Universal Studios Florida’s long awaited announcement regarding the second phase of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was made a short time ago via webcast, a muggle technology. The Diagon Alley expansion was first announced on May 9, 2013 and has been hotly anticipated and speculated upon since. Fans of both Universal Studios and Harry Potter have been guessing at the enchanting attractions concealed within this new area with rumours including a fire-breathing dragon, Knocturn Alley, the Knight Bus, Florian Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, The Leaky Cauldron, Gringott’s Coaster and the Hogwarts Express. Teaser trailers have further whet park-goers appetites. So what charms did Universal Orlando Resort have to share today? We were there to cover it and have all the details for you below.
Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom, introduced us to the webcast. Mark Woodbury (President of Design and Development at Universal), who was standing in the stunning vaults of Gringotts, was there to tell us everything we’ve been waiting for. James Phelps (Fred Weasley) and Matthew Lewis joined him to share their thoughts on what they had seen already. The announcements were:
The Hogwarts Express:
Guests with a park-to-park ticket will be able to travel between Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios. The attraction was described as an exact replica of the movie train, you can board at either Hogsmeade station or Kings Cross station. Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) was waiting on board to chat about the memories she had of making the movies.
Madam Malkins Robes For All Occasions:
New shop containing costumes and wizard-wear for all.
New shop: Owls, snakes, toads – perfect pets for all young witches and wizards.
A second branch of the wandmakers shop originally found in Hogsmeade – with multiple show-rooms.
For parchment and quill supplies.
Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment:
Selling telescopes, binoculars, hour glasses, magnifying glasses and armillary spheres.
Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes:
Three storeys of shelves packed with everything for your practical joking needs.
Quality Quidditch Supplies:
Quidditch robes, equipment and brooms.
In Hogsmeade, Honeydukes will be expanded into the current Zonko’s space and Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes will be opening premises in Diagon Alley incorporating Zonkos merchandise into their store.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour:
A place for hot wizards and witches to cool down with a frozen scoop or two.
The Leaky Cauldron:
A fully themed dining option serving British pub fare.
Fully immersive and dark, everything you would expect from the darker side of wizardry.
Borgin & Burkes:
Selling Deatheater masks, skulls and other dark magic items.
Harry Potter & the Escape From Gringotts:
An incredible coaster that is multi-sensory, multi-dimensional and promising to be very exciting.
Thierry Coup (Vice President of Creative Development for Universal Creative) & Evanna Lynch entered the vault and closed the webcast by answering questions about Diagon Alley alongside Mark, Matthew and James.
For more information visit www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter
The announcement was short and sweet, not going into the finer details but certainly satisfying the appetite for the crowds that are sure to descend in the next couple of months. If what is promised is delivered then Diagon Alley will be a spectacular success and I personally cannot wait to experience it for myself.
Will Phase 2 cast a spell over Harry Potter fans as the Wizarding World managed to do so well in the summer of 2010? Time will tell, but I have no doubt that the magic will transfer once again leaving guests captivated and returning for more.
We will leave you with a special Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast with your hosts Lee, Tracey, Darren and Hunter as they discuss this latest event as well as news, rumors and stories about the Universal Parks from around the globe.