The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including the award-winning Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction, captures both the wonder and visual excitement of the films and the magical feelings that the books evoke. The main goal of the architectural and theatrical lighting design was to faithfully recreate the various locations in a completely immersive environment while working diligently to keep the technology from being a distraction. The Wizarding World of the films and books reflect a world devoid of the use of electricity and, therefore, electric light sources.
The basis for the lighting design relied heavily on the use of themed fixtures, both stock and custom, to replicate the look of flame and gas sources and to create the motivation for supplemental lighting. With retail and restaurant venues, supplemental sources were a requirement and several months of detailed planning went into the integration of lighting in the scenic elements and architecture to ensure minimal visual impact and a successful design execution.
The approach to the nighttime exterior of Hogsmeade Village, Hogwarts Castle, and the surrounding areas of the Wizarding World was to create a theatrically heightened blue moonlit environment accented by flickering themed character fixtures strategically placed throughout the areas to provide warm walkway lighting. This contrast approach, combined with the illumination spilling from the windows of the retail, restaurant, and facade spaces, provides a lovely, inviting feel to the exterior space.
The challenge was to achieve this effectively without the guests seeing obtrusive equipment during daylight hours or harsh, distracting sources in the evening hours. Fiber optic technology was employed to create remote themed lighting sources in windows of the village and castle so that these high, inaccessible areas would appear occupied by the residents and students. This was also helpful in extending the visual interest to the tall, highly detailed architecture of the project.
The cutting-edge ride also required an intense level of design and execution effort. Integration of lighting, projection, scenic, and effects was taken to a new level of detail to achieve extremely effective environments in the amazingly detailed preshow and ride. New and highly advanced ride vehicle technology created the ability to place guests within inches of scenic elements and manipulate them into nearly endless positions. This capability created the most significant challenges to the lighting design and extensive time was spent analyzing the options for effectively and artistically lighting the scenes while controlling light spill from unwanted elements and mechanical effects. The highly themed environments required tight integration with projection and vehicle positioning to support the atmosphere of excitement and danger. Precise programmed timing of lighting and lighting effects further heightens the scenes as guests are transported through numerous interior and exterior locations.
The project required the collaborative efforts of the Universal design teams to bring to fruition. The breathtaking tribute to J.K. Rowling’s storytelling is evident in every aspect of the project, and the lighting is only one element of the success of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Point of Light Design Team
Tim Linamen, Principal Lighting Designer
Sam Skwirut, Lighting Systems Engineer
Jami Beasley, Lighting Design Manager
Colleen “Chipper” Chipko, Lighting Construction Manager
Universal Parks & Resorts Project Team
Mark Woodbury, President & Chief Creative Officer
Thierry Coup, Senior Vice President, Creative Studio
Stuart Craig, Project Design Consultant
Paul Daurio, Show Producer
Alan Gilmore, Supervising Art Director
Joe Casey, Senior Project Director
Denise Imhoff, Art Director
Eric Hunt, Senior Attraction Production Designer
Cathy Pechstedt, Show Set Designer
10 Strand C21 Dimmer Rack
2 Strand Palette PC Control System With Network Racks
25 Pathway eDIN DMX Repeater
3 Barco High End DL.3
183 Altman Outdoor CDM Ellipsoidal & PAR
205 Altman Micro Ellipse & Micro Flood
199 ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal & PAR
326 Philips Color Kinetics & i2Systems Linear LED
25 NoUVIR Fiber Optic Illuminator
225 i2Systems Custom Floating Candle
103 Special Effects Lighting (various)
28 LED Flood/Spot Light
436 Decorative Themed Fixture
494 Potter Themed Fixture (custom)
42 Outdoor Accent Light
240 Recessed Down Light
355 Track Head