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Diagon Alley Exclusive Preview Event by Oliver Brendon!
There are not enough adjectives in the English language to describe how utterly amazing this new area is!
AttractionTickets.com's founder Oliver Brendon attended the Diagon Alley VIP Preview Event last night and was privileged to be one of the first to experience this new themed area at Universal Studios Florida! Check out the images and footage live from Diagon Alley and see what Olly has to say about his wizarding experience right here!
Last night I attended an exclusive preview event of the new Diagon Alley area at Universal Studios in Orlando which is due to open to the public on 8 July 2014. I travelled on The Hogwarts Express which connects the existing Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure to platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross Station at Universal Studios and we were also privileged to experience the brand new ride and attraction inside Gringotts bank – ‘Escape From Gringotts’.
Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando's Diagon Alley
The Hogwarts Express looks and feels exactly like an old fashioned English train, split into utterly authentic sliding door compartments. The trains run in both directions and the experience different for each. The journey takes about 4 minutes and passengers are treated to scenes of the English countryside, views of Hogwarts and famous characters from the books and films talking and walking in the corridors. Kings Cross station is again completely authentic and leads to Leicester Square where you feel as if you are in central London – fountains, buskers, a tube station and a central London street – all created with wonderful attention to detail.
The real mind-blowing treat though is what comes next – Diagon Alley. Witches and Wizards wander around the streets with lopsided shops, buildings and restaurants such as The Leaky Cauldron. Guests who buy a wand can use it to perform ‘magic’ in 28 of the responsive windows making skeletons dance, broomsticks fly, lanterns light up and birds double in size. There is a slightly more sinister atmosphere in Knockturn Alley where wicked witches tempt you into murky alleyways to explore and learn the darker side of magic.
However, the focal point of Diagon Alley is Gringotts bank, a colossal marble building where the streets converge. The lobby is impressive with huge chandeliers and old goblins scribbling away behind old fashioned banking desks. The goblins look completely lifelike but are in fact puppets powered by animatronics which talk and interact with visitors and indeed throughout the queue for the ride, it’s unlikely that you will get bored since pictures and newspapers also interact with you throughout.
A lift plunges you into the depths of Gringotts bank where the exciting new ride awaits. Escape from Gringotts combines rollercoaster with 3D technology and the result is a thrilling chase through the bank vaults where your car is pursued by fire breathing dragons, Bellatrix Lestrang (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the films) and a ginormous snake. Naturally you survive but it doesn’t take much imagination or suspension of disbelief to immerse yourself into the world of Harry Potter. There are bigger and more frightening rides at Universal Orlando but nothing that comes close to how clever and technologically advanced Escape From Gringotts is which has a 42 inch height restriction.
There has been a huge amount of hype, anticipation and excitement about the extension to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I am pleased to report that it is all absolutely justified. There are not enough adjectives in the English language to describe how utterly amazing this new area is and I would rate it as the best theme park experience that I’ve ever had and I have been privileged enough to have quite a few since founding AttractionTickets.com 12 years ago. ‘Totally Epic’ as my 9-year old son would say
Buy your tickets in advance since only Universal multiday tickets are valid for the Hogwarts Express and I would definitely recommend that you get to the parks early since these new attractions are going to be very popular.