January 23, 2014

Universal Orlando Reveals Details for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

Filed under: Orlando Theme Parks,Universal Orlando — ngw101 @ 11:30 am

Never before has a theme park created a guest experience like this: you climb aboard the Hogwarts Express in Hogsmeade and moments later arrive at King’s Cross Station – where the wonders of London and Diagon Alley unfold before you.  And it is all real.


With this summer’s opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment will bring even more of Harry Potter’s adventures to life inside a new, magnificently themed area that includes a revolutionary attraction experience, as well as all-new themed shops and dining.

The two companies today revealed first-ever details about the new area and the one-of-a-kind adventures it will offer the whole family.  The spectacularly themed environment will double the size of the sweeping area already dedicated to Harry Potter’s adventures at Universal Orlando, expanding it across both Universal theme parks.

And – just like in the books and films – guests will be able to travel between the two areas aboard the iconic Hogwarts Express.

Universal Orlando launched a global phenomenon when it opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at its Islands of Adventure theme park in 2010.  That area includes the iconic Hogwarts castle – which houses the groundbreaking Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction – and the village of Hogsmeade.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be located within Universal Orlando’s second theme park, Universal Studios, and will create new experiences based on the signature areas of London, Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley.

Universal’s creative team has been working closely with Stuart Craig and the production team from the Harry Potter films to make the new area as authentic and spectacular as possible – just as it did with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

The vision for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is unprecedented, with Universal Orlando creating the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience.  

After arriving at King’s Cross Station aboard the Hogwarts Express, guests will pass through London and the iconic brick wall archway from the films into Diagon Alley – a bustling, wizarding hub within a Muggle city.  There will be shops, dining experiences, and a new ride called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional journey that will take theme park attractions to a new level. 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will give visitors the exciting opportunity to: 

·         Board the Hogwarts Express and journey between London’s King’s Cross Station (located in Universal Studios Florida) and Hogsmeade Station (located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure). The journey will be filled with views of London and the British countryside – as well as a few surprises. Park-to-park admission is required.

·         Experience a groundbreaking new, multi-dimensional thrill ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, which will place riders in the middle of an incredible adventure as they navigate their way through the perils of the Gringotts vaults

·         Witness the magical experience of a wand choosing a wizard at Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, one of the wizarding world’s premier wand shops

·         Discover the darker side of magic in Knockturn Alley, the darkest of dark places that features Borgin and Burkes – a shop specializing in the Dark Arts that will offer a wide variety of Dark objects, such as Death Eater masks, skulls, and other sinister items

·         Explore some of Diagon Alley’s famous shops, including:

o   Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, a vibrant shop featuring novelty items, magical jokes, and toys inspired by the books and films that will amaze the mischievous child in everyone

o   Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, where guests will find a variety of wizardwear from Hogwarts school uniform ties, scarves and jumpers, to authentic wizard’s robes and character costumes

o   Magical Menagerie, which features a collection of plush animals, such as owls and Hippogriffs

o   Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, where guests can grab wizarding essentials such as telescopes, binoculars, armillary spheres, compasses, magnifying glasses and hourglasses

o   Quality Quidditch Supplies, offering a wide assortment of apparel and equipment including Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles and more

o   Scribbulus, featuring authentic writing implements and products such as feather quills, ink and inkwells, bookmarks, journals, parchment paper, seals, stationery sets and postcards

··         Enjoy traditional British fare that includes favorite dishes such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and more at the Leaky Cauldron

 ·         Visit Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour for frozen treats in a variety of tantalizing and unique flavors such as strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice-cream and many others

May 8, 2013

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is Coming to Universal Orlando

Filed under: Orlando Attractions,Universal Orlando — ngw101 @ 7:21 am

Building on the global phenomenon that is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced an expansion of historic proportion with the entirely new themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Scheduled to open in 2014, the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience expands The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both Universal Orlando theme parks and allows Universal’s creative team to bring an unparalleled vision to this unique project.  The new area will bring to life some of the experiences and places found in and around London in the Harry Potter books and films, offering brand-new adventures for fans and theme park guests from around the world.

Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, where guests now experience Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.  The new area within Universal Studios will be just as expansive, immersive and authentic as the existing themed environment.

And – just like in the books and films – guests will be able to travel between ‘London’ and Hogsmeade aboard the Hogwarts Express.

Work on the new area is already underway.  When complete, it will feature shops, a restaurant and an innovative, marquee attraction based on Gringotts bank – all directly inspired by the fiction and films.

More details on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be released over time.

To bring Diagon Alley and ‘London’ to life, Universal’s creative team is working closely with Warner Bros. and the production design team from the Harry Potter films – just as it did for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.

“I’m so pleased that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has proved so popular to date, and I’m sure that the attention to detail in creating the new Diagon Alley area will make this an even better experience,” said J.K. Rowling.

“We are continuing the journey and adding an entirely new level of adventure,” said Tom Williams, Chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts.  “And we are bringing the same drive, commitment, enthusiasm and innovation to this project as we did to the first.”

“We are thrilled to offer the legions of fans the opportunity to embark on this new journey and experience Diagon Alley as it was brought to life in the books and films,” said Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

“Our vision is to create two amazing theme park experiences that combine into one, complete, magical journey,” said Alice Norsworthy, executive vice president, marketing and sales for Universal Orlando Resort.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in June 2010 as a fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment – bringing to life the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling and the blockbuster feature films from Warner Bros.  Since that time, it has become a global phenomenon, entertaining millions of people from around the world.

Visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are swept into the adventures of Harry Potter.  They can tour Hogwarts castle, shop in Hogsmeade and dine at the Three Broomsticks.  They can soar above Hogwarts with Harry, be chosen by a wand at Ollivanders, sample Butterbeer and much more.

June 19, 2011

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Celebrates First Birthday

Filed under: Florida News,theme parks,Universal Orlando,vacation tips — ngw101 @ 7:54 am

June 17th marked the first anniversary of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park.  The new attraction has established a loyal theme park following and in a lot of ways the books and films featuring a boy wizard created by author J. K. Rowling have transformed the Orlando area.

In May 2011, Universal Orlando announced that attendance rose by 1.1 million visitors January through March, from 1.7 million a year earlier to 2.8 million and that the overall park’s revenue nearly doubled for the quarter, to $309 million. IOA saw 5.9 million guests in 2010, a boost of 30 percent more than the previous year, according to estimates by AECOM, a Los Angeles consulting company, and the Themed Entertainment Association. Further,  in 2010, Orlando welcomed more than 51 million visitors, up 10.5 percent from 2009 and that officially makes the city the first destination in the country to top 50 million visitors. It’s some achievement and it speaks volumes for what the right product in the right place can do to transform an economy even in a recession.

From a visitor point of view, there is a lot to see and do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Visitors can go inside Hogwarts castle, swig two kinds of butterbeer while soaking in the atmosphere of the “real-life” Hogsmeade village as well as purchase all kinds of Potter memorabilia that includes a series of magic wands. Some guests take their devotion to an extreme and we’ve heard of guests who have ridden the rides over 600 times in a year!

So all in all it’s been a fantastic year for Universal Orlando and for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter… it’ll be interesting to see how things develop in the next year.

January 6, 2011

One Million Mugs of Butterbeer sold at Harry Potter

Filed under: just for fun,theme parks,Universal Orlando,vacation tips — ngw101 @ 5:26 pm

Turns out butterbeer is just as popular with Muggles as with witches and wizards…not to mention Orlando area vacationers!

Universal Orlando officials said yesterday that the one-millionth mug of the delicious frothy, butterscotchy libation was sold over the holidays inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction… which is some feat considering it has only been open since last June!

The nonalcoholic drink, served cold or frozen, was inspired by the Harry Potter stories of J. K. Rowling,  whose characters regularly enjoyed a pint or two. Rowling approved the secret recipe for the butterbeer now served at the park.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, situated inside Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, has a been a sensation, boosting park attendance 36 percent in its first three months and regular two hour lines just to get into the section.

Here’s some video from the day I tried it out…

October 20, 2010

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Update

I decided to wander along to Islands of Adventure recently to see how things were going over at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Remember, it officially opened to amazing scenes from Potter fans on June 18,  so I went along as I wanted to see how things were going.

And… I’m happy to report that it seems to be extremely popular…in fact, it’s still the busiest part of the Islands of Adventure theme park. I went on a relatively quiet day and still had to line up for the most popular attractions, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the interactive Ollivanders wand shop!

The lines for Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff weren’t too long but I’m not a fan of being thrown upside down and being scared out of your wits so I refrained from those rides and instead found more gentle pastimes..such as in the Hogs Head Pub!

For those that haven’t visited yet, the area is made up of several attractions as you wander through Hogsmeade Village. As has already been reported, the village really is a work of art with a great deal of attention to detail being displayed and it really does give you the feeling you are some place special.

As you wander through Hogsmeade you are enticed by the shops selling all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff. Places like Honeydukes Sweet Shop, Zonko’s joke shop, The Dervish and Banges magical instruments and equipment shop, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods and the Owl Post. You can get your picture taken by the Hogwart’s Express and just take in the unique atmosphere.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the signature attraction and is located inside Hogwarts Castle. On the way to the simply amazing rides, guests are maneuvered through scenes inspired by the Potter books and films.

Dragon Challenge, the world’s first dueling inverted roller coasters and previously known as Dueling Dragons before Potter came along and the Flight of the Hippogriff which is a Vekoma junior roller coaster, formerly known as the Flying Unicorn take care of those looking for a thrill ride.

As I already mentioned, Ollivanders, an interactive experience based on the Harry Potter location Ollivanders is simply a “must do” and it’s extremely well presented. A lot of fun!

I also stopped by “The Three Broomsticks Inn,” which is a restaurant serving typical British dishes and “The Hog’s Head Pub” where you can sip on spirits and drinks inspired by those in the Harry Potter stories. I tried the “butterbeer” for the first time… not sure I could drink too much mind! Find out why, try it for yourself on your next Orlando visit!

Here’s a video…

PS. Just recently we celebrated posting our 100th video …and this was supposed to have been it! However, it took a while to get here (2 weeks late!) and other stuff cropped up in between time. If you enjoy our videos do take the time to let us know and leave a comment or two. We’d love to hear from you.

September 30, 2010

AARP Orlando@50+

Had a lot of fun last night as I attended the AARP Orlando@50+ event at City Walk, Universal Orlando. No..I’m not quite at that mark yet but I’m not far away and it was good to get out and meet so many folks at the “Meet & Greet” evening.

The day began earlier as AARP members explored the theme parks at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. For many, it was the first time in Orlando and from what I heard, everyone really enjoyed their time. Of course, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was one of the main attractions and naturally I took some time to visit it myself.

I’ll not say anything about it for now, because I have a very special blog coming up soon as we have something to celebrate but all I’ll say is that it was terrific. Terrific is a word that could also be used to explain tonight’s event; plenty of food…and I mean plenty, lots of great people and some fabulous entertainment at the all the bars and clubs at CityWalk set the Orlando@50+ off to the right start.

I’m looking forward to the weekend…and here’s a quick video I filmed earlier…

August 22, 2010

Back to School

It’s that time of year again. Central Florida schools will be back in session starting tomorrow, 23rd August and there’s a good side and a bad side to this.

If you’re dashing off to a theme park them you might get delayed a little by the yellow school buses that will be sure to be clogging the highways. On the other hand, the theme parks will be quieter.

It’s this time of year that international visitors love the most. Orlando’s kids are back in school and that means anyone flying in from around the globe to enjoy Central Florida’s attractions are going to have an easier time. Lines will less and getting around the theme parks is so much nicer. It’s certainly a great time to visit Orlando’s newest attraction “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” for example but you can also expect fewer people at all the area’s favorites; Disney World, Sea World, Gatorland, Discovery Cove, etc.

June 21, 2010

Wizards of Leisure Extend FREE Offer to Harry Potter Theme Park

Wow… that really was an exciting weekend. It all started with the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and ended late last night with Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell clinching his first major… the US Open. Sandwiched in between was some great action from the World Cup … so where to begin?

The main news story in Orlando simply has to be the massive crowds that were at Universal’s Islands of Adventure on Friday. I updated this blog extensively as the day went on here but I couldn’t let today pass without saying what a fantastic success the opening has been. Sure, Universal could have made it more dramatic and could have done it better but everyone I have talked to has simply loved the experience. And that is all that matters.

From the time Potter fans lined up overnight to walk the cobblestone streets of Hogsmeade on Friday morning and then queued in their thousands through the weekend to see the new attraction, it has been nothing but a huge success.

The opening on Friday was broadcast live on the Today show, and featured fireworks, drinks of Butterbeer and a chance for some lucky schoolkids  from Virginia, Denver, Oklahoma and Texas to shake hands and even go on a ride with British actor Daniel Radcliffe, who played the young wizard in the Harry Potter movies.

Radcliffe was joined by other actors from the films, including Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley). J.K. Rowling, the amazing author, even put in an appearance at the event… and here’s what Radcliffe had to say:

“What Universal Orlando has done with Harry Potter is really, really fantastic. We’re all kind of very grateful that the next part of the Harry Potter legacy has been so well done and so well made.”

The twenty acre Wizarding World cost an estimated $265 million to build and involved more than three years of planning and construction but it has so been worth it. Everyone simply must see it and we decided to do our bit by offering two FREE tickets to anyone that booked a vacation home with us last week… and now we have even more exciting news… we’re extending the offer.

Yes, that’s right….we’re now extending the offer for a further week! So that means anyone making a reservation this week for one of our fabulous vacation homes will get TWO tickets to Islands of Adventure and the chance to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for FREE!

So be quick… you’ve got one more week left to make your reservation and get your TWO FREE tickets. Call 1-800-760-1114 right now or visit the Florida Leisure web site www.FloridaLeisure.com to make your reservation online.

June 18, 2010

The Excitement Builds…

Just 15 minutes to go until the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter…and the excitement is building… here’s a couple of photo’s … the first shows the line at around 5.30am this morning and then the second is a photo of the line leading to the Wizarding World…

June 17, 2010

Open Time… The Orlando Event

We’re one day from the official opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter but the stars were out in force last night as they attended Universal Orlando’s grand opening celebration last night.  The theme park doesn’t officially open to the public until tomorrow, but Universal brought in the stars of the film and conductor/composer John Williams to kick start things and make sure the new attraction sets off with a bang.

Though many of the stars of the “Harry Potter” films have come to see the park over the past several months, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, James and Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis and Warwick Davis were given a special tour of Wizarding World’s many attractions on Wednesday so they would be primed to speak about them.

“It’s not even odd,” Radcliffe said about seeing the world he spent the past decade working on in film represented as a real place in hot and humid Orlando. “It’s absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t be more impressed.”

The group had some disagreements about which was the best ride however. Radcliffe and Grint said the twin roller coasters in Dragon Challenge were their favorite, while Lewis, Wright and the Phelps loved Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey the most.

Like everyone who has seen the new park, the stars seemed most impressed by the amount of detail making Hogwarts and Hogsmeade come to life, creating an experience they couldn’t even have on the movie set.

“It’s just total immersion into the world,” Lewis said. “In 100 years, it’s still going to be here. It’s a little weird for me.”

The actors said they loved the rides, which include two roller coasters (Flight of the Hippogriffs and Dragon Challenge) and a visual experience (Forbidden Journey). It was the first roller-coaster ride for Davis. Grint shared that his coaster-riding technique was to hold on for dear life, while Felton said that he keeps his hands in the air, screaming for his life. Radcliffe had a very specific procedure: Make sure the harness is extra tight; try to keep his eyes open for as long as possible, and make the longest, most prolonged scream possible. When he gets off, his experience isn’t complete unless all his hair is swept to one side.

Though she did not speak to the press and was kept well hidden at the event, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling did make an appearance at the grand opening. Williams conducted the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in a special presentation of the various themes he had written for the “Harry Potter” film series. In the end, the stars seemed to think Universal had left no magical stone unturned in the creation of the Wizarding World. So that’s their verdict… it’s now over to you…