June 4, 2014
Universal Conjuring Magical Experiences
The drip of Diagon details continues.
Last week Universal tantalized muggles everywhere with hints about the food.
Today Universal Orlando confirmed some of the fun designed to entertain (and loosen up your wallet ) when you visit "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley" (Opening date still TBA).
Diagon is really made up of several areas: London, King's Crossing train station, Knockturn Alley, Horizont Alley (say it fast), and Carkitt Market.
The first entertainment announced will take place at Carkitt Market. First is a puppet and props show bringing to life two fables from The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Four wizard thespians will perform "The Fountain of Fair Fortune" and "The Tale of the Three Brothers" (the latter was featured in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1")
Those shows were designed by Michael Curry who is probably best known for the puppet costumes in the Lion King musical on Broadway. He has some theme park background, too -- designing the much-loved and lamented puppets for Epcot's Tapestry of Nations parade.
Carkitt Market will also feature the singing styles of "The Singing Sorceress: Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees" with songs inspired by, and titled by JK Rowling herself.
Titles include "A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love," "You Stole My Cauldron But You Can't Have My Heart" and "You Charmed The Heart Right Out Of Me"
Both seem like a good expansion of the entertainment offerings inspired by the books, like the Frog Chorus over at Hogsmeade Village (the original Potterland).
But the entertainment will start before entering the magic portal to Diagon Alley. Already many people have spotted the Knight Bus in front of the London facades that hide the magical realm.
Aboard that bus are its conductor and his pal the shrunken head.
They will talk to each other and chat and joke with you. Should help amuse crowds waiting and waiting to enter the Wizarding alleyways.
Inside Diagon, of course is the signature ride "Harry Potter & the Escape From Gringotts." That's the bank favored by the magically-inclined. Well, now Universal confirms that nearby you too can trade in your Muggle money for Wizarding Bank Notes (think Disney Dollars) which can be used within both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade to buy snacks and souvenirs. And yes, you will do business with a goblin to make the experience complete.
Of course, Universal is banking on the idea of you turning in your money and keeping the Bank notes as souvenirs.
Speaking of souvenirs, Olivander's wandmaking shop promises to let you enjoy the "Wand chooses you" experience with much less of a wait than the Islands of Adventure original.
What Universal DIDN'T confirm today: very strong rumors that a series of interactive wands will also be sold. Universal Creative has spent a lot of time and money subtly upgrading the storefronts in Hogsmeade to interact with those wands. Of course, they will also work in Diagon Alley. More word on that should be coming soon. So (we assume) will be a grand opening date. Sources tell me the first soft-opening rides on the Hogwarts Express ride could start tomorrow for Universal Team Members only. Not theme park guests. I will keep you posted as I hear more.
Speaking of interactive experiences, Universal has also launched a new contest to win a trip to Diagon Alley. More on that here.
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