Exictement is building ahead of the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. After months of speculation, we finally have a good idea of what to expect when the expansion makes its debut in summer 2014. First, the basics: Diagon Alley will be the second Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. The first, which is a recreation of Hogsmeade village and Hogwarts Castle, is located in neighboring Islands of Adventure. We've collated a huge amount of information about the rides, shops and restaurants that will feature in the new Wizarding World, and we thought it was time to organize it into a single, comprehensive resource. That's why we've produced this complete guode to Diagon Alley, which is divided into several parts. You can jump directly to any of them below, or get started by scrolling down to learn about the layout of the area.
- Diagon Alley Guide: The Layout
- Diagon Alley Guide: Hogwarts Express
- Diagon Alley Guide: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Diagon Alley Guide: Shops and Restaurants
- Diagon Alley Guide: Interactive Elements
The layout of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley
Despite its name, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley consists of much more than just a recreation of the Diagon Alley shopping street seen in the Harry Potter books and movies. Instead, it's made up of several different sub-areas, which are shown (somewhat crudely) in Universal's official map below. We've added our own indicators of where two areas that have been announced but were not marked by Universal on the map will appear. Let's take a look at each of those areas in turn.
The new land has replaced Amity, the former site of the Jaws ride. This means that it faces onto Universal Studios Florida's main lagoon. Of course, in the movies, Diagon Alley does not face onto a lake. So the front of the second Wizarding World will be a recreation of several London landmarks. Universal has dubbed the area the London Embankment, but actually it will be a mish-mash of different icons from the city. As you walk around the lagoon from the San Francisco area of the park, the first facade you'll come across is that of Kings Cross Station, which will act as a terminal for one of the land's two new rides: the Hogwarts Express. Next to the station is a frontage designed to represent Charing Cross Road. This includes the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron restaurant. Next to Charing Cross Road is Grummauld Place, the home of the Black family, and (non-functional) replicas of the Leicester Square tube station and Wyndham's Theatre. The central plaza area is dominated by the Eros Fountain from Piccadilly Circus, sure to be a popular photo opportunity.
Next to the fountain is the Knight Bus. For wizards who are running late or lost, this is a godsend. The triple-decker, purple AEC Regent III RT races around at a lightning-fast pace and featured prominently in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The interior of the bus will feature an interactive talking "zombie" head. Universal recently issued a casting call for this role, inviting people to: "Prepare a one-minute monologue in a Caribbean accent." The setup is likely to be similar to that for the fountain in Islands of Adventure's Lost Continent area, with the actors being located in a hidden control room and using cameras and microphones to enable the interaction with guests.
To enter Diagon Alley itself, you'll pass through a cut-out archway. Once inside, you'll be completely immersed in the Wizarding World. Gringotts Wizarding Bank, topped by a fire-breathing animatronic dragon, is at the far end of the alley. Between us and the ride that the bank hosts is, effectively, one long shopping street (Universal is going to make a fortune from merchandise sales). The above shot is concept art from Universal. Here's a shot of the actual set (as seen as the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London):
Accessible via an archway from Diagon Alley opposite the Weasley's Wizard Weases store is the murky Knockturn Alley - a favorite hangout of dark wizards. The area will be covered to ensure that the Florida sun doesn't brighten up the atmosphere.
Towards the rear of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley is a new area dubbed Carkitt Market. This doesn't feature in the books, and was named by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. Inspired by Leadenhall Market in London, it will of course have magical elements. We don't know exactly what will be here yet, although we do know that a recreation of the Fountain of Fair Fortune will be housed somewherein the expansion.
The water feature is based on a fairytale about a fountain that provides bathers with "fair fortune forever more". It is not yet known if this will be purely decorative or whether it will double as some sort of drinks outlet (after all, you know Butterbeer is going to be on sale somewhere), as it was listed on a permit filed by Universal for a dining outlet.
Another huge area that is yet to be detailed by Universal is Horizont Alley, which will run perpendicular to Diagon Alley. Again named by Rowling, the nature of this street is a mystery.
Learn more about Diagon Alley
Click through to any of the articles below to learn about another element of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley: