Diagon Alley grand opens at Universal Orlando as thousands of Harry Potter fans experience new level of theme park fantasy

in Entertainment, Featured, Islands of Adventure, Movies, Special Events, Theme Parks, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios Florida

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More magic has made its way to Universal Orlando as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is now officially open. Completing a project that visibly began when the Jaws ride closed in early 2012, Diagon Alley is now widely regarded as the new gold standard of theme park design, completely immersing Universal Studios Florida guests in a formerly fantasy world, now made real.

Thousands of “Harry Potter” fans arrived to Universal Orlando this morning to experience the many highly detailed and intriguing elements of Diagon Alley – from shopping to dining to live entertainment to its groundbreaking rides.


Video: Diagon Alley grand opening at Universal Orlando of Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion


(Video and most grand opening photos by WDW Guided Tours)

A confetti-filled moment marked the official opening of Diagon Alley.

Passing through the brick wall and seeing Diagon Alley for the first time has had jaws dropping and brought tears to the eyes of longtime fans.

Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando

After much waiting and anticipation, Universal’s guests can now enjoy double the “Harry Potter” entertainment with all-new offerings in Diagon Alley, each explored in detail at the links below.

  • Real life Hogwarts Express train connecting two theme parks
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride
  • Shopping – Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and other unique stores
  • Dining – Leaky Cauldron, Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor, and more
  • Interactive magic wands
  • Live entertainment – Music and puppetry
  • Knockturn Alley – The perilous side of Harry Potter
  • London waterfront embankment – Knight Bus, Kreacher, and more
  • And one unmissable fire-breathing dragon:

    Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando

    Plus so much more.

    Though the new area had already been open in technical rehearsals to guests for several days, its signature attraction, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, remained largely closed until today, its first official day of operation.

    At opening, there was a posted wait time of 150 minutes, which quickly rose to 300, then 350, then 375 minutes. The ride went down for about 15 minutes but came back up quickly, much to fans’ delight.


    Video: Diagon Alley opening day line at Universal Orlando


    Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando

    Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando

    Because the ride’s queue can fit so many people, the streets of Diagon Alley became far less crowded, with most people waiting to get on the attraction.

    But outside, the line to enter Diagon Alley wraps well around the park into backstage areas, with an estimated 3-4 hour wait time to enter.

    Video screens are set up to entertain the waiting crowds, playing the recent NBC making-of special featuring Diagon Alley.

    To mark the occasion, Universal began selling exclusive opening day T-shirts:

    It’s been 14 months since Universal Orlando first announced Diagon Alley, though hints indicated what was coming as far back as December 2011.

    Universal’s designers are quick to note that they began brainstorming this next “Harry Potter” land as soon as the original opened four years ago. Opening day of Hogsmeade Village and Hogwarts Castle was one for the record books, with a line stretching all the way through Universal CityWalk. For Diagon Alley, fans showing up for opening day were able to spread out much more not only into the new area but also across two train stations located in neighboring theme parks.

    Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando

    In the last four years, the original Wizarding World hit many milestones – 1 million riders on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, 1 million Butterbeers sold, and a much-needed boost in Islands of Adventure attendance.

    Universal Studios Florida will surely receive the same benefits from the debut of Diagon Alley – and designers aren’t stopping there. Art director Alan Gilmore is already supervising the finishing touches on Universal Studios Japan’s Wizarding World, set to open in just a week, followed by the construction of the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood, scheduled for completion in 2016. But Gilmore says he’s willing and eager to add even more, should Universal call upon his talents again to develop another “Harry Potter” expansion – perhaps the Ministry of Magic or Malfoy Manor.

    Meanwhile outside Universal Studios parks, author JK Rowling published a new “Harry Potter” story today following Harry and his friends at the Quidditch World Cup Finals.

    For the moment, all eyes are fixed on Diagon Alley, the most detailed theme park land around, transporting everyday guests into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to experience Harry’s adventure on their own, learning what it is like to discover the magic that exists beyond the Muggle world. Tiny details and believable environments make Diagon Alley come to life in a way no other theme park area has, offering a rich feeling of being transported to another place and time, completely separate from the rest of the park. Through Diagon Alley, Universal has proved it’s possible to create an exciting new place that once existed only on film and in the imaginations of readers, a staggering achievement unmatched anywhere else.

    Much more from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion can be found in our special Diagon Alley section and YouTube playlist.

    18 Comments

    1. frostysnowman

      This is so exciting! I am still stunned, STUNNED, by how quickly Universal was able to construct this expansion. I’m sure it will be as detailed and delightful as the original Wizarding World. I can’t wait to see it in September!

    2. Auror Dylan Volpe

      I AM STUNNED!!!!!!!!! Can’t wait until October!

    3. Stacey Bertran

      The picture of the girl tearing up, got me all tear’d up. That’s immersion that will be the new standard for attractions.

      -JediStaceyB

      twitter: Real_RacyStacey

    4. Bernie

      SO glad I am NOT a fan of Harry Potter!! There is no way I would want to be apart of that craziness!

      1. Universal Bob

        The craziness was to be expected. Anytime you have a grand opening there will be a crowd for at least the first month. I’m sure Universal is just so pleased how everything has turned out. Congrats to them!!

    5. Maryl

      I went to the soft opening on Saturday. It was amazing. Such great detail in everything. Got to ride the train both ways – really cool!!

    6. Natalie

      So glad I got to ride the train both ways last week. I would love to see Diagon Alley and try the new ride before I leave but with a 5 hour wait time theres not much chance! Hopefully the other parks will be quiet!

    7. Adam

      Where the lines just as long and as crazy when the first part opened a few years ago?

      1. Universal Bob

        It was worst for Hogsmead. I don’t think Universal was expecting the crowd they had. They learned from that experience and handled everything much better this time. Now, when the third phase is opened, they’ll have the crowd control down to a science…..lol.

    8. Richard

      I see the stantions are out in the Gringots banking hall for the queue, no free roaming!

      1. Universal Bob

        There has to be some control for that massive of a crowd. I wish we all could get up close and personal with the gobblins but it’s still close enough.

        1. Brian

          I’m sure that once the hype and crowds die down, they’ll open up the lobby for roaming again

      2. Ricky Brigante

        Hopefully they will go away again once the crowds die down.

    9. akira

      This is so so awesome! Thanks so much Inside the Magic for bringing it to all of us! You guys are the best

    10. Cabo

      Is the single riders line for gringotts any different than the standby in terms of experience?

    11. Eric B. Freeman

      You know? I was thinking. If Universal Orlando would someday think of closing down Barney and Curious George attractions both at the Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone section at Universal Studios Florida and then replace them into a theme zone that would be based on My Little Pony franchise and as well as its TV show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, that would be great to have My Little Pony at Universal to appeal to young female guest (if they get the rights to MLP from Hasbro that is). That way, it would be so much competitive to Disney Princess characters for Disney theme parks, think about it. Plus, if that happens, the MLP-themed land would have a fan-event that would be occurred during every summer nights like from June to August and would be aimed towards teen and adult fans of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” TV show (Bronies and Pagasisters) despite it currently aims towards primarily for little girls as usual. Would that be great or what?

      By the way, nice pictures of a brand new Harry Potter section. What new attractions are there?

    12. Amy

      This is ridiculous!!!
      Ride is only working 1/2 the time
      4.5 hrs in line and counting
      Universal should have tested and retested over and over until they got it right before wasting so many people’s time and money!!!!

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