instance, the Express Line, because Universal does this thing, as do other parks, where you go, and if you are a special guest or whatever, you get an Express Pass. That takes you up a different route throughout the castle, so there is a different portrait gallery that you see in that line apparently. If you want to just exit the line, and not ride the ride, the route you take on the way back down through another portrait gallery where there are other portraits of the four founders that say different things.
Eric: They're having a different conversation entirely, so I noticed that because we left, because we didn't ride the ride, we walked down, instead of the normal entrance which will exit into the Filch's Confiscated Goods Emporium, we actually went down the other exit and found a different portrait gallery and walked out that way through out the dungeons again, so there are different areas of the castle. I would say that the majority of what you can see inside the castle, is part of the line, you just don't have to stay in line to wait if you're not riding the ride.
Andrew: I should also mention that Express Line, that is also available to people who are staying at a Universal hotel. That Express Line, which is available for most rides in the park, saves you a tonne of time.
Eric: It does.
Andrew: The wait for Spiderman when I was there last weekend, it was forty five minutes, so I went through the Express Line, and I got through it in maybe five. I mean, that's going to save everyone huge time, so if you're going to travel down there, definitely recommend looking into getting an Express Pass, whether it's paying extra for it, or whether it's by staying at one of the Universal hotels.
Eric: One of the three Universal hotels.
Eric: Portofino Bay, Royal Pacific Resort Loews, and the Hard Rock.
Andrew: I mean, you're still going to have a wait.
Micah: That's a hell of plug right there!
Andrew: Well, it's just the truth!
Micah: No, Eric, rattling off those hotels.
Andrew: Oh, yeah.
[Micah and Andrew laugh]
Eric: Well, I just learned them, Micah.
Andrew: Did you have a question, Micah?
Micah: Yeah. Anything else about Hogwarts, you mentioned the Greenhouses earlier, and you said you were going to come back to them. Anything we need to know about those?
Eric: Yeah, they're huge. They're really cool. We saw them and they were still working on adding plants. That was all they could say was plants, they were going to have tons of greenery.
Micah: Some Mandrakes.
Eric: There are Mandrakes there, we did see, in line. They're actually - the interesting thing is that they have their heads above the pots, so you can see that they're Mandrakes, but they weren't crying at the time. They were kind of - and I was like, "Wow. These are some really complacent Mandrakes here," but there's garden equipment and all sorts of stuff scattered around, and they're really working on aging everything. My God, the castle looks awesome. It's really unbelievable.
Micah: My final question, though, is: Anything on the Hogwarts grounds that stood out to you? Are there any Hogwarts grounds, or is it strictly the castle?
Eric: I can talk about the 'Forbidden Journey' ride. All I can say is entering the 'Forbidden Journey' ride, you walk the gates from Hogwarts which have the pigs with wings.
Micah: The boars.
Eric: The boars, and that is unbelievable. There will be a lot of photo ops right there.
Eric: But that's on your way to the castle, and you walk under the bridge. Everyone knows the bridge. The cool bridge. The one that's so fun to look at - that's unbelievable. That is - there's a crevice that you can walk and take pictures, and it's just unbelievable. It blew me away.
Andrew: All right. Well, as we said at the beginning, this is just MuggleMiniCast, so we will have much more on the next episode of MuggleCast which is Episode 195. Hopefully, Universal will announce some other details between now and when we record Episode 195, which we will be this - within the next week. Expect Episode 195 at the very end of March. So thank you everyone for tuning in. Eric, sounds like you had a blast.
Eric: It was good fun.
Andrew: I bet. And we'll talk to you...
Eric: ...yeah, the report on MuggleNet...
Eric: ...the report on Mugglenet was one of three, that's all I'm saying. Because they gave us some other information, and we can release it when they say we can.
Andrew: All right. Cool. I'm Andrew Sims.
Eric: I'm Eric Scull.
Micah: And I'm Micah Tannenbaum.
Andrew: We'll see you with Episode 195. Buh-bye!
Written by: The Transcribers