All this week, #DiagonAlleyPreview has been taking place at Universal Orlando Resort. Although I wasn’t there in person, I was there in spirit via the web. Here is an Overview of it and my thoughts. All images except where otherwise noted (C) UOR. Also please remember that I wasn’t there, and my personal thoughts on Diagon Alley are from what I’ve seen on the web.
The Wizarding World of Money continues – Literally
I’m not a Harry Potter superfan, I’ve watched all the movies, and think they’re good. However, no one can deny this masterpiece of theming will be getting countless awards (and dollars). Recreated incredibly faithfully to the books and films, Gringotts Bank. No, that is not a render. The level of theming here is making me very excited for what they will do for our Hogsmeade, gaining the benefit of new technology, in 2016. The goblins are all lifelike animatronics, stopping to look up at you occasionally, then hastily returning to their jobs.
Moving on to the entrance of the Wizarding World at Diagon Alley: London,and Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross, where you can board the Hogwarts Express (more on that later). Here’s a tour, courtesy of Inside The Magic.
You enter Diagon Alley through the Leaky Cauldron (on the right) which leads to this:
Diagon Alley includes many shops from the franchises such as Wiseacres’ Wizarding Equipment, Weaseley’s Wizarding Wheezes, and more. At the Gringotts bank exchange, you can trade your real money in for Gringotts bank notes (see: Disney Dollars) that you can spend throughout the Wizarding World. These shops are amazingly detailed, and, of course, offer many
overpriced and expensive high quality items faithful to the books and movies. You can also take a dark turn towards Knockturn Alley, the dark part of Diagon Alley.
The Hogwarts Express is also present. There are two ways of entering the train: Right next to Dragon Challenge and Through Platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross. The stations are very detailed, and the sound of the Express entering the station is amazing. Screens are used to simulate the journey from Hogsmeade-London and vice versa. The animations are different each way, and the train itself moves to the animation. Yet another major draw for the Wizarding World.
The London Station
Two shows are available in Diagon Alley: The Tales of Beetle the Bard (The Tale of the Three Brothers) and Singing Sorceress: Celestina Warbeck. The shows are cute and not meant to be something that is prepared in advance. However, I feel Universal Orlando’s strong suit has never been shows, and the Three Brothers in particular just needs a little more… “magic.” Celestina Warbeck, though, is amazing, full of great songs and execution.
Interactive Wand Experiences
You can purchase a wand at Ollivander’s for around $45 and you’ll find a map in the box. The map shows you locations where there is a plaque in the ground. Located near shops, these plaques allow you to wave your wand, say a spell, and make something magical happen. This is really cool to a non-Potter fan, and to a Potterhead, this will be heaven.
The Final Verdict ( Again, remember that I wasn’t there, and my personal thoughts on Diagon Alley are from what I’ve seen on the web)
Diagon Alley is the best themed land in a theme park right now. The detail is impeccable, the products offered plentiful, and all-around an immersive experience. The ride is definitely directed towards families, and I can’t say I’m thrilled by that. The shows are decent and the interactive wands are a nice touch. All in all, Diagon Alley is something you need to visit, Potter fan or not.