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Inner workings of Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey at Universal Orlando Wizarding World

26 June 2010 by Orlando Theme Parks Examiner - Barbara Nefer

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a technological innovation, but what exactly IS it? Many people wonder if it's a dark ride or simulator and whether it does moves like dropping riders or flipping them upside down. In truth, it's entirely new way to use something that's been around for a while. Legoland has a robot arm ride, as does Disney World, which uses it for the “Sum of All Thrills” design-your-own roller coaster experience at Epcot. The Disney version even goes upside down (see the videos at the bottom of this article. Both of those incarnations are stable, while Forbidden Journey puts individual robot arms on a dark ride track so they move through movies and actual animatronic scenery, synching their movements to make the experience believable.

Forbidden Journey has a lot of movement, but it doesn't go upside down. It also doesn't have any literal steep drops, although the motion on the screen might make you think so. The best way to describe it is taking the Spiderman ride, also at Islands of Adventure, but removing the 3-D element and making the ride vehicles into robot arms. Then, add in animatronic sets something like Dinosaur at Disney's Animal Kingdom and switch between the two mediums several times while adding sensory elements like heat, cold and water.

Forbidden Journey is very much in-your-face. The animatronic parts are quite close to your body, and the movie elements are as absorbing as Disney's Soarin' at Epcot.


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