An overhead message stating “Wayfaring Wizards Welcomed” greets guests at the entrance of Diagon Alley. // © 2014 Samantha Davis-Friedman
Feature image (above): The Hogwarts Express provides transport between the two theme parks, Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. // © 2014 Samantha Davis-Friedman
When Universal Orlando Resort introduced The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade four years ago, something magical happened. For the first time, muggles (i.e., someone who possesses no magical ability) could walk through the gates of Hogwarts Castle and experience some of their favorite moments from the Harry Potter books and films. On July 8, guests will be able to experience two additional magical places with the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express.
“Once again, we have created extraordinary entertainment based on some of the most compelling stories of all time,” said Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal. “Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express are authentic to the Harry Potter books and films and represent a truly spectacular experience.”
Diagon Alley offers all the iconic shops a fan would expect, including the more sinister ones in Knockturn Alley. There is also an exciting adventure inside Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative, explained bringing Gringotts to life was an opportunity to place guests in the bank at the precise instant Harry Potter and his friends were breaking in to steal the Horcrux. Then, riders can climb aboard Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts to encounter giant trolls, a fire-breathing dragon and perhaps even a certain nemesis (who must not be named).
As Harry Potter fans know, Diagon Alley is in London and Hogwarts is in Scotland, so the creative team at Universal wanted to provide distance between the two, allowing guests to experience the magical journey that was such an important part of the stories.
To accomplish this, Diagon Alley was built in Universal Studios Florida, which is only a train ride away from Hogsmeade in Universal Islands of Adventure. According to Thierry Coup, senior vice president of Universal Creative, this is the only place in the world where the Harry Potter experience spans two theme parks and guests can travel between them in a completely immersive adventure.
“It’s extraordinary to connect the dots between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley with the Hogwarts Express, bringing together two parks in one seamless story,” said Woodbury.
The Hogwarts Express, which takes guests with park-to-park tickets between the two theme parks, includes appearances by many favorite characters. Since the trip is different in each direction, taking the train both ways is recommended. At King’s Cross Station, travelers will need to board the train from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters — after passing through the magical wall, of course.
Interactive wands are also available for purchase in both parks. By pointing their wand at certain places in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, even muggles can make magical things happen. Just don’t forget to utter the correct spell!
When Harry Potter first stepped into Diagon Alley, he wished he had eight more sets of eyes to take it all in. There is no doubt that visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley will wish the same thing.