After a crazy kick off day, Universal, hit the gas, and wasted no time, getting everyone up to speed on the incredible changes they have made to the resort since the first phase of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which opened in 2010.  So Grab your wand and butter beer, it’s time to continue our Diagon Alley Preview of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.  And we have some amazing Red Carpet Coverage… and a tease of what is inside Diagon Alley.

The State of Universal Orlando

Universal kicked off the day back at the Blue Man Group theater, where the previous night had ended. Bill Davis (President of Universal Orlando) and Theirry Coup (Universal Creative) spoke. They used their time to talk about all the major additions to Universal Orlando since 2010, such as the Universal Super Star Parade, Universal Cinematic Spectacular, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Reanimated Adventures of Spiderman, the new Blue Man Group show,  Hollywood Drive-In mini golf, Transformers, Springfield USA, Antojitos, Vivo, Breadbox, Menchies, Coldstone, Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, Cow Fish, and the fabulous Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

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After talking about what has been accomplished over the past few years, it was time to talk about the main event, Diagon Alley. Universal brought out four stars from the films: The Weasley twins (James and Oliver Phelps), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch). The stars announced that Diagon Alley would officially open July 8th, 2014.

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After the state of the Universal, we trekked across the park checking out some of the updates and speaking with some of the brilliant minds at Universal Creative who have brought these amazing changes to life

Springfield USA

Over at Springfield USA, we had the opportunity to interact with Mike West (Executive Producer of Springfield, USA) and chat about this amazing place-making addition to the park. Mike shared that since Springfield had opening last summer, they have served over 300,000 Krusty Burgers. For him, being able to see families, kids and people just smile and enjoy what he spent years developing makes it all worthwhile.

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Since Springfield USA opened, I have enjoyed many Flaming Moes, Krusty Burgers, and Duff Beers as I watched Diagon Alley grow across the lake.

Transformers the Ride

Over at Transformers the Ride, Universal Creative Executive Producer Theirry Coup shared with us again the engineering marvel that Transformers was. From ground breaking to opening it took just 12 months to build. For those of you who have followed this blog, you can all attest to how incredible it was to watch that quick project unfold.

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Interactive Wands

One thing that we will be talking A LOT about tomorrow are the new interactive wands.  Over the past few months, Universal Creative has been stealth while they have been installing interactive elements all over Hogsmeade.  On the ground all over Hogsmeade you can now see medallions where you can use your wand to cast a spell.  Let me just say, that this has me feeling like a little kid all over again, and I can’t wait to share with you this experience in Part 3.

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Hogsmeade Station

While you will have to wait until Part 3 of our coverage for our full review of the Hogwarts Express… it is fair to say that this station is beautiful, the costumes are detailed and realistic… and the ride… check back tomorrow.

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Red Carpet Event

Now on to the event you have been scrolling furiously to see! This was a TRUE red carpet event.  National Cable Stations were there, national TV stations were there, media from all around the world were gathered at Universal Orlando to experience this new land.

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Stars from the film walked the red carpet.  You had the actors who brought the iconic roles to life, taking waving at fans, talking to media from around the world, and hyping the whole event. The stars who came were Domhall Gleeson (Bill Weasley), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Warwick Davis (Professor Filus Flitwick), Helen Bonham Cater (Bellatrix Lestrange), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Bonie Wright (Ginny Weasley), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), OliverPhelps (George Weasley), and Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid).

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Fans of the books and movies were cheering as they caught glimpses of their favorite characters.

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Opening Show

No Universal Orlando attraction can open without a special show, and for this show they had Tom Williamson (President of Universal Parks), Ron Myers (Chairman of NBC|Universal) and the CEO of Warners Brothers speak about the collaboration it took to bring the Wizarding World to life.  After that, the stars lined up together on the red carpet, and with the use of some magic, they opened the wall to Diagon Alley. And with some fireworks the gate was opened and everyone was invited in to experience Diagon Alley.

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Diagon Alley Preview

We were asked to leave our fancy cameras outside for this event, but we were allowed to bring our iPhones.  While a full review and photo spread will be coming in tomorrow’s update, we have some video vines to tease you with today.

 

Pardon my excitement, but I have never been so impressed with a press event in my life.  I can’t wait to share with you all the details tomorrow.

Cabana Bay

We will tie up this update with some amazing little nooks we found at the MiceChat Harry Potter HQ at Cabana Bay, where we found some cute little pay phone booths with vintage phones, and a place to print your boarding passes. We’ve previously covered the hotel, but these little details escaped us previously.

The details of this property never cease to amaze me.

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So what do you think so far of what Universal Orlando has accomplished in the last few years?  We can’t wait to share with you our full Diagon Alley review in Part 3 tomorrow!