J.K. Rowling May Have Saved the Time Train from Back to the Future Part III

Neil Thompson, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Neil Thompson, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0 / Neil Thompson, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’ve gazed in awe at the glorious time-traveling locomotive from Back to the Future Part III (1990) at Universal Studios in Florida recently, you might have J.K. Rowling to thank. The classic movie prop has long held a place of honor at Universal Studios next to its time-traveling predecessor, the DeLorean, but it turns out that the Time Train almost met a tragic fate. Fortunately, it appears that J.K. Rowling was there to save it—and she didn’t even have to travel through time, Marty McFly-style, to do it.

In a recent interview with Jill Pantozzi of The Nerdy Bird, Terry Matalas told the story of Rowling’s strange encounter with the Time Train. Matalas is the showrunner of 12 Monkeys, a huge Back to the Future fan, and friend of Back to the Future co-writer Bob Gale. He told Pantozzi that, according to legend, when Universal was developing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, they suggested converting the Time Train into the Hogwarts Express.

"The story behind the train is when they were walking J.K. Rowling through the park they were going to use the train or convert the train for the ... Wizarding World of Harry Potter," Matalas said, "and she was like ‘No, absolutely do not do that, please do not. This is iconic. Keep it totally as it is.’ So J.K. Rowling actually saved the Back to the Future III Time Train."

While Rowling’s role in saving the Time Train hasn’t officially been confirmed, if true, it’s an amazing instance of one writer standing up for another’s work. Along with the DeLorean, the Time Train is one of the most iconic time travel vehicles in film history. It's admirable that Rowling recognized the prop’s importance and stepped up to save it. Or, as Gale tells mental_floss, “If this story is true, then in my book, it qualifies J.K. Rowling as a certified bona fide Goddess!"

[h/t The Nerdy Bird]

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