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Old 06-19-2019, 06:12 PM
masterofmystery masterofmystery is offline
Post Alan Gilmore discusses Universal Orlando Hagrid ride's creation, magical creatures

SnitchSeeker got the chance to speak with the art director of the Harry Potter film series, Alan Gilmore, at last week's opening of Universal Orlando Resort's Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which he had a huge hand in creating from the start with Universal, Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling's creative team.

Gilmore chatted about how and why Hagrid - beloved by fans worldwide - was the focus of the thriller roller coaster - the immersive queue through Hagrid's 'ruins', the decision to feature specific magical creatures, and the thoughts of expanding the ride already. That can be read and watched below.

SnitchSeeker: When and how did you conceptualize Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure?
Alan Gilmore:
It’s a huge team effort – not just me. It’s a grouping of Universal Creations, the Warner Bros filmmaking team, J.K. Rowling’s team. We’ve all joined together in a very interesting way to help conceptualize this place. It’s new. It’s not in the books. There are snippets of this in the books. We’ve drawn from information that J.K. Rowling created. We’ve helped expand that and grow it. Our biggest idea here was Hagrid.

What would Hagrid’s world be? Where would he go outside of Hogwarts? So we created this new environment beyond his hut, a place that’s somewhere deep in the forest. It doesn’t have an identity. It’s an old architectural ruins, which are very common in Scotland – deep in mountainsides and hillsides. So we brought this ruins to life. It’s a place where only Hagrid goes. Most of the occupants of Hogwarts wouldn’t even know about this place. It’s been forgotten about for many centuries.

But Hagrid brings his students here and he educates them. He teaches them about creatures. He has his Care of Magical Creatures class here. The biggest creature he takes care of here is skrewt, which are something very new. It’s all about the skrewts and their existence. They’re very menacing, they’re very stange, they’re very alien. Hagrid’s being very strong with animals and creatures to nuture them. He wants to introduce them to us and show us this whole other part of the wizarding world that we haven’t seen before.

SnitchSeeker: With so many hundreds of rich characters in the series, why did you decide to focus on Hagrid?
Alan Gilmore:
We just felt he was the one to tell a story about. When we got together and spoke about what should the next place be, we focused on this little house on the edge of the world we created. Let’s look more at this little house. It’s an interesting place. And the more we looked into it, the more we found.

There’s a whole world here. There’s a whole world to explore. Yes, there are many characters with amazing stories, but we felt this was the one to tell right now. It’s the right time. It’s about ecology. It’s about nature. It’s about living simply. It’s about just getting to nature. Nature is so important, and I feel that we’ve brought nature into the theme park world here. We’ve created this very seamless place. In theme park parlance, you’ve got the queue and the ride, and we don’t really use words like that in the filmmaking world. It’s all one story. This is our own movie, in a way, and you are in the movie that we’re telling and creating about Hagrid.

SnitchSeeker: Can you talk about the queue and why you chose to feature what you did – even elements that weren’t in the books that you decided to add in?
Alan Gilmore:
Getting deep into the logic of what the place is, we looked at what these old ruins would be. They could be a college, they could be a university, they could be a functional place, a monastery … they could be a castle. What would they have? They’d have kitchens, they’d have halls – like Hogwarts, they have some of the similar spaces. So we brought those spaces to life.

You see inside, you meet Arthur (Weasley) at Hagrid’s in the … what in a sense looks like a Great Hall. It’s a very small version, a very medieval version, but that is what that room is. It’s dilapidated. There’s old furniture. Arthur has brought a bunch of muggle items in. He’s exploring, working on what’s going on with the motorbike. He’s trying to duplicate them, not sure how to. It’s a double act, in a way. It’s all about Hagrid, but Arthur is the one that he bounces off. They’re good friends. Arthur is very important because he’s the one that makes the motorbikes work, and that’s a huge part of this because it’s not just the magical creatures’ adventure, it’s a motorbike journey. So they join together with that.

SnitchSeeker: Tell us about the ride itself. How many times have you been on it? What’s it been like in both the motorbike and the sidecar?
Alan Gilmore:
For awhile now we’ve been saying that it’s very unique from each point of view, and it is actually very unique. I’ve ridden it many times and I love the motorbike, I have to say. I love the whole experience of holding the handlebars and driving.

It’s very ... the best word is visceral. You are engaged from the moment you leave this building and go out through the forest. It’s absolutely amazing. It’s so dynamic and so strong. In a blink, it’s over and then you go, “I’ve gotta go back. I’ve gotta ride again. I have to.” There’s so many things to see. You only see a fraction of what’s out there the first or second time. The third time, fourth time, you see more and more. You’ll have to ride this many, many times to capture it all.

SnitchSeeker: Compared to Forbidden Journey and Gringotts, this doesn’t have any screens so how does this ride compare to those?
Alan Gilmore:
Well it’s all physical. We’ve actually brought it all to life. Everything you see is actually there. You see Hagrid. You see the skrewt. You see the Devil’s Snare. You’re in all these spaces. They’re not media, they’re real. They’re there, and that’s very new as well. And they’re huge. They’re very enveloping. When you’re in there it’s like, “Wow, I’ve got to get out of this!” Luckily, the enchanted motorbike will get you out and save you. But yeah, it’s not about media as such. It’s a tangible, physical experience.

SnitchSeeker: Since this is an outdoor ride, what’s the experience day versus night?
Alan Gilmore:
I’ve seen both and I have to say night is very special because the lights of the motorbike illuminate the forest as you fly through. We’ve deliberately not put too much light here. It’s deep in the forest. There’s no technology. It’s not a habited place, so lighting is very minimal. The motorbike is your light. It guides you through.

SnitchSeeker: There are specific creatures on this ride and not on this ride – there’s no giant squid here – so how did you pick and choose which creatures to feature?
Alan Gilmore:
We worked with J.K. Rowling’s guys and started with the most important storytelling creatures. Again, it’s a story. Any story, you have to edit it and you have to tell the right story. This is the story we wanted to tell.

SnitchSeeker: Would you consider expanding?
Alan Gilmore:
You never know. We’ll see how it goes. We’re just about ready right now. As you know, we’ve been doing this for a long time. We keep doing more, so you never know what’s next.
Universal Orlando Resort's Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is now open for the world to take a ride on.
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