Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Universal Studios Florida Announces the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

© Universal Studios Florida
Finally!  To our surprise Universal Studios Florida has officially announced the addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.  The new themed area will open at the park in 2014, after years of development and construction.

The addition will mark the "world's first centrally themed, multi-park experience" at the Universal Orlando Resort when you consider the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure.  The new expansion will bring to life many of the locations and experiences from the books and movies that took place in London, including the stretch of businesses in Diagon Alley.

Full details have not yet been released on specific attractions, shops, and dining - that's to come later - but the Hogwarts Express train ride connecting the two Potter themed areas was confirmed.  The only mention of the large new ride going into the area says that it is themed around Gringotts Bank, with no details of ride style or experience.

© Universal Studios Florida
Zooming in on the released concept art shows some details we can gather, such as the existing Hogsmeade and Hogwarts castle in the background.  This sets the distance that will be between the two lands.  The Hogwarts Express train can be seen in the art connecting the areas, as it will be in reality once the new area opens.  The train will run through backstage areas - not pretty - but that won't matter as riders are said to experience some Potter adventures through digital windows while on board.

© Universal Studios Florida
The area that separates the development from the rest of Universal Studios Florida will be themed to prominent structures in London.  Here we see a taste of that, and these building will also serve as the entrance to Diagon Alley one way or another.  I really love how they build a wall around the area that keeps it shielded from clear sight, this will add to the anticipation of visiting.

© Universal Studios Florida
The entrance to Gringotts Bank has a giant dragon sitting on the top of it, breathing fire at the crowds below.  My first assumption was that it is just a hint of the ride inside the bank, which if you've read the books or seen the films you'll know includes one giant and angry dragon.  However, Theme Park Insider tweeted that this is not just show for the concept art - that the dragon will really be there!  Impressive.

The original Wizarding World opened just shy of three years ago now and has made a monumental impact on the resort's overall attendance.  While the books and films were completed some time ago, the popularity of the series continues and legions of fans are sure to descend on the Studios to check out the new development.  I know I will!

The Orlando Sentinel has a story on the announcement with some additional details - check out that story here.