Posts Tagged ‘Universal Orlando’

PotterWatch: Hogwarts Express and Diagon Alley Soft Openings

by on July 6, 2014

Diagon alley soft opening

Regular guests get their first look at the Universal’s newest Wizarding World during the first day of Diagon Alley soft openings (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Nearly a month after construction walls came down around Universal Studios Florida‘s London waterfront, PotterWatch finally paid off this past week, as regular guests were finally allowed to experience Universal Orlando‘s new Harry Potter attractions in advance of the expansion’s July 8 official opening. Hogwarts Express began “technical rehearsals” on July 1, and the first Diagon Alley soft openings started on July 3.

While the Gringotts ride is not available during these previews, all shops, restaurants, and shows in Diagon Alley should be open to guests on a daily basis until the grand opening on July 8.

As congested as these photos may appear, this is nothing compared to how busy Diagon Alley will be once opening day officially arrives. With minimal queues to enter the area, and posted standby waits at Hogwarts Express of 30 minutes or less, this is an ideal time to experience Diagon Alley without the crushing crowds that are surely coming right around the corner.

Check out these front-line photos from July 3, documenting the first few hours after ordinary visitors were first allowed to experience the new Wizarding World:

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Hogwarts Express REVIEW [Minor Spoilers]

by on July 2, 2014

Hogwarts Express review

All aboard the Hogwarts Express at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

As PotterWatch wraps up with the approach of Diagon Alley’s July 8 official opening date, I’m proud to present Touring Plans’ first in-depth review of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions. During the recent VIP preview week, I spent nearly 12 hours exploring the expansion at Universal Studios Florida, and was the only member of the media to successfully ride the Gringotts attraction three times. I’ve distilled that first-hand experience into the following Hogwarts Express review, which will appear in edited form in the 2015 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, as well as other affiliated titles.

Bear in mind, the following opinions and information are based on a preview of the attraction, and is subject to change once the area is open to the public. BEWARE: Minor spoilers ahead.

Hogwarts Express

4 1/2 STARS

 

APPEAL BY AGE

  • PRESCHOOL 4 stars
  • GRADE SCHOOL 5 stars
  • TEENS 4 stars
  • YOUNG ADULTS 4 1/2 stars
  • OVER 30 4 1/2 stars
  • SENIORS 4 stars

 

What it is Transportation attraction with special effects.
Scope and scale Super-headliner.
When to go Immediately after park opening.
Special comments Expect lengthy waits in line. A park-to-park pass is required to ride.
Authors’ rating A moving experience; Not to be missed; 4 1/2 stars
Duration of ride 4 minutes.
Probable wait­ing time per 100 people ahead of you 7 minutes.
Loading speed Moderate.

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PotterWatch: Diagon Alley’s London Waterfront Walls Are Down

by on June 9, 2014

As Laurel Stewart shared in a newsflash a short time ago, the construction walls around The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley came down late last night, unveiling the new London facades without walls for the first time to this morning’s guests (including myself). Without further ado, we present a long-awaited PotterWatch milestone, without our first full look at the expansion with the London Waterfront walls removed.

Wizarding World Harry Potter Diagon Alley London Waterfront walls

A first look at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley and the London Waterfront without walls (photos by Seth Kubersky)

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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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Kongstruction: Islands of Adventure Project 340 Photo Report

by on May 22, 2014

With construction on the newly expanded Wizarding World of Harry Potter wrapping up, what is next for Universal Orlando after PotterWatch? Though officially unannounced, insider information and permit filings for “Project 340″ provide evidence that an impressive new E-ticket adventure is being installed in Islands of Adventure. The new attraction is expected to be based on King Kong, utilizing technology from the popular King Kong 360-3D attraction found at Universal Studios Hollywood, along with new indoor and outdoor dark ride elements, to reincarnate a beloved icon from Universal Studios Florida‘s earliest days. So consider this the first installment of Kongstruction, our ongoing series tracking the progress on this ambitious new project.

Kongstruction Project 340 photo
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PotterWatch: Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley Photo Update

by on May 20, 2014

The big PotterWatch news last week was the announcement of a private media event on June 17-20, which is widely expected to culminate in the grand opening of The Wizarding World or Harry Potter - Diagon Alley. While the official opening date has still not been announced, we are rapidly approaching the end of construction and the start of employee training in the area. While we wait for public soft openings to start sometime next month, here is a brief look at the latest progress along Diagon Alley’s London Waterfront and outside Hogsmeade Village.

Diagon Alley Photo Update

These photos of the Diagon Alley exterior were taken on the afternoon of Friday, May 16.

PotterWatch Diagon Alley Photo Update

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Media Preview To Be Held June 17-20

by on May 14, 2014

Breaking news! A friendly FedEx owl from Universal Orlando dropped off a parcel this morning containing an invitation to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley media preview, scheduled for June 17-20. Here’s a look at the lovely package, which included tickets for the Hogwarts Express and a “gold” bar from Gringotts bank:

Diagon alley media preview invitation

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Universal CityWalk’s Antojitos Now Serving Lunch

by on May 14, 2014

Universal Citywalk Antojitos lunch

Antojitos at Universal CityWalk is now serving lunch. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

If you’ve read my review from earlier in the year, you know that I’m a big fan of Antojitos Authentic Mexican restaurant at Universal Orlando CityWalk. The only problem is that the venue didn’t open its doors until 5 p.m., dashing any plans for a noontime tequila spree. Thankfully, as of today Antojitos lunch service is now available daily from 11 a.m., with exclusive lunch special entrees available from opening until 3 p.m.

Note that the downstairs level — inside and outside, as well as the main bar — is open for lunch, while the Antojitos Up area remains closed until the dinner hours. In addition to the lunch specials, the entire standard downstairs dinner and drink menu is available.

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PotterWatch: Diagon Alley Update, Hogsmeade Stones, and Gringotts Details

by on May 14, 2014

Welcome back to the ever-widening Wizarding World! In today’s edition PotterWatch, we’ve got frest photos from earlier this week of progress on Diagon Alley’s London Waterfront, the newly installed Hogsmeade stones outside the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and breaking news direct from Universal Orlando with eagerly awaited Gringotts details.

Diagon Alley Update

Let’s begin with a stroll along the Diagon Alley London Waterfront construction zone.

PotterWatch Universal Orlando Wizarding World Diagon Alley Hogsmeade Stones Gringotts Details

 

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