After the success of Wizarding World of Harry Potter that brought Hogsmeade to the Islands of Adventure park, it was inaugurated on July 8, 2014 Diagon Alley / Diagonal Alley at Universal Studios park. Since the announcement of the expansion the community of fans in love with Harry Potter was counting down and I couldn’t wait to visit this new section of the park. When I went in December I could see a little bit of what they were building, but nothing gave me much idea of what was really behind all the tapumes so a few days ago I went to Orlando and took the opportunity to walk around the new area to tell you everything!
One thing is for sure… if you’re a fan and liked Hogsmeade at the Islands of Adventure you’ll just love the new Diagon Alley!
You can choose different ways to start the adventure and for it to be complete, the ideal is that you have a Park-to-Park ticket that allows you to go from one park to another. For you to understand how the parks and the connection with Hogwarts Express were, here is the map and I made little arrows writing what is in which place.
Our tour will start at Universal Studios and there you have to walk to the end of the park, always keeping your left, passing through San Francisco to see the first part of the new expansion: London!
Looking from the outside, you can’t even see that there’s much more behind these facades – Diagon Alley/ Diagonal Alley and the Gringotts Bank/ Banco de gringotes are right there behind this London structure of bundles (Muggle London). The London Waterfront is the first thing you see when you get here. The buildings in the sequence are: Kings Cross Station, Charing Cross Bookstore, the Record Store in Leicester Square which is the first entrance to Diagon Alley (and if you don’t look right you can miss the entrance!), Wyndham Theatre and the apartment buildings that end at 12 Grimmauld Place.
Are we going to explore London?
In this area that seems small and only a facade of buildings it is important to pay attention to detail. Besides the replicas of buildings and stations in London there are also some curious details that you can see in the books. So come with me and I’ll tell you the details in this tour full of pictures I took during my day there:
The first building is Kings Cross Station, from where the Hogwarts Express train leaves for Hogsmead (which is in the Islands of Adventure Park and that’s why I said above that a Park-to-Park ticket is needed). The train really works and takes you from one park to another and during the trip you see through the window scenes from London and some of the characters from the movies. Ah yes… you pass through gate 9 3/4 that for those who see from a certain angle it is as if you are crossing the wall. I thought that part was fantastic, since it connects the two parks and the two experiences. You can leave Diagon Alley and go for a walk in Hogsmeade!
For those who have read the books or seen the films, you must remember that to get to Diagon Alley you have to get into Leaky Cauldron via Charing Cross Road which is in London between a bookstore and a record shop. Because these are exactly the next buildings… so that means we’re getting close.
The references are close but not exact. But before we get into Diagon Alley we’ll finish looking at the buildings and that area of London.
The next building is the front of the Wyndham Theatre (which I didn’t take a picture of!!!) and the last building in London is 12 Grimmauld Place. These buildings are where Sirius Black’s ancestors lived and in one of the windows you can see Kreacher looking from above. Keep an eye on it!
In front of these facades is the fountain of Eros in Picadilly Circus
And parked next door is the three-story bus – Knights bus that has its driver always interacting with the public and taking pictures, besides the “Shrunken Head” that looks a lot like the attraction that is there in the Islands of Adventure from the fountain that keeps talking to people. The “Shrunken Head” appears on the “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” hanging from the bus.
The London souvenirs have not been forgotten! You can buy several items here: from T-shirts to cute little bears!
And now yes, let’s go back to the entrance of Diagon Alley, after the Record Store.
The entrance at first looks really strange and whoever arrives for the first time looks kind of strange wondering… is it right here? But you can come in willingly, because on the other side you’ll see a new world…
When you walk into Diagon Alley, the first thing you see is a street full of shops. Some of these shops are real and some are just facades, but the details and whims are impressive. Walking aimlessly just exploring the alleys was one of my favourite things here… and always discovering one detail or another in the shop windows.
Where and What to Buy in Diagon Alley
This is a larger version of the same Ollivanders you have in Harry Potter: Hogsmeade on Islands of Adventure. Here you can buy the magic wands and in the whole area there are several points where you see on the ground what the magic (wand position) and there you can do magic through the park. It’s amazing how many children (and adults) are in this area with their magic wands pointing at things in the various buildings, trying to make the magic happen.
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
The Toys store, magic items and interesting and different items. One of the coolest stores in this new area.
Borgin and Burkes
Skulls, Death Eater mask and several sinister items stay in this shop that is part of Knockturn Alley, a very dark and sinister part of the new expansion.
This store has plush stuffed animals and toys from most of the animals found in the Harry Potter series.
Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions
Uniforms and witchcraft covers can be found in this shop
Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment
This blue half-tart building is where various magical items are sold and where you can find the much desired shirts with the 9 3/4 that signals the platform at the train station.
Quality Quidditch™ Supplies
Equipment and sportswear.
Gringott Bank – Money Exchange
At Gringott Bank you can exchange your dollars for notes from Gringott Bank and shop around the park with that money. It’s a lot of fun, especially for kids.
The Dragon who spits fire
One of Diagon Alley’s most iconic figures is the dragon at the top of the Gringotts Bank. He sets fire once every 10 minutes and there’s always a crowd there trying to take pictures or make videos at the exact time he sets fire.
I wait for the Dragon to spit fire on Diagon Alley
It is in this building where the dragon is at the top that is the attraction of this new area:
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
I have to say, this is one of the most sensational toys of all the parks I’ve ever visited. Really! The attraction is one of the most disputed in the park and when it opened it had 6 hours in line. When I queued it was a little over two hours, but it was a very quiet day in the low season (early September). At the entrance of the bank where the queue goes by it is interesting to watch the details of the hall and the Goblins who work there.
This is the last part before you actually get into the toy. You get into an elevator that takes you to the safe that’s underground.
Otherwise, you really have to try it to find out. But I’d say it’s a lot less intense than “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” which is on the Islands of Adventure and the vehicle fits 12 people at a time. The mix of 3D, action and sensational graphics make this a super special experience. It’s worth the hours of waiting!
Live Shows at Diagon Alley
There are two shows happening in the area called Carkitt Market, but they have no pre-defined schedules.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard – a puppet show that alternates between “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” and “The Tale of the Three Brothers.
And a jazz concert with “Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees”, one of Molly Weasley’s favorite singers in the series, which interacts with the audience.
Where to Eat at Harry Potter Diagon Alley
The new area has a restaurant, a brewery, an ice-cream parlour and several stalls where you can sell pumpkin juice and butterbeer and other drinks.
Right at the entrance of Diagon Alley/ Diagonal Alley, on the left, is Leaky Cauldron, a restaurant with a huge lounge that offers some dishes of British cuisine.
Here the menu with the available options and prices:
I took the opportunity to taste the Beef, Lamb and Guinness Stew that comes in the bread. I thought the portion for the price was quite small, but it was delicious! Ah… they don’t sell soda around here, only Butterbeer and other options that didn’t cheer me up much. Ok, ok, they have to keep the theme.
The Hopping Pot
The Hopping Pot is a bar that sells three types of beers made especially for the park: Wizard Brew, Dragon Scale, Drawt Beer and a variety of alcohol-free drinks. The most popular are Frozen Butterbeer ($4.99), Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice – which in the book was created by the Weasley brothers ($4.79) and Fishy Green Ale ($4.99), plus pumpkin juice ($3.99). The menu here is very limited in terms of food: sliced French fries ($3.99) and Cornish pasties ($6.99)
Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour
The ice cream parlour that was one of Harry Potter’s favorites when he was living on top of Leaky Cauldron has items like pies for breakfast and in the afternoon they serve ice creams with various flavors like Butterbeer, banana, chocolate, Granny Smith, Sticky Toffee Pudding and others. The ice creams cost from $4.99 and what comes with a glass of souvenir costs $10.99. Sundaes are $6.99 and
You can believe everything you’ve heard out there! The new expansion is really sensational and worth a visit! If you get the chance to stay at Universal’s hotels on the days you visit these parks you’ll be able to enjoy these attractions an hour earlier and without the crowd gathering to see the news. Be patient and very willing, because there are days that the entrance in this area is controlled because of the very high number of visitors. In these cases they give a ticket with an appointment to return. I was lucky to go on a low season weekday in September and it was very quiet. Enjoy yourselves and have a great time!
Did you enjoy this super tour with photos? Yeah! There’s a lot of stuff, a lot of news and for sure in the next weeks I’ll write more details about some of these attractions. But I hope you now have a good idea of what you’ll find there!
So? Who doesn’t see the time to enjoy this in Diagon Alley?