Since we last visited Universal Studios Orlando in the fall of 2013, there’s been some really exciting additions to the park, most notably in the form of the stunning Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion. ZOMG DIAGON ALLEY!!!
If you’re a Potterhead, you need to put this on your bucket list right now because the theming here will make your brain explode. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was already pretty amazing with the original Hogsmeade section but now with the addition of Diagon Alley, it has entered a new level of awesome.
I was maybe a little too excited when I walked into Diagon Alley, Finn was all like “Mommm, you’re embarrassing me.” Little guy needs to get used to it, he’s got a whole life ahead of being embarrassed by his mom. It’s all part of having a mom.
We had pies at The Leaky Cauldron, perused wands at Olivanders and Gregorovitch’s wand store, strolled past the Daily Prophet, went into Borgin and Burkes, checked out Eeylops Owl Emporium, then picked up ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. We also met Stan Shunpike, who was just casually standing there with his Knight Bus and even got to sit on the steps of 12 Grimmauld Place, headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix.
Awesomeness level? Insane.
I can tell try to tell you about how extraordinary it is, but I think this will work better if I just show you the photos.
And of course, I have to introduce you to THE Dragon. That sits on top of Gringotts Bank, breathing fire just for fun.
We were hanging out along Diagon Alley when we noticed some sort of commotion going on – people were whispering excitedly and gathering along the street. Next thing we knew, the dragon let out a roar of fire and the street erupted in spontaneous whoops and cheers. It was magnificent.
The line for Escape From Gringotts (one of the 2 new headliner rides) was too long and the kids were getting restless from watching mommy go a little nuts in Diagon Alley (plus they couldn’t ride anyway) so we decided we’d have to come back for this another time.
Escape From Gringotts, you and me, we’ve got a date.
We did get to ride The Hogwarts Express (the other new headliner), which was an excellent ride. It’s a real train (with steam and everything!!) that connects the two Universal Parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure), themed such that it seems like we were riding from London to Hogwarts. Each cabin has a window that projects scenes from the movie, and it all felt incredibly real and immersive.
Even the platforms were done so brilliantly. Platform 9 3/4 has this holographic screen effect so it seems like people would calmly walk into a brick wall and then suddenly disappear behind it. Super cool.
No question about it, this new addition to Universal Studios is really a game changer. We had such a wonderful time nerding out to Harry Potter, watching all our favourite places in Diagon Alley come to life and sipping delicious butterbeer, it was most definitely worth the visit.
For a Potter fan, this is absolute gold.