Harry Potter has been a phenomenon at Universal Orlando. Since the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade opened in 2010, attendance and revenue have soared at the Florida resort. The inevitable expansion, Diagon Alley, opened to great acclaim and crowds in July 2014. From its debut, huge lines have been the norm for the centerpiece attraction, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts. Scarcely a month after it began chugging, Universal announced that the one millionth passenger had boarded the Hogwarts Express. The testimonial was especially stunning considering that guests need upgraded park-to-park tickets to ride the themed train.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Universal has exported the Wizarding World to its other parks, including Japan and Hollywood. Amid all the Harry hoopla, what else might Universal have in store for the boy wizard at the Florida resort where it all began? It just may have something to do with the Ministry of Magic.
This prophecy has nothing to do with divination, the branch of magic devoted to predicting the future that is taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Instead of gazing into a crystal ball, Alan Gilmore, the art director for Universal's Wizarding World projects and many of the Harry Potter films, gave us a few clues about what may be next for Harry and the gang.
The Devil, er Voldermort, Is in the Details
During a media preview, Gilmore graciously led us on a tour of Diagon Alley and pointed out some of the land's rich and multi-layered details. While we were in the London embankment area, for example, he brought us to the two phone boxes located near the entrance to King's Cross Station. The iconic, bright red booths are actual phone boxes that Universal imported from the U.K.
Motioning us inside one of the boxes, Gilmore instructed us to dial "6-2-4-4-2," which spells "M-A-G-I-C" on the phone's old-fashioned rotary dial. Doing so connected us to a recorded message from none other than the Ministry of Magic. The operator kindly informed us that the Ministry was not open that day. It was a cool discovery. (Try it yourself and amaze your park mates.) But Gilmore had more to say.
"It may be a hint of the next Potter thing," he teased. "By giving muggles access to the Ministry of Magic, we're feeding the fire a bit." Do go on!
Dial "M" for "Magic"
Every Potterphile surely knows this already, but Gilmore explained that visitors to the Ministry of Magic reach the secretive place by entering a phone box and dialing—of course—"6-2-4-4-2." (It's a considerably less gross means of access than Voldermort's method of flushing oneself down a toilet. Yich.) "Wouldn't it be great if guests could enter a phone box and visit the Ministry of Magic?" Gilmore asked. Why yes. Yes it would. "It may be in the future. Who knows?" he said with a twinkle in his eye.
Does this mean that a Ministry of Magic attraction is definitely on its way? Nope. But it's a strong endorsement from somebody high up on Universal's creative team. It's a pretty safe bet that something is brewing in Potterville from the folks who invented butterbeer and watched its sales go bonkers. And a Ministry ride certainly sounds plausible.
There is even a likely place to build the new attraction: the Fear Factor Live stage. The show has been open since 2005, and the television program on which it is based has been canceled and revived a number of times. The TV show isn't nearly as popular as it once was, and one would assume the Universal stage show isn't drawing the audiences it once did. The land on which the stage sits is fairly large, and, conveniently, it is located next to Diagon Alley.
Perhaps those of you trained in the art of divination could take a peek into the future and let us know whether this prophecy will come true. We would be happy to buy you a round of butterbeers for your troubles.
In the Meantime, You Can Ride this Coaster
While a Ministry of Magic attraction may or may not be on the way, Universal has built a new Harry Potter-themed roller coaster. Universal Orlando removed the Dragon Challenge coaster (which used to be known as Dueling Dragons before its Harry makeover) in 2017 from Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure in 2017. In its place, it opened a completely new attraction, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Coaster, in June 2019.
Combining a kick-ass roller coaster with a rich, story-based theme, Hagrid’s doesn't skimp on either aspect of the attraction. Dubbed a “family” coaster, the wild ride, which includes multiple launches and accelerates to 50 mph, stretches the upper limits of the category. And the stunning show scenes include animatronics such as Fluffy the three-headed dog and a centaur. It immediately vaulted to one of Universal’s most popular attractions and is among the best attractions at any theme park.