Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Preview, Part 1: CityWalk Kickoff

Written by Eric Davis. Posted in Features, Orlando Parkhopper, Orlando Parks, Top Content, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios

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Published on June 18, 2014 at 1:31 am with 67 Comments

Universal has kicked off their week of previewing Diagon Alley by pulling out all of the stops.  With the Tonight Show and the Today Show filming live at Universal Orlando, they are making sure that there is mass awareness that Universal Orlando is expanding, and it has some exciting new offerings.  For the first day Universal Orlando teased everyone with all the new food offerings at CityWalk, and also by treating everyone to a showing of the Blue Man Group.  So grab your wizard’s robe, and let’s explore some of Universal’s newest food offerings.


Hot Dog Hall of Fame

While not quite finished, Universal was eager to show off the 9 different hot dogs that people will get to enjoy once this venue finally opens in a few weeks.  This venue features the best hot dogs found around the country at ball parks.  With everything from the Chicago Dog, to a two foot long hot dog, this place can please any taste, with vegan, beef and chicken options. Guests will be able to use a mustard bar to select from a variety of different mustards, but you must be warned… NEVER ask to put ketchup on your hot dog.

Clever queue for Hot Dog Hall of Fame

After sampling a variety of Hot Dogs, I must admit that I was partial to the Boston and Chicago dogs.  But we encourage you to try all 9 and let us know which one is your favorite!

Vivo

The newest venue to open at Universal Orlando is Vivo, an Italian Kitchen restaurant, that prides itself on fresh handmade, air dried pastas, fresh breads, kitchen style cooking, and all around authentic Italian flavors.

Since Red Oven Pizza Bakery opened and set the bar high for these newest CityWalk venues, we hae to admit that this one knocks it out of the ball park.  It is simply incredible the massive leaps forward the quality of food CityWalk has taken this past year!  With Red Oven, redefining a white sauce pizza served in a quick service location, and Antojitos elevating the Mexican fare with complex and amazing flavors.  Vivo now takes what was at best before Olive Garden style Italian that was at Pastamore, and now delivers on a unique one-of-a-kind theme park dining experience, that will sure to leave you craving their dishes once you have arrived home.

Blue Man Group

Tucked away behind the Hard Rock Cafe is Blue Man Group, and Universal was kind enough to end our night at the last showing of Blue Man Group.  With the high energy rave like finale, it is not hard to see why a lot of people like this show.

After the show, we got a nice quiet meet and greet with some of the cast… I still have blue paint on the top of my head as of right now.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

After a big day of seeing what is new at Universal, it is now time to retire to Cabana Bay Beach Resort which is acting as the MiceChat Harry Potter HQ as we begin to see explore and experience what we have been blogging about for almost 4 years.

In Part 2 we will be sharing with you the red carpet event with the stars from the Harry Potter films along with some other great details about the land!  So stay tuned for tomorrows article!

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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  • CaptainAction

    Thanks Eric. Just amazing how much the folks at Universal are doing at the same time.
    Very interested to see Cabana Bay phase 2.

  • michael darling

    Those dogs look worth a trip.

  • tigga please

    Is there a reason why “paint your own weiner” isnt spelled “wiener”?

    • ayalexander

      same reason why the “Astro Orbitor” isn’t spelled “Orbiter” -an idiot at the helm.

  • KENfromOC

    This does look great! The only problem I have with this is that to experience the whole Potter world, you need to buy a park-hopper ticket (unless I am wrong?). That’s pricey, and will leave out a lot of folks who don’t have the time or $ for both. A big downside in my opinion.
    It is why we won’t be taking a side to trip to Uni on our trip to WDW next month as even a single park would add a minimum of $500 for a single day (tickets for 3, transportation over to Uni, food, etc.). Not worth it at this point for us – but a good option for locals with Uni APs, or for people staying at Uni hotels.

    I find it interesting that if Disney did this (requiring a park hopper ticket to enjoy the whole experience) the Disney haters would be bitching all day – but when Uni does it, hey it’s ok!!

    • Ravjay12

      When we go to WDW, we never visit just one park. We always get a hopper because it’s cheaper. It is unusual that they built one theme at two different parks, but if they didn’t, we would have no reason to go to Universal vs IOA. It’s pretty cool they linked both parks with Hogwart’s express. We’ll just have to wait and see how it works out. I’m really surprised Disney didn’t think of it first.

      • Cory Gross

        “but if they didn’t, we would have no reason to go to Universal vs IOA.”

        Exactly. It’s transparent highway robbery meant to exploit the people who are only going to Harry Potter, and Ken is absolutely right that Uni fans would be excoriating Disney if you had to pay a $60 premium to take the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train from old Fantasyland to New Fantasyland.

      • Eric Davis

        I am going to step in here, and say that Disney does this too.

        If you want to experience, Nemo, you have to visit Epcot and DAK to get the “full Nemo experience”

        If you want to experience Toy Story you have to visit MK and DHS

        If you want to experience the Little Mermaid you have to visit MK and DHS

        Disney for a long time has fragmented IP experiences through various parks at WDW to as you say “greedily” get guests to spend more time and park hop.

        Universal gets amazing mad props for doing the same thing, but turning the experience of park hopping into an attraction.

        If Disney created themed park hopping transportation, everyone would be cheering until they could no longer cheer.

        Universal is doing exactly that. They are turning the park hopping experience into an EXPERIENCE and not a series of public transportation options.

        So kudos Universal! KUDOS!

      • AaroniusPolonius

        So much THIS^, Eric!

      • Cory Gross

        “If Disney created themed park hopping transportation, everyone would be cheering until they could no longer cheer.”

        No they wouldn’t. Disney can’t even develop an integrated admission/key/payment/fastpass system or a non-E-ticket ride or renovate some pavement without people screaming bloody murder. If they pulled this business of forcing you to buy a parkhopper just to visit one land, they would be breaking out the torches and pitchforks. It would just be endless, unceasing complaints about how Disney is just a money-hungry company and anybody who goes there is just a mindless sucker. Anybody who DID defend it would be vilified. This is totally getting a free pass, which actually isn’t all that surprising from the same people who are notably silent on Diagon Alley’s 7/1 store/ride ratio (oh, but the stores are fun! They have interactive wands that you can buy for $50!).

        To be honest, I’m surprised you haven’t been vilified yourself for daring to suggest that one Nemo ride in EPCOT and one Nemo show in DAK is anything like Hogsmeade/Diagon Alley. No, it’s nothing alike. A couple scattered rides in a few theme parks is not the same as breaking one land up into multiple parks and forcing you to pay the surcharge even just to ride one of the rides.

        But then I don’t get to be philosophical about this, because I am exactly the sort of person that Universal is out to exploit here. I had no intentions of springing for the parkhopper until Diagon Alley was announced. Now I have to shell out that extra money I had no interest in doing before, just to see that one thing. Universal straight-up picked my pocket, and no, I’m not feeling the warm fuzzies of how Hogwart’s Express has some video screens. It feels dirty and cheap and exploitative. Yet there are so many Universal fans who somehow feel that Disney fans are PERSONALLY responsible for “enabling” Disney’s pick-pocketing by “settling for less”… I’m not holding my breath for an apology from Universal fans for their hypocrisy in “enabling” this, which actually is directly and measurably exploiting me. Not just self-entitled boo-hooing about not having enough E-tickets to suit my liking, but straight up dipping into my pocket and pulling out $120 because my fiancee and I happen to be Harry Potter fans.

        Does Diagon Alley look cool? Yes it does. Is that one ride, one monorail, and SEVEN stores worth $120? It better be. Am I going to be able to get over being mad as Hell about being exploited by Universal so I can enjoy myself? I hope so, I really do.

      • CaptainAction

        Cory, I’ll answer your question, you are going to hate Universal and Islands of Adventure.
        You had No plans to visit ONE of the two parks? Yet you criticize them both.
        You have planned to skip 90% of the attractions at Universal.
        You have no idea what you are criticizing.
        I’ve been on everything WDW has to offer except Dwarf Mound. I’ve stayed in 80% of the WDW resorts. Done DisneyQuest and the waterparks. I’ve experienced what I’m criticizing.
        You clearly have a fear that if you let yourself, you might enjoy something at Universal.
        Fine, don’t visit, keep your money. Maybe you shouldn’t speak about something you refuse to experience, especially if you are skipping 90% of it?
        You’re ticked about having to visit one of the two parks which you’ve never visited but constantly criticize?

      • KENfromOC

        Cory is right on the money here – A Mermaid ride is not directly connected to a Mermaid show to get the full experience.
        But let me take this to a better example: And that is Disneyland and Cal.Adv. Just steps across from each other, when DCA was down on it’s luck (for obvious reasons) did Disney built a “split-land” whereby you had to take a ride over to DCA from Disneyland, paying the extra cost, to experience the entire environment? No! This is exactly what Uni did! I get it, and yes on a large scale it is cool, but make no mistake why they did it!

      • solarnole

        Disney did this when they opened Epcot in 1982. Tommowland and Future World are the same freaking land. Horizons is even the sequel to Carousel of Progress. The park is connected by a monorail. Disney could had just expanded Tomorrowland to include Future World, they had lots of empty land back then but they forced guests to buy another day.

        No one knocked Disney for it. People were happy that they spent millions on state of the art attractions and transportation like what Universal is doing now.

        Universal is doing great if buying a park hopper is the biggest complaint. At least they are not trying to pass meet and greets off as headline attractions.

    • CaptainAction

      KenfromOC,
      that’s why I think families will skip Animal Kingdom, Disney Studios and/or Epcot for Universal and Islands of Adventure. There isn’t a thing new at any of these parks in the last 8-10 years. You will have the same vacation you had 8 years ago at WDW save MK and Little Mermaid and Dwarf Mound – but it will cost about 50% more and you lost 20,000 Leagues and Snow White.
      Families will not pass on Magic Kingdom and all the new exciting lands, rides, etc, are presented in ways you’ve never seen are at Universal.
      You can have some new experiences or the same old.
      WDW is trying to hold guests there with buses, magic handcuffs, meal plans, and marketing all the parks together with literally no new net rides in numbers for 8 years.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        As much as I hope that you’re right, I don’t think that’s true. I think that WDW has an established, long-term, multi-day, repeat visitor paradigm in place that encourages visitors to:

        a. Buy multi-day Disney Park passes.
        b. Stay on WDW property for an extended stay.
        c. Purchase packages that either pair resort with ticket purchases, or…
        d. …resort/ticket with Disney Cruise Line itineraries.
        e. Take advantage of the free bus to the airport and other perks.
        f. Buy a DVC membership at one of the zillion kiosks to keep on coming back.

        Like it or not (and clearly you don’t,) WDW from a purely business standpoint has tremendous, unmatched strength in the market. They know that it makes little sense to a WDW visitor for more than a day not to stay for two, three or four days, even! Why not stay for a week or two? After all, the more you stay, the more you “save.” (Put in quotes because the longer Disney keeps you on their property, the more money per person, per day, you spend, despite the “savings.”)

        Here’s how I think the long term Disney visitor used to spend their days, pre-Potter 1.0, starting with a multi-day Disney Park Pass:

        a. Magic Kingdom
        b. Epcot
        c. Disney Hollywood Studios
        d. Disney Animal Kingdom
        e. Some other park or attraction in the area (SOPOA #1)
        f. Some other park or attraction in the area (SOPOA #2)

        Now, mind you, the SOPOAs in this model are the ones that can be easily dropped from the list. After all, if you’re going to Disney for a week, you’re getting a multi-day Disney Park Pass. It makes little sense to not get the full four and go for three…even if you really don’t like DAK. (It makes less sense to go for a 2-day pass, when the four day is like $60 more.)

        And if you’re going for more than a week and are using the WDW resort as a modern Catskills (see Dirty Dancing, kids,) then you’ve already chosen Disney as your brand, WDW as your integrated resort, and their offerings as what you’ll primarily be doing for that two weeks or more. Lots of time between parks at the pools, the water parks, the shopping, the golf and the rest.

        Now, when Harry Potter 1.0 opened, I think a lot of people/families chose to fill in their SOPOA #1 with Islands of Adventure, firmly and decisively, and I think that the Catskills-Disney people at least brokered a day away from WDW to experience that park.

        But, all of those people who stayed for a long term visit at WDW STILL wanted to purchase the full multi-day Disney Parks Pass, just because it makes financial and tourist sense to do so.

        If we use rough math here, and assume that 20% of the non-MK parks are being attended by long-term WDW visitors, that’s about 8-9 million people a year. So, they may have decided against going to SeaWorld, or perhaps gave up a day at the pool to go to IOA and see Potter 1.0, but they didn’t give up the multi-day Disney Parks Pass, because it just doesn’t make any sense to do so. Nor does it make sense (at least on the surface,) to buy a three or four day pass to Universal, because (again, purely surface, non-judgement math here regarding park content,) 4 is greater than 2.

        Now, we have Potter 2.0. But…we still have WDW and their tourist base, their multi-day ticket options and their massive resort complex. So, here’s how I think that day will play out for the BULK of WDW visitors:

        a. Magic Kingdom
        b. Epcot
        c. DHS
        d. DAK
        e. USF
        f. IOA

        Note how everybody is STILL going to ALL of the WDW parks? That’s by design. Universal would have to open up at LEAST another park to change that long-term visitation strategy. As demonstrated in the Amusement Business report, it’s SeaWorld that’s getting squeezed out here. WDW is growing in attendance, period.

        Now, that doesn’t mean that Universal won’t start picking off DAILY, SINGLE PARK visitors from the Disney trough. But, outside of the Magic Kingdom, I suspect that they majority of the visitors to those parks are basically long-term WDW guests.

        Which is to say that if Epcot, DHS and DAK lose around 500,000 visitors, that will hurt Disney slightly, but it doesn’t mark a paradigm shift in the WDW business model: they’ll STILL have their long and longer term visitors (and really, once you’ve decided to spend a week at WDW, you’re pretty much their bitch to rape.)

        Now, if DAK, DHS and Epcot start posting numbers in the 6 million ranks or so, THAT’S the indication of a paradigm shift, and that Disney has lost their CORE customer, which is to say that long-term visitors to the Central Florida area have decided that other attractions are offering them more for their money, and so they aren’t giving their week to Disney. That will be HUGE news. MASSIVE. Why? Because the paradigm that Disney defined in Orlando will have changed. But, to date, and I suspect for a while, that won’t change significantly.

        (Disney, incidentally, has attempted to cover this possibility as well, notably through DVC, where one actually owns a piece of the resort.)

        It doesn’t mean that WDW won’t fight the loss of potential SINGLE DAY visitors to their parks with new stuff and attractions (good for all of us theme park fans if they do.) And it doesn’t mean that UO is futile in their efforts to try (and indeed, as a consumer, I greatly appreciate a company actually TRYING to get my business versus one that ASSUMES they already have it, based on visitation patterns.)

        But it DOES mean that there are enough people that DO just go to Disney, period. They go for the long haul, period. They buy the week or more, period. And until somebody else offers an equivalent to that, they’re going to remain, the big dog, period.

        Captain, it’s one thing to critique the parks and their lack of investment. They SHOULD be critiqued and Disney should be taken down for being such a cynical steward of their parks and their brand. In my opinion, it’s fair game to critique someone going to their parks because getting excited about dabs and dribbles of stuff from the MOST ATTENDED THEME PARK COMPANY IN THE WORLD is pure ridonk. I believe one should reward investment over ‘brand’ and ‘pattern.’

        But clearly, obviously, plainly, I’m in the minority, as are you and anyone else not withholding their income from Disney. Do I think that will change? Perhaps. But it took a loooooooong time for GM to lose their image, and another loooooooong time for the fall.

        Which is a polite way of saying that people will be celebrating their Rapunzel bathrooms for a long period of time, and especially if they attend for more than one day, because it just makes sense for them to buy the week for less money, than to split the week for more money.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        …and while anecdotes aren’t exactly evidence, I’ll throw this out there.

        In 2002, not long after IOA opened and post-9/11 tourism tanked in Central Florida, both Disney and Universal started to offer massive, unreal Florida Resident discounts.

        My sister and I decided to take advantage of one of these FR discount packages. Which one did we choose for our week? Disney. Why? Well, despite IOA being, even then, the superior content park, WDW offered us a Play 4 Florida pass, a Florida Resident Hotel discount (so great at the time that we ‘upped’ our class of hotel from value to moderate,) and some added Pleasure Island/Downtown Disney/waterpark perks and plusses that Universal couldn’t offer. Sure, they could offer us a deeply discounted three-or-four day pass, but 4 is greater than 2. Sure, the rides and attractions at Universal held appeal to us, but 4 is greater than 2.

        Flash forward to today, where I just dropped off my sister, her husband and their 1.5 year old at the airport. They’re meeting my parents in Orlando for a week (hence why I’m not going.) Now, my sister is not a Disney fanatic nor a Universal fanatic. But, she’s going to Disney for the week. Why? It’s not for the insane “Universal doesn’t have kid stuff” reason. And it’s not because she doesn’t love IOA and the Potter ride (we went on it like five times a couple of years ago because awesome.) So why ‘tired’ Disney over Universal? 4 is greater than 2. Period.

      • Ravjay12

        I believe that IOA is superior to MK, but until Universal expands big enough to visit for a week, Disney will monopolize the market down in Orlando. People just want the complete vacation package and WDW is an expert at convincing you stay on their property.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        RavJay, what they should really pursue over there at Universal Orlando, is a partnership with a cruise line operator, sailing out from one of the FIVE major ports in Florida (Jax, Tampa, Canaveral and the two biggest, Fort Lauderdale and Miami,) and start offering three-day park/four-day cruise packages.

        I’d vote for NCL, because they have that hipper, more edgy vibe than either Carnival or Royal Caribbean. Then, Universal could start considering the cruise as their “third gate” for awhile, and really build up a captive, loyal, multi-day vacation consumer base, while NCL grabs a new regular base of consumers, as well.

        I think Universal is going to make a super-strong argument to the theme park public that basically everything in either of their parks is new, fresh, exciting and over-the-top awesome over the rest of the decade (indeed: they’re nearly there already, Freddy.) And they should keep pursuing that line of attack, instead of having to spread their investment dollars thin…especially considering that they don’t have Disney’s massive attendance base.

        But I ALSO think that Universal’s strategy of establishing itself as a multi-day destination is one theme park too short, and I don’t think that they’re quite “ready” for the next one (I’d much rather them keep on churning over everything to excellence par none at their two existing theme parks. In the spirit of Walt, “Nothing at [Universal] will ever be complete.”

        A cruise ship partnership with NCL would really enable that complete package, IMHO.

      • CaptainAction

        Aaronius,
        I agree with you. I just think it will be interesting to see how close these two Universal parks can get to AK, DS, and Epcot.
        Trends are going to be slow and long term.
        Universal has bought land for a third gate. There is a new creative waterpark coming too, and more resorts.
        Let’s just see how close Uni can get to AK and DS.
        I agree that there is no way Uni SHOULD be able to get close to any WDW park.
        The other problem for average families is that something will have to give with their budgets. They won’t be able to afford both as Uni adds more new things. It’s after an infrequent guest family notices what our 2-3 visit a year family noticed 5 years ago, that we just paid a TON of money for the same old stuff.
        If Uni markets well enough until the infrequent visitor sees that WDW hasn’t added more than a Dwarf Coaster but gets interested in the 10 fold new offerings at Uni…well?
        Let’s see if a family or two thinks they can easily skip AK and DS, old, half day parks.

      • Marko50

        Here’s something that some people don’t seem to understand, simply because they don’t think that way (nothing wrong with that, BTW):

        Some – I’d say many – go to WDW. For WHATEVER reason, they really enjoy their vacations. So, why not go back and enjoy something that you KNOW you will enjoy, especially if you don’t get down that way all that often.

        It’s the known vs the unknown. Comfort food. And, again, nothing wrong with that. Not your way of thinking, maybe, just one that is in opposition to the way you think but is just as good as your way.

  • KENfromOC

    Damn those hot dogs look good!

    • CaptainAction

      I bet they are Ken, so skip AK, DS, and Epcot for Universal. MK and Universal and IOA woul be a better vacation than Epcot, AK, and DS.

  • TheBig2na

    What I wouldn’t give to be there.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    The “paint your own wiener” had me giggling. Yes I’m 12. ;)

    I don’t really like hot dogs (ate so many as a kid I’m sick of them – just the smell of them make me nauseated these days), but I love the baseball theming of this eatery. Wait… no Boomstick from Texas? The Rangers have a hot dog at their ballpark that’s 2 feet long and weighs in at 3 pounds… and costs $26!!

  • AaroniusPolonius

    I know there’s obviously an audience for these retail/entertainment areas at the integrated amusement park resorts, but they don’t really interest me. Which is to say that whomever is offering the “best” or the “newest” or the one with the most “theme” doesn’t make me want to visit them any more or any less than I would before. If I need some food and a drink and it’s convenient to my locale, then yes, I’ll go for a stroll. If it’s not, then I’ll go to the one more convenient to me.

    (I have the same issue with both Disney Springs and the Boardwalk, incidentally. Disney Springs would have been just fine with shops and restaurants traded out for the existing nightclubs at Pleasure Island, and the entire area was fine when it was the Disney Village way back in the day: a place to grab some grub, booze and swag after a looooong day in the park.)

  • danielz6

    I disagree with the negative comments about Hogwarts being a park hopper only attraction. Lets say they never built Hogwarts. You would have 2 fully themed and immersive lands both containing an innovative new e ticket (which new fantasyland failed to offer) as well as several other attractions, themed dining shopping etc. Both lands are 2 complete fully immersive experiences even without Hogwarts. So I see Hogwarts as an added bonus for those who purchase the park hopper ticket, I feel I am completely getting my money’s worth with a single park ticket. They could have built nothing but instead plussed the park hopping experience with Hogwarts.

    Secondly, Disney world can’t do this as their parks are too far apart, except maybe Epcot and hollywood studios, and the only franchise that would be able to support 2 fully themed lands (planets) in 2 different parks is star wars, which Disney is decades behind in building. So maybe before a lame attempt at knocking universals spectacular expansion we can at least call out Disney for not even yet beginning to build out most popular franchise. And I would applaud Disney for doing something that innovative, just like I’m applauding universal.

    • ayalexander

      People are going to cut my head off for this but… As much as I would LOVE to see Disney start up the cranes and weld together some star wars rides and lands… it isn’t exactly like Disney isn’t doing anything at all. Right now, they are working on a very important issue: improving the guest experience while still maximizing profits (as is their almost-legal requirement to the shareholders). Disney is trying to solve park over-crowding issues which if resolved properly, could mean a great deal to the guest experience. They are also trying to structure the MyMagic+ system in an effort to make things easier for (some) guests. Things haven’t turned out like they thought, but they haven’t gone badly either. I’d love to see some new E-Tickets and lands (here in Anaheim, since I don’t like WDW), but at least for now, they have a plethora of AMAZING attractions already at hand, and if they could solve the over-crowding issue, then that would be awesome.

      And no, adding new lands doesn’t solve over-crowding because lets say a new land gives you enough room for 1,500 extra people, you can be sure that the idea of a new experience would draw at least three times that many people to a Disney Park in one day just to see it.

      • danielz6

        Hey I got no problem with disney world maximizing profits and guests spreading, that’s their business and I’m not giving them a dime in their current state, but I find it hilarious that Universal is giving us one of the best and most complete theme park experiences on the planet and some folks complain just because a park hopper is required to experience an inter-park attraction, which is just a small part of the immense 2 land potter experience. It’s awkward, universal has done completely new and innovative in the theme park world, and that bothers people for some reason.

    • Cory Gross

      Having Harry Potter spread between two parks is not a “bonus” when you weren’t intending to buy a parkhopper to begin with and Harry Potter is the only reason you’re going to Universal.

      • danielz6

        My post argues that hogwarts train ride is a bonus, they could’ve easily done without it altogether and still left you satisfied with 2 completely themed potter lands.

      • Cory Gross

        Having the Harry Potter stuff in one park would have been even more satisfying.

      • CaptainAction

        Cory, skip Universal then.
        Why put a blemish on your having never visited Universal or IOA.
        Maybe you should consider not speaking, and especially not criticizing, what you’ve never experienced?

  • ayalexander

    I’m not a Universal fan… and I’ll admit I wasn’t following the progress of the Potter lands very well, but I do want to see the one being built here in Hollywood… but now that I read this article and understand that the Wizarding World and Diagon Alley are in two SEPARATE parks… that now has the blatant feel of a money grab towards their park hopper tickets. It just feels… like cheating.

    MiceChat reader Eric Davis said this:
    “I am going to step in here, and say that Disney does this too.

    If you want to experience, Nemo, you have to visit Epcot and DAK to get the “full Nemo experience”

    If you want to experience Toy Story you have to visit MK and DHS

    If you want to experience the Little Mermaid you have to visit MK and DHS”

    -I don’t agree with this Eric Davis, those rides are all-inclusive experiences that do not offer a “need” so see the other attractions. Here in California, You can go underwater and see Nemo and friends by climbing in a submarine at Disneyland, and if you go to Disney California Adventure, you can turtle talk with crush. But you don’t ‘have’ to do both in order to get the ‘full’ experience. Whereas to see Diagon Alley and make the trip to Hogwarts, you have to purchase admission to both parks. Yeah there’s a fine line, but a nevertheless, the line is clearly drawn.

    • danielz6

      Haha how is it cheating? That’s like saying MK, Epcot, Studios and AK could have all been built as one giant park, and disney is cheating by separating them and forcing you to pay admission to 4 separate parks. Absurd!

      “those rides are all-inclusive experiences that do not offer a “need” so see the other attractions”

      This same logic applies to both potter lands, that is why universal is putting only phase one in it’s sister parks, they are complete experiences in and of themselves. Seeing one does not necessitate seeing the other.

      • danielz6

        Furthermore, if they weren’t all inclusive experience universal would’ve built both phases of Potter contemporarily, and not 5 years after. Nobody was complaining after phase 1 that it was only half of a harry potter experience.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Some much THIS^, Danielz!

      • Cory Gross

        To try and save some money, we are not getting the parkhopper option for our WDW tickets. We’re committing ourselves to only one park each day, understanding that those are separate parks with separate admissions. If WDW forced us to buy a parkhopper to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, you better believe I would be mad as Hell about that too. And you CANNOT convince me that Universal fanboys wouldn’t be whining about it. They whine when Disney starts charging $0.25 more on drinks.

        This is where there is no equivalency whatsoever in the argument that having a couple rides from one franchise interspersed throughout the multiple parks is the same as Universal forcing parkhoppers on Harry Potter fans. As ayalexander noted, the Nemo subs in Disneyland and the Turtle Talk with Crush in DCA offer complete experiences in their own right. They’re not trying to sell a single themed experience that is spread across two parks. They’re not charging you an extra $60/head to ride the Nemo subs.

        Your entire counter-argument here is hinging on the idea that Universal is worth visiting in its own right. YOU may feel that way, and that is your prerogative. *I* do not. If it wasn’t for Harry Potter, we wouldn’t be going AT ALL. Universal knows that we’re two of about 3 million people who feel the same way. Therefore, they put another Harry Potter land in USO to milk that much more out of us. You have to have a parkhopper in hand just to RIDE the Hogwarts Express. Like, COME ON.

        Are we going to do it? Yes – sigh – because we are Harry Potter fans and they got us where they want us. But that doesn’t stop it from being tawdry pick-pocketing. What REALLY grinds my gears, though, are all the Universal fanboys, the true believers who complain so bitterly about Disney doing far, far less transparent things than this but give Uni a totally free pass. Or even better, have the AUDACITY to preach down to me about how I should really LOVE that Uni is picking an extra $120 out of my pocket (so much for saving money on not getting those Disney parkhoppers). After all the prattling about how Disney fans are “enabling” the company by “settling for less” in this abstract way that somehow deprives you guys of more E-tickets, I don’t hear any apologies from Universal zealots about how that company is directly costing me $120.

        Please, try… just TRY… to put yourself in the shoes of someone else. Don’t preach down to me about how happy I should be to have Universal picking my pocket when it isn’t your pocket they’re picking.

      • CaptainAction

        Cory, skip Universal then.
        WDW could slap you in the face as you enter the gates, turn yoiu upside down and shake all the money from your wallet, and kick you in the rear on the way out, and you would be the first one at the gate the next morning.

      • ayalexander

        danielz6, first of all: “Haha how is it cheating? That’s like saying MK, Epcot, Studios and AK could have all been built as one giant park, and disney is cheating by separating them and forcing you to pay admission to 4 separate parks. Absurd!”

        k… I don’t even understand what you said^ -and besides, WDW didn’t build all those parks together in the first place, so your example is invalid. I agree with Cory Gross in saying that building two potter experiences that not only make a complete experience but also go hand-in-hand, in two SEPARATE parks, is a dirty trick. Obviously if I’m going to spend god-knows-what on a trip to Universal Orlando JUST to see a potter-land, I’m going to want to see BOTH, because they make up one experience.

        Don’t try to tell me they don’t. Disney has done NOTHING like this. And besides, I didn’t complain at the completion of phase 1, only because I didn’t even know there was a phase 2, now that I know there is, and I know they are in both parks, I find it a dirty money-grabbing trick. I have NO interest in seeing any other attractions at any Universal park. I’m only going to the Hollywood one just to see their potter-land… but other than that, its just….. freakin’ unbelievable.

        Cory Gross, maybe you and I are the only ones that feel this way, but seriously, why do people try to convince us that our opinions are wrong? In my opinion, this two-park experience is a dirty money grab, thats just it. I can’t see it any other way. At least Disneyland didn’t build Radiator Springs Racers in Disneyland and put a train that takes you to Carsland in DCA with the necessity of a park hopper.

  • Melonballer

    For those saying Universal Studios park does not interest them beyond the Potter section, I say give it a chance. For example, try out the Men in Black ride. It is a lot like Buzz Lightyear, but with animatronic aliens that do not look like cardboard cutouts. Also you compete with a 2nd car that is dispatched at the same time. Also the end of the ride that you get is dependent upon your score. If I had to choose it would be MIB hands down.

  • AaroniusPolonius

    OK, this is the newest ‘diss’ against Universal: that the Harry Potter experience is spread out over two lands, and while part of it is justified, the rest is pure hooey.

    The “justified” portion is that it’s a really craven attempt by the money-grubbing parent company (Comcast/Universal,) to encourage multi-park attendance because of interest in an intellectual property (Harry Potter.) We should call out ANY money grubbing corporation for spreading their intellectual properties among their collection of theme parks, just to get us to open our wallets for another day of spending (or to make up the difference via a massive upcharge for a one-day park hopping ticket.)

    The “hooey” (a polite word,) is that Disney doesn’t do this. Are you kidding? Disney, while not “theme-ing” their transitions from park to park, ABSOLUTELY DOES THIS, EN MASSE, and usually with their most popular and valuable intellectual properties. ABSOLUTELY.

    Let’s see:

    If I want to fully experience the world of Toy Story, I can become an imaginary Space Ranger and battle with Buzz Lightyear in MK. If I want to ‘hang’ with the rest of the gang from Toy Story, I have to buy either a park hopper or a multi-park pass and head over to DHS to go on Toy Story Mania (for essentially the same shootem’ up ride with ‘gasp!’ movie screens!)

    If I want to go underwater with the gang from Finding Nemo, I can head over to Epcot for 1.5 attractions devoted to them (The Seas With Nemo and Turtle Talk,) but if I want to see any more of them, I have to explore my multi-park options and head to DHS for the stage show IN DAK’s DinoLand, of all places (because fish are basically dinos, right?)

    If I want to explore the world of Pirates of the Caribbean, I can go to the updated-to-Depp-franchise classic attraction in MK. But if I was really into those movies, I’d have to get one of those park hoppers or go another day so I could head over to DHS and walk through that amplified effects attraction (wanna bet that’s the tech that’s actually going into Shanghai’s actual Pirates boat ride?)

    What if I’m a sucker for Belle and the Beast? Why, I could get some of the experience at the cottage, restaurant, and village of shops in MK, but if I wanted more, by golly, I’d have to go to DHS for the musical stage show.

    How about The Little Mermaid? Sure, she’s got her own ride at MK, but if I want more, I’ve gotta pay for attendance to DHS.

    And man, what if I’m super-old and love one of Disney’s aged intellectual properties, like Honey, I Shrunk The Kids? Well, the good news is that both of those poorly received attractions (don’t even try to call ‘em “classics,” kiddies,) are STILL THERE, but one is in DHS and one is in Epcot, so, you guessed it! I’m off to get a multi-day pass or a park hopper to get my Moranis on.

    How about Phineas & Ferb? You guessed it! Two theme parks with two different attractions.

    Look, is Universal doing this to grab more guests and their money from the Harry Potter franchise? Ab-so-flipping-lutely they are.

    Does Disney do this on a regular basis at their theme parks? OF COURSE THEY DO.

    They set the MODEL for the integrated theme park resort. They want you to spend more time and more money with Disney and your favorite characters, franchises and the rest, so they’re spread throughout the parks (to say nothing of their resorts: wanna walk through a Little Mermaid land? Head to Art of Animation, y’allz.)

    So, yeah, call out Universal for wanting more of your cash and “forcing” you to go to two parks to see all of Harry Potter. But call out Disney for doing it first and doing the exact same thing!

    Like, WOW. That’s some serious Disney religion going on up in the Rodent Church that causes that much distortion of the same basic business practice. WOW.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      If the ire was up over this practice was spread to both theme park operators, I’d totally be in the camp of “yes, please don’t make us spend more money, dark corporate overlords, when we go on our theme park vacation.”

      But it seems as if this is the newest and failed attempt to somehow mar and discredit Universal’s ascendance, and that’s just silly and flat-out stupid. We’ve gone from “I just don’t like their IPs and characters outside of Potter” through “it’s not a balanced experience like Disney is” all the way to “now Potter is in two parks and I have to spend more money.”

      Come ON. This is like people putting down one brand of slave labor produced smart phone but defending Apple for using the very slave labor to produce their smart phone because Apple=awesome.

      This is obvious sour grapes.

      Universal is on a roll, certainly in Florida, Japan and Singapore, and they’re catching up in California. Disney is not, at least not in the theme park space. They haven’t done much in terms of attractions and experiences at their Florida resort in a rough decade, depending on the park.

      Universal, by contrast, has spent the better part of the last decade adding and adding and adding and adding. And you can actually see them getting better and better and better and better at this industry as they go. Which is to say that you can trace a through line from the ET ride to IOA Part One and on to Potter and note demonstrable improvement and elevation of the art.

      Now, they’ve actually figured out a way to improve upon the ‘Park Hopper’ experience, in a manner that Disney is unwilling or unable to do.

      What’s more, after ‘Dwarf Mound’ (copyright 2014, CaptainAction,) opened to a collective “sure it’s nice and all, but…” reaction from both the fans and the press, now we’re at the place where there’s a try to find something, ANYTHING to take away from Potter 2.0 (which looks simply dazzling,) from the ongoing land-making and attendance/attention getting rest of the resort (Simpsons, Transformers, soon to come Kong,) and whatever they have next up their ambitious, now well-funded sleeves.

      Face it. Universal is KILLING IT. CRUSHING IT. They deserve all the success they’re about to get.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      Oh, and if we’re all in the “theme park excellence” game, even the separate Harry Potter Lands are waaaaay more thematically complete and excellent than the split up of the intellectual properties at WDW.

      Let’s just take Toy Story. Leaving aside that so much of Tomorrowland has NOTHING to do with the world of tomorrow (Stitch happens now. Monsters Inc happens now. Buzz Lightyear happens…now. Carousel of Progress happened in 1984,) at least the Buzz attraction is located in a theme environment devoted to vaguely a 20s/deco version of the future. But Toy Story Mania? You’re walking through a backlot and encounter “Pixar Place,” where one soundstage has been sorta-kinda decorated to be like a pastiche of board games?

      Come ON.

    • Cory Gross

      Your argument is wrong. You don’t have to buy a parkhopper to do any of those things. You can do one thing on one day and another thing on another day. To ride Hogwarts Express, you do need a parkhopper. I don’t know why you feel the need to be so vocal about defending an already vocal group of people that you yourself described as trolls, but the need to cheerlead the bullying of Disney fans has clouded your judgement.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Well, Cory, actually YOU called them trolls. You took something I wrote and then noted that was the definition of a troll. I let you brand yourself as you saw fit in the boards.

        Secondly, you’re really abusing the term bully here. Board postings in an online environment, where it’s basically poorly written sarcasm, at best, is HARDLY the equivalent of getting spitballed and beaten the pulp out of you in a scholastic environment.

        I’ll take “hyperbole” for $1000, Alec.

        Seriously.

        People DIE from actual bullying.
        People KILL THEMSELVES to escape the pain from systemic, actual bullying.

        If you really think that a bunch of people in an online board, in THIS online board, no less, are the equivalent of bullies, then there are no words left in my vocabulary to describe my contempt.

        Seriously. People DIE from actual bullying. Like jump in the river, slit wrist in tub, genuine pathos DEATH.

        Thirdly, I’ve been very balanced in my views. I think New Fantasyland is great, and I think the Dwarf Coaster has been received with a general “meh” around the theme park universe. Maybe a “meh-plus.” I think Potter 2.0 looks amazing and I think it’s highly cynical that they’re encouraging park hopper passes to go on the train ride.

        And said that.

        And I also think that Disney does that (splitting up IPs to gain more attendance and money,) but if we’re getting down to the math, you’re correct: Disney doesn’t require a park hopper to experience one of their attractions. Totally correct. It’s “the next wave of consumer theme park exploitation.” Hands down.

        And I said that.

        But I just think this is the latest, futile attempt to jab at Universal.

        And said that, as well.

        They’re starting to win without “winning” the attendance, and I think that’s getting people all riled up in the Church of Disney.

        We’ve known that Potter 2.0 would require either a park hopper, and onsite stay or an annual pass SINCE THE ATTRACTION AND EXPANSION WAS ANNOUNCED. Now it’s news? I wonder why?

        No, I don’t. I think I know exactly why.

        And said that.

        My judgement is not clouded.
        My cheerleading uniform is long since retired to the box of blissful memories.
        Nobody is getting bullied here.

        If you don’t like the responses, don’t read them or keep writing back, but if any of these posts are being construed as “bullying” you or the precious, ceramic fans, that’s flat out wrong and a bastardization of the word, the concept, and the genuine experience of someone getting bullied.

        Get over thyself.

      • Cory Gross

        Hiding behind the pose of caring about bullying to defend your cyberbully friends who only ever insult and namecall people is wholly offensive. You’re trying so hard to shame people for what they like and for defending themselves from attack that you apparently have no shame left for yourself.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Oh, and please don’t start to argue the finer points of ‘what bullying is or isn’t.’

        It is entirely disgraceful to equate a semi-heated, certainly sarcastic line of semi-intelligble discourse amongst nerds at MiceAge to the bullying experience.

        It’s wrong on so many levels.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Never mind! You went there. What a peach.

      • Cory Gross

        No, trying to defend bullying by feigning concern about bullying is disgraceful.

      • danielz6

        Haha meh-plus! That’s hilarious Aaronius I may have to start using that term, with your permission of course.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Anytime, Danielz!

  • danielz6

    Ok so I’ll put myself in your shoes. I’m not a potter fan but I am a big star wars fan. So let’s say Disney built a spectacular themed star wars land in Epcot, e ticket plus other attractions dining shopping the whole deal etc. Then 5 years later they built another complete themed star wars land in Hollywood studios next door. Awesome I would immediately make plans to visit. Then I find that the 2 lands are connected by some innovative attraction of its own, but it requires a park hopper. Ok say I can’t afford the extra 50 or whatever to park hop. Sure that’s a bummer but pales in comparison to the brand new star wars land I’m about to experience. That wouldn’t destroy my positive feelings about the awesome new land they just built and I’m about to see. They’re giving me more of what I love I wouldn’t be complaining at all.

    You have more Harry potter than any other franchise in any theme resort anywhere. 2 e tickets, shows, shops and great dining. Even without Hogwarts train it’s the most expansive single franchise experience. You are upset for universal doing MORE than what is already 2 amazing lands all by themselves. So no I simply dont agree.

    • Cory Gross

      No, I’m mad that Universal is extorting another $120 just to do more Potter. I’m UPSET about the free pass Universal fanboys are giving this transparent extortion after spending so much time badmouthing Disney and Disney fans. If it were JUST Universal doing this, I would be cheesed but it wouldn’t get personal. Having spent the last two months getting insulted up and down for being a low-class, mindless, enabling sucker because I’m a Disney fan, only to have Uni fans give this a free pass kinda’ burns, especially when THIS isn’t just some abstract self-entitlement about E-tickets but something that is actually going to cost me money.

      • danielz6

        Oh well I’m sorry you’ve been insulted. It should never get to that level on a theme park website. I’m a Disney and universal fanboy. I’ve enjoyed this discussion with you and I’m looking forward to what you think of your first visit to universal orlando!

      • CaptainAction

        Cory, you call us trolls, yes?
        WDW isn’t a religion.
        WDW shouldn’t make anyone so fanatical that they won’t visit the competition because they would be cheating on WDW.
        Nobody is making you go to Universal unless your fiancee is.
        Simple solution…skip Universal and IOA.
        But you really should stop criticizing parks wich you have NO intention of visiting.
        You are mad that you have to shell out money for one of the two parks but you continue criticizing them both? Really?
        You going to ride Transformers? Spiderman? MIB? Simpsons? ET? Despicable Me? Hulk? Mummy? Hollywood Rip It? Disaster? Posiedon’s Fury? Cat in The Hat? Shrek? Dudley? Twister? Suess Trolley? Animal Actors? Kong? Jurassic Park? etc?
        Are you just going to criticize them?
        Keep your money but stop complaining.

      • Cory Gross

        Actually Aaronius called you trolls. His description of your aim of inciting emotional reactions was almost verbatim the dictionary definition of a troll. I simply pointed that out.

        I’m not really sure what your deal is, Cap. You act like Disney has somehow personally wronged you because they… what? Charge a bit too much for things? Don’t have enough E-tickets for your liking? I’m not exactly sure what they did that has SO offended you that you feel the need to personally insult and demean Disney fans the way you do. It’s not just that you express hatred for Disney, but you have to insult Disney fans too. You treat this whole thing like a contest that you have to win when most people just want to be able to quietly enjoy this thing they love and share that love with other people. Instead, you need to attack them like they personally did something to you.

        No, WDW is not a religion, so I don’t know why you have to be the Grand Inquisitor off on a personal Crusade. Perhaps in your zeal you missed this point: I’m not fanatically defending DISNEY from you. I’m defending MYSELF from you. You take such liberties to insult Disney fans for God knows what reason, and you not only act like Disney OWES you something (that we Disney fans are preventing you from getting) but you act like we OWE you something as well… Why do you even CARE if I like or don’t like Universal? Why the need to project your contempt for Disney onto me? Why do you need to have your life choices validated by CONSTANTLY harassing Disney fans to see things your way, to the point that they can’t go anywhere on a site without seeing you insulting them? I haven’t even said half as much negative stuff about Universal as you do about Disney, but apparently you are getting tired of it. Oh darn… It must suck to have someone constantly insulting something you like.

        “Keep your money but stop complaining.”

        Physician heal thyself.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        “Actually Aaronius called you trolls. His description of your aim of inciting emotional reactions was almost verbatim the dictionary definition of a troll. I simply pointed that out.”

        Actually, Cory, YOU called them trolls.

        Please leave me out of any present and future forum issues you may have, m-kay? Thanks.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Seriously, if you’re that emotionally distraught over Universal’s extortion, then don’t go. It’s a free country. They’re not forcing you to go to one park, or both, or any at all. I’m sure you were a perfectly happy Potter fan before any theme park opened rides, shops and attractions surrounding the franchise. So, don’t go.

        And seriously, if you’re that upset that Universal is getting a ‘free pass’ from the fans regarding said extortion, then by all means state that. I think the issue is that you KEEP stating it, that any other opinion, thought or idea must be met with a retort demonstrating your correctness, their wrongness ad hoc, to infinity and beyond. It’s not a new opinion. It’s not something that furthers the conversation. It’s the same darned expression of hyperbolic zeal set to repeat.

        Seriously, you said the same basic thing, over and over and over and over again. You’ve called all of us out.

        You think it’s wrong that Universal is extorting you. WE GET IT.
        You think it’s wrong that Disney doesn’t get a free pass but Universal does (see: attendance as evidence to the contrary,) and that’s fine. WE GET IT.

        (I believe I also called you the Disney Fan parallel to CaptainAction and his admittedly funny laundry list rants, as well, but you conveniently, and unsurprisingly, left that out.)

      • ayalexander

        hahaha Cory Gross, you are amazing! you hit it right on the button about how Universal fans *ehem*CaptainAction*cough** -say all the insulting stuff about us and our liking for Disney Parks, but when we say ONE TINY LITTLE THING about how experiencing two potter lands requires a park hopper… woah, stand back and watch them light the torches and bare the pitch-forks. -I would love to be a Universal fan… but unfortunately, the crud they offer just isn’t worth the money to me… HOWEVER when they opened the first potter-land i thought: “Wow, I actually think that is cool, and look, its so detailed and well made” And when they started construction on the Hollywood potter-land I made a promise to myself that I would go to visit it. (but as soon as I see potter land I am leaving… I hate the rest of Universal Studios) and as I read about USO having a complete potter experience spread out over two parks… that is…not wrong but… not right either.

        and yes danielz6, if Disney had built two Star Wars lands in two separate park, yes I would feel the the same way as this. I would feel that Disney is using Star Wars to gain them-self attendance at two low-attendance parks.

      • Cory Gross

        LoL, thanks Ayalexander!

        I’m especially loving this new approach they have: “Hey! You’re not allowed to say anything mean about Universal! If you don’t like it, don’t go! We get it! You don’t have to keep complaining about it like a broken record!”

        The total absence of self-awareness required of UNIVERSAL fans to say something like THAT is astonishing. I’ve never seen people just take a dive into straight-up, unadulterated hypocrisy like this. My God, I would love to see them heed their own advice.

        While that is funny, I’ve seen this pattern every I’ve had to deal with bullying. First they bully you, and then they try to shame you for defending yourself, and finally they whine when you go on the offensive. We’ve seen all three stages just in this one thread.

      • solarnole

        Disney did this when they opened Epcot in 1982. Tommowland and Future World are the same theme. Horizons is even the sequel to Carousel of Progress. The new park is connected by a monorail. Disney could had just expanded Tomorrowland to include Future World, they had lots of empty land back then but they forced guests to buy another day.

        No one knocked Disney for it. People were happy that they spent millions on state of the art attractions and transportation like what Universal is doing now.

        Universal is doing great if buying a park hopper is the biggest complaint. At least they are not trying to pass meet and greets off as headline attractions.

  • danielz6

    Us star wars fans are still waiting for phase 1 which is somewhere up in the blue sky phase and our movies have existed since 1977! I wish I could complain about needing a park hopper to experience the THIRD star wars e ticket attraction connecting 2 star wars lands! Haha

    • AaroniusPolonius

      I know, right? It’s the theme park version of Waiting for Godot.

  • JCSkipr79

    The more that Disney parks slip into irrelevancy and popularity the more “fans” like Cory will become unhinged. We’ve been seeing it since 2010 but this summer I think we will see Disney “fans” truly lose it.