Last week, I got the chance to travel to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando to see the new Diagon Alley addition to the park. It was snitching.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was nothing short of jaw-dropping. It has the power to make visitors of any age believe in magic. Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or a dementor, the attraction does not disappoint you.
In 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter came to life originally in Islands of Adventure. Since then, the world has grown and expanded into Universal Studios as well. Since the opening of the attraction in 2010, Universal’s Islands of Adventure has seen a large increase in visitors. In 2011 the park had 7,674,000 visitors, compared to 5,949,000 in 2010. That’s more than a 22 percent increase. The park’s growth has outpaced every other park in North America and for good reason.
The creators of the park took almost every tiny detail from the 4,100 pages and 19.6 hours of movies to create the World of Harry Potter.
No detail was overlooked.
Details in Diagon Alley are literally straight from the movies and books, including things that only hard-core HP fans would notice. The “pictures” actually move, and
the wands cast spells on random objects throughout Diagon Alley. It’s so cool to walk around and be able identify the shops and characters from the movies including the Leaky Cauldron, Gringotts and even the broom shop.
The attraction interacts with you in every way. With a wand, visitors are able to cast spells on different objects in shop windows and in other places that only the most detail-aware fans would know of. I was shamelessly walking about with my butterbeer in one hand and waving my wand in the other.
Every ride in the Wizarding World was a thrill. I was excited to see all my favorite characters and even some of my not so favorite ones.
The Hogwarts Express was probably one of the most creative rides. It can be found on Platform 9 3⁄4 in the Kings Cross train station on the London set in Universal Studios. The train connects each part of The Wizarding World and spans between both parks and features different characters as you ride through the countryside to your destination. I was infatuated with the fact that whether you were headed
to Hogsmeade or to London, each direction of the train had a different scenario and featured different things. The best touch was that passengers see the shadows of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dementors and others in the corridor through the frosted windows on one side of the cabin that gives the ride a realistic feeling. In order to ride you must have park hopper passes If you don’t, no worries. Universal has set up an all too convenient station where visitors can upgrade their passes on the spot.
If you don’t take the train, visitors enter Diagon Alley through London by stepping through a hole next to the Leaky Cauldron, just like Potter does. This low-key entrance, complete with the sound effects of moving bricks, keeps Diagon Alley hidden from the muggles. In Diagon Alley, visitors can buy almost any of the goods that you would see in the movies, including my favorite: a Nimbus 2000 broom from the broom shop. If I weren’t a poor college student, I would have been walking out of Diagon Alley with my arms full of the latest potions and enchanted books.
My favorite ride was the Escape from Gringotts. The line features detailed elves, which I thought were freakishly life-like, and a fire-breathing dragon guarding the entrance. After being ushered onto a mine cart with 3D glasses on, you shoot off through dark caves until you are greeted by “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named” and Bellatrix.
The ride itself did an excellent job hiding the tracks and all of the other elements that could take away from the illusion. I am not one to get motion sickness but even some of us with stomachs of steel will fall victim to motion sickness after riding this ride. The creators of this ride were not reserved when it came to the life-likeness of actually riding a magical cart through the labyrinth of Gringotts. If you’ve seen the movies, you can imagine just how dizzy one can get from it.
I have already told my family to start saving because I am going back. While this trip into he Wizarding World isn’t cheap, it’s definitely worth it.
I’ve sent my application into Hogwarts via owl. Now lets just hope there’s a scholarship for muggles.