The opening includes the Hogwarts Express, a first-ever attraction/transport that moves guests between two theme parks (Hogsmeade Station at Islands of Adventure and King’s Cross Station at the Universal Studios Florida park), and Gringott’s Coaster, as well as new dining and retail.
The opening of Hogsmeade Village at Islands of Adventure saw record breaking lines just to enter the park (more than 8 hours). We expect the situation at Diagon Alley to be similar.
Stay tuned for more information as we get it, follow us on Twitter at @TouringPlans, and in the meantime enjoy the promotional video Universal released today:
The media is about to descend upon The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando (photos by Seth Kubersky)
The past week has been a wild emotional roller coaster for Wizarding World of Harry Potter fans on PotterWatch, with last Monday’s euphoric unveiling of Universal Studios Florida‘s London waterfront giving way to days of rain-drenched waiting for non-existent Diagon Alley technical rehearsals. Though it now seems certain we won’t see the inside of Diagon Alley until this week’s media preview, we did get look at preparations for the upcoming VIP event. And over at Islands of Adventure, we have exciting photos of all the new interactive windows recently installed throughout Hogsmeade.
Diagon Alley Media Event Preparations
Team member training, executive inspections, and promotional filming precluded any possible soft openings at Diagon Alley this week, but you can see the staging equipment being prepared for the media preview that begins this Tuesday.
The last construction walls have been removed, fully revealing the forested berm that block the view of Gringotts.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers the Six Reasons We Love the London Waterfront Area of Universal Studios Florida. Wait a minute, didn’t we already do a Saturday Six on Harambe Nights for this week? Yes we did, but the construction walls came down earlier this week, and our excitement level about Diagon Alley is at a fever pitch. Now that we’ve had a day or two to pick our jaws up off the ground, it’s time to present those items that blow our minds by looking at what is the most elaborate facade in theme park history.
# 6 – Kreacher at 12 Grimmauld Place
Kreacher peering out the windows at the filthy muggles outside. (photo by HateToFly)
To quote German poet and professional basketball player Dirk Nowtizki, we can basically SHUT IT DOWN right now as Kreacher peeking through the curtains at 12 Grimmauld Place is everything that makes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the gold standard in theme parks today. A Kreacher animatronic is taking fan service to the Nth degree and will make anyone who has ready the Potter books or has seen the movies to almost swoon in disbelief. Before you even walk through the doors, Universal Creative has shown they get it.
Halloween Horror Nights 24 at the Universal Orlando Resort started off with a bang as it was announced that AMC’s The Walking Dead would return to the nation’s premier haunted experience for the third straight year. A ratings juggernaut for AMC, season 4 of The Walking Dead premiered in October of 2013 with a shocking 16 Million viewers and continued its popularity until the season finale in March of 2014, which also set a ratings record for season finales (breaking its own record set at the end of season 3).
In 2012, The Walking Dead made its debut at Halloween Horror Nights 22, with a haunted maze that used no characters from the popular television show. For HHN 23, not only did The Walking Dead have a bigger maze, but the entire park was filled with scare zones set to themes established by the television show. In addition, several characters from the show (such as Michonne’s walkers) were used in the scare zones and maze, making the experience much more immersive for fans of the show.
Universal says that for HHN 24 The Walking Dead will have the biggest house of the entire event and will use more scare actors than ever before. The official HHN 24 twitter feed has been dropping hints of what we can expect to see, including:
Almost every major environment in season 4 will be featured. Prison for a small portion. The big spot and its parking lot. The moonshine shack, the country club, the tunnel… Terminus. – Mike Aiello, HHN Creative Director
Diagon 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.
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:
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
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.
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.