Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Information About Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando

©Universal Studios Orlando


Ok...so I know this is a Disney blog...but you'll have to deal with me fangirling for Universal for a moment.

You see, I'm a large Harry Potter fan.  I bought the books at Midnight, went to Midnight showings of the movies, named my cat Professor Snape....the usual.  So, you have to understand that I'm a very large fan of Universal Studios Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  And today, I was able to view the webcast of new information about the upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, which opens later this summer.

Hello Neville Longbottom....

I feel like the webcast consisted of the information you'd expect.  A little bit of teases, stuff to whet your appetite, but nothing full out.  I mean, heck, they didn't even give an opening date.  But for the most part, they did include a bunch of new information that the general public didn't really know.  (and you wouldn't know unless you were up to date on Universal rumors...of course, I am...so I knew some of the details, but not all.)

The majority of the webcast talked about the trip you'd be able to take from Hogsmede (found at Islands of Adventure) to Diagon Alley (over at Universal Studios).  It even took us inside the Hogwarts Express train, which trust me, looks as realistic as it did in the movies.  You will only be able to ride the train if you have park to park admission, but along the way you will get to see views of London and the British countryside – as well as a few surprises. (Oh my god if it's the rumored Dementors, I will poop my pants!  They scare the bejesus outta me!)  

King's Cross Station ©Universal Studios Orlando


Hogsmede Station ©Universal Studios Orlando


The other main focus of the webcast was to talk a bit about some of the new stores that would be found in the new area.  Of course, Universal would be including new unique shopping and dining establishment.  One because duh...and two....because they really do help to tell the story of Diagon Alley.  I mean those of us who have read the books and seen the movies know what integral parts some of these places play.  Included in the new Diagon Alley will be:  

©Universal Studios Orlando

    • Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes:  the joke shop from our two favorite brothers which will feature novelty items, magical jokes, and toys inspired by the books and films.

o Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions:  where guests will find a variety of wizardwear from Hogwarts school uniform ties, scarves and jumpers, to authentic wizard’s robes and character costumes
o Magical Menagerie:  Want your own owl or cat?  Ok, well, these will be plush animals, but I'm sure you'll be able to pick up your very own Hippogriff, owl, or maybe (hopefully) a Crookshanks? 

©Universal Studios Orlando

o Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment: Grab any wizarding essential you may need, such as telescopes, binoculars, armillary spheres, compasses, magnifying glasses and hourglasses
o Quality Quidditch Supplies:  Got a team you cheer for?  Then here, you'll be able to pick up apparel and equipment to support, say the Chudley Cannons.  Items will include things like Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles and more
o Scribbulus:  Here you'll be able to find authentic writing implements and products such as feather quills, ink and inkwells, bookmarks, journals, parchment paper, seals, stationery sets and postcards
    • Leaky Cauldron:  When dining here, you'll be able to enjoy traditional British fare that includes favorite dishes such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and more

©Universal Studios Orlando

    • Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour:  Head here for frozen treats in a variety of tantalizing and unique flavors such as strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice-cream. (Which I always thought sounded kind of weird even when it was written about...you know I'm going to have to taste it.)  

©Universal Studios Orlando

Of course, we also found out some information about the attraction - Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts.  The new ride will take guests on a groundbreaking, multi-dimensional, immersive ride putting you in the action as you navigate the Gringotts vaults. If you enjoyed the detail of the queue of Forbidden Journey, I hear that this is even more incredible.  The attraction is slated to be accessible to families.  Just how accessible is still anyone's guess.

©Universal Studios Orlando

A couple of additional things that were mentioned during the webcast that I thought were interesting was that the Knight Bus was going to have an interactive element to it.  (Take it away Ern!) Also, Knockturn Alley will be included.  The street that revolves around the Dark Arts will feature Borgin and Burkes and will sell things like Death Eater masks.  Plus, you see that dragon in the concept art?  Yeah...it's real...and supposedly breathes fire.  Um....sweet.

©Universal Studios Orlando

There will also be an expanded version of the popular Olivander's Wand Shop experience.  Which trust me...is very much well needed.  That thing saw HUGE wait times in Hogsmede. 

Overall, Diagon Alley looks like an incredible addition to Universal Studios Orlando.  I know I was superbly impressed when I visited the Hogsmede portion a few years ago.  The details there were astounding and I'm sure that this new land will be just as incredible.






I remember walking in and just being floored that it really was how it appeared in the movie.   the shops were there, Hogwarts was incredibly detailed, the Hogs Head was realistic, and Butterbeer was delicious.  Honestly, I cannot wait to get the chance to go back and better yet, explore this new Diagon Alley.  Because for a Muggle like myself...this is the closest I'll ever get.


If you would like to see the webcast, here it is in it's entirety:




To find out more information about Diagon Alley, visit www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter.


Ok...enough Harry Potter Fangirling... What do you think?  Will you take the trek over to Universal?  What are you looking forward to in this new land?  Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page.

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