On Thursday, the Universal Orlando Resort held a Live Webcast to announce details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley to the public.
The webcast was held on a sound stage at the resort set up like the inside of Gringotts, and was led by Mark Woodbury, President of Universal Creative for Universal Parks and Resorts and featured several stars from the Harry Potter film series.
From the beginning of this webcast, it was clear that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is going to be very large, amazingly detailed, and extremely enjoyable for fans of the series!
The London facade hides Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, and is full of important landmarks to both the city and the series.
Looking closely at the renderings, you can pick out King's Cross Station, Charing Cross Road, Grimmauld Place, Leicester Square Station, Whyndam's Theatre, Eros Fountain, and even Piccadilly Circus.
My absolute favorite detail from the rendering of the London Embankment is the Knight Bus!
Diagon Alley will bring the world of Harry Potter to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure, and the most exciting way to journey between both parks is by taking a ride on the Hogwarts Express.
Theirry Coup, Senior Vice President of Universal Creative, was on board the Hogwarts Express with Evanna Lynch, Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter film series, for a sneak peek at what we could expect.
You will be able to board the Hogwarts Express and journey between London’s King’s Cross Station (located in Universal Studios Florida) and Hogsmeade Station (located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure). The journey will be filled with views of London and the British countryside – as well as a few surprises. It is important to note that you will need park-to-park admission to ride.
Having the Hogwarts Express as part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter helps make the 'world' seamless by connecting three areas of London, Diagon Alley, and Hogsmeade that are so important to the series.
Diagon Alley itself will feature dark alleys, amazing shops, restaurants, and will be home to a new ride and Dragon!
As a confessed shop-a-holic who loves to pour over the goods in the shops of Hogsmeade, I can't wait to explore some of Diagon Alley’s famous shops!
- Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, a vibrant shop featuring novelty items, magical jokes, and toys inspired by the books and films that will amaze the mischievous child in everyone
- Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, where guests will find a variety of wizard wear from Hogwarts school uniform ties, scarves and jumpers, to authentic wizard’s robes and character costumes
- Magical Menagerie, which features a collection of plush animals, such as owls and Hippogriffs
- Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, where guests can grab wizarding essentials such as telescopes, binoculars, armillary spheres, compasses, magnifying glasses and hourglasses
- Quality Quidditch Supplies, offering a wide assortment of apparel and equipment including Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles, and more
- Scribbulus, featuring authentic writing implements and products such as feather quills, ink and inkwells, bookmarks, journals, parchment paper, seals, stationery sets and postcards
I am also really excited that a larger Olivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, one of the wizarding world's premier wand shop, will be opening a larger storefront in Diagon Alley. My daughter loves this truly 'magical' experience in Hogsmeade, and with more space I can only imagine how they will improve this experience!
With the addition of stores in Diagon Alley, some stores in Hogsmeade will be changing. Honeydukes will be expanding into Zonko's, which will be great since it is always so busy!
You will want to watch where you venture in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, because the darker side of magic can be found in Knockturn Alley. This Alley is the darkest of dark places that features Borgin and Burkes, a shop specializing in the Dark Arts that will offer a wide variety of Dark objects, such as Death Eater masks, skulls, and other sinister items.
Including this balance of dark magic really brings depth the world of Harry Potter in the Universal Orlando Parks.
What would a trip to Diagon Alley be without the Leaky Cauldron and Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour?!?
Guests will be able to enjoy traditional British fare that includes favorite dishes such as fish and chips and bangers and mash at the Leaky Cauldron. The Leaky Cauldron promises to be full of amazing details, especially the ceiling!
At Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour you will be able to find frozen treats in a variety of tantalizing and unique flavors such as strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice-cream among others.
But the showpiece of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is the groundbreaking new, multi-dimensional, multi-sensation thrill ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, which will place riders in the middle of an incredible adventure as they navigate their way through the perils of the Gringotts vaults.
From the rendering, guests will also be greeted by a fire-breathing dragon who will be perched a top of the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride entrance.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014, and there are many more details to be released and I can't wait!
The Universal Orlando Resort webcast was excellently executed, full of great details, and left me really excited about this expansion.
Universal Orlando has launched a pretty amazing site www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter where you can see more Diagon Alley details, send an owl post, read the wizarding news, and more. It's a very large site, but it is definitely worth exploring!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelley Caran recently moved to Celebration, Florida from Virginia, but has had a passion for Disney World and SeaWorld since her first visit in 1986. She is a wife and stay-at-home Mom, who never seems to stay at home! She loves to take pictures, talk about her adventures, and what is important to know as you are on the go in the Orlando and Tampa attractions. In addition to her own site, On the Go in MCO (www.onthegoinmco.com) she is a contributor for Touring Plans (www.touringplans.com).