May 30, 2014 in Travel
The first official Harry Potter theme park opened in June 2010 in Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure, and went down with such a blast, attracting millions of visitors from around the world, that they very soon afterwards announced plans to open a second phase of the Wizarding World with Diagon Alley in the Universal Studios section of the park.
The opening of the new section of the park is just around the corner, set for late June, with many sites touting the soft openings to begin in the first couple of weeks, and be open to the public by the last week of June.
There are more than just a few things to be excited about, the main ones being the construction of the iconic Kings Cross Station in a modern façade of London into which the Hogwarts Express will travel. Expected to hold around 200 passengers, visitors will be seated in their own cabins and taken from Diagon Alley into Hogsmeade in the sister park with virtual views of London and the countryside of Britain.
As with the main attraction of Hogsmeade being the Forbidden Journey ride, the Gringotts Bank Rollercoaster, Escape from Gringotts, is heralded as being the top sight to see in Diagon Alley. Visitors will walk through the marble floored lobby passing by goblins working away and will be immersed in the full experience of a multi-dimensional ride to escape the bank.
For those that would prefer to stay away from the bigger rides, there are plenty of things to keep you occupied, including various shops and eateries made famous in the books and movies. Grab something to eat at the Leaky Cauldron, the gateway between modern London and the wizarding world, where you can sample Bangers and Mash, Toad in the Hole, Fish and Chips, Fisherman’s Pie or Ploughman’s, and have your dessert at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour with frozen delights with flavours including Earl Grey and Lavender, Orange Marmalade, Strawberry and Peanut Butter, Apple Crumble, Salted Caramel Blondie, Clotted Cream, Chocolate Chilli, Sticky Toffee Pudding, or even Butterbeer. To quench your thirst, head to Horizont Alley for the Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment cart where you can try the Draught of Peace, Babbling Beverage, Elixir to Induce Euphoria and Fire Protection Potion. Although it’s not known what these will taste like, Universal has stated: “By adding these magical elixirs to Gillywater, guests will see their drink transform before their eyes and experience delightful flavour surprises.”
(Image: Orlando Informer)
When you’ve filled up on the delights of modern day London and wonders of the wizarding world, make sure to check out a few of the shops and sights. Ollivanders, makers of fine wands since 382 BC is being moved to its rightful place from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley; pick up your uniform at Madame Maltkin’s; experience the one-stop joke shop, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes; and be careful if you take a turn down Knockturn Alley with infamous Dark Arts shop Borgin & Burkes. The Modern London section will also be home to the interactive Knight Bus, Charing Cross Road, Grimmauld Place, Wyndham’s Theatre and Leicester Square, and make sure to keep an eye open for secret entrances to the Ministry of Magic.