“USA Today” gets first look at Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley
USA Today last week got the chance to tour the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando and speak with Thierry Coup, the senior vice president of Universal Creative. You can check out a video of their tour below:
In their report, they state that inside Gringotts Bank, after guests pass through the grand lobby, there is a hallway with magical portraits and armor fit for goblins and trolls.
Turn the corner, and you find yourself in the office of Bill Weasley, who greets you in a similar way that Dumbledore does in Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure. Then, guests will board souped-up elevators that make you feel as if you are going deep into the cavernous vaults of Gringotts.
Once you exit, there are massive stalactites above and twelve-person ride vehicles, each with its own steam-pumping chimney.
The reporter, Sarah Sekula, asks, “Is it part roller coaster, part 3-D-motion-based ride?”
To which Coup replies, “It would be a real understatement to call it a roller coaster because it does so much more; it’s way beyond that.”
Here’s how it works: Riders will put on 3-D glasses and race through a labyrinth of underground vaults, where they encounter the villainous Bellatrix Lestrange and Lord Voldemort.
At one point, “a troll grabs the vehicle and starts shaking it,” Coup says. At another point, hot lava surrounds guests just as the villains reappear in a full, 360-degree scene. It’s all thanks to 4K digital high-definition animation, state-of-the-art 3-D Infitec projection systems, and live special effects.
Coup states that Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts “is thrilling and dynamic but not as dynamic as Forbidden Journey because we wanted everyone to be able to ride it.”
Guests must transition from the real world to the magical world by traveling through the brick wall at King’s Cross station.
“It’s a very cool trick,” art director Alan Gilmore says. “One at a time, you do your run. It’s basically so insane. Everybody’s going to want to do it many times.”
Inside to your left is the Leaky Cauldron, a sit-down restaurant that will serve British favorites such as fish and chips and bangers and mash. Just steps past that is Knockturn Alley, a dark and menacing place with dancing skeletons and a ceiling lit like a foreboding night sky.
The entrance to Gringotts is farther down, along with the Magical Menagerie, which offers plush toys, including ravens and chubby, white rabbits that transform into silk top hats. Nearby is Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, which serves unusual flavors such as Earl Grey and lavender, sticky toffee, and clotted cream.
Plus, of course there is the Hogwarts Express, which transports parkgoers from Hogsmeade Station to London’s King’s Cross Station and back.
As you trundle along, you are treated to a four-minute Harry Potter mini movie made for this ride. Each carriage is “basically your own little audio theater,” Gilmore says. “The characters are all around you in this experience.”
Below, you can view new photos from Diagon Alley, courtesy of USA Today.[new_royalslider id=”223″]
Have these new photos and details got you even more excited for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley to open this summer? Let us know your thoughts!