July 8, 2014

Diagon Impressions Pt 2: Opening Day & Hogwarts Express

Did you hear the news??? Universal sent me this email ad to make sure I knew what day it is.

Yes, Diagon Alley's Grand Opening happened at 8 this morning at Universal Studios Florida.  But the crowds started forming at 5am.

 By 6am -- this crowd had already formed (as seen on the Local 6 Morning News while watching on my couch and drinking my coffee)

And the lines and wait times have only grown from there. Universal learned a lot from the opening of Hogsmeade in 2010. The crowds were probably almost as big as that opening, but despite lines like these:

 the people hoping to see Potter in person did not stretch out to CityWalk. They DID, however, stretch from basically the back of the park to Mel's Diner at the front. Local 6's Evan Lambert lined up at park opening, and was allowed into Diagon Alley a mere 3 hours later.  But that doesn't mean Evan got a close encounter with a Goblin Banker.

Yes, Harry Potter & the Escape From Gringotts ride did open. Though, sources tell me it is not yet at its full capacity, it is growing more reliable by the day.  By mid-day here's where the line stood:

400 Minutes. That's 6 hours & 40 minutes for the ride ONCE you waited to be allowed into the land. The peak wait time I've seen so far is 450 minutes. Put another way, that's enough time to watch the first 3 Harry Potter films. 

What the inside hallway looks for those waiting in air conditioned comfort (just picture it packed with people).  Before you get there, crowds are winding through a  couple of outside areas for overflow crowd days like today. I guesstimate those hold about 2 hours worth of people) 

Granted, Gringotts has gone down a couple of times throughout the day, but that is to be expected for a new first-of-its kind ride system.  What kind of ride?


Picture a roller coaster car, topped with a motion base (like Transformers) matched to 3-D images and props (like Spiderman) with some real surprises along the way.

I have not yet been fortunate enough to try out Gringotts -- so today I'm looking at the other new ride: the Hogwarts Express. From London, you enter King's Cross station and the theming on the inside is as authentic as the outside. It may not be sexy, but it feels like a train station.