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January 23, 2014

Diagon in Detail

Universal has done it again. Their team has masterfully worked to keep people excited about their new addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that is opening this year. Today, they revealed many of the details fans hoped to hear about Diagon Alley.

Until today, the best look we had at the new land at Universal Studios was this rendering that many assumed was more fanciful than what would actually be built.

rendering

Those doubters assumed wrong. For a while now, Universal had confirmed the dragon on top of the Gringott's Bank will be life-sized, and will really breathe fire. Today, as part of their webcast of revelations we saw another look at what the dragon will look like at the end of the alley.

diagon dragon

The dragon isn't the only thing super-sized. The new land promises to be on an even grander scale than the small-town setting of the original.
That includes the main attraction which is set underneath that dragon: a ride we now know is titled "Harry Potter & The Escape From Gringott's Bank."
 We also were given a few new glimpses inside the ride, which insiders continue to tell me will be groundbreaking, and thriling,  but family friendly.

gringotts gringotts2



The other big ride is the Hogwart's Express, of course. Today we got a quick look inside one of the two trains.
thierry

Universal also revealed what the inside of the King's Cross train station will look like, as well as the station in Hogsmeade ( the original Wizarding World).
kings cross station
hogmeade station

The Hogwart's Express promises to include a scenic look at the world between the two iconic areas of the Potterverse, including many "surprises" (Insiders tell me the "windows" on the train will appear to give you a 3-d like view without glasses)  Today, for the first time, the resort revealed what many had assumed: you MUST buy a 2-park pass to ride the Hogwart's Express at all.

potter details

That's about a $35 ticket price bump per potter fan, though, many locals have Annual Passes of some form or another.

Universal's team also excited many muggles by confirming Diagon Alley will also include the darker side of the wizarding world: Knockturn Alley and its iconic shop  Borgin and Burkes.
knockturn

 Universal calls it "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."

To get to the Wizarding World without a train ride, you'll have to enter through London. Here's the new look at the outside of the land. It looks nearly identical to the view I gave you last week.
london
Note it includes the Knightbus which zipped Harry through London without muggles knowing what was going on. Universal hasn't said it, but yes you will get to interact with the bus's shrunken heads.
 How do you  get from London to Diagon? In the books, you had to tap bricks which magically parted.
 The fly-through of the new land on a new potter website appears to show there WILL be a portal of some sort.

PORTAL
Of the portal, my sources will only say there will be an impressive effect to transition between the real world and the Wizarding World.
We will wait to see how that will work logistically when you have hordes of humans all eager to get inside. There also has to be some kind of way to get people out quickly in case of emergency.
That portal, in the books, is outside the Leaky Cauldron restaurant.
Yep. You can bet your butterbeer there will be a Leaky Cauldron in the new land, and it looks identical to its movie counterpart.
leaky
Expect to be treated to fish and chips, bangers and mash and more traditional British favorites.  For those looking for a sweeter treat, expect unique flavors at  "Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour."
florean ice cream

There are also about half-a-dozen unique shops, including "Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions," a plush store called "Magical Menagerie," and "Quality Quidditch Supplies."
One of the most anticipated: "Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment"
wiseacres

Which Universal Creative calls "a vibrant shop featuring novelty items, magical jokes, and toys inspired by the books and films that will amaze the mischievous child in everyone."
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Look for magic brought to life on three levels inside  "Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes" which will look remarkably like the store in the movies.
weasley out
weasleys wizard wheezes

The official description calls Weasleys "a vibrant shop featuring novelty items, magical jokes, and toys inspired by the books and films that will amaze the mischievous child."

I'll put the whole press release below, but fans of Hogsmeade will be sad to learn much of the merchandise from Weasleys will come from one of the most popular (but cramped) stores in the original Wizarding World.

ZONKOS
zonkos2

Once Diagon Alley opens, Zonko's will close.  Universal will use the space to nearly double the size of the popular sweet shop "Honeyduke's"

You can watch today's full webcast for yourself in the link below.



And here is a link to the special Potter website that will let you take a virtual walkthrough of the new land.
Look for more on Potter as more revelations are revealed, both from Universal and my sources.
In case you missed it, here is my post yesterday on FastPass+ and how it is changing your visit to Disney's 4 theme parks.

You can always find all of my blog entries at www.clickorlando.com/themeparks

Here's Universal's full press release.
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UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT REVEALS DETAILS FOR
THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER - DIAGON ALLEY
 
2014's Most Anticipated New Theme Park Experience Opens This Summer and Brings More of
Harry Potter's Adventures to Life
 
Expansive New Area Will Feature Something for Everyone:
  The Hogwarts Express, A Groundbreaking Ride, Plus Spectacular Shops and Dining
 
ORLANDO, Fla. (January 23, 2014) - Never before has a theme park created a guest experience like this: you climb aboard the Hogwarts Express in Hogsmeade and moments later arrive at King's Cross Station - where the wonders of London and Diagon Alley unfold before you.  And it is all real.
 
With this summer's opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment will bring even more of Harry Potter's adventures to life inside a new, magnificently themed area that includes a revolutionary attraction experience, as well as all-new themed shops and dining.

The two companies today revealed first-ever details about the new area and the one-of-a-kind adventures it will offer the whole family.  The spectacularly themed environment will double the size of the sweeping area already dedicated to Harry Potter's adventures at Universal Orlando, expanding it across both Universal theme parks.

And - just like in the books and films - guests will be able to travel between the two areas aboard the iconic Hogwarts Express.

Universal Orlando launched a global phenomenon when it opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade at its Islands of Adventure theme park in 2010.  That area includes the iconic Hogwarts castle - which houses the groundbreaking Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction - and the village of Hogsmeade.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley will be located within Universal Orlando's second theme park, Universal Studios, and will create new experiences based on the signature areas of London, Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley.

Universal's creative team has been working closely with Stuart Craig and the production team from the Harry Potter films to make the new area as authentic and spectacular as possible - just as it did with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade.

The vision for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley is unprecedented, with Universal Orlando creating the world's first centrally themed, multi-park experience.  

After arriving at King's Cross Station aboard the Hogwarts Express, guests will pass through London and the iconic brick wall archway from the films into Diagon Alley - a bustling, wizarding hub within a Muggle city.  There will be shops, dining experiences, and a new ride called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts - a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional journey that will take theme park attractions to a new level.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley will give visitors the exciting opportunity 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. Park-to-park admission is required.
 
·         Experience a groundbreaking new, multi-dimensional 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
 
·         Witness the magical experience of a wand choosing a wizard at Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, one of the wizarding world's premier wand shops

·         Discover the darker side of magic in Knockturn Alley, 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

·         Explore some of Diagon Alley's famous shops, including:
o   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
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, which features a collection of plush animals, such as owls and Hippogriffs
o   Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, where guests can grab wizarding essentials such as telescopes, binoculars, armillary spheres, compasses, magnifying glasses and hourglasses
o   Quality Quidditch Supplies, offering a wide assortment of apparel and equipment including Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles and more
o   Scribbulus, featuring authentic writing implements and products such as feather quills, ink and inkwells, bookmarks, journals, parchment paper, seals, stationery sets and postcards
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·         Enjoy traditional British fare that includes favorite dishes such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and more at the Leaky Cauldron

·         Visit Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour for frozen treats in a variety of tantalizing and unique flavors such as strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice-cream and many others

·         And more!
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More details about the unique experiences that can be found in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley will be released over time.  For more information about the area, visit www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter.