Get to Know the Creative Genius Behind the Hogwarts Castle at Universal Orlando Resort!
The design of the magical Hogwarts Castle at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida, took more than two years to hash out. Eric Baker, the creative genius behind the build of Hogwarts Castle and countless other magical projects, gave an inside scoop to the Chattanooga Times Free Press on what the job truly entailed.
In 2006, Baker received a call asking for a castle to be built. At the time, he had no idea it would turn out to be the iconic Hogwarts Castle in one of the largest amusement parks in the United States. For over two years, Baker and his team worked on miniature concepts of the castle’s design to find the proper fit and sight lines. Once the outside was completed, the team then asked for someone to accept the challenge of decorating it. Baker was quick to accept.
Baker had never taken on a decorating project for an amusement park before. To get him prepped and ready for the job, he was sent to the sets of the Harry Potter films. He spent hours memorizing the details of the Great Hall and began the three-plus-year journey of traveling to find the perfect antiques to complete the look. He traveled around the world searching for the finishing touches and worked with vendors throughout the state of Florida to commission what he couldn’t find.
He admitted he had his doubts in the beginning and didn’t expect everything to work. He was glad to be proven wrong. On the first day of the expansion, Baker stood in a corner of the Portrait Hall and watched the first guests take in the sights.
The very first time we ever had guests into the Wizarding World, I went and stood in a dark corner of the Portrait Hall of Hogwarts Castle and just watched. There were two girls who came in wearing the Hogwarts robes and carrying their wands. They walked into the Portrait Hall, and they dropped to their knees and cried.
Baker thought his work was completed, until he received another call in 2011 to help create the shops and wonders of Diagon Alley. Baker and a team of artists took on the challenge and worked to make all the details as memorable as the books and movies alike. Five years later, Baker was invited to re-create Hogwarts Castle for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood in California.
Eric Baker has gone on to complete multiple other projects for Universal Studios as well as films and other theme parks throughout the US. Without the creativity and passion that Baker had for Harry Potter, the Hogwarts Castle we have all grown to love might have taken longer to be a reality. And if you’re struggling like many are and want to take a virtual day trip to one of the most magical places in the world, you’re in luck!
A new park at Universal Orlando Resort, Epic Universe, is rumored to be opening in 2023 and is said to be the biggest and best park guests will have ever seen, with four immersive worlds. Maybe we will be lucky enough to see some more of Baker’s designs in the future!