Universal Orlando Resort: Diagon Alley Dissected a Wizarding World Expansion Update

Written by Eric Davis. Posted in Orlando Parkhopper, Universal Orlando

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Published on May 14, 2013 at 3:00 am with 48 Comments

Detailed artwork has been released for the new Harry Potter expansion, Diagon Alley, that is currently under construction inside Universal Studios Orlando. Included in the new land will be a major new attraction, brand new shops and dining, and transportation that will connect the two parks. Today, we take to the air to bring you a birds-eye tour of the construction site and compare it to the released artwork. Plus, we’ll bring you the latest information from around the resort, including Transformers and Cabana Bay updates.

Universal Orlando Resort

This past week, Universal dropped a bomb on the theme park world when they unexpectedly released Wizarding World Phase 2, Diagon Alley, concept art.  While none of the information in their release would be considered “news” to MiceChat Readers, who have heard all of the info here months ago, the concept art is quite beautiful. We were so inspired that we decided to dust off the MiceCopter and take to the air once again to show you a building by building breakdown on the project.

Artist Rendering of Diagon Alley. CLICK TO ENLARGE

We’ll do our best to provide you concept and real world views of the entirety of this huge project. From the artistic representation above and construction photo below, you can already see that the project very closely mimics the concept art.

Overview of Diagon Alley construction site. CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

MAIN ENTRANCE

The exterior of the land will look like London and the Kings Cross train station and will completely conceal Diagon Alley on the other side. But once you pass under the facades, you’ll be in a faithful recreation of the world of Harry Potter.

An overview of the shopping courtyard.

While the concept art lacks detail and is highly stylized, we are still able to make out some of the individual shops which we can expect to find in the new land:

Flourish and Blotts

Madam Malkins

Olivander’s

Quiditch Quality Supply and Owl Emporium

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes (you can just make out the side profile of the round window with the arm and top hat)

This is what the Weasley’s shop looked like in the film and what we can expect it to look like in the theme park as well (given the clues from the concept art above).

London Water Front

You’ll note number 12 Grimmauld Place in the lower right of this image.

And here’s what the concept art above looks like in the real world.

The first part of Phase 2 that you will be able to see as you approach from around the Universal lagoon is the London Waterfront area. The concept art alludes to some additional details we can expect to find upon opening.

The purple triple-decker “Knight Bus” from the Harry Potter film, Prisoner of Azkaban, is parked on the waterfront. This will make for a great photo op.

Kings Cross Station

One of the main attractions in Phase 2 will be the train to Hogwarts Express from Kings Cross Station.  This large façade will become part of the iconic skyline for Phase 2.

Hogwarts Express Station

Inside Kings Cross you will find the entrance to Platform 9 ¾ that will take you to the Hogwarts Express Train that will transport you from London to Hogsmede, creating the first inter-themepark transportation anywhere.

Hogwarts Express

Once guests board the Hogwarts Express, they will be whisked away on a magical journey from park to park that will include up to 4 different story lines for day vs. night and to London and to Hogsmede.  Guests will be treated to in cabin effects and will truly feel like they are making the pilgrimage that young Harry and friends made every year when they would go to school at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The elevated line runs the entire length between the Studios and Island’s of Adventure. From one Wizarding World to the other.

 

But you won’t see any of the ugly back stage areas from the train. All views from the attraction will be simulated. You’ll really feel like you are being transported somewhere magical.

 

Here we see the other station being constructed in Islands of Adventure.

The station is wedged between the Dragon Challenge coaster just above it and the Sinbad theatre to the left.

Hogsmeade is in the top right of the pic.

GRINGOTT’S

The most anticipated addition to the Diagon Alley expansion is the Gringott’s bank coaster.  Set in the depths of the cavernous, subterranean storage vaults, riders will race along a winding track narrowly avoiding all sorts of dangers.

The entrance to the attraction will, apparently, be adorned with a fire breathing dragon. While concept art is notorious for adding fantasy images which never make it into actual production, it is very likely that the dragon will be an important element of the new land.

Here’s the back side of the massive Gringott’s show building.

So, what’s missing from our report that can’t be captured yet in concept art or MiceCopter photos? Well, while none of the items below have been officially confirmed by Universal, we’ve been told by sources that there will be some very popular additions to the expansion. Readers should expect to find an enclosed Knockturn Alley area, which will contain a Borgin and Burkes walk-through attraction (which promises to be pretty dark and scary). Leaky Couldron will be the main restaurant. And Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour will help keep the crowds happy and sugared up.  Universal intends to stretch out the concept art releases and news to generate as much buzz as they can before the attraction opens (likely in late spring of 2014).

It’s already an impressive looking project. We can only expect it to get more exciting as the facades and details are added. We have lots of interesting information to share with you about this project going forward, so please be sure to check back weekly.

CABANA BAY PROGRESS

Thanks to the MiceCopter, we can show you the current progress on the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  With the tower and the pool areas now defined, and the lobby building beginning construction, guests will be staying at Universal’s new “Value” resort in under a year.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

FACADE WORK

Some refurbishment is being conducted in the New York and Hollywood sets as the park prepares for what they expect to be another banner summer.

SPRINGFIELD

Work continues in the Springfield expansion next to the Simpson’s ride. Though construction might appear to have slowed down on the exterior, interior work is being completed at a rapid pace. The water front will begin to receive a bulk of the attention once the main interior work is completed.

TRANSFORMERS: THE RIDE 3D

Last minute details are being worked on to get this new attraction ready for its official June 20th debut. The “Garage” will allow the large stilt walkers to walk on and off stage with ease once it is completed. And guests might be able to get a special treat from this location that people have come to love in Hollywood.

Finishing touches are being added. The obligatory disclaimer is now up, and there are just a few more touches (and one big touch) that is going to be added to the building.

Universal Islands Of Adventure

JURASSIC PARK REFURBISHMENT

Jurassic Park went down for a quick refurbishment after the previous dates were scrapped due to various operational needs and scheduling.   We hope that the Animatronics on this ride receive some TLC, because they were beginning to look really rough.

 

MARVEL SUPERHERO ISLAND

Over in Marvel Super Hero Island, more street work continues. Crosswalks are currently being repainted.

And if you are still looking for more Universal fun . . .

NEW: MiceChat Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast

We have a brand new Unofficial Universal Orlando podcast for you today. It’s a fun look at what’s hot in the Universal parks:

Thank you!

With that, we end our high flying Universal Orlando Resort update today.  Are you excited about Transformers, Springfield and Diagon Alley? Let us know in the comments below and please share today’s update with your friends and family. It takes a lot of fuel and effort to get the MiceCopter airborne, but your comments and social shares make it all worthwhile.

About Eric Davis

By day, Eric is in Marketing and Social Media. But on the weekends, he's a theme park addict. Eric is a frequent contributor to MiceChat's Orlando Parkhopper columns and tends to focus his efforts on what's new and what's news at Universal Studios and SeaWorld.

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  • LoveStallion

    If Universal invested the money to extensively theme the Dragon Challenge, that would be money well spent. It looks so naked and barren in comparison with the rest of Potterland.

    • wdimike55

      The Dragon Challenge is one of the major weaknesses in the WWOHP. The queue for the coasters is more amazing than the coasters themselves and it’s only a reminder how the land was shoehorned in and around old attractions that were only re-themed. Outdoor, steel coasters have no place in this land. They should be replaced with an indoor attraction.

      The next major weakness: having to walk through the urine-caked, hodgepodge that is Islands of Adventure. I would have demanded a full scale Hogwart’s in a new theme park. If Disney can spend a billion on Cars Land, Universal can spend a few more on a proper tribute to a multi-billion dollar franchise. In fact, go all out and build it in a weather-controlled dome so guests can actually forget they’re in Florida.

      The next major weakness: Florida. The weather is intolerable and Hogsmeade suffers for it despite its immersive theme and snow-capped buildings.

      Lets face it, all WWOHP has going for it currently is the Forbidden Journey (and its show building; it’s still quite impressive), Butterbeer and laser-targeted merchandise. Phase 2 is desperately needed. I just wish both Phase 1 and 2 were implemented with deeper pockets and better planning. Phase 2 itself is stunning. The Hogwart’s Express is genius. I just can’t get past the feeling that the way it was executed and placed in and around the existing park and backstage areas feels like a knee-jerk reaction to get it done ASAP and another reminder that Phase 1 should have been given the square footage it deserved.

  • Lee Mallaby

    I agree with that statement, we have discussed on the podcast before that it wouldn’t take much to put some theming to Dragon Challenge. Some stadium seating as your going up the lift hill?
    I also thought about the “only park to have interpark transportation”, but then realised that the monorail goes from the outside of MK to EPCOT. So that us a very cool selling point. I’m not saying that it will disappoint me, as I have no doubt it will blow me away.

  • Lost Boy

    The only thing I can’t seem to understand by looking at all the images is the train going from Wizarding World in IOA to Kings Cross in Universal Studio Park is it looks like the train will be going into Kings Cross Station. Now, how does it get back? It can’t back out of the station and go backwards to Wizarding World. That would look stupid to people in the Park who can see the train coming and going. Can someone explain how this is going to work? I understand everything else but this one point.

    • WorldDisney

      LOL I have the same question as you. I thought it would be a loop of some kind but doesnt look like it. It looks like a single track.

      Anyway I admit I’m VERY behind on this project! I had no idea it was so far ahead until I saw the project art in another website. I AM amazed. I have not been to IOA since Harry Potter opened but now with this, wow! I seriously want to see it now. This is truly innovative and smart as hell! Now you get Harry Potter in both parks and its going to sell a lot of 2 park passes!

      And Transformers is coming in June too? Wow, USO is on a roll these days. Seriously.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      While you will think you are entering a “Train” and it will look like one in the station, you’ll actually be on more of a shuttle which can go backwards and forward. It does not need to turn around. Since you’ll never actually see a moving train from the land or back stage, it wasn’t necessary to build real trains. However, it will be a very convincing illusion.

      My guess is that they’ll use 4 vehicle operation. Two on the track and two loading at any given time. But that’s just a guess.

      • ChrisNJ

        my guess it that the train “windows” will offer different views – like Star Tours – so it encourages repeats. And the station/platform 9/34 should be stunningly detailed based on their previous work. I expect it to be an E ticket for the simple fact that every Harry Potter fan dreams of riding Hogwarts Express – and Universal and Rowling know that.

  • Pingback: 2014 Neuheit: Diagon Alley (Harry Potter Erweiterung) @ Universal Studios Florida - Seite 9()

  • Disneykin Kid

    Disney should have built an E ticket Beauty and the Beast dark ride, then the New Fantasyland would have felt more complete. Even better would be adding a Tangled ride.

    • danielz6

      Hey they did better than that! They made storytime with belle!
      Haha completely agree with you especially since there is undeveloped land directly behind the beauty and the beast area that could have housed a show building. Sigh…personally I would’ve loved a single Dumbo spinner with a Dumbo dark ride in the big top tent instead of the McDonald style play area.

  • Tracey Mallaby

    Aw, what a mouth-watering update! There’s just so much going on at Universal right now, so much to look forward to :) 86 days until we fly out! It can’t go fast enough… Of course that means we will miss out on phase 2, but hey, any excuse to return sooner rather than later is a good one!

  • Not My Real Name

    I’m not sure how the Express works out for one-park guests. Will there be ticket booths at the stations where you can buy upgrades to two-park status? Here’s an idea: If you have a one-park ticket, you would be able to, for example, visit one HP land and take the train to the other land, but need a two-park ticket to exit the land into the rest of the park. This way, you could experience both HP lands with only a one-park ticket.

    Well, maybe not. UNI, I’m sure, will require a two-park ticket to visit both HP lands.