The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley LIVE Webcast

On the morning of January 23, Universal Orlando held a live webcast hosted by James Phelps (Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter films) as well as Matthew Lewis and Evanna Lynch (Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood, respectively) to announce more details about Diagon Alley – the upcoming expansion to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Before the webcast happened, a few details were already known – the Hogwarts Express will take guests back and forth between both parks, guests will be able to dine at The Leaky Cauldron, there will be a state-of-the-art thrilling attraction inside Gringotts Bank and somewhere in the land will be a massive fire-breathing dragon. Matthew Lewis started out the live webcast by showing off the current Wizarding World of Harry Potter including Hogwarts and Hogsmeade before sending it over to Mark Woodbury, President of Universal Creative, who was standing in the vaults of Gringotts along with a goblin and families that were chosen from the park to sit in on the fun. Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley - Gringotts Bank Vault Woodbury brought out James Phelps to talk about his experience in the construction site for Diagon Alley and the recurring trend for the rest of the webcast ended up being about the realism behind the new expansion. All of the actors said over and over again how much it felt like being on the set. Thierry Coup, Universal Creative Senior Vice President, took over on board the Hogwarts Express with Evanna Lynch. Lynch claims that the Hogwarts Express feels even more real and immersive than being in the train on the films. You can board at either station Kings Cross or Hogsmeade, but Woodbury confirmed that you must have a park-to-park ticket in order to experience the Hogwarts Express. Wizarding-World-Diagon-Alley-007 Wizarding-World-Diagon-Alley-005 When experiencing the Wizarding World expansion in Universal Studios Florida, the first thing we will see is London and the Knight Bus before stepping into Diagon Alley. The shops inside Diagon Alley will include Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions – where witches and wizards go to buy their robes as well as other apparel products, Magic Menagerie – a place to find animals for every witch or wizard, Ollivanders – the original wand shop where students go to get their first wand, Scribbulus – place to shop for quills, notebooks, diaries and more, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment – where one can find such special objects as time turners and cauldrons, Weasley’s Wizards Wheezes – the joke shop that Fred and George opened up in the books and finally, Quality Quidditch Supplies – the only place to get your quidditch robes and brooms. 1545936_10151927639117852_1583258209_n Wizarding-World-Diagon-Alley-008 Wizarding-World-Diagon-Alley-003 Wizarding-World-Diagon-Alley-001 Knockturn Alley will also be in place at Diagon Alley and is described as a ‘very scary place’. Everything in the Wizarding World is not so nice, so Knockturn Alley will be in place to really show off the contrast of good and evil. Guests can shop at Borgin and Burkes for Death Eater masks and more dark wizarding goods. The Leaky Cauldron will be the main dining experience inside Diagon Alley, but if ice cream is what you are looking for then Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour is where you will want to be. Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 10.50.47 AM (2) Wizarding-World-Diagon-Alley-002 Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts is the official name for the new attraction inside Gringotts Bank. It will be one of the most exciting and technological theme park attractions that Universal has ever built. Universal did state that Escape From Gringotts will not be as intense as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but it will still be a thrilling family-friendly experience and the giant fire-breathing dragon will be perched on the roof. Wizarding-World-Diagon-Alley-006 One note was made about Hogsmeade – Zonko’s Joke Shop will be removed and Honeydukes will be expanded. There is no longer a need for another joke shop in the original Wizarding World as Weasley’s Wizards Wheezes will become the go-to place for that type of merchandise. Diagon Alley is promised to be a theme park experience beyond our wildest imagination. Stuart Craig, who worked on the concepts and designs of the original Wizarding World, returned to help shape Diagon Alley and the initial artwork looks beautiful. There are still many more details to be released about Diagon Alley, but summer 2014 and the quickly approaching opening of the Wizarding World expansion is almost guaranteed to be a massive success.

  • Just me

    I hope the shops are larger in phase 2.

    • Craig Williams

      One would hope, but the shops in the original Wizarding World were approved by J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers so chances are the sizes will be comparable even though it can be very inconvenient and overwhelming.

      • Just me

        … and nearly impossible for anyone in a wheelchair or ECV. Besides, who really wants to wait in line to shop? This is one example of where J.K. Rowling insisted on something that did not work well for a theme park environment. The shops easily could have been build with a small store front, but when inside opened up to a much larger space. This is a concept that was used for various buildings and tents in the book/movies, so it would not have been that much of a stretch ( pun intended) for the shops. Dreaming along, it would also be nice to see more character theming, though it is understandable that only generic characters would be allowed. Heck, offer a food discount for anyone in the land wearing HP style robes and let the guests fill the character theme void. Finally, they really need to do an interactive wand experience where special wands could be purchased, ( or rented?) that could interact within the grounds to make special effects happen. Now that would up the magic!

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  • Angela Krosnick

    Awesome blog Craig!! I can’t wait to hear more!! Thanks so much!

    • Craig Williams

      You’re very welcome! We have lots of videos and pictures coming from the Harry Potter Celebration. And a few new details about Diagon Alley have already popped up.

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