There are some neat new details to share about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley project today.  Plus, we’ll take a look at the big CityWalk changes, and share a new episode of the Unofficial Universal Podcast.

Diagon Alley

We are beginning to see some amazing details pop up at Diagon Alley.  In front of the London Facade, guests can now see the triple-decker “Knight Bus” from the world of Harry Potter. With it’s beautiful purple color, interior drapes and other details, this interactive addition to the Wizarding World will delight guests.

The eagled eyed visitor will also notice additional details like the iron railings, window treatments, signage, and more as we get ready for this incredible new land to open.



















The berm that will obscure the backstage areas has reached a new height, and now has a tree on top of the berm that gives us an idea of just how this area will look when the berm is fully planted in a few weeks.  As you can see from the height of the tree, the show buildings will be completely obscured.









Details are now being installed with the new street sign, and the iron railing.











Prototype Hogwarts Express Ticket Kiosk

This past weekend Universal was testing out a prototype ticket kiosk that guests will use at the Hogwarts Express stations. Since a Park-to-Park ticket will be required to ride the Hogwarts Express, Universal Creative is trying to ease the process.  Guests will lay their tickets flat on the glass panel on the left, and then place their finger on the bio-metric scanner on the right.  Once given the green green light, they will proceed.



This kiosk worked a lot faster than the current ticketing kiosk Universal uses.  I am hopeful that if successful they will roll these out system wide.

Hogwarts Express Station at Islands of Adventure

Speaking of the Hogwarts Express, over at Islands of Adventure, more construction is happening to get that side of the Hogwarts Express experience open with Diagon Alley.  Guests who need to upgrade their 1 Park ticket will be able to upgrade their tickets on the spot here, so that they can enjoy this duel park experience.












Cowfish at CityWalk

As we travel over to CityWalk, we see that CowFish is moving forward with a unique balcony set up above Red Over Pizza Bakery, and above what will be Vivo.





Bread Box and Menchies

Over at the location formerly known as Cigars, the entire facility has been stripped and cleared of the old cigar smell, as they get ready to install the new sandwich shop, Bred Box, with Menchies next door.







The expansion of the porch at Margaritaville is nearing completion, as they have added capacity to this popular restaurant.


Universal Studio Store

The Universal Studio Store is moving forward along with it’s nextdoor neighbor the Hot Dog Hall of Fame.




Next door to the Studio Store is Vivo, which will be opening sooner than these photos make you think!




Universal has announced that hiring has started for Vivo and for the Hot Dog Hall of Fame.  So mark those two venues as the next venues to open at CityWalk.

 Team Member Parking

The new Team Member parking garage is entering the final stretch. Now that construction is complete, and it has been painted, all the safety features are being added, and soon Team Members can begin parking backstage again, and not on the first floor of the guest lots.




That wraps up this week’s update.  Now, we hope you’ll enjoy the latest episode of the Unofficial Universal Podcast as they interview Skip Sherman.

Direct Download

  • Ravjay12

    Wow! Great update! Universal is definitely the place to visit this year. Disney needs to concentrate more on attractions than arm bands. Why can’t Disney just do the fingerprint thing instead of having people purchase some armband?

    • gboiler1

      You don’t purchase the wrist band it’s your park ticket, hotel room key, charge card, way to get fast passes, etc. The fingerprint scan is biometrics to basically confirm that you are the owner of that ticket.

      • CaptainAction

        Uh, armbands are $12.

      • Ravjay12

        They do cost money! After paying 500 bucks for a family to get in they should be giving those away! If they’re smart they should give them away for free if you are staying at a resort. Makes it feel like you’re getting an advantage by staying at one of their ridiculously overpriced hotels

    • CaptainAction

      Out of a thousand potential guests thinking of spending a lot of money on a vacation to WDW, how do you think they would answer the following question?
      Would you rather have an armband or E Ticket attractions?

      • blondiemouse72

        960 or so would answer “What’s an E Ticket Attraction”

      • a-mad


        Blondie, that’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day… and actually quite brilliant. Thanks for making my afternoon…

  • Big D

    VERY smart of Universal to allow people to upgrade their tickets at the train station. And am I crazy, or wasn’t the bus green in the movie???

    • The Knight Bus is purple in the movies.

  • Skimbob

    WDW does not have to worry about me going to Universal. If you have never seen any of the filming locations in the UK this would be an immersive and awesome experience. For me I was blessed to see many of the filming locations in Scotland and England. Goathland Station and the real Hogwarts Castle (Alnwick Castle) were very impressive. I think it would lose something for me and I don’t want to be disappointed. I truly loved the books and the movies.

    • CaptainAction

      So you don’t want to ride the Hogwarts Express from London to Hogsmead?

      Or from Hogsmead to London?

      You don’t want to ride the Forbidden Journey?

      You don’t want to eat at the Three Broomsticks?

      You don’t want to try a Butterbeer?

      You don’t want to ride Escape From Gringott’s?

      You don’t want to walk through Diagon Alley or Knocturn Alley?

    • Eric Davis

      Wow I bet you don’t got to Disneyland either, for fear of Carsland ruining your idea of what the movie was like. and I bet you don’t go to Disneyland because you have seen the real matterhorn.

      Man you must have to avoid all theme parks for fear of ruining what you have seen in the real world.

      • Skimbob

        Never once did I say people should not go to Universal so I don’t warrant the attack I have been getting on here. I feel for me it would take away some of the charm of visiting some of the actual locations.

        FYI Disneyland is my home park and yes I have been to the real Matterhorn just like Walt. What you are talking about here is entirely different than what I am talking about. My question to you is why do you even care.

    • armyofrobots

      well, that’s some airtight logic…

  • fnord

    but skimbob, even the actors from the films have
    expressed amazement at the excellent job universal
    has done, and they filmed in all those places, too.
    you’re being a silly snob. fine, go to orlando and ignore
    universal, you fair weather potter fan.

    • Skimbob

      i am probably one of the most loyal Harry Potter fans you will find and I will stick to what I said originally. i am a snob and proud of it. 🙂

      • CaptainAction

        JK approved the ButterBeer so it’s authentic, and so good,um, um um.

        You are missing out.

  • Disneykin Kid

    A berm! Universal is really learning from Disneyland, something that California Adventure didn’t do.

    • OprylandUSA

      And, yet some Disney snobs are complaining about the lack of creativity of the berm. Simply put, the berm is there for expansion purposes. Universal learned from Disney that it’s cheaper to knock a hole in dirt than to tear down a structure.

  • blondiemouse72

    Anyone else from the UK (other than me) notice how half of the things popping up in Orlando under the guise of”the original prop from the movies” are also at the Warner Studio Tour London.I had several cast or whatever Universal call them point out actual movie props I’d been looking at on the studio tour. OK I know for these huge productions they use more than one flying car or whatever but you have to wonder with both attractions how much are real props and how much is copies (don’t get panties in a twist Cap just an observation). I wouldn’t mind spending a morning checking out this expansion area when we’re over in September ,but this trip has been planned out by my kids 19 year old twins and they just did NOT like this place when we stayed at Royal Pacific Resort last year.Never mind get to see it all on here and you tube and its not like I’d ride the coaster anyway sorry Universal your rides are too much for us anyway

    • Tielo

      Movie props or exact copies of movie props, who cares. Everything Potter is as exact as can be and build to last for a theme park, not. for a scène.
      But what are you talking about a coaster? There are no coasters in this Potter expansion. Sure the track the ride vehikel is on is a coaster track but it is not a coaster nor a coaster hybride. Or are you talking about the Hogwats experts? Sorry but that is a higly immersive trainride/attraction so no coasters…

      Great foto update, cant wait to talk to the shrunken head in the bus, experiance the shops, restaurants, shows and rides.

      • blondiemouse72

        Interesting I thought Gringotts was a coaster with some movie screens and springy hangs and a track drop like that thing at Alton Towers .Let’s face it though if motion sickness is a problem (yes sir tick that box) this ride will NOT be for you

    • CaptainAction

      Blondiemouse, please don’t mock my panties. Thank you. 🙂
      Aren’t they nickers in England anyway?

      • blondiemouse72

        Got told off on one of these forum type things for not speaking “American” .I’ll change to English in the future if that’s OK

  • fnord

    As a potter fan, it doesn’t make sense to me, and I realize
    it’s your right to not make sense, but I’m saying, of the
    things I enjoy about the potter world, the Wizarding World
    is my favorite so far, and they are expanding the heck
    out of it. My favorite part was Hogsmeade, for the atmosphere.
    The ride was great, too, and not nearly as aggressive
    as I was hoping it might be. The preexisting coasters,
    particularly the hippograph, were effectively rethemed,
    although I wish they would pull out dueling dragons,
    and retheme the queue building as a shrieking shack
    walkthrough. Then add the borough as a walkthrough
    and the lovegood’s Home and even the privet drive
    residence of the dursley’s.
    But nevermind that, now for real we get the hogwarts
    express experience, and a fully functioning diagon alley
    with a walk through knockturn alley attraction. That
    plus escape from gringotts mild coaster, high tech
    Don’t be afraid of the rides, just the immersive environments
    are worth the admission for any self proclaimed
    potter fan. the hogwarts express only simulates
    a train ride. no problem.

  • fnord

    but good luck, right?:-)

  • MikeBlakesley

    No park owner will ever pull out a roller coaster as long as it’s functioning properly and drawing crowds….they’re way too expensive for that!
    I am not a huge Potter fan but have been to Universal twice since WW was opened and look forward to going back this fall to see the expansions. I was amazed at the level of detail in the Wizarding World. You really feel as if you’re in the movies — well, except for the 85 degree temps and all the tourists around you! 🙂
    I’m glad Universal is doing so well — it will keep Disney on its toes (and they could use a bit of shaking up, especially when it comes to Hollywood Studios.)

  • Klutch

    All the new Harry Potter buildings look nice. Too nice. For authenticity, they need to add a nice layer of grime to those buildings. Right now it looks like someone just power washed London buildings. Some cars parked on the road with side windows smashed and missing raddios would be very authentic, but probably not necessary.

  • Carrie317

    For those of you who do not think Disney is losing market share to Universal, please read this Orlando Sentinel article:,0,2260547,full.story

    • CaptainAction

      Wow Carrie, It has begun! Thank you for pointing out the article.

      Uni and IOA can certainly beat Epcot, AK, and the Dis Studios after Potter London and Cabana Bay. Uni parks up 39% compared to WDW up 2.1% between 2009-2012!

      thank you again.

  • blondiemouse72

    I’m off to the movies to see The Amazing Spiderman 2 in 3d today .While there I’m going to jump up and down and shake my wife’s seat around .Much cheaper than visiting Islands Of Adventure and the exact same experience

    • Carrie317

      I could go to a movie theater that is being constructed and wait outside five years for them to design it, announce it, change their minds, redesign it with a much smaller budget to offset the enormous magic handcuff cost and then finally start construction OR I could just go to Animal Kingdom and wait for Avatarland. SAME thing RIGHT?