Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Diagon Alley Details

Written by Tracey Mallaby. Posted in Breaking News, Features, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios

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Published on January 23, 2014 at 9:42 am with 104 Comments

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.

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We waited with anticipation for the event to begin . . .

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Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom, was on the webcast.

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Mark Woodbury

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James Phelps and Matthew Lewis

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.

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knightbus

There was an announcement that the Knight Bus will be part of the London facade then…

Madam Malkins Robes For All Occasions:

New shop containing costumes and wizard-wear for all.

Magical Menagerie:

New shop: Owls, snakes, toads – perfect pets for all young witches and wizards.

Ollivanders:

A second branch of the wandmakers shop originally found in Hogsmeade – with multiple show-rooms.

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Scribbulus:

For parchment and quill supplies.

Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment:

Selling telescopes, binoculars, hour glasses, magnifying glasses and armillary spheres.

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Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes:

Three storeys of shelves packed with everything for your practical joking needs.

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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.

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The Leaky Cauldron:

A fully themed dining option serving British pub fare.

Knockturn Alley:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Direct Download  |   iTunes

Discussion about the Diagon Alley event now available in the MiceChat Forums – HERE

About Tracey Mallaby

Tracey Mallaby is co-host of the acclaimed Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast. She invites you to listen along on the madcap journey through the Universal Orlando Resort twice a month right here on the MicePod Network.

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104 Comments

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  1. Hey, TVsRobLowe — Well, yes, the new Potter ride might be a “clone” of the Mummy in the same way that Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean are “clones” of ride systems, or Big Thunder and Space Mountain are “clones” of ride systems, or Spaceship Earth and Haunted Mansion are “clones” of ride systems. While I’d personally love to see something a bit milder for the entire family to enjoy together, this sounds like a pretty impressive attraction.

    But over at Walt Disney World … When I look at Under the Sea/The Little Mermaid ride, I think: That’s the best they could come up with? 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea closed for this?

    When I walk through the barren, empty hallway that you exit after staring at the tiny Mission: Space screen for three minutes, I think: That’s the best they could come up with? Horizons closed for this?

    When I continue refusing to go into Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor or bypass the torture of Stitch’s Great Escape, I think: They closed Timekeeper and CircleVision and Flight to the Moon and all those classic non-movie-based attractions and that’s the best they could come up with? Lame commercials for their movies?

    When I look at the fact that the 27-year-old Captain EO is still playing at Imagination and the entire upstairs is closed, or when I pass by the entirely empty Wonders of Life pavilion, or when I look at the 19-year-old Ellen’s Energy Adventure (I STILL shudder at the name), or when I float by Discovery Island or see the completely non-functioning Yeti, I think: Really? That’s the BEST they could come up with? Just shutting down attractions and leaving them out in the open as a testament to their penny-pinching, un-creative ways?

    If the worst Universal can do is build two entire lands in the last few years and open an admittedly pretty bad roller coaster (that Ride It Rip It Whatever), then Universal is at least TRYING to do some pretty spectacular things. I’d rather see efforts being made than see entire BUILDINGS left abandoned and innovative multi-sensory explorations like Epcot used to have that are just thoroughly forgotten and increasingly sad to witness.

    • My sentiments exactly.

    • Here, here!

      • That’s “Hear, hear!” I’m busting chops today.

    • I can’t agree when all we have been getting from them are motion based simulator rides sat in front of projections. This sort of thing is cheap to build and cheaper to maintain.

      • And is EXACTLY what Disney is putting into Avatarland.

      • Getting from who, Malin? If you’ve been on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you know it’s way more than a motion-based simulator ride. It’s pretty spectacular (albeit somewhat nausea inducing for many) with absolutely jaw-dropping sets and animatronics. Spider-Man and Transformers combine 3-D motion simulators with real-world sets in ways Disney hasn’t been able to do. I wasn’t sure if you were referring to Disney or Universal as the ones that have been doing cheap simulator rides “in front of projections,” but that is clearly not what Universal has been doing.

    • Eric,

      It is so great to have you and EPCOT Central back in action!

      Your comments give voice to what so many of us feel.
      The destruction of EPCOT Center still has me shaking my head in sorrow and disbelief.

      Seriously, today’s Epcot has become little more than a shopping mall with a $100 cover-charge, serving mediocre food at the highest possible prices to the marks that got screwed with one of the dining plans. :(

      • Difference is Country Bear, Disney is not relying on this ride technology alone and what’s going into Avatar is much different to what Disney has recently built at New Fantasyland.

        EC82, Simpsons, Despicable Me, are both motion based rides. Transformers is a clone of the Spider-Man Ride and is also motion based. I personally I prefer Indy because the sets are real and not projected onto a screen. Yes Forbidden Journey is different but does this feature much of the above. Word is the new Coaster will also feature video projections and simulators. Is the Mummy the last real classic dark ride experience we will see with actual Animatronics and beautiful and detailed sets?

    • Well said EC82.

      I wish I had written that myself.

      You hit a lot of the nails on the head as to why we all know WDW just isn’t a theme park where Walt’s imagination and dreams are respected anymore.

      • CaptainAction, the difference is that you aim to offend, wheras EC82 approach critiques with respect, which is why he resonates with more validity.

    • Well-said. EC82.

  2. There is lots of money to be made in Florida for Disney if they start with some type Star Wars park experience so that it coincides with the movie coming out in 2015, but that would mean they’d have to start NOW on a project that big. KEEP INVESTING IN THE PARKS DISNEY! It paid off big time with Cars Land. Hurry up with MyMagic+ and start investing in what the customers want. California is in great shape for now, but Florida needs Avatar AND Star Wars to pull ahead of Universal.

    • In terms of money and attendance, WDW is and will continue to be the big dog. TDO may not be generating the buzz that Universal currently has, but I do hope that the success of Universal and Harry Potter will force TDO to raise their game. Healthy competition will benefit both resorts and Orlando in general.

  3. This is a great announcement with some additional clarification of details for the Diagon Alley expansion. I didn’t expect to hear everything today, but this is a nice start. We know it’s coming for sure as it’s nearly completed construction, so it’s the biggest theme park news coming from any company this year so far. Due to its scale (argue theme and personal value all you want) it will be the highlight of the year for any park. The fact that Universal has already committed to spending $500 million per year on its parks also speaks volumes. It is a very exciting time to be a Universal guest.

    I see a number of negative comments posted here and it appears most of those are from Disney extremists. I was one once, so I get it. It’s sad that Disney is not responding to this in any way or with any action. As a Disney fan, I feel deeply snubbed. I’m sure they feel they don’t have to. But let me pose this question:

    If you are not a first time visitor to WDW or Florida in general, what is most likely to draw your attention to come back? I don’t believe it will be MyMagic+ as there is little to this that is about guest experience (memory making). But an epic expansion that includes 2 unique E Ticket rides and a new land will draw most everyone’s attention, new and old.
    Carsland did that for me at DCA and I planned the trip specifically to see this expansion. It worked and continues to work to attract. Diagon Alley will be no different for Universal. So the argument isn’t really about WHICH company is doing it, but WHAT they’re doing. Universal has publicly committed to doing something every year to draw your attention back to them.

    Is everyone doing that? I think not.

    • Yep Country Bear,
      We are trying to plan a trip to Disneyland mostly because of Carsland.
      It’s just funny that some folks try to tear down a company that is attempting and executing so much for their customers. The reason they attack it is to defend a company that has been truly letting them down for years.
      Is it really going to help WDW be better by trying to tear down every move Universal makes?
      No.
      WDW will become great again when they copy Universal’s enthusiasm for the guests.

      • Amen!

  4. Recent comments from Universal Creative that Disney fanatics would appreciate:
    1) There’s more to theme parks than thrill rides: “It became apparent really quickly that people enjoyed that discovery, shopping and dining experience almost as much as they did the attractions. And this just brings all that to life for them in Diagon Alley”- Mark Woodbury
    2) Building the same concept in other parks isn’t an excuse for cloning: “But what’s great about all of these other Harry Potter-themed things that are going into Osaka and Hollywood is that they’re all going to have their own unique elements. Things that you can only see and experience if you go to that specific theme park…” – Thierry Coup

    • Loved reading this.

      Thank you.

  5. Looking at that image of the dragon, the promises from Universal’s creative folks about said dragon, and combining it with the disappointment I think most people feel about Beastly Kingdom never coming to fruition at Animal Kingdom (instead, Disney’s basically doing it … but with the sadly unconfident safety net of basing it on a non-Disney licensed property) — I went back and looked at a description for one of the rides that Beastly Kingdom MIGHT have had. Suspiciously familiar? I’m glad to know SOMEONE’S doing it! (Following is from Wikipedia.)

    The evil side would be dominated by Dragon Tower, a ruined castle home to a greedy fire-breathing dragon who horded a fabulous treasure in the tower chamber. The castle would also be inhabited by bats who planned to rob the dragon of his riches. They would enlist the guests’ help in their scheme and whisk them off on a thrilling suspended roller coaster ride through the castle ruins. The climax of the ride would be an encounter with the evil dragon himself, resulting in a nearly-barbecued train of guests.

    • Thanks for sharing this EC82. I am so sad that Disney walked away from Beastly Kingdom because it would have been something that was original and unique to WDW. And just plain amazing. I suspect most of the Imagineers who worked on these concepts for Disney are now working for Universal. It would seem that universal is more invested in unique attractions currently.

    • A dragon hoarding a fabulous treasure? That’s not original. That’s The Hobbit! A book that was published in the ’30s! That’s probably why it was dropped.

  6. What is truly exciting about the land is that it seems to be an evolution of what they did at Springfield, and that over the course of time, Universal Studios Florida will be less “studio” themed and more “land based.” I’ve never liked any of the movie studio themed parks (it’s such a cheap cop out to set up some inexpensive warehouses and call it a studio with “theme,” and adding playgrounds and facade sets is very Carnival Cruise Line without the cruise to me.) The front of London along the lake looks FANTASTIC in the rendering.

    I’m a little concerned that there’s only one centerpiece attraction and the train from park to park, but it’s a minor, slight concern overall. I think it’s a worthy addition to the parks down I-Drive. I’m interested to see if this, in combination with the hotel opening up, will begin to dent into Disney’s visitation, because thus far, it’s obvious that it’s SeaWorld who’s getting passed over as Universal ascends.

  7. Unintentionally funny is the claim that the Gringott’s coaster will go “deep underground.” Not in Florida, it won’t! Build a structure with a basement in Florida and all you’ll end up with is an indoor swimming pool. It’s got to be simulated somehow.