To kick off this blog site I will be posting ride reviews for the two Universal parks in Orlando. To kick it off, I’m going to be reviewing Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios Florida.
This ride is located in the Diagon Alley section of the park and right when you walk through the walls of Diagon Alley you are greeted with arguably the greatest attraction entrances ever, the dragon on top of Gringotts bank and it is truly a sight to behold. I was in complete awe when I first saw that dragon walking in, as this whole land is so immersive.
When you go to ride, first you will realize team members directing you to lockers. This is one of the few attractions that requires you to put your bags in lockers. The lockers are free, and can be opened by your park ticket. After putting your bag in a locker, it’s time to ride!
After you enter, depending on how long the wait is, you will either enter the outdoor queue or go directly into the bank. If you go into the outdoor queue, it is basically a series of switchbacks in the shade. I can’t imagine this being a very comfortable wait in the hot summer months is Florida.
Once you are inside from the indoor queue, or if the wait is short, you enter Gringotts bank. In here is by far the most immersive part of the queue, as you will find goblin animatronics with very lifelike movements. This was extremely cool to see, but unfortunately due to being one of the first in line for the day I did not have time to take it in, but still very cool!
Before you enter the preshows, you walk through this long corridor where there is interactive elements like newspapers with pictures that move. I did not expect this and was really blown away because I did not see any pictures on videos of this part of the queue, and it really caught me off guard in the best way possible! I’m not even going to include a picture of this part of the queue, because if it took me by surprise, I’ll let it take you by surprise!
After waiting in the queue, you enter your first preshow. This preshow takes place is Bill Weasley’s office, where him and a goblin named Blordak tell some of the backstory for the ride. The second preshow I guess isn’t really a preshow, as it’s just an elevator down to the vaults of Gringotts while Blordak explains the rides safety procedures.
After your elevator drops you off in the vaults of Gringotts, you recieve your 3D glasses before taking a spiral staircase up to the loading platform to board your ride vehicle for your journey through Gringotts. The ride does have a double loading station to boost capacity, as the ride vehicles, as each train only holds up to 12 people The ride vehicle consists of a lapbar, which is very comfortable and provides a very smooth experience. There is a test seat outside the entrance, I would highly suggest people with larger stature try that test seat, especially before waiting in a long line.
Now let’s talk about the ride. Spoilers for those who have not ridden this attraction. This is one of the best rides at Universal Studios Florida. It’s mix of screens, practical sets, and roller coaster elements. The roller coaster portion consists of a drop and a couple of turns, but how they incorporate it is awesome. The train drops after the track tilts from one of the screen scenes and you do a couple of turns before more show elements. The roller coaster section is very brief, but the screens and sets well make up for it. The screens are highly immersive and very large and lifelike, mix that with 4D effects like 3D, water and wind, and it becomes one heck of a ride. The practical sets are amazingly designed and give the ride a sense of being in the bank. Photos of the actual ride are pretty scarce since Universal does not allow videos or pictures on their rides. So I tried to at least find one.
After exiting your ride vehicle, you return your 3D glasses and head down to the gift shop where you can purchase ride and Harry Potter related merchandise.
Tips: If you have Early Entry, do this first thing. The line will build in the early morning so if you are a regular day guest try in the afternoon once everyone starts dispersing throughout the park, or at night and make it your final ride. If you don’t mind splitting up from the rest of your group, then this is one of the many attractions to offer a single rider line. This will cut your wait time down by at least half, but you don’t get to see any of the queue or preshows.
Final Thoughts: This is one of my favorite attractions in the park and one of the best dark rides in the world. The whole experience from the queue, preshows, and actual ride is highly immersive, and the ride itself is a fantastic mix of screens, sets, and coaster. I would recommend this to anyone who meets the height requirement!