Universal Orlando has revealed new details of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, including a host of new concept artwork images for its rides, shops and restaurants.
Universal Creative's president Mark Woodbury was joined in the vault of Gringotts Bank by a number of special guests from the Harry Potter movies to make the announcement, including Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), James Phelps (Fred Weasley) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood). The line-up of shops and attractions was confirmed, although Universal saved some details "for later".
Woodbury promised that Diagon Alley will offer "a whole new level of storytelling and a theme park experience that is beyond your wildest imagination." Universal has worked with Stuart Craig, the Academy Award-winning production designer for the Harry Potter movies, to bring Diagon Alley to life.
Guests will enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley via a waterfront area that is designed to resemble London's Embankment. The most prominent feature of this will be the Knight Bus, which is expected to host interactive, talking "zombie heads".
Diagon Alley itself will feature a host of shops and restaurants. Guests will walk towards Gringotts Wizarding Bank at the rear of the land, which will be topped by an enormous animatronic, fire-breathing dragon.
The Hogwarts Express train ride will link the original Wizarding World (Hogsmeade) to Diagon Alley. Universal didn't reveal many details of the ride experience, other than that it will feature "some surprises along the way". There is expected to be no height requirement for the ride, enabling the whole family to experience it. Universal promised to reveal more information soon.
Guests will board the train in Diagon Alley at a recreation of Kings Cross station:
The train's interior will closely resemble that seen in the films:
Riders on the Hogwarts Express will require a Park-to-Park ticket covering entry to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
The headline ride of the new land will be Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, a roller coaster ride through the interior of Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Few details were revealed, but Universal did show off some impressive concept art for the ride. It also described the ride as a "family" attraction, suggesting a low height requirement.
The vault itself is expected to form part of the queue line experience:
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!
Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour
In the books, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour is a small shop with indoor and outdoor seating areas. It serves up lots of colorful ice cream flavours, along with toppings such as chopped nuts. Its owner met a sticky end, however...he was murdered by Death Eaters.
Ollivanders Wand Shop
Yes, there's already an Ollivanders Wand Shop in the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It's chronic lack of capacity, though, means that a larger version will be installed in Diagon Alley (the real home of the store in the books and movies).
Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment
It is expected that Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment will double as the ride shop for the Gringotts Bank roller coaster. In the movie, the store sells magical instruments such as telescopes and hourglasses.
Weasley's Wizard Wheezes
The Weasley's Wizard Wheezes joke shop will sell all manner of tricks, and will feature the distinctive storefront seen in the movies. As with the stores at the existing Wizarding World, expect the merchandise to be completely unique to Diagon Alley - although the merchandise from the soon-to-close Zonko's in the original Wizarding World will be moved here.
Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions
Expect this one to be a real money-spinner. Madam Malkin's is where Harry Potter and his friends buy their Hogwarts school uniforms, and also offers an array of dress robes, cloaks and...oh yes...invisibility cloaks! Let's see if Universal can pull that one off. Universal promises that guests will be able to buy character outfits from the store, too.
The Magical Menagerie shop will sell a host of soft toy animals, including owls, snakes and toads.
Scribbulus will sell wizarding stationery, including notebooks and quills.
Quality Quidditch Supplies
Quality Quidditch Supplies will offer a host of supplies for the sport, such as broomsticks and snitches.
Murky Knockturn Alley, a favorite hangout for dark wizards, will be featured in the new Wizarding World.
Borgin and Burkes
The headline store in Knockturn Alley will be Borgin and Burkes, which sells all manner of dark magic objects and other dangerous items such as human bones and leering masks.
Changes to the Hogsmeade
In addition to the installation of Hogsmeade Station, other changes will be made to the existing Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure. This will involve the closure of Zonko's Joke Shop, which will be replaced by an expanded Honeydukes.
What wasn't covered?
There was no word on the rumored inclusion of interactive elements that would be triggered by new, RFID-eqipped wands. No specific opening date was given, other than the vague "summer".
Universal has launched a new website covering both Wizarding Worlds, although at the time of writing it wasn't functioning correctly. It can be found here: universalorlando.com/harrypotter.
You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.