Review: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
By Dave Shute
HARRY POTTER AND THE ESCAPE FROM GRINGOTTS
The headliner ride at the second Wizarding World area to open at Universal Orlando, Diagon Alley in Universal Studios, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts re-tells the story of Harry, Ron and Hermione and the horcrux in the goblin bank Gringotts.
No one in your party knows what a horcrux is?
No worries, so long as you like thrills. The ride combines moving vehicles, motion simulators, elaborate sets, and 3D films into an elaborate adventure that may not always make sense but is always thrilling.
Without giving away any spoilers, the fear factor on the ride (and some of the effects) are midway between the scariest bits of Fantasmic and those of Tower of Terror. This will make it inappropriate for many younger kids, but much fun for older ones—especially if they are Harry Potter fans.
Unlike the headliner Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in the other area of the Wizarding World, Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure, few will suffer from motion sickness on Escape from Gringotts, and the pacing of Gringotts is much better—not suffering from the overly slow and overly fast sections of Forbidden Journey.
Gringotts is deep in Diagon Alley, in the bank guarded by a dragon—a “Ukrainian Ironbelly” that you might see again on the ride, and that might just this moment be better utilized in combat in eastern Ukraine.
You enter the bank lobby…
…are weighed in the balance by Goblins…
…pass through an area with newspapers with moving images, just like in the books…
…then pass by a series of closed doors that will either ominously raise the hair on the back of your neck, or remind you to make a note to requisition more staples when you get back to the office…
…see a pre-show with Bill Weasley and a goblin banker…
…and enter an elevator that takes you down down down to the vaults themselves. (The effect here is great, and is best experienced away from the walls.)
You are now in the loading area…
…where you will board mine vehicles that will take you on a really fun ride!
As noted at the beginning, I’m not gonna give away the details of the ride, but Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (while not suffering the motion sickness or pacing issues of the Wizarding World’s other headliner, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) is a real thrill, and thus may just scare the bejeezus out of younger kids.
Older folk who enjoy thrill rides will just love it—especially if they are also Harry Potter fans.
Immensely popular, the best way to see Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is at the very beginning or very end of the day.
If you are following my advice and staying at a Universal hotel, take advantage of early entry to see it. Be at the turnstiles well before early entry begins, and head straight to Gringotts.
If the only Universal park on early entry your days is Islands of Adventure, arrive at the turnstiles well before open, start there, see Forbidden Journey and Ollivanders in Hogsmeade, and then get in line for the Hogwarts Express (requires extra-cost park to park ticket). The first run of the Hogwarts Express should get you to Diagon Alley ahead of most of the crowds.