At the end of July, I had the opportunity to visit the new Diagon Alley expansion to the already awesome Hogsmeade (Wizarding World of Harry Potter) theme park! As soon as I arrived at Universal, I bee-lined it directly to Diagon Alley, and as soon as I walked through that “open” brick wall (which is concealed by another “closed” to distract the Muggles who don’t notice such magical things), I started Instagramming as much as I possibly could, without spending the entire evening with my face in my phone. It was in part because of my constant attempts to keep posting my photo-journey to Instagram that made the following tweet (to my private account) necessary:
It is taking me a REALLY long time to get all my pictures on Instagram. In other news, I just spilled fish eggs (Harry Potter-themed bubble tea) on me.
Anyway, I took more than 36 pictures that night, but these are the photos that I’m willing to share. Feel free to click on any picture to enlarge and enter into “carousel” mode.
Oh, and you should watch following Diagon Alley YouTube review below by the incredible, incomparable, wonderful human that is Lauren Fairweather. Adorable is another adjective that belongs in that sentence.
I should mention that starting this article with the exact same ten or eleven words with which Lauren starts this video was totally unintentional and coincidental. As Lauren mentions in her video, she didn’t get to experience the “Escape from Gringotts” ride, but I did! The four-plus-hour wait in line was totally worth the four-plus-minute ride, actually! I didn’t take pictures during the ride, because I was falling pretty rapidly at times, which makes photography difficult.
The Hogwarts Express was incredible. I basically rode to Hogsmeade, took one quick picture of Hogwarts (you can see it above), then rode back to Diagon Alley, so that I could experience the ride in reverse (it’s different). I found it rather odd that Universal Studios chose to leave the original stationary Hogwarts Express where it was rather than remove it.
I will mention at this point that my friend Cody and I were wearing Quidditch uniforms—his was a Slytherin uniform, mine was a Ravenclaw—and theme park employee (on the muggle side of the barrier to Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross) stopped Cody to ask him what a “Slytherin” was. I was confused at first, thinking, “You work for a bloody Harry Potter theme park! How can you not know what a Slytherin is?” But then Cody reminded me that he’s a theme park employee playing a muggle. Of course he is going to act like he doesn’t know anything about the Wizarding World!
The white dragon atop Gringotts also breathes fire about every 15 minutes. It’s really uncanny to see, not because of the fire (which is really hot if you’re standing beneath it), but because the dragon emits warning growl-noises so that you know it’s coming, and literally everyone stops and takes out their cameras or phones to video it. I was in the perfect spot to take a video of everyone else taking a video—there was a veritable flood of camera screen light everywhere—but I hit the record button a little too late to get a good shot of that. I did get a video of the dragon breathing fire later.
I also took a short video of one Celestina Warbeck performance. She was absolutely incredible. She and the “Tale of the Three Brothers” players alternate every half hour (if I remember correctly), and both are must-see incredible things. During one particular Celestina Warbeck song, she invites a man from the audience up on stage to dance with them, and in the particular performance that I saw, the guy who went up there was dressed to the nines in a (I think) Ravenclaw Hogwarts uniform, and he was so good that I thought he was a planted Universal Studios employee, and not just a random visitor from the audience. When I saw him at LeakyCon later that week, I was legitimately shocked and made a point to go up to him and congratulate him on his performance that night. I doubt he’s reading this, but if he (you) are, kudos again!
I will conclude here. If you’ve had the opportunity to visit Diagon Alley, please share your favorite things about it in the comments below! I would be super happy if you did. No really, please, please comment. Thanks!