This week we have a lot to celebrate! Universal Studios Florida replaced Jaws and Amity Island with a new land five years ago that was themed to one of the most magical places on earth…and it includes one of the safest places as well. Lets take a trip down memory lane of the second phase of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley!
Diagon Alley opened July 8th, 2014 and became the second phase of the Wizarding Word of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida. This land has shops, food, shows and pretty incredible rides. Plus, with the addition to interactive wands, it was and still is one of the most advanced lands in the theme park industry. It has even gone through some changes over the years, but it is truly fun to venture in and experience it all.
For dining, you have the Leaky Cauldron which has many british-inspired meals like “Bangers and Mash” and “Shepherds Pie.” They have some deserts there, but if you are looking for a special treat, there is always Florean Fortescues Ice Cream Parlour or The Fountain of Fair Fortune for your drinks, beer and butterbeer alike. You also have a few other spots and carts to get drinks like “Gilly Water” and butterbeer too.
You also have many shops you can get all the Wizarding World gear to get ready for school. There is an Ollivander’s wand shop where “the wand chooses the wizard,” and there is a part where someone is chosen to pick their wand in front of a group which everyone gets excited to be picked. You can even take the wands and do spells all throughout the land and a map shows you where you can perform them.
You can also get your robes and many character outfits at Madame Malkin’s Robes for All and at Quality Quidditch Supplies. They even have Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes where you can get all of your gags and you can get your school pet at Magical Menagerie. If you are feeling bold and into the dark arts though, take a tour down Knockturn Alley and check out Borgin and Burkes. Of course though, you will need money for all of this so do no forget to see the goblins at the Gringotts Money Exchange where you can talk to a teller and receive your wizarding bank notes.
Lets not forget the shows that are put on in the courtyard like the amazing Celestina Warbeck and two puppet shows based on stories from within the book “Tales of Beetle the Bard” called “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” and “The Tale of Three Brothers.” They even have an interactive show with the Knight Bus located on the London waterfront that hides Diagon Alley from muggles. Overall, if you need something to relax these shows can help and give you a moment to check out the scenery while getting an experience.
The ride “Escape from Gringotts,” is the main attraction of the land and it truly is a fun dark ride/coaster. You basically enter the vaults of the goblin-run vaults with Bill Weasley and things go wrong when Bellatrix sees you and thinks you entered her vault. Harry and his gang are there at the same time and Voldemort ends up showing up alongside Bellatrix and they try to kill you for answers about why muggles are at Gringotts. At the end, Harry and his crew save you and fly you out on a dragon and all is well. While this is not my favorite ride of the park, I do love it and enjoy the effects every time. There is even a dragon on top of the ride that goes off every few minutes and scares unsuspecting guests and delights others that know its coming.
They also built the Hogwarts express at this time that helps you get back and forth between the two parks (provided you have a two-park ticket). You have situations arise throughout the ride like dementors, the knight bus, the flying car and many more. Both rides have a different story going to and from London or to and from Hogwarts. Truly find this to be cute and a nice way to relax instead of having to walk all the way to the other park.
Overall, as a Harry Potter fan I love going in and feeling the magic. To this day, I still get chills when I first walk in and see the dragon and the Weasley’s bright orange building. I think that this is just one of the steps in the direction that helps make theme parks better by having so much interaction and options and not just attractions. Here’s to another five years for Diagon Alley and many more!
Thanks for reading my article and I hope you enjoyed. Please feel free to comment and follow my posts as I write weekly. Until next time, see you at the parks!