Make us your home page
Instagram

Large crowds pour into opening of Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando

As expected, crowds were massive and visitors arrived early for opening day of Diagon Alley, the new Harry Potter-themed expansion at Universal Studios in Orlando. The mood was upbeat as confetti rained down on visitors, many of whom dressed up in Hogwarts uniforms.

And to make a Potter fan's day even better, author J.K. Rowling posted a short story on her Pottermore website Tuesday morning in which the beloved boy wizard, now in his 30s, reunites with his school friends at the Quiddich World Cup and we catch up on their adult lives. The story is written in the voice of gossip columnist Rita Skeeter, the journalist from the Potter series.

At the Orlando theme park, movie designers have again created an authentic feel in Diagon Alley, with shops and the Leaky Cauldron pub featured in Rowling's books and new "enchanted" wands that make things move or light up on command.

Visitors started lining up as early as 5 a.m. Tuesday when the parking garage opened and within an hour of the 8 a.m. park opening, there was a two-hour wait to get into Diagon Alley. By midday, there were social media reports that the wait for the signature ride, Escape From Gringotts, was more than six hours.

"It was just like a whole new experience," Lauren Gay of Tampa told the Orlando Sentinel. An avid theme-park visitor, Gay, 33, described it as "nothing like anything we've ridden."

Her friend, Nikida Vaughn of St. Petersburg, quoted on orlandosentinel.com, said "If we could give it a standing ovation, we would."

The ride had technical problems during previews and there were sporadic reports of it being down briefly on Tuesday. Visitors literally ran to the ride when the gates finally opened to line up at Gringott's Bank with a fire-breathing perched on top. The ambitious ride is a novel 3D attraction, with newly invented spins on the roller coaster experienced with a car that tilts and weaves in tandem with the action on screen.

The Potter theme is now set across both Universal parks, with a Hogwarts Express train taking guests (with a two-park ticket) from London's wizard shopping district, where Harry Potter buys his school supplies, to his school in Hogsmeade that opened in 2010 in the Islands of Adventure park.

Information from Tampa Bay Times wires used in this report.

IF YOU GO

Find insider tips on visiting Diagon Alley and other Orlando theme parks at tampabay.com/things-to-do.

Single-day tickets to one Universal park start at $96, and two-park tickets are $136 for adults. Check universalorlando.com for Florida resident deals. Toll-free 1-800-837-2273.

Large crowds pour into opening of Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando 07/08/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 7:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Innovocative Theatre company debuts with workmanlike production of 'Proof'

    Stage

    TAMPA — A new company debuts with Proof, David Auburn's Pulitzer-winning play. Innovocative Theatre, founded by Dunedin native Staci Sabarsky, is currently running productions out of Stageworks Theatre space. Sabarsky also directs and performs in the show.

    Dennis Duggan plays Robert Marie-Claude Tremblay plays Catherine in Innovocative Theatre's first production, Proof, by David Auburn. Photo courtesy of Staci Sabarsky.
  2. Drink of the week: Yalumba Y Series Viognier, South Australia 2016

    Bars & Spirits

    I've long wondered why viognier isn't a more popular wine. With its seductive floral aromas and luscious fruit flavors, it's one of my favorite whites.

  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 26

    Top things to do in Tampa Bay

    Events

    The Rocket Summer: Bryce Avary embarks on a 10th anniversary tour of the multi-instrumentalist's album Do You Feel. 7 p.m., Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Tampa. $16. (813) 241-8600; crowbarlive.com.

    Bryce Avary of the Rocket Summer performs at Crowbar in Tampa on 7/26/17. Credit: Ben Zucker
  4. 21 fun places to escape the heat (or rain) and chill indoors in Tampa Bay

    Events

    A simple walk down the street this summer can feel like it takes years. With the humidity and the Florida sun blazing, no amount of time feels like enough to cool off in summer. To help you regulate, our critics and writers came up with a few places that encourage lingering for just ... a few ... more ... minutes.

  5. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 21: Tears of love and parting mark the beginning of the final leg of a pilgrim's journey.

    Travel

    Day 21: León to Hospital de Orbigo: 32.6 km, 8.75 hours. Total for Days 1-21 = 498 km (309 miles)