If you weren’t already excited to visit Universal Studios Orlando for the opening of the new ride “Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts” this summer, here’s one more reason: the original Harry Potter trio, Harry, Ron and Hermione (played in the movies by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, respectively) will be featured in brand new scenes that will play during the ride.
“They’ll be there! It’s quite exciting,” Alan Gilmore, the art director for both the rides and the films told us over the phone. “They’re regrouping for one last adventure.”
And this isn’t just reusing footage from previous films, either. For the ride — which opens as a part of the new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley area in Universal Orlando — all new scenes were filmed, to be played while riders explore Gringotts Bank.
“It’s all new, it’s a brand new film,” Gilmore continued, “and it’s absolutely film quality, involving the films team, a merging of the film team and the Universal production team.”
If that wasn’t enough of an incentive, even more of the actors were involved in filming new scenes for the ride, similar to how the cast reunited for the previously opened “Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey” in Diagon Alley’s progenitor, Hogsmeade.
Because of the goblin focused setting, Warwick Davis is a lock to reprise his role as Griphook. But he’s brought a few other friends along for the ride.
“Of course you have He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named making an appearance,” Gilmore said. “Helena [Bonham-Carter] supports him as one of his team. And then we have our main heroes appear as well. You get to meet all the great characters from the stories.”
But what about the ride itself? “Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts” will include, “the full building on the exterior, we have a dragon on the outside, we have the bank, we have the goblins, and all the ancillary rooms to the back of the bank that nobody has ever seen before,” Gimore added.
When riders enter Gringotts, they’ll be treated to a room full of goblins hard at work.
“They’re actually moving,” Gimore clarified. “We can’t tell you how they move, but they’re working away. Goblins are very quiet gentlemen. We have the head goblin as well, watching over you. He’ll address you as you walk in. They’re perfect replicas of what you see in the film, and they’re very ominous.”
This is part of the overall attention to detail that elevated the Hogsmeade area, and only continues with the addition of Diagon Alley and Gringotts.
“My motto is, we’re building a real place, we’re not building a theme place,” Gilmore said. “I want to walk in, and feel like they’re actually in London, or actually in Gringotts.”
Gilmore also lauded the scale and detail of the ride itself, which he said was like going from “TV to High Definition.” Part of that is probably due to the 4K screens that will be placed all over the ride, but it extends to the “layers upon layers” of Easter eggs fans will want to comb the ride and surrounding areas for.
“We involved more of the film people in this one,” Gilmore recalled. “We brought the sculptors and painters on the film to educate the local Florida theme park guys, develop finishes and textures. It’s almost a perfect facsimile of the film set. The first ’Harry Potter’ [ride] was good, but this one is even more detailed.”
And what about the future? Though Gilmore and his team are of course focused on opening Gringotts and Diagon Alley, there’s always plans for more. We ventured that a trip to The Burrow, home of the Weasleys, would be fun, with Gimore agreeing with a laugh that would be, “great.” But Gilmore has another, very specific idea if he managed to get his way.
“I have to say, one that keeps popping up, I too, like many, would like to a Ministry of Magic experience,” Gilmore. “That’s just me. It’s just such a cool place, so maybe someday.”
UPDATE: Thierry Coup, the senior vice president of Universal Creative, confirmed to Huffington Post that the cast reunited in December, 2012 to film the new scenes.
“I actually got to direct those scenes for this new Universal Orlando attraction in December of 2012,” Coup said. “And it was obvious that the cast members who came back to be part of the Gringotts shoot really enjoyed the opportunity to revisit these characters.”
Diagon Alley, along with the Gringotts ride will open this summer, with a specific date to be announced soon.