Universal Studios The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley opens this week, giving Harry Potter fans a new way to immerse themselves in J.K. Rowling's universe. But what they may not realize is that the attraction will offer them a very early sneak peek at some of the "fantastic beasts" that might be featured in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the planned Harry Potter offshoot, coming to us in the form of a trilogy of movies.
We know that J.K. Rowling is penning the script for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, which is based off of her reference guide by the same name, and will follow the tales of the fictitious Fantastic Beasts author Newt Scamander, who embarked upon his magical-beast-studying adventure seventy years before Harry Potter arrived at Hogwarts.
Harry Potter fans are likely eager for any update available on the film, and this one comes just in time for the grand opening of the Diagon Alley area of Universal Studios Orlando's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. USA Today shared a number of preview photos from the park, including the one above, which gives us a peek at the overhead shelves of the Magical Menagerie shop in Diagon Alley.
According to Wizarding World art director Alan Gilmore, some of the strange looking animals on those shelves represent the first time that these beasts have been visualized. "It will give visitors a peek at the next wave of Harry Potter," Gilmore tells USA Today.
While the Harry Potter films have featured a number of magical creatures -- dragons, hippogriffs, thestrals and more -- there are quite a few in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that were never featured in the films (or the books, beyond reference). So what are we looking at in the photo above? The photo isn't labeled to identify the beasts, but we took a look at Newt's guide and these are our educated guesses of which is which.
These are our theories, but if you have any other guests, feel free to share them with us in the comments!
Demiguise?The creature all the way to the left looks almost like an ape frozen in ice. It seems to fit the description of the Demiguise, a beast often found in the Far East, that's described as peaceful and herbivorous, looking "something like a graceful ape in appearance, with large, black, doleful eyes, more often than not hidden by its hair." The hair is described as "long, fine, silky and silvery." So that may be the icy look we're seeing there.
Griffin and Kneazle?At first glance, we might assume that this is a hippogriff, the beast Harry Potter rides in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And that may be the case, however, the body of this beast looks more lion than it does horse, and that's the main distinction between the hippogriff and the griffin. The Griffin has the head of a giant eagle and the body and hind legs of a lion. These beasts are fierce require a skilled wizard to befriend one. (I really hope there's at least one Griffin in Fantastic Beasts!)
I'm going to guess that the big-eared creature on the right in the above image is a Kneazle, mainly due to its relative size and ears. A Kneazle would be a useful pet for Newt Scamander to have around, as they're known to have the ability to detect "unsavory or suspicious characters" and they're good for helping you get home when you're lost. Hermione's cat Crookshanks was believed to be part Kneazle. As for as the image above, I'm going mostly by the ears in this guess.
As for that purple horned beast, we have a pretty good guess. Read all about it after the jump!...
Graphorn?There were a couple of guesses for the purple creature, but Graphorn seems like the most reasonable guess from what we can see of it. The Graphorn is known to have a humped back, which might be what we're seeing where the photo gets cut off. Or it could be wings. But focusing on the purple color -- Newt describes the Graphorn as grayish purple -- and more importantly, the "two very long, sharp horns," Graphorn seems like a good guess here. Graphorn hide is said to be even tougher than dragon's, and it repels most spells. That sounds like a useful defensive trait for the beast, as their horns are highly valuable and make for good potion ingredients when grounded up.
So those are my guesses. We'll add this quasi-preview to the list of limited updates we've gotten on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We're still waiting for word of a director and obviously casting, which will be very exciting once that starts happening. In the meantime, for those who aren't frantically searching for a portkey to whisk them off to Orlando for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter's big Diagon Alley opening, you can get a preview of the park, courtesy of three Weasley's here.