Universal Orlando Resort

Newsflash – Construction Walls Are Down at Diagon Alley

by on June 9, 2014

t_logo_fbDiagon Alley has reached another milestone as it approaches its (as yet unannounced) soft openings – the construction walls that have surrounded it were removed last night. Seth Kubersky, PotterWatcher extraordinaire, has been onsite to get the latest for you.

For photos, check out our Twitter feed – @TouringPlans.

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Kongstruction: T-Rex Photo Op Relocated

by on June 8, 2014

As PotterWatch construction updates wind down, our Kongstruction coverage will begin increasing to keep pace with progress on Project 340, the yet-unannounced King Kong attraction going into the area behind Thunder Falls Terrace in Islands of Adventure‘s Jurassic Park. This week, let’s check out the newly relocated T-Rex photo op, as well as some earth moving on the construction site.

Project 340 Earthmoving

First, here are a few photos of the current state of the Project 340 lands, located between the Thunder Falls Terrace restaurant and Toon Lagoon:

Kongstruction project 340

Photos by Seth Kubersky

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PotterWatch: Diagon Alley Interactive Entertainment Confirmed & Photo Update

by on June 8, 2014

Our PotterWatch updates are coming fast and furious, as the finishing touches are put on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley prior to its media unveiling in under two weeks. For this edition, we have the usual photo updates of progress along the London Waterfront in Universal Studios Florida, and Hogsmeade Station in Islands of Adventure. Plus, there’s finally official confirmation on some Diagon Alley interactive entertainment experiences that we’ve previously shared rumors of. Finally, we’re sharing some fantastic new footage of some Harry Potter film stars exploring the new attractions, showing off our best sneak peak so far of this spectacular expansion

London Waterfront Photo Update

Here’s a quick look at the latest progress along the London Waterfront, which serves as the facade in front of Diagon Alley:

Potterwatch Diagon Alley Interactive Entertainment Confirmed

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Can’t Wait for Diagon Alley to Open

by on June 7, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Reasons We Can’t Wait for Diagon Alley to Open. It seems every day something comes along which whets our appetite even more for the new Harry Potter themed land coming to Universal Studios Florida. In just the past few days we’ve gotten a Disney Dish with Jim Hill episode that covered the new food items coming to the Leaky Cauldron, three of the Weasley clan taking a look into Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and Seth Kubersky’s preliminary touring plans for Diagon Alley. With the media preview taking place June 17-20, it’s safe to say we’ll be walking around the wizarding shopping area very shortly. Here’s what we are really excited about experiencing after the most recent developments:

# 6 – The DRAGON

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Ukrainian Ironbelly atop Gringotts Wizarding Bank (photo by HateToFly)

Sitting high atop Gringotts Bank (already the tallest building inside Diagon Alley) is the half-blind Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon that we all remember from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. Besides its immense size, the attention to detail on the dragon is staggering. You can see the marks around its neck where chains tore into its skin, holes in its wings, and an overall aura of authenticity that almost has you feeling for this tragic character even in its menacing pose. While it is still not completely known how much (if any) movement the dragon will have, the gas lines have been installed, and soon it will breathe fire.

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PotterWatch: Preliminary Diagon Alley Touring Plans

by on June 6, 2014

Wizarding World of Harry Potter preliminary Diagon Alley touring plans

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is nearly ready — but are you? (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

With only two weeks to go before the worldwide media descends upon Universal Orlando for its unveiling of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, we already know plenty of things about the experience that awaits behind Universal Studios Florida‘s imposing new London Waterfront. We know about the E-ticket “multi-sensory thrill ride” inside the dragon-topped Gringotts bank; we know about the Hogwarts Express train that will transport guests to the original Wizarding World in Islands of Adventure; we know the names of that will line this magical shopping mall; we even know the varieties of pie (Seafood! Steak and Guinness!) and ice cream (Chocolate chili! Butterbeer!) you’ll be able to eat. So it’s no wonder that many of our subscribers have requested Diagon Alley touring plans to prepare them for their upcoming vacations. Unfortunately, we still lack two pieces of data vital to providing our usual expert advice: when we can get inside, and how long we’ll wait once we get there.

Through a combination of inside information, experience observing Universal’s operations since Potter arrived, and some educated guesses, we’ve devised the following preliminary Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley touring plans, along with a summary of our surmises about how the area will operate. Be aware that much of this is based on unofficial intel, and is subject to change before, during, and after the grand opening of the attraction.

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Universal Dining: Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in CityWalk

by on June 3, 2014

Margaritaville_Front

Main entrance to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville

Universal CityWalk is currently in the process of a major overhaul, adding new dining options and getting rid of some of the restaurants locations that were lagging behind. Late in 2013, Red Oven Pizza Bakery opened, followed by Cold Stone Creamery and Antojitos earlier this year. Starbucks moved from its upper level location down to a much better spot next to Cold Stone recently, and just a few days ago Menchie’s frozen yogurt opened its doors. Hot Dog Hall of Fame and Vivo Italian Kitchen are expected to debut their original menus in the coming weeks, while Bread Box and the heavily anticipated Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar should be welcoming guests by the end of the summer. 

With all the new venues coming into CityWalk, it is easy to overlook some of restaurants that have been around for a while and still offer a great experience and unique atmosphere like Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. With a prime spot close to Islands of Adventure, Margaritaville offers plenty of indoor and outdoor seating along with three full bars and a margarita to-go window. The outdoor seating at the Porch of Indecision has been recently renovated and is a great place to enjoy the weather and people watch.

Margaritaville_Porch

Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville with Islands of Adventure’s Pharos Lighthouse in the background

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PotterWatch: London Waterfront Lighting, Diagon Alley Return Tickets, Hogsmeade Transition, & Leaky Cauldron Food Preview

by on June 2, 2014

PotterWatch London Waterfront lighting Diagon Alley return ticket kiosks Hogsmeade transition

Welcome to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where time has turned purple… (photos by Seth Kubersky)

We’ve passed an important PotterWatch milestone this week: we’re most likely less than one month away from the public premiere of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. This update will examine some new lighting along the London Waterfront, the newly revealed Hogsmeade transition area outside the original Wizarding World, and some recently revealed Leaky Cauldron food and beverage details.

 

London Waterfront Lighting

I took a stroll along the London Waterfront outside Diagon Alley at “magic hour” to capture some of the lighting features throughout the area. Let’s start with a panoramic overview of the construction area:

 

This purple illumination on the King’s Cross clock tower confuses me. Perhaps it is some sort of magical effect, or an unfinished test? Time will tell…

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort – May 26, 2014 (Margaritaville, Red Oven, Cabana Bay, and more)

by on May 29, 2014

Seth Kubersky recently published the latest addition to PotterWatch, and it takes a look at the newly installed dragon on top of Gringotts Bank, new benches and massive lion heads in front of the London Waterfront, the growing of the Hogsmeade forest, and updates on the latest information concerning the possible opening of Diagon Alley. For this trip to the Universal Orlando Resort, Brandon Glover and I took a look at other new things that have popped up at the parks, CityWalk, and hotel area.

Our first stop was lunch at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. We had tried some of their new items on our last trip to UOR (including the Volcano Burger and insanely large Volcano Nachos) but saw others on the menu that we had to go back for, including this Margarita Flight.

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Margarita Flight (includes Who’s to Blame, BlueBerry Pomegranate, Fins to the Left, and Last Mango in Paris) $16.95

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PotterWatch: Gringotts Dragon Arrives and Opening Date Rumors

by on May 29, 2014

It has been an exciting week in PotterWatch, as the iconic “weenie” of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley arrived at Universal Studios Florida. Let’s take a look at the massive Gringotts Dragon, and talk about new opening date rumors.

 

Gringotts Dragon Arrives

On May 24, the ginormous fire-breathing “Ukranian Ironbelly” dragon that perches atop Gringotts Bank was lowered into place inside Diagon Alley. Our friend Hate To Fly was on hand to capture its arrival:

Gringotts dragon

Photo via @HateToFly

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SATURDAY SIX Special Edition: A Theme Park Tribute to America

by on May 26, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX for Memorial Day is a very special one. A Theme Park Tribute to America. It is thanks to our brave members of the military, both past and present, for the great country we live in and the freedom we have to visit some of the world’s greatest theme parks. Today we’re going into the Orlando parks and looking some of the tributes to America and its soldiers.

# 6 – Spirit of America Fife & Drum corps (Epcot)

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Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps (photo by Brandon Glover)

Who knows where we would be today without the soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War and the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps perform a patriotic tribute to them in front of the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot. With marching music and military formations, the Fife & Drum corps evoke the spirit of the Continental Army. Whether it’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “God Bless America,” or “Grand Old Flag,” the four man band (plus a flag bearer) will have your heart pounding in pride.

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