On Wednesday, Universal Studios released several high-res images from their highly-anticipated Diagon Alley expansion to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) theme park in Orlando, Florida. WWoHP opened four years ago, and the expansion will open to wizards, witches (and most importantly, muggles) on Tuesday, July 8th.
Here are those images:
Personally, I am very, very (very, very, etc.) excited to visit the Diagon Alley expansion of the theme park on July 30th, since LeakyCon will be hosting its second Open at the Close event that night. The first was back in 2011, the last time that Orlando played host to LeakyCon, which was also my very first LeakyCon (and I’ve been going every year since).
Details have not yet been finalized for this event as LeakyCon managers are sorting details with Universal Orlando, but please pay attention to official LeakyCon channels (Facebook or Twitter) for updates!
Diagon Alley Details Roundup
Alright. Here’s a basic roundup of what we know about the Diagon Alley expansion.
- The Hogwarts Express connects WWoHP: Diagon Alley (in Universal Studios) with WWoHP: Hogsmeade (the one with Hogwarts Castle in Islands of Adventure). It’s more than just a basic train ride, though. You do not see Florida through the train windows, but instead you see the British countryside–what you would see if you were riding from London to Hogwarts or vice versa (though with a few added perks, such as the Weasley twins’ fireworks and the Knight Bus). Beware: A park-to-park ticket is necessary in order to ride the train to and from both areas.
- Gringott’s Bank features the only ride in Diagon Alley–everything else is just shops, unless you consider The Hogwarts Express a “ride”. It’s called “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts”. Gringott’s Bank also features animatronic goblins (assuming within the queue, as with the many similar features in “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” queue in WWoHP: Hogsmeade), as well as the opportunity to exchange muggle and wizard money. (Yes! This means that the shops within Diagon Alley will accept galleons, sickles, and knuts!) There’s also a giant dragon (the one the trio uses to escape in Deathly Hallows) atop Gringott’s Bank, which breaths fire.
- I’m particularly excited to dine at The Leaky Cauldron, particularly because I’ve been a fan of The Leaky Cauldron website for many years and have been attending LeakyCon since 2011!
- Apparently interactive wands are a thing in Diagon Alley! Once you’ve purchased a wand at Ollivander’s (there’s a shop in Diagon Alley as well as one Hogsmeade), you use particular wand “gestures” to make objects interact with you in the various shop windows in Diagon Alley. I’m so excited for this feature.
- Butterbeer ice cream? Just stop by Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor!
All this week, there has been a Diagon Alley Preview going on. Press were invited to take their own pictures and video, actors and actresses from the films were invited back to do discussion panels, red carpet interviews and to host webcasts, even The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon relocated to Universal Orlando for the week to promote the Diagon Alley opening (more on that in another article).
As for the actors and actresses, though, featured in a few of the images above are the Phelps (Weasley) twins and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), plus Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Matt Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley), Warwick Davis (Flitwick and Griphook), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), and Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) also stopped by for the fun!
Want to see some videos from these actors and actresses? Universal Studios has put together a YouTube playlist of their growing list of videos promoting the Diagon Alley expansion. Check out the playlist below! (You may have to click “next” before you click “play”, since the first video in the playlist appears to be private.)
There’s so much more that I could include in this article about the Diagon Alley expansion, since the fandom websites have veritably exploded with pictures, reactions, and minor details, but I won’t. Please visit those websites for further coverage. Here are a four of my favorites: LeakyNews, The Leaky Cauldron, Hypable, MuggleNet.
What are you most excited to see? Please share in the comments!