Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley Officially Open to Muggles

© Universal Orlando
Both theme park and Harry Potter fanatics have been waiting for July 8th to arrive for weeks now, seeing as today is the official opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.

The new Potter themed section has already had a big splashy media preview, then select soft openings and resort previews - but the park has kept the wraps on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride until today.  That resulted in some crazy long lines, both to get into the new area and for the signature ride.

© Universal Orlando
Just how long seems almost hard to believe as at one point in the day the wait sign showed over 400 minutes - that's over six hours!  The ride may be operating with less cars at this point to help ensure it operates the whole day and does not go down for too long - something that it seems to have a bit of trouble with.  Nothing the park won't work out in time, though.

The entire area, at least from photos since I have not been to it yet, is a feast for the eyes, with Potter lore details stacked as high as the tops of the buildings.  The amount of retail and food locations in Diagon Alley is impressive as well, all of which are faithful recreations from the books and movies.  There's even an indoor, and very dark and creepy, Knockturn Alley built as part of the expansion.

© Universal Orlando
Of course there is also the Hogwarts Express, a full size train that carries passengers from Hogsmeade village in Islands of Adventure to the London section of Diagon Alley.  A two-park ticket or annual pass is needed in order to ride that attraction, however.  And speaking of the London area, the new plaza and giant facades that hide all of Diagon Alley are beautiful, featuring gardens, a water fountain and the Knight Bus parked out front.

Oh, and it is also worth mentioning that with the opening of Diagon Alley the world has gained Butterbeer flavored ice cream - as if you needed any more reason to plan a trip to Florida!