• Harry Potter Japan

    The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Universal Studios Japan


    In early 2012, a very small team, myself included, were tasked to produce design intents for two parks simultaneously. The two projects were The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the Japan and Hollywood Universal Studios Park locations.

    Although we had a starting point by basing the projects on the now existing Orlando Florida location, both of the locations had many differences in land available, adjacent structures, capacity requirements, operational conditions and surrounding elements that challenged the work to get the additions in place. Working projects into existing parks takes a great deal of research and reliance on documentation of the current and projected conditions. It takes a committed and experienced team to understand the conditions you can adjust and what line items need to be untouched in the process. In many cases, orientation of buildings needed to be adjusted to allow for clearances and landscape screening of adjacent structures unfit to effectively immerse the guests within the intellectual property.

    While we had our production resources involved from Warner Bros. and the film’s Production Designer Stuart Craig, we also had to implement the traditionally-drawn hand work of the set designs provided by the studio into CAD drawings.

    My tasks were to develop quite a load of work in a short time frame. The work included modeling both locations in 3D and producing AutoCAD drawings for a large amount of the pages in our design intent packages. What made things more difficult was having the Japan documentation, designs, measurements and models all in metric while the Hollywood project was produced in the Imperial standard. The Japan location also had regional differences in construction code, requiring alternate interior clearances to meet the capacity for Japanese equipment and guest traffic flow standards. Additionally, Japan had a large lake and parking area to work around while Hollywood’s location was set on a hillside where many structures also existed. Dining areas, queue lines, retail stores, restrooms and area development for both locations varied tremendously in our work to integrate both into existing parks in two different continents. There were a lot of long hours committed among our small team lasting weeks just among three of us.

    In the process, we developed a working approach that made us work efficiently in AutoCAD using xrefs and drawing standards as we progressed with the new drawings. This simplified our activity for the many AutoCAD drawings we produced but modeling both parks left me quite occupied during the process producing variations on Hogwarts castle, the Hogsmeade Village and the Hippogriff roller-coaster. These components all had to be worked into new topography which also had to be represented in the models and drawings to advance the work for approval and distribution to project teams in the field.

    In facing tight deadlines, you are almost always impacted with the surprises of Murphy’s law. Throughout our process of work, we would periodically print our progress decks finding xrefs missing or off mark or line-weights altered from sheet to sheet. We had brief meetings to get back in sync and make adjustments to printer and file settings, but these were all minimal complications in the scope of things. We worked through them on our own quickly even in late evenings with no access to IT personnel. We even took the time to red-line all of our own work in the fast-paced process. We managed to meet the schedule for both projects and were relieved that the recipient teams were beyond satisfied with all the information we managed to include. We had a great work ethic and dedication to achieve what we needed for each review period.

    While the Hollywood project is has just been completed for opening on April 7, 2016, the Japan location opened following our work just-over two years later in 2014.

    140716133715-8-harry-potter-osaka-horizontal-galleryPromotional photo: Universal Studios Japan

    Developing the Hippogriff roller-coaster area for Japan took quite a bit of time to produce. In modeling the topography, the queue line pathway, track structural columns, rock work and surrounding structures, they all needed to be defined accurately to provide for proper egress and overhead clearances where the path is routed at various points under the track and over varied elevations.