The title of this post is “Theme Park Bits,” but it should really be called “Universal Studios Theme Park Bits.” While most of us have been spent the past week alternating between lounging about in our PJs and bickering with our families, the international amusement park division was apparently busy getting new attractions for its Orlando, Hollywood, and Singapore parks on track. After the jump:

  • Details revealed on the new Harry Potter expansion in Universal Studios Florida
  • A video allows you to revisit Universal Studio Florida’s recently closed Jaws ride
  • Universal Studios Hollywood sets an opening date for Transformers The Ride
  • Universal Studios Singapore unveils its brand-new Hollywood Dreams parade

Because the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that currently exists at Universal Orlando Resort just isn’t enough to satisfy those rabid Harry Potter fans, the company is currently planning a expansion situated in its Universal Studios Orlando park. (Wizarding World is located in the Islands of Adventure park.) It’ll be some time yet before we actually get to explore the new Harry Potter land, but Theme Park Insider got a peek at Universal’s concept plans for the plot — including a very detailed look at its Gringotts-themed main attraction.

It’s worth heading over to their site if you really want to know everything TPI saw, but the short version is this: The plans suggest that rumors of a Hogwarts Express ride connecting the two Harry Potter lands could be true, and that the pedestrian entrance may be modeled after Diagon Alley’s “secret entrance” from the books and films.

As for the Gringotts ride, TPI writes, “The Gringotts ride… appears to be a hybrid roller coaster and motion-base ride, a la [the] Spider-Man and Transformers [rides]. There are 3D projection screens throughout the ride, embedded in the rockwork of the tunnel walls, creating an illusion of open space, within which we’ll watch battles taking place.” The attraction will also feature “another elaborately themed walk-through queue tour, along the lines of what we got with Hogwarts Castle in the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”

As TPI notes, these plans are far from final and could change significantly between now and the time the park opens. Sounds like a pretty good start, though!

The dark side of the Harry Potter expansion, however, is that it’s being built in the space that’s been occupied by the Jaws ride since the early ’90s. And the park has wasted no time moving on, as noted by one guest who saw walls go up just one day after the beloved shark made his last attack on Monday.

[Orlando Theme Parks via MiceChat.com]

But those who prefer bloodthirsty sharks to boy wizards can comfort themselves with this video, which takes you through the entire attraction starting with a nice stroll through Amity Village.

[via Movieline]

It’s not quite the same as actually sitting on that dingy boat, I know. On the plus side, there’s no line and no entrance fee and you can experience it as many times in a row as you want.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Universal Studios Hollywood has finally announced an official opening date of Friday, May 25 for Transformers: The Ride, with a soft opening planned for a few weeks before that. The ride will use high definition 3D footage, practical special effects, and cutting-edge robotics to “place humans in the middle of a war between the Autobots and Decepticons.” Check out our previous coverage of the attraction — including a detailed description of the Transformers: The Ride that opened at Universal Studios Singapore last month — here. [MiceChat.com]

And finally, speaking of Universal Studios Singapore, we’ve got a video and images from its new Hollywood Dreams parade below. The parade debuted on New Year’s Eve and features dancers and actors alongside impressive animated floats dedicated to the park’s rides and the studio’s hits. The Madagascar and Shrek segments look pretty cute, but in my opinion it’s tough to beat the gigantic freakin’ T-Rex lunging out from the Jurassic Park float. Head to Dejiki for more photos, and check out the video below.


[via Disney and More]

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