Seven Secrets Behind Universal's Harry Potter Ride

Creator of Universal Orlando attraction shares hidden aspects of Harry Potter.

Nov. 19, 2010— -- ORLANDO, Fla. -- Harry Potter is all the buzz these days -- and we're not just talking about the latest movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Watching his adventures unfold on the big screen is one way to experience the magic of the boy wizard, but nothing quite compares to walking through the fictional streets of Hogsmeade Village or visiting Hogwarts Castle.

And that's exactly what thousands upon thousands of Harry Potter devotees have done since June, when the Universal Orlando Resort opened its much-anticipated attraction: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Thierry Coup, who headed the design team behind the attraction, recently led ABC News through Harry Potter's world, sharing several of its secrets. He did not, however, tell us what was in the extremely popular butterbeer. Apparently, some secrets need to remain so.

"It is not a fake world," Coup insisted. "It feels as real as it can be. The magic happens here."

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The magic starts first thing in the morning when a rush of guests speeds through the turnstiles and races -- like kids chasing after an ice-cream truck -- except it's not just kids -- to the Harry Potter neighborhood.

Jaws dropped, many jumped for joy and almost everyone posed for a photograph. Plenty of guests -- you know, muggles -- were dressed up in black robes and the prep-school ties of Hogwarts. So many were that they didn't look out of place.

Harry Potter Fans Flock to Universal Orlando

Harry Potter is one corner of the 50 rides, attractions and shows at Universal, a two-park complex in America's theme park capital. But it is clearly the first thing on most guests' minds.

Universal won't say how many extra visitors it is receiving thanks to the attraction, but to put things in perspective, Infinitus, an annual Harry Potter conference, moved from Las Vegas to Orlando this year.

The centerpiece of the attraction is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a motion simulator ride housed inside the landmark castle of Hogwarts. For most guests, the fun continues in the half-dozen or so themed gift shops.

While we could squeeze only seven secrets out of Coup, he insisted there were plenty of others hidden in the rides and shops. But why go to such trouble?

"This is the world of Harry Potter," he said. "It's all about the magic and the discovery."

But even when something wasn't a secret per se, the creators had to put a lot of time and energy into the details. For instance, the park sells 34 varieties of candy -- many offered for the first time -- that have been mentioned in the books. When designing the once-fictional foods, they had to pause the film repeatedly and compare the packaging. Think Bertie Botts Beans, Chocolate Frogs and Droobles Bubble Gum.

"We knew the fans' expectations were going to be unlike anything at any other property," Coup said. "It was actually a dream come true for many of us on the creative team who have children and were fascinated by the magic, the adventure."

So without further delay, here are seven little-known facts about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Secret No. 1: At Zonko's Tricks and Joke Shop, there is a window display with fireworks. Walk inside and the black decoy detonator in the display is the actual one used in one of the Warner Brothers movies. Once inside, check out gags and pranks from the books, all of course available for purchase, including an Extendable Ear ($19.95), Fanged Flyer ($24.95), chattering teeth ($4.95), Comb-a-Chameleon ($9.95) and Pigmy Puffs ($14.95). In the adjacent candy shop are Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans ($9.95) and a chocolate frogs ($9.95.)

Secrets of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Secret No. 2: At Spintwitches Sporting Needs guests who look carefully inside the far left window will see a Golden Snitch actually flying around inside. Spintwitches is the first building constructed for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was built off-site and tested for style, look, durability and its ability to withstand hurricanes.

Secret No. 3: Inside the Three Broomsticks Restaurant, on the right side are three brooms hanging on a wall. The one at the far left was used in the movies. The restaurant itself was designed first for the theme park and then copied on a set for the latest movie. Names and initials are carved above the fireplace inside the restaurant; each belongs to one of the attraction's creators. Coup's can be found there -- just look for the big "TC."

Secret No. 4: In the portrait corridor inside the castle, the four founders of Hogwarts after whom the Houses are named -- Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw -- are seen for the first time. Coup actually went to London, cast four actors to play the roles and then ran them by J. K. Rowling for approval. David Heyman, the movie's producer, and Stuart Craig, the production designer, can also be found in the corridor.

Behind the Harry Potter Magic

Secret No. 5: Travel to the back of Dervish and Banges, a store where you can buy everything for your Quidditch needs -- T-shirts, Quaffles, Golden Snitches and brooms -- including the Nimbus 2001. Behind the store you will find two Quidditch brooms in a window. They, too, were used in the films.Most amusement park visitors are used to waiting in line for rides, but here, at Universal, there are lines for the gift shops, Dervish and Banges being one of the most popular. That's right, here in Hogsmeade guests actually wait to buy souvenirs, and sometimes the lines are longer than those for the rides.

Secret No. 6: In the farewell scene in the Great Hall during Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, one of the Gryffindor children on the right is Coup's 15-year-old son, Remy.

Secret No.7: Inside Ollivander's Wand Shop, there are more than 15,000 individual wand boxes painstakingly placed there by hand. The outcome is amazing, but the creators didn't have an easy time of implementing their design.