5 Things You Need to See at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

With the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley just a few hours away, Potterheads and rabid theme park fans are already donning their robes and dusting off their wands outside Universal Studios Florida in preparation for the big event.

Welcoming the Harry Potter cast inside Diagon Alley during preview week red carpet event

Welcoming the Harry Potter cast inside Diagon Alley during preview week red carpet event in June 2014

Since I was a part of the official Diagon Alley preview a few weeks ago, I thought I’d give you guys a sneak peek at 5 of the magical surprises that await you behind London’s Muggle facade.

1. The Dragon

Once you magically pass from London into Diagon Alley, you’ll find it hard to miss the dramatic and absolutely magnificent Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon seated atop Gringotts Bank.

Watch out for his occasional outbursts though – they’re both jarring and awesome.

The most terrifying resident of Diagon Alley greets you with a fiery welcome

The most terrifying resident of Diagon Alley greets guests with a fiery welcome.

Have you ever met a 60-foot fire breathing dragon before? Not in this world.

Have you ever met a 60-foot fire breathing dragon before? Not in this world.

Look out for the occasional outburst!

Look out for the occasional fireball!

The money shot, just inside Diagon Alley

The money shot, just inside Diagon Alley with Deb & Dave from ThePlanetD.com and Kristin from CamelsandChocolate.com

2. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

I’m sitting in an office as I write this about 200 yards away from the newest, boldest, most ground-breaking theme park attraction ever developed – Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – and I haven’t been on it yet! I’m hoping to pop over around lunch time to do some pre-grand opening “research,” so I’ll let you know how it is.

I'm planning to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts in a few hours... so I'll let you know how it is!

The sweet & wonderful gals of E!

Inside the Gringotts Bank lobby with Rachel

Inside the Gringotts Bank lobby with Rachel

I won’t give away too much, because it’s well worth being surprised as you wander through Gringotts, but one thing is for sure — the queue is an experience in and of itself. You won’t mind waiting to board your vault car as you walk through the spectacular bank lobby and meet the freakishly lifelike goblins who run the place.

Would you like to open a new account?

Would you like to open a new account?

Around the corner, you can take your money to the Gringotts exchange and get Wizarding currency for your $10s and $20s. You won’t have any trouble finding goods to spend your new cash on either – there are so many new stores and so much new merch, it’ll be tough to escape Diagon Alley on the cheap.

3. Magical Eats

Don’t miss the chance to have lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, where you’ll enjoy English pub-style food like bangers and mash, fish and chips and cottage pie. New drinks like Fishy Green Ale and Gillywater join everyone’s favorite frothy Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice on the beverage list, so don’t forget to try a few.

IMG_1689

And whatever you do, don’t miss Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, home of new & extremely delightful Butterbeer Ice Cream in all its soft, creamy, perfectly-cold-on-a-hot-summer-day glory. It tastes exactly like the drink, so just prepare yourself now for a magnificent overload of sugary sugar.

Angie Away + Wizards + Butterbeer = a truly magical evening

Angie Away + Wizards + Butterbeer = a truly magical evening

4. The Hogwarts Express & Platform 9 3/4

As with everything in the Wizarding World, this is no ordinary train ride. Everything about your journey from London to Hogsmeade is magical, and I just know everyone is going to love this experience! The family friendly trip from Hogsmeade to London is different than the reverse journey, so be sure to go both ways between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

Preparing to board the Hogwarts Express

Preparing to board the Hogwarts Express during media preview week

It’s also cool to note that this is the only attraction in the world that connects two separate parks under the same theme. Don’t forget you need a Park-to-Park pass to ride.

 Awaiting my train on Platform 9 3/4. Be sure you take notice of the moment you pass through the brick wall - it's really something special!


Awaiting my train on Platform 9 3/4. Be sure you take notice of the moment you pass through the brick wall – it’s really something special!

5. Details!

You don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan to appreciate the attention to detail and the truly astounding level of excellence at every corner of Diagon Alley, but it wouldn’t hurt to read the first book or watch the first hour of the first film before you come.

Every last detail in Diagon Alley is authentic - down to the fonts and paint colors

Every last detail in Diagon Alley is authentic – down to the fonts and paint colors

There are surprises and Easter eggs everywhere you look – seriously, EVERYWHERE – including cool hidden homages to JAWS, the attraction that once occupied Diagon Alley’s real estate.

Slytherins and those interested in the Dark Arts should check out Borgin and Burkes, located inside Knockturn Alley

Slytherins and those interested in the Dark Arts should check out Borgin and Burkes, located inside Knockturn Alley

The Universal Creative team is the smartest, most clever group of people you could ever hope to work with, and I just can’t get enough of their work. There really is no theme park in the world with this unfathomable level of detail and a burning desire to produce the most authentic experience possible. I can’t get enough.

At Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, you can buy Puking Pastilles and all sorts of fun gags

At Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, you can buy Puking Pastilles and all sorts of fun gags

Filming in Diagon Alley during Preview Week

Filming in Diagon Alley during Preview Week

Wizards & Muggles, make your way to Diagon Alley!

Wizards & Muggles, make your way to Diagon Alley!

As I’m wrapping this post up, I keep thinking of other can’t-miss moments inside Diagon Alley – the interactive wands, the entertainment performances, the house elves who lurk in the windows… there’s not enough room here to share everything, so you’ll just have to come see for yourself!

Come on down! Diagon Alley opens July 8!

Come on down! Diagon Alley opens July 8!

 

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  • July 07, 2014
    Bloggy

    Great post! Youre so cool .

  • July 07, 2014

    I want to go SO BADLY! It looks amazing. I think a trip to Florida is going to be necessary in the not-so-distant future…
    Amanda recently posted..My Big Australian Bucket ListMy Profile

  • July 07, 2014

    I’m ready to go back! particularly as the best part—Gringott’s ride!—wasn’t open yet. Oh, and because I only managed 5 Butterbeers in a 36-hour period, and clearly no amount of Butterbeer is ever enough 😉
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Paddling Montana’s Clearwater River Canoe TrailMy Profile

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