Posts Tagged ‘Harry Potter’

PotterWatch: Diagon Alley Construction Photos and Early April Rumors

by on April 13, 2014

It’s been a couple weeks since our last PotterWatch look at Wizarding World of Harry Potter progress around Universal Orlando. While visible exterior changes are not as dramatic as as they were in earlier months, we can definitely see that the project is gaining new details as the expansion’s summer opening approaches. Enjoy these Hogsmeade Station and Diagon Alley construction photos from a few days ago, followed by a survey of the latest Potter rumors circulating on the net.

 

Diagon Alley Construction Photos

This is Universal Studios Florida‘s London Waterfront facade, behind which hides Diagon Alley, as it looked on April 7, 2014.

Diagon Alley construction photos

Note the trees that have been added to the area in front of the facade.

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PotterWatch: Zonko’s Closed, London Waterfront Walls, & Hogwarts Express Details on Friday

by on March 13, 2014

Zonko's Closed and more Wizarding World news in this week's PotterWatch (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Zonko’s Closed and more Wizarding World news in this week’s PotterWatch (photos by Seth Kubersky)

In this week’s edition of PotterWatch, we head into the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando‘s Islands of Adventure on the day before Zonko’s closed, then check out the new construction walls along the London Waterfront in Universal Studios Florida. Finally, we’ll tell you when you can hear fresh details about the Hogwarts Express, and share new information on early entry for Universal Orlando resort hotel guests.

Zonko’s Closed

For the first time, a significant component of Hogsmeade Village has disappeared. Zonko’s Joke Shop, one of the original shops at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, permanently closed its doors this week. It will reopen in the coming months as an extension of the adjoining Honeydukes candy shop, which is usually overcrowded.

 

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PotterWatch: Hogsmeade Station Construction, Zonko’s Still Open, Leaky Cauldron Food

by on March 5, 2014

Welcome back to the latest irregular installment of PotterWatch, our mostly-weekly series of photo updates observing Universal Orlando‘s progress on their Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansions. I’ve been off for the pass couple weeks exploring some attractions on the opposite side of the country, but I’m happy to be back in Florida with a few exciting advancements in the Potter universe. This first PotterWatch of March 2014 features Hogsmeade Station construction, the continued existence of Zonko’s, and yet another look at Diagon Alley’s London facade, plus some tasty new Leaky Cauldron food photo leaks.

Hogsmeade Station Construction

In the last edition of PotterWatch, I shared the first photographs of Island of Adventure’s Lost Continent carnival games buildings after the games had been removed. Shortly after that posting, the buildings themselves were removed, and the entire area immediately outside Hogsmeade Village was more or less demolished.

Hogsmeade Station construction PotterWatch leaky cauldron food

Hogsmeade Station construction continues near where the Lost Continent games were demolished. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Now, the entire entryway to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter from Lost Continent has been walled off, turning Sindbad stadium into a cul-de-sac. Guests wishing to enter Hogsmeade must traverse through Jurassic Park, just as they did during 2010 when the area was first under construction.

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PotterWatch: Lost Continent Games Leave, King’s Cross Gets Named, Hogwarts Express Testing Begins?

by on February 12, 2014

It’s been chilly and wet in Central Florida lately, but that hasn’t stopped progress on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. For this week’s edition of PotterWatch, we’ll start with the recent removal of Lost Continent games in Islands of Adventure, then take a look at the latest Diagon Alley construction in Universal Studios. Finally, we’ll finish with the newest rumor about Hogwarts Express testing.

Lost Continent Games and Hogsmeade Station

Let’s begin in Islands of Adventure at the border between The Lost Continent and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six “Secrets” of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hogsmeade Village

by on February 8, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six “Secrets” of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hogsmeade Village. When Islands of Adventure opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) in 2010, Universal established a new gold standard in theme park immersion. Walking into Hogsmeade Village is the closest anyone can come to stepping into the pages of J.K. Rowling’s book series. Filled with magic and surprises, Universal’s Wizarding World contains many secrets that not every guest knows about – even the ones who have been several times. Today we’re going to look at six of our favorites.

Please remember to click on any picture to see the full size version.

OwlPostDuo# 6 – Muggles can get their mail postmarked from Hogsmeade

Next to Ollivanders is the Owl Post, and outside of that is a manned Owl Post station where you can mail letters and get them marked with an actual Hogsmeade stamp. We all have friends and family who can’t make it down to Orlando, and this is one of the cheapest souvenirs you can get for them. It can also be a unique Wizarding World item to have waiting for you once you return home from vacation, so consider mailing something to yourself.

There is stationary you can buy in Hogsmeade Village to write your letter, or you can just bring your own. You’re also responsible for your own postage. Once you are ready, take your mail to the witch or wizard manning the station, and he or she will stamp your envelope and hand it off to Errol, Pigwidgeon, or the next owl up for delivery.

OWLPost3

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort: February 3, 2014 (Royal Pacific, Tchoup Chop, New Merchandise and more)

by on February 7, 2014

A lot is going on at the Universal Orlando Resort this year. Seth Kubersky wrote a great Complete Guide to Mardi Gras 2014 and continues to update us all on the upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley with his PotterWatch series of articles. The new Mexican restaurant Antojitos had its grand opening on February 5, and major work continues on CityWalk to get the other new restaurants up and running by summer. This past week I spent some time on property, and here’s a quick snapshot of what I experienced.

As a reminder, click on any picture to see it in full size.

CityWalkUpstair

Signage in CityWalk is going through a lot of changes. All references to Katie’s Candy Company, TCBY and Cigarz is gone. There are Antojitos signs popping up here and there, but still plenty of empty spots that will be filled down the road.

The temporary construction walls that are set up by the old Studio Store and Galaxy Bar are also now completely filled with posters teasing the upcoming revamped Studios Store, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, Vivo Italian Kitchen, and CowFish.

The temporary Studio Store set up in CityWalk is always a ghost town when I’m there and has never had more than one other person in it during the times I visited. There was an employee standing outside, presumably to encourage people to come into the store. It can’t help that there is no Potter merchandise in the store, as all of that has been moved to separate stand in the middle of CityWalk.

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PotterWatch: Diagon Alley Peep Holes and Celebration Recap

by on February 3, 2014

Universal Harry Potter Diagon alley peep holes

Diagon Alley peep holes, Celebration videos, and Gringotts rumors in the latest PotterWatch report

It’s been just over a week since Universal Orlando‘s big Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley webcast reveal, but there are still plenty of surprises in store. For this edition of PotterWatch, we’ll take a look through the new Diagon Alley peep holes that Universal considerately cut in the London Waterfront’s construction wall, plus a look back at the recent Celebration of Harry Potter event via some exclusive video. Finally, we’ll finish up with a few hot new Gringotts rumors.

Diagon Alley Peep Holes

With major construction complete on Diagon Alley’s London Waterfront facade, and the scaffolding recently removed, I had feared there wouldn’t be much left to see in terms of exterior progress on the project.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We Wish Theme Park Fans Would Stop Complaining About

by on February 1, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Things We Wish Theme Park Fans Would Stop Complaining About. It’s hard to believe that in a land full of fantastical theme parks, luxurious hotels, and wonderful memories filled with pixie dust that people could have anything to complain about. But they do. In fact, after a thorough investigation the Saturday Six staff has compiled a list of 548,321 complaints, and that’s just in the Florida parks. Today we’re going to look at the six of most prevalent complaints and say “STAHP!”

StarbucksMickey

If you thought Talking Mickey was a hit, wait till Barista Mickey makes his debut….

# 6 – “They are building too many Starbucks”

Out of nowhere, Starbucks has seemed to have taken over the theme park world in Florida. The first step in theme park world domination for the coffee brand? The beloved Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom. Starbucks then moved over to Epcot and replaced the Fountain View Cafe, complete with a hidden Communicore logo to appease the hardcore fans. Two more Starbucks are coming to Downtown Disney, and it is rumored that locations will be opening up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, as well. Not to be outdone, the Starbucks location over at Universal’s CityWalk is moving from its second floor No-Man’s-Land location down onto the ground level, and Island of Adventure’s Arctic Express has been converted into a Starbucks, as well.

What’s going here? The answer is simple. People love Starbucks. Period. The Starbucks brand is strong enough that it can charge a premium price for a drink you can get almost anywhere else cheaper, and have people lining up for it. While the Main Street Bakery certainly wasn’t hurting for business before, it’s easy to see how successful the ones at Downtown Disney and Universal will be compared to what they are replacing. The new Starbucks locations are in prime real estate and will be all but printing money.

If these Starbucks locations were McDonald’s, you could make a case that there are better restaurants all over either property. If the locations were Dunkin’ Donuts you could make a case that there are better bakeries around. But no one at Disney or Universal is doing a better job than Starbucks at making good coffee and, as far as we know, the world didn’t end when the first Grande Latte went out.

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PotterWatch: Universal’s Diagon Alley Webcast Reveals New Harry Potter Details

by on January 23, 2014

New concept art of Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion from today's Diagon Alley webcast

New concept art of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion from today’s Diagon Alley webcast.

If you’ve been following our PotterWatch series so far, you probably already watched this morning’s Diagon Alley webcast, in which Universal Orlando revealed new details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion opening this June at Universal Studios Florida. The 30 minute presentation, broadcast from inside a “Gringotts vault,” was hosted by Universal Creative’s Mark Woodbury, and featured appearances from Potter film actors Mathew Lewis, James Phelps, and Evanna Lynch. But just in case you were unable to sign up for a link to the live video, or were stuck at work while it was playing, here’s a quick recap of what was revealed and confirmed about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley (as the new area is known):

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PotterWatch: London Waterfront Facade Unveiled & HateToFly’s Top 5 Predictions

by on January 18, 2014

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley London Waterfront facade as seen from Springfield USA.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley London Waterfront facade as seen from Springfield USA.

Welcome back to another PotterWatch update! It’s been a momentous week in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as construction scaffolding in front of Diagon Alley was finally dismantled, and Universal Studios Florida’s London Waterfront facade unveiled. We also have a few of the latest rumors, plus a special bonus feature with Internet informant HateToFly.

London Waterfront Facade

On the night of January 16, Universal Orlando removed the last of the scaffolding covering Diagon Alley, allowing us to bring you these fresh photos of the London Waterfront facade.

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