Navigating the Wizarding World

train at hogsmead

The Space and Environmental Design I chose to discuss was that of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios, Orlando. I visited this park with my friend this summer and was amazed by the design of this area of the park. This area of the park shows a clear intentional creation of an environment and experience. The Wizarding World is a recreation of fiction, from both the films and the books. The intention is to recreate what the fans know and love while still making a theme park that is functional and has everything it needs.

 

brick wall entrance

One way that this area of the parks is different from any other is its entrances and exits, as you enter this section, whether you are going through Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, from the train station or immediately from the parks, you are essentially entering a different world, in the Diagon Alley section you walk through a brick wall similarly to the one gone through in the films and you immediately are immersed in the dramatics of the street.

 

 

diagon alley

The use of signage brings your eyes to the sky to the main visual feature, the large fire breathing dragon. The streets are paved similarly to a classic

 London street, and the shops are all recognizable from the films. All of the most important shops that you remember from watching the movies or from reading the books are available for you to visit and collect memorabilia from.

 

wait line for gringots ride

 When entering this space I found the most important thing to the designers was keeping the authenticity of the films while still being able to include the things that made the park a theme park. Creating creative ways to integrate food, shopping, restrooms, and rides into a space that many people have seen in the movies, blending reality and fiction as seamlessly as possible to allow people to buy and eat and ride fun rides while still feeling like they are entering a different fictional world and not just visiting a park. In many ways I think that Universal did this well, in focusing on the shopping areas of Hogsmead and Diagon Alley and having recreations of real shops and restaurants from the films but filled with merch and food created by universal themselves, some of which play off of things from the films, for example Chocolate frogs, Butter Beer and Wizards Robes. The rides were also integrated seamlessly too, with “adventure rides” inside the bigger buildings where the wait lines go through elaborate decor that can keep guests entertained while they wait.

 

fred and george's

Although these shops are beautifully authentic from the outside, many of the shops have false doors and only about half of the storefront entrances are real, and even the real shop entrances lead to essentially one large store instead of the individual small shops that you would imagine given the outside and what we have seen of the inside in the films. I think that they should have kept a bit of authenticity in what went into each shop and in keeping each shop separate because although it might change the flow it does help build the illusion that they are trying to create here. The shops that were left unconnected felt the most real and the least “theme park” esque. Creating the authenticity and the tie to this fictional reality is what makes it so unique and makes it a place that people want to visit. So if there were any critiques I would give to the park it would be that. I also would suggest that they make better use of the Hogwarts castle because although the one ride they have in it is amazing, it could make for a multitude of great rides or walk through tours.

 

 

diagon alley at night

Discussion — One Response

  • Nicholas Porterfield 04/15/2022 on 11:39 PM

    I just went to Universal Studios for the first time in June of 2021 and I had a good time. However, I am not into Harry Potter at all, but my brother and his girlfriend were. We were looking for the Wizarding World, but couldn’t find it at first. I think it is interesting that it is sort of hidden. You can’t see any of the buildings from the center of the park or even when you are right on the other side of it. The fire breathing dragon was pretty neat, and I also saw some people using wands around the world to do things like make water shoot out of something. This was a great choice for this assignment.

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