Welcome to Diagon Alley
Upon entering the secretive Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Florida, one of the first sights to grab guests' attention is the dragon sitting atop Gringotts bank. The massive creature, which appears to have just escaped the bank (as in the final film in the Potter series), is quite menacing.
Next up: The dragon breathes fire.
Yup, the Dragon Breathes Fire
At random times, the dragon lets loose with an ear-splitting roar and a mighty fireball. If you are standing anywhere near the fire-spewing creature, you will feel the heat. Other than its impressive fire-breathing capabilities, the dragon does not move.
Next up: James Phelps jokes around.
It's No Joke. It's One of the Weasleys.
During the media event previewing Diagon Alley, some of the stars of the film were in attendance, including James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley. (At least I think that's James. It could be his twin brother, Oliver Phelps, who played George Weasley.)
I just happened to catch Phelps standing in front of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, the novelty and joke shop based on his character. There is a huge animated figure of one of the Weasleys hiding a rabbit under his hat outside the shop.
Next up: The entrance to Escape From Gringotts
The Gold Standard in Park Rides
The featured attraction at Diagon Alley is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. To get to the ride, guests enter the bank. Outside the bank is a gold-clad statue of the goblin founder of Gringotts.
Next up: Inside the bank
The lobby of the bank is quite plush with (faux) marble columns and walls and an enormous chandelier. According to park designers, the fixture contains over 17,000 crystals that are all hand cast. Cast members dressed as security guards keep the line moving and prevent guests from messing with the props.
Next up: Get up close with a goblin.
Do Your Banking with a Goblin
Among the most astonishing features at Diagon Alley are the animated goblin tellers in the lobby of Gringotts bank. They are some of the most sophisticated and realistic animatronic characters ever developed. Guests can get very close to the goblins as they pass them on the way to board Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride.
Note that the attraction is a combination roller coaster and dark ride. If you fret that it may be too thrilling, read my article, "Could You Handle Escape from Gringotts?"
Next up: They'll Mix Ya an Elixir
They'll Mix Ya an Elixir
There are all kinds of beverages to sample at Diagon Alley, including the custom-made potions at Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment. The friendly witches will prepare any elixir you choose, such as Draught of Peace and Fire Protection Potion.
Next up: Wand shop
Want a Wand?
There are lots of shops at Diagon Alley, many of which sell wands. The highly popular gift now comes in two varieties: standard and interactive. There are all kinds of other items for sale, including quidditch supplies, Hogwarts school robes, and chocolate frogs.
Next up: Interactive wands
Interact with The Wizarding World
Purchase an interactive wand, and you'll be able to make magic happen at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. There are medallions in walkways in front of shops and other locations that indicate an interactive wand spot and illustrate the wand motion as well as the incantation needed to make the effect work..
Next up: Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour
How About a Cone of Butterbeer Soft Serve?
Odd-flavored cold treats are available at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour such as Earl Grey and lavender and orange marmalade. The butterbeer soft serve, which tastes like the now-famous drink in ice cream form, is incredibly good.
Next up: Alleys in Diagon Alley
Alleys in Diagon Alley
There are all kinds of places to explore at Diagon Alley, including passageways such as this one. In front of the stairway is a motorbike with a sidecar, which I believe Hagrid used to transport Harry in the films.
See more scenes:
- Photo Gallery of the Hogwarts Express and London areas of Diagon Alley
- Photo Gallery of The Wizarding World- Hogsmeade
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter About.com Video
- Wizarding World Grand Opening Photo Gallery- See the stars of the films who attended the kickoff event.