Yes, Universal Orlando Resort may be getting Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, the highly-themed roller coaster, this year, but Universal isn’t letting the East Coast keep the wizarding spotlight all to itself. 2019 will also see the debut of another brand-new Harry Potter experience, this time at Universal Studios Hollywood: the Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle projection-mapping show.
On the one hand, this new production will follow in the footsteps of May 2017’s The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle and November 2017’s The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, wrapping the iconic Hogwarts in the familiar sights and sounds from the eight Potter films; on the other hand, however, Dark Arts will highlight an entirely new theme, one that – of course – puts the focus on the villains of the source material instead of its attention-hoarding protagonists. Yes, that’s right – Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and the rest of the Order of the Phoenix will be making way for such “unspeakable creatures” as Death Eaters, Dementors, thestrals, mountain trolls, Aragog the Acromantula, and, even, Lord Voldemort himself.
The change in focus should make way for a refreshing change of pace, something that is definitely needed at this point in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s lifespan; although the West Coast Hogsmeade will only be turning three-years-old this spring, its East Coast progenitor is quickly creeping up on a full decade (and has far more in the way of experiences, thanks to the presence of its second theme-park land, Diagon Alley). But more than just trotting out lesser-seen characters or beasties, this latest projection-mapping number has the chance to also expand the tone of the typical Potter attraction – as Universal itself puts it:
Illuminating a darker side of the Wizarding World, this spectacular new light projection experience will bring more intense tones and drama that reflect the dark creatures and wizards that challenge goodness in the Wizarding World.
More intensity? Sure, we’ll take that – it’ll be a nice counterpoint to the next-door Flight of the Hippogriff, the kiddie roller coaster, while also serving as a nice extension of some of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’s scarier elements, such as the swooping swarm of Dementors or the Forbidden Forest’s bundle of spitting spiders. (Don’t worry, though – we suspect that someone from the light side will make at least a cameo appearance in Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle, as the Patronus spell is specifically namedropped in the company’s announcement materials.) If variety is the spice of life, then Hogsmeade is about to get a whole lot spicier.
Interestingly enough, a darker, more somber wizarding outing may be novel for domestic audiences, but it’s actually fully in line with what we’ve seen internationally – Universal Studios Japan’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been toying with the Dark Arts since 2016, deploying such experiences as a Death Eaters-infused Halloween show and the Dementors Attack projection-mapping production (the first of its kind anywhere in the Universal world). Both of these items have been exclusive to the other side of the planet thus far, which means that it’s more than time for Universal to spread the dark side love over here in America, which is Harry’s theme-park home, after all.
And, furthermore, at this point, it’s become something of a tradition for Universal to expand the Californian Hogsmeade’s experiential wares each and every year since its debut in 2016: in 2017, alongside the advent of the Hogwarts Castle projection shows, Forbidden Journey got the 4K-upgrade treatment and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter premiered; last year, new food, props, and Wand Magic were all rolled out throughout the area.
Would you like to dive even more deeply into wizarding history? Our sister site, Orlando Informer, has the full scoop on when all four of the productions were announced, rolled out, and then exported from one theme park to another. It’s like a lecture from Professor Binns, but only interesting!
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle will have its premiere run at Universal Studios Hollywood from April 13 through 28 before coming back from May 25 to 27. It’ll subsequently arrive at Universal Orlando Resort at some point later on in the year.
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