Harry Potter Diagon Alley gets closer to reality and Universal also launches a new website just for Harry Potter
By Peter Covino
Well no, not quite yet, but Universal Resort Orlando unveiled a few tantalizing tidbits on its big Harry Potter expansion project, Harry Potter Diagon Alley Thursday morning via a webcast.
For anyone who plays really close attention to every detail going on with the newest Harry Potter attraction (coming to Universal Studios this summer) there probably isn’t any real “hands on” info on just what is going on. We will all have to wait for the actual opening or a press preview to get a real feel for this really big expansion.
The webcast featured Matt Woodbury, president of Universal Creative and Thierry Coup, senior VP of Universal Creative, as well as a few of the Harry Potter stars who got a sneak peek of the construction area.
As good as Harry Potter’s Wizarding World Hogsmeade (at Islands of Adventure), the new attraction looks to be even more exciting.
Guests will board the Hogswarts Express (a real train, authentic to the films) and make the journey to Diagon Alley from Hogsmeade.
“It will be beyond your wildest imagination,” promised Woodbury.
The ride will require a “Park to Park Ticket” for both Universal theme parks.
In Diagon Alley and “London” a whole new world of Harry Potter will await.
Diagon Alley will feature many new shops where you can buy everything from wands, quills and costumes to everything you need if you fancy a game of quidditch.
The shops in detail
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, a vibrant shop featuring novelty items, magical jokes, and toys inspired by the books and films that will amaze the mischievous child in everyone.
Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, where guests will find a variety of wizardwear from Hogwarts school uniform ties, scarves and jumpers, to authentic wizard’s robes and character costumes.
Magical Menagerie, which features a collection of plush animals, such as owls and Hippogriffs.
Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, where guests can grab wizarding essentials such as telescopes, binoculars, armillary spheres, compasses, magnifying glasses and hourglasses.
Quality Quidditch Supplies, offering a wide assortment of apparel and equipment including Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles and more.
Scribbulus, featuring authentic writing implements and products such as feather quills, ink and inkwells, bookmarks, journals, parchment paper, seals, stationery sets and postcards.
The marquee attraction though, will be Escape from Gringotts, the new ride which using the famous bank from the series of books and films.
“It was a ride waiting to happen,” Woodbury said of Escape from Gringotts with its relationship to what fans saw in the films.
Other highlights in Diagon Alley include the Leaky Caulddron, a dining establishment featuring traditional British fare that includes favorite dishes such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and more and even an ice cream parlor, serving up Harry Potter’s favorite flavors.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in June 2010 as a fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment – bringing to life the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling and the blockbuster feature films from Warner Bros. Since that time, it has become a global phenomenon, entertaining millions of people from around the world.
Universal also announced Thursday the launching of an all-new website for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at https://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/.
It didn’t seem to be fully operational when I gave it a spin late Thursday morning, probably just a few opening day glitches I suppose, but it is a nice website featuring a “click on” map of the various attractions in Harry’s world.
More and more details will be released as opening day gets closer.
This also is A Celebration of Harry Potter weekend at Universal Orlando with Harry Potter film stars James Phelps, Oliver Phelps and Evanna Lynch are slated to appear as well as other special events throughout the weekend.
The opening of Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the newest hotel at Universal, is now just weeks away and the resort is offering a preview offer, allowing guests to be among the first to experience Universal Orlando’s new moderate-and value-priced property, inspired by iconic beach resorts of the 1950’s and 60’s.
For a limited time, the whole family can experience Cabana Bay Beach Resort’s new family suites with rates starting at $104 per night for a seven-night stay to $134 per night for a three-night stay. Offering up to 47 percent savings off regular prices, this introductory offer is available from March 31 to June 14.
From the Universal release: The all-new family suites sleep up to six, surrounding guests with bold design, period colors, neon and a cool retro feel. The suites also feature a kitchenette with microwave, mini-refrigerator and sink. Combining affordability with convenience, the hotel’s location is within walking distance of both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Plus, hotel guests enjoy Early Park Admision to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme park opens.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort is Universal Orlando Resort’s fourth on-site hotel with striking color schemes and nifty, nostalgic details throughout the décor. The new, 1800-room hotel features moderately priced family suites available this spring at the special preview price and value-priced guest rooms available in summer of 2014 along with a wealth of recreation. When complete, guests can experience a 10-lane bowling alley and enjoy two massive pools with sand beaches, a lazy river, waterslide and more.
The preview offer is good through Jan. 31. To learn more or to make a reservation, call 888-273-1311 or visit www.universalorlando.com.