Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced details of the expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for their Orlando theme parks. The new area will be called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, bringing new rides, a restaurant, and shops based on the “Harry Potter” series.
The new area is scheduled to open in 2014, expanding beyond the Islands of Adventure theme park where the existing Wizarding World is located into the Universal Studios Florida theme park, creating a multi-park experience, bringing to life experiences and places found in and around London in the Harry Potter books and films.
Video: Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley announced with artwork
“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.”
UPDATE: Take a closer look at Diagon Alley through an extensive interview with Universal Creative Senior Vice President Thierry Coup.
Diagon Alley and ‘London’ are already under construction, located in the former location of the Jaws ride, near the San Francisco area of the park.
Guests will be able to travel between the new ‘London’ area and the existing Wizarding World’s Hogsmeade Village aboard the Hogwarts Express - a real working train passing between the two parks.
The marquee attraction of the Diagon Alley area will be based on Gringotts bank, an indoor roller coaster of sorts that will feature plenty of special effects.
Just once piece of concept art has been released so far, offering a glimpse at what Diagon Alley will look like:
Taking a closer look reveals a few details from the area. A dragon is perched high atop Gringotts Bank as a centerpiece:
Streets are lined with shops, including what appears to be Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes in the lower-right:
But from outside Diagon Alley, guests casually strolling through Universal Studios Florida will only see a London waterfront, a facade designed to hide the Wizarding World from the Muggles:
Parked out front is the instantly-recognizable Knight Bus, which previously made an appearance at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter grand opening at Islands of Adventure:
And connecting it all to Hogsmeade Village and the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be the Hogwarts Express train, expected to have innovative visuals while passing between the parks:
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 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.
Construction on the Wizarding World expansion has been in progress for months, beginning with the demolition of the Jaws ride more than a year ago. A recent look at the San Francisco area of the Universal Studios Florida theme park reveals the waterfront ‘London’ facades taking shape:
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade (the apparent new name for the original area) opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in June 2010, entertaining millions of people from around the world since then. And the world will surely be captivated by the construction at Universal Studios Florida as next year’s opening date draws nearer.