Stock up on floo powder. When Universal Orlando unveils Diagon Alley, the second land in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you’re going to want to magic yourself there.
Diagon Alley debuts this summer at Universal Studios Florida, joining Hogsmeade, which opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 2010. Here are a few reasons we’re charmed.
- Two words: Leaky Cauldron. The eatery promises not just pub grub, but a chance to sit down and soak in the Potter-sphere over fish and chips or a glass of pumpkin juice. As much as my family loves the innovative Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, we find that pulling up a chair at the Three Broomsticks is one of Hogsmeade’s most enjoyable immersions. The Leaky Cauldron could be even better.
- Speaking of rides: Universal Creative president Mike Woodbury promises that the new ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, will raise the bar. It’s hard to imagine topping the excitement of Forbidden Journey, but Harry’s Gringotts adventure seems tailor-made for a show-stopping ride.
- Just like Harry, visitors will enter Diagon Alley via muggle London. A functional Hogwarts Express will connect Diagon Alley with Hogsmeade (but you’ll need a two-park pass to visit both).
- Which new attraction is Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood, excited about? At the webcast revealing the Diagon Alley attractions, she geeked out on the Magical Menagerie shop, where visitors can adopt plush familiars from owls to Hippogriffs. Other shopping ops will include jokes and toys at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, cosplay heaven at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, geeky accoutrements at Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, team gear at Quality Quidditch Supplies, and quills and parchment at the Hermione-pleasing Scribbulus.
- If you dabble in the Dark Arts, head to Knockturn Alley, where you can slip into Borgin and Burkes and explore the sketchy part of town.
- Fans of Hogsmeade’s Honeydukes shop will be glad to hear that it’s expanding, with the jokes formerly sold at the neighboring Zonko’s moving to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley.
- Diagon Alley-goers will have a new lodging option. (Alas, it’s not a room at the Leaky Cauldron.) But when the ’50s-themed Cabana Bay Beach Resort opens at Universal on March 31, guests will have 1,800 additional on-site rooms to choose from. Staying on-property is well worthwhile for the early admission perk: Resort guests get into the park an hour before opening, which beats not only the lines, but the summer heat.