What's confirmed for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida?By Nick Sim, Tuesday, October 29, 2013 09:02
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley is due to open in spring 2014 at Universal Studios Florida. Let's take a look at what's been confirmed as forming part of the new land.
Located on the former site of the demolished Jaws attraction, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley will bring to life London as seen in the Harry Potter books and movies. Just like the existing Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure, it will feature a lavish level of detail and will be designed to immerse guests completely in Potter's universe.
There's been much speculation about what exactly will be featured in the expansion. Some of this was confirmed by Universal in its official announcement, while the concept art above also prominently shows others. Here's a rundown of what we know so far.
The Hogwarts Express
The Hogwarts Express train ride will link Diagon Alley to the existing Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure, recreating the train ride that Harry Potter and his friends take each year from London to Hogsmeade. It'll actually travel through a lacklustre backstage area - but guests won't see that. Instead, audiovisual effects will be used to simulate the trip, but the exact nature of these is not yet known.
What is known is that Universal is pulling out all the stops to make the Hogwarts Express look authentic. Just last week, it released images of the trains being lowered onto the track for the first time - and they are stunningly realistic replicas of the train seen in the movies.
Muggles will start their trip at either Kings Cross Station (in Universal Studios Florida) or Hogsmeade Station (at Islands of Adventure). Again, both of these are set to be closely based on their movie counterparts. Here's a view of Kings Cross, under construction:
Universal hasn't confirmed exactly how the ticketing situation will work on the Hogwarts Express, but has said that guests will need a Park-to-Park ticket to ride.
Keep up with the latest news and features about this unique train ride on our Hogwarts Express page.
Gringotts Bank coaster
Just as Hogwarts Castle towers over the original Wizarding World, Diagon Alley will feature its own iconic structure. In this case, it will be Gringotts Bank, topped by an enormous dragon.
Inside, guests will be able to experience a roller coaster ride through the bank's vaults. Again, little has been revealed about the precise nature of the experience. Some reports suggest that the coaster could be a combination of the resort's Revenge of the Mummy (dark-ride morphs into roller coaster) and The Amazing Adventures Spider-Man (roving motion-base with seamlessly integrated 3-D screens).
Other reports suggest that the ride may opt out of technological overload and instead present a quality, high-octane thrill ride with outstanding theming that may incorporate a few surprises (launches, backward sections, or even free-fall track like Busch Gardens' Verbolten or Alton Towers' Thirteen). Still others suggest that it will be a tamer experience, enabling guests who are intimidated by Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey to ride.
Keep track of the latest developments on our Gringotts Bank roller coaster page.
The Leaky Cauldron
In the books and movies, The Leaky Cauldron pub forms the entrance to Diagon Alley. Muggles see just an old, rickety shop front on Charing Cross Road, but wizards are able to pass through a hidden doorway and enter the mysterious alley.
At Universal Studios Florida, The Leaky Cauldron will become the main dining outlet, performing the same function as the Three Broomsticks in the original Wizarding World. Expect Butterbeer aplenty!
Weasley's Wizard Wheezes
Universal has made a fortune from merchandise sales from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It's no surprise, then, that the entire second land is based around what is, essentially, a wizardly shopping street. Heavily-themed retail outlets will play a big part in the Diagon Alley experience.
So far, though, only one shop is nailed-on as appearing in the land - Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, which is just about visible in the concept art (see the large hand holding a hat?). The joke shop will sell all manner of tricks, and will feature the distinctive storefront seen in the movies.
What else is rumored to be part of Diagon Alley?
Naturally, the rumor mill has been churning with reports of what other elements might feature in Universal Studios Florida's new land. A larger version of Ollivander's Wand Shop (already featured - out of place - in the original Wizarding World) is almost a dead cert. Other shops are likely to include Madam Milkin's Robes for All Occasions, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour and Borgin and Burkes. An entired covered recreation of Knockturn Alley is also said to be on the cards.
What are you most looking forward to?
Which attraction, shop or restaurant are you most looking forward to visiting at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley? Let us know in the comments below!