Richard Bilbao, of the Orlando Business Journal, spotted the patent last week, causing both the theme park community and the Harry Potter community to freak out.
The patent calls for an interactive ride where riders can use “wands” to help them “choose their adventure” as they navigate through various ride scenes. Mixing the interactivity of something like Toy Story Mania with the adventure of an escape room the technology would greatly increase the “re-ride ability” of an attraction while allowing guests of different ages to experience something uniquely geared to their demographic. While the patent does specifically mention a “wizard-themed game,” the use of wands is given purely as an example for how the technology would work. The real question is: Where does Universal actually see this technology going (if anywhere at all)?
While a new expansion of the popular Harry Potter-themed areas of Universal has strongly been rumored for some time, with both Dragon Challenge and Fear Factor Live on the chopping block for the expansions, this specific patent might be used in another section of the resort. The Nintendo area will likely feature interactive rides that could benefit from such interactivity. With the attractions being based on video games that guests are already used to controlling, any major rides in the Nintendo area are believed to be interactive on some level.
The strongest rumors regarding what we should expect from the new Nintendo area include an interactive Mario Kart ride with realistic- looking holograms, and a family-friendly ride that will draw inspiration from a newer video game franchise. Most rumors seem to indicate at least one castle will be included in the new area or areas.
With Universal now owning DreamWorks Animation, this patent could be used with one these new to the Universal family franchises; such as How to Train Your Dragon or the upcoming Trolls movie.
With major updates coming to both Universal Orlando theme parks and a third one likely on the way, there’s no telling where (if anywhere) that this new patent will be used, but there will most likely be at least a few screens on it; after all, that’s what Universal does best.