Posts Tagged ‘wizarding world of harry potter’

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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Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts REVIEW [Minor Spoilers]

by on July 1, 2014

 

gringotts review

A panoramic view of the majestic Gringotts bank lobby. (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 Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts 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.

 

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

5 STARS

APPEAL BY AGE

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

What it is Super-high-tech 3-D dark ride with roller coaster elements.
Scope and scale Super-headliner.
When to go Immediately after park opening or just before closing.
Special comments Expect loooong waits in line; 42″ minimum height requirement.
Authors’ rating The ultimate realization of “Ride The Movies!”; Not to be missed; 5 stars
Duration of ride 4 1⁄2 minutes.
Probable waiting time per 100 people ahead of you 4 minutes.
Loading speed Moderate-Fast.

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PotterWatch: Diagon Alley Media Event Preparations and Hogsmeade Interactive Windows

by on June 16, 2014

Potterwatch hogsmeade interactive windows

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.

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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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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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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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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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PotterWatch: Piccadilly Circus Fountain Installed, Today Show Harry Potter Sweepstakes, and More.

by on May 8, 2014

PotterWatch Fountain Today Show Harry Potter Sweepstakes

The Piccadilly Circus fountain has arrived at Universal’s Wizarding World (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Orlando experienced some wild weather last week, but the torrential rain didn’t stop progress on Diagon Alley, as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion at Universal Orlando accelerates towards rumored soft openings at the end of this month. In today’s edition of PotterWatch, we feature the installation of the famous Piccadilly Circus Fountain in front of the the London Waterfront, and a new Today Show Harry Potter Sweepstakes starting next week.

 

Piccadilly Circus Fountain

The final major component of the London Waterfront, as featured in published concept art of the area, arrived recently, as a stunning replica of the Piccadilly Circus fountain was mounted in front of the Wyndham’s Theatre facade.

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PotterWatch: London Lampposts, Honeydukes Expansion, Merchandise and Food Preview

by on May 2, 2014

PotterWatch lampposts merchandise and food preview

Diagon Alley’s London Waterfront facade is approaching the finish line at Universal Orland (photos by Seth Kubersky)

April has turned to May at Univeral Orlando, and progress marches on towards the debut of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Attraction employee training begining later this month, and it’s rumored that contractors must complete their work by the 20th. As work accelerates towards the finish line, we can see new features — like some stunningly detailed London lampposts — and finishing touches appearing daily. Meanwhile, over in Islands of Adventure, Honeydukes has expanded into Zonko’s space next door. Most excitingly, we have the inside word on a recent employee-only Harry Potter merchandise and food preview, unveiling brand new items that will be offered in the expanded Wizarding World.

 

Diagon Alley London Waterfront Lampposts

Here’s a recent look at progress on Diagon Alley and the London Waterfront:

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