With the opening of the first official Harry Potter theme park in June 2010, Universal Studios created an interactive vacation experience for Potterheads and Muggles. Hogwarts, the place that we call home, became a signature attraction at Islands of Adventure with a Harry Potter land devoted entirely to the world dreamed up by author, J.K. Rowling.
At Universal Studios' sister park, an expansion has been ongoing for the past three years that has been excitedly titled Diagon Alley. Fans of this series know it is the beginning of Harry's magical journey where Hagrid guided the young wizard into this exciting, unknown world. Much has been rumored and eventually confirmed about the theme park including details about its attractions and restaurants. The opening is set for late June in Summer 2014.. Just around the corner will be the grand opening of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando!
Here are ten things to be excited for:
10. Madame Malkin's shop
Before your journey to Hogwarts be sure to stop by Madame Malkin's shop - the place to acquire all of the necessary uniforms and school supplies for every witch and wizard. Offering uniforms, ties, scarves, jumpers, and robes, guests can purchase authentic robes and character costumes. Other accessories such as jewelry and apparel inspired by the four Hogwarts houses - Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw will also be available.
Makers of fine wands since 382 B.C., fans of the series know this famous location as the place for wands to select their rightful owners. Thousands of boxes of potential wands for wizards and witches stack the walls as guests will be allowed to partake in a special show - one guest will be chosen to see which wand chooses them. (This attraction was originally located at Hogsmeade, however the relocation of this shop is bringing it to its rightful place in Diagon Alley.)
8. Knockturn Alley
Buried deep within the friendly marketplace where Harry and friends roamed before their school semester lies another marketplace surrounded by dark magic: Knockturn Alley. Only briefly shown throughout the film series, Knockturn Alley is most famously shown when Harry accidentally transports himself to a store called Borgin & Burkes; an establishment filled with items acquired through the means of questionable bargaining. This Dark Arts shop will offer a variety of magical objects for those who want to explore the darker side of magic such as Death Eater masks and skulls.
7. Modern London
Bridging the gap between the wizarding world of Diagon Alley will be a landscape of Modern London. Locations seen in the films have been compiled to one area where fans will enjoy an interactive experience with the parked Knight Bus as well as enjoy sights including: King’s Cross Station, Charing Cross Road, Grimmauld Place, Leicester Square Station, and Wyndham’s Theatre. Details of other important attractions have been hush for the time being, however, some interesting decorations include telephone booths (as fans know are secret entranceways to the Ministry of Magic).
6. Florean's Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour
Stop in for a cool treat at Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour! On his first trip to Diagon Alley, Harry stopped by this icy retreat for a special helping of chocolate and raspberry flavored with chopped nuts. In the morning stop by for some breakfast items such as pastries, and return later for a scoop and soft-serve ice cream. Other flavors have not yet been confirmed, however, some interesting flavors guests might like to try include earwax, pumpkin, and strawberry with peanut butter.
5. The Leaky Cauldron
Located at the entrance of Diagon Alley will set The Leaky Cauldron - a restaurant frequently visited by wizards crossing between the muggle city of London and the wizarding world. In a relaxing pub-setting guests will relax and enjoy a variety of foods and beverages including fish and chips, bangers and mash, cottage pie, Butterbeer and Pumpkin juice.
4. Weasleys Wizard Wheezes
Owned by the Weasley brothers Fred and George, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes is a one-stop shop for a wizard's supply of items to pull pranks and express their comic side. This colorful three-story shop will be filled with novelty items and magical jokes such as Boxing Telescopes, and Pygmy Puffs, Extendable Ears. Get ready to spread the laughter!
3. Gringotts Bank rollercoaster
Perhaps the main attraction of Diagon Alley will be Gringotts Bank. Guests will get the full treatment of visiting Gringotts from walking through the marble floored lobby watching goblins hard at work through passageways that will lead them onto a rollecoaster ride through the vaults. A new multi-dimensional groundbreaking ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts will immerse guests into a daring adventure!
2. Kings Cross Station
Universal Studios has gone above and beyond with its technology to bring the wizarding world to life. One example will be King's Cross Station - the train station wizards and witches use to cross over into the wizarding world and board the Hogwarts Express for their journeyed stay to Hogwarts. Guests will pass through the modern facade of London and the iconic brick wall archway - as seen in the films.
1. The Hogwarts Express
Next to accepting our acceptance letters to Hogwarts and staying at the magical boarding school as a real student, the most exciting event for us Potterheads may be to board the Hogwarts Express. Replicated by Universal Studios, the Hogwarts express is rumored to hold about 200 passengers. In your own seated cabin similar to the ones seen in the films, a variety of experiences will immerse guests into their journey from Diagon Alley to its sister park Hogsmeade. Virtual views will include London and the British countryside as well as a few surprise visits. All board!
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