Diagon Alley, the highly anticipated Harry Potter expansion at Universal Studios in Orlando, finally opens to the public Tuesday. But will its signature ride be working? The ambitious Escape From Gringotts ride is an entirely new kind of 3D attraction, with newly invented spins on the roller coaster experience with a car that tilts and weaves in tandem with the action on screen. The ride broke down during a media preview a few weeks ago and wasn't available during some of the soft opening days last week. For Potter fans, the magical 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 buys his school supplies, to his school in Hogsmeade that opened in 2010 in the Islands of Adventure park. Movie designers have again created an authentic feel in Diagon Alley, and there's a dragon atop Gringotts that breathes real fire toward the crowd below. Huge crowds are expected for the opening weeks; to make the most of a visit, check out our insider tips 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. — Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer
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Harry Potter-themed Diagon Alley opens at Universal Studios Tuesday
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Some thoughts on the sequel, now in theaters.