Theme Park Expansion Opens Spring 2014

When “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” theme park was opened to the public at Universal Orlando Resort in 2010, we were given small glimpses of the Hogwarts Express—the locomotive but not the rest of the rail cars—and Diagon Alley. (Ollivanders, the wand shop, was placed in Hogsmeade when the theme park was opened, despite it really belonging in Diagon Alley.)

Starting in the spring of 2014, a new expansion will allow Harry Potter fans to visit Diagon Alley in its entirety and ride the Hogwarts Express from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade. I, for one, am more than a little excited, especially for the Hogwarts Express. To be able to ride on the Hogwarts Express from Diagon Alley (though it really should leave from Platform 9 3/4) with my friends, as though we are really going to Hogwarts, is an experience that my imagination won’t be able to handle.

Now that we finally know when the expansion will open, that’s one less question that is left unanswered. I do have a few others, though.

When will LeakyCon 2014 be?

LeakyCon will be in Orlando next year, that much we know for sure. The location was announced shortly after the expansion was. It seemed fitting that the convention should return to Hogwarts, since we soon will have Diagon Alley to visit as well, plus the Hogwarts Express to take us to our favorite castle.

However, LeakyCon managers seemed to be waiting until after this announcement to decide and reveal the date for LeakyOrlando. Those who know me know that I have the incredible honor of being on LeakyCon staff, but I’m not a manager, meaning that I’m not privy to such decision-making conversations, so don’t ask me if I know when LeakyCon 2014 will be—I don’t!

Will the Hogwarts Express leave from Platform 9 3/4 like it’s supposed to?

It’s hard to know whether Universal will simply place the gate for the Hogwarts Express within Diagon Alley or whether they will make a somewhat separate location that looks more like King’s Cross Station, so that the journey on the Hogwarts Express feels more legitimately canon. I am hoping for the latter of the two options. If they’re going to do it, do it right!

We do know, however, that since the train ride from the Universal Studios theme park (where the expansion is currently being built) to Islands of Adventure (where the original theme park is currently located) does not naturally feature Scottish scenery, the windows will have screens with scenery videos built in, so that it really looks like we are traveling through the Scottish countryside to Hogwarts.

Will Ollivanders remain as a branch in Hogsmeade or will it be moved to Diagon Alley?

More than likely, a new, perhaps larger Ollivanders shop will be built within Diagon Alley (where it belongs), but the Ollivanders shop that already exists within Hogsmeade will stay. I remember, when I attended the “Open at the Close” event during LeakyCon 2011, when only LeakyCon attendees were allowed into the park after regular business hours were over, even then there was quite the line to get into Ollivanders.

In order to make the experience special for each child person, only one child person is allowed in at a time, which understandably creates a rather long line outside to get in. To allow for more children people to visit Ollivanders in a shorter time, my guess is that Univeral will leave both shops open, despite the break away from canon.

What other questions do you have?

What else do you want answered? Leave your burning questions in the comments!