It seems that more Harry Potter magic is on the way for Muggles this year. Wizarding World, which is part of the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios Orlando, has expanded their Harry Potter themed section of the park in 2014. It had been said originally that this new expansion will take over the area once inhabited by The Lost Continent, but as of last month rumors were put to rest and it was announced that this new exhibit would take over the space of the Jaws ride which closed in January 2012. However, Universal is planning on expanding the size of the entire park.
Diagon Alley – which it has officially been named, includes new restaurants, shops, a marquee ride, and a train trip. This will all be centered around the trip which young Harry Took on his way to becoming a wizard. His journey began in London, England, where he went to Diagon Alley to get his wand. He then took the Hogwarts express to Gringotts Bank where he retrieved the money from his parents. This was a central part of the Harry Potter story and it was one that just had to be told in order for this new expansion to make sense.
Wizarding World opened in 2010, and it was so popular that the lines to view it far exceeded the parks boundaries during those first few weeks. People waited in line for hours just to catch a small glimpse of Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade Village. This huge success is one of the main reasons that Universal has decided to do such a large expansion on one of it’s most popular attractions. Universal has been coming up with great new ideas for this expansion for quite some time and those ideas are finally coming into fruition.
The Diagon Alley expansion was built in the neighboring park Universal Studios Florida. Its counterpart, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park. This will mark the very first time that a theme park will have separate, but connecting parks. The Hogwarts express train will transport the gets between each of the two areas. Universal has said that they will use some visual effects to keep the backstage areas of the parks hidden as the guests are transported from one park to the other. Even though this will be a widely popular attraction the parks have insisted that the train will be enough to accommodate the large crowds.
The senior vice president of Universal Creative Thierry Coup, said “We want to be true to what happened in the stories. Diagon Alley wasn’t an obvious thing to anyone”. Just as the Forbidden Journey is the key feature to Wizarding World, a ride within Gringotts bank will be the highlight of Diagon Alley.
All of these new features will be family-friendly and be as true to the movies as possible. The ride will take each of its guests on a journey like no other. The hope is that they will feel as though they have stepped directly into the Harry Potter movies. There are many other signature locations from the movies which will be incorporated into the parks, however Universal is staying silent at the moment as to what they are. They would like for some things to be kept secret until the actual grand opening.
J.K. Rowling, who created the Harry Potter book series has been on board with this expansion for quite some time. She is know for being quite meticulous in paying attention to detail but this time she has left more of the creative control to Universal.
Many of the logistics as to how the train would actually transport guests from one park to the other are yet to be worked out so this expansion may take some time. It also hasn’t been said yet if the train ride will require admission to both parks or not (it does). Universal has released an opening date for this new attraction, so those hoping to plan a vacation to Universal Studios Florida specifically for this new expansion no longer have to wait to book their vacation.