Yes. Hogsmeade is supposed to be far enough from Hogwarts (and high enough) to be above the snow line. This makes the tunnels between the castle and Hogsmeade a bit confusing but...MAGIC!I believe the snow is something particular to Hogsmead that does not extend to the Hogwarts grounds.
Evidently only the back half is meant to look like the Forbidden Forest. The rest is the well-manicured grounds of... a set of dilapidated ruins.
It may not be entirely fair to judge this ride until the vegetation grows in, but unless something changes, I suspect we'll be seeing some things we shouldn't be seeing on opening day. The drop track building's mural has me concerned, because they haven't even bothered to finish it. There's a section of the building "hidden" by some trees where the mural abruptly ends and it becomes the same dark green seen on the other structures throughout the ride, which makes me think they aren't even putting trees in front of the mural itself. It's certainly not convincing enough for them to do that. I also wish they'd put brick work on the corner visible from the train station. It's gone from being an out-of-place building to an out-of-place building with a painting on it.
I didn't realize before that there is a virtual 3D model of the site that you can move around in 3D. The tree mural looks... okay. I can't deny that a proper full-scale themed structure would be better, though - perhaps a combination stone wall + rocky cliffside? Maybe even a waterfall effect for added realism?
My bigger concern is now the giant wall backdrop / sound barrier that existed with Dragon Challenge. It seems as though it is heavily visible throughout most of the ride and area. Are there plans to paint a mural on it as well? The wall could really even be replaced with a shorter one since this ride is not nearly as tall as Dragon Challenge was.
Before I get complaints that I'm being nitpicky, I'll remind you that Universal is promising the "most immersive coaster experience ever" and all along this was propped up as an industry shaker, but it is looking as though this is not the result.
This appears to be about the same thrill level as Big Grizzly, but not on the same level of detail... at least for the outdoor portions. I'm sure the interior scenes are elaborate and the queue is probably fantastic. Hoping it lives up to the original Dueling Dragons queue's legacy.I expect a bigger boy version of Big Grizzly/Big Thunder Paris, but with a few overt short cuts that we are now seeing.
This will certainly be the most immersive Universal coaster ever. Plus I definitely expect it to firmly belong in the list of most immersive coasters. But it's typical marketing hub bub that will cause you to expect a little too much if you take it at face value.
My biggest concern about immersion breaks is right as you enter into the straight stretch where Fluffy is there is a green building on the right. It appears, on the end with the door, there will be no way to plant trees blocking if from view. If that's the case, that building should have been themed, at least on that end.This appears to be about the same thrill level as Big Grizzly, but not on the same level of detail... at least for the outdoor portions. I'm sure the interior scenes are elaborate and the queue is probably fantastic. Hoping it lives up to the original Dueling Dragons queue's legacy.
However, the exterior... I feel that it looks like something someone would design in Roller Coaster Tycoon. Wind the track around the allotted space. Line the track with identical trees, in a perfect line, perfectly spaced, as if on a grid. Big, boxy structures for show scenes. I'm glad they've attempted to disguise the drop track building, but its hard to argue that physical theming would not have improved the look significantly. Picture a combination of rockwork/a cliffside and some sort of stone wall. Maybe even with a waterfall feature.
Picture instead of straight lines of identical trees, they alternated the types of trees and spaced them to give a more natural, layered look. Create several massive fake tree structures that allow the train to swoop over and dive under their tangled, giant, fake limbs and roots. The fake trees could also provide a tree canopy over sections of the track without the safety hazard real trees would create.
I'm glad to hear they will be addressing the walkways - they take up an unfortunate amount of space where additional theming and vegetation could have gone.
Who knows, though, maybe I'll eat my words and everything will look awesome when I finally ride. I hope so. I just have that creeping suspicion that Universal once again didn't swing for the fences on a key attraction where they absolutely should have.
My biggest concern about immersion breaks is right as you enter into the straight stretch where Fluffy is there is a green building on the right. It appears, on the end with the door, there will be no way to plant trees blocking if from view. If that's the case, that building should have been themed, at least on that end.
In the aerial testing video you can see the train is going slow enough to notice the building, you're also angled toward it. If they don't slap a facade on it or hide it better, it's kind of inexcusably lazy. For a project of this scope, that would cost pennies.This is where the ride gets up to 55 mph and you never notice. It also looks like there is still work going on in the area,
so it really may not be that noticeable as you zip by.
Typical “but Disney!!!111!!” response from you, bravo. Wouldn’t expect anything different. Seeing structures that aren’t part of what you’re riding isn’t the same as leaving a bunch of unthemed or very lazily masked infrastructure IN THE RIDE AREA.I’m bothered by being able to see random buildings when the doors open at the top of Tower of Terror, it ruins the entire theme of the ride. And being able to see non Disney properties far off in the distance while going up the lift hill on Expedition: Everest. And I loose sleep over being able to see Frontierland from the queue of Haunted Mansion.
Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?
Typical “but Disney!!!111!!” response from you, bravo. Wouldn’t expect anything different. Seeing structures that aren’t part of what you’re riding isn’t the same as leaving a bunch of unthemed or very lazily masked infrastructure IN THE RIDE AREA.
I mean if you want a more apt comparison, the fact that you can see into the structure on Everest during the backwards helix despite that Disney could easily hide it with a tarp to cover the gap is a much more comparable example. But Disney taking lazy shortcuts does not excuse criticism of Universal for also doing so.
Universal fanboys at the opening of Diagon Alley: “Wow, this is amazing, Universal really raised the bar for theme park immersion. Your move, Disney!”
Universal fanboys every other effort since Diagon Alley: “Actually, immersion is something only Disney fanboys care about.”
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