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RRU Special Edition: New details on Diagon Alley – story, food, actors, previews & the name of the Gringotts Bank attraction


Gringotts Bank coaster: The attraction’s story & name

A week ago today, we lead you on a little tour through the complete Gringotts Bank ride using all of the information that was currently available. Though it was as complete as it could have been, we have to say: what a difference a single week makes! When you run the world’s largest website dedicated to Universal Orlando vacation planning, sometimes the best rumors find you – and that’s what happened across the past several days. We now have more details to share with you, as well as a correction or two.

Welcome to Gringotts Bank.
Welcome to Gringotts Bank.

For starters, we’d like to stress that Gringotts will be more like the rollercoaster experience from Revenge of the Mummy and have less of the simulator feel of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – and that, quite simply, it’ll do things you’d never expect from a coaster.

What you can expect is, of course, a packed storyline for the ride. The lengthy, elaborate queue is expected to contain approximately 30 minutes’ worth of narrative, which puts it roughly on-par with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Just what the story is has been a matter of much debate and intrigue over the past two years, ever since the very first leaks regarding the bank came out – and now we can share them with you all:

You, being out on the market for a bank vault of your very own, have landed at the (wizarding) world-renowned Gringotts and are being taken on a tour of its premises (which explains why, in the Vault Showroom, all of the heavily-locked doors have been opened wide to showcase their vast interiors). Once you board your mine cart and have begun the ride proper, your host (a goblin?) says, “Of course, Mr. Potter’s vault is much deeper.” It is at this point that you face the stone wall mentioned in our previous write-up, the track pivots vertically 45 degrees so that the front ride vehicle dips down and the back one rises up, and you hurtle down into a hidden tunnel, on your way to see where Harry’s vault is located.

And, finally, we now have the name of the attraction, which is, hands down, one of the most-sought-after tidbits in all of the new Wizarding World. Are you ready to be among the first to hear it?

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Now, are you ready to ride?


More new details about Diagon Alley

We’re not content to just divulge Escape from Gringotts secrets – we’ve also been briefed on a few more highly intriguing details regarding the other major components of the new Wizarding World. Let’s run down the gamut, shall we?

Firstly, we’re happy to reaffirm the previous leaks that the Hogwarts Express queue will contain some type of special-effect-powered transition that will make it feel as if you’ve actually walked through the pillar at King’s Cross Station and have arrived at Platform 9 3/4.

King's Cross Station at Universal Studios Florida - January 17, 2014.
King’s Cross Station at Universal Studios Florida – January 17, 2014.

We’re still not certain just quite how this will be pulled off, but projectors seem to be almost a shoe-in, given their (relatively) low cost and ability to operate continuously with little maintenance and the requirement that the special effect be good for groups of people at a time.

As we’ve mentioned previously, Universal has long touted Hogsmeade’s shops as one of the key features of its Wizarding World, and Diagon Alley will, of course, be no different. Current rumors hold that the new area will actually feature more stores than its predecessor, and we can add that while they will, for the most part, maintain the coziness (read: complete lack of room) from the Hogsmeade lineup, they will also each – yes, each – be two or three stories tall for added capacity.

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes appears in Universal’s most recent Diagon Alley teaser.

Of these stores, there are two in particular that will undoubtedly be among the most popular. Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor will feature over 20 unique flavors of ice cream that will be exclusive to — and trademarked by — Universal Orlando Resort. While we have yet to hear what some of these might be, an educated guess would include some sort of pumpkin concoction, given the presence of pumpkin juice over at Islands of Adventure, and, of course, butterbeer, which has been Universal’s great moneymaker over the past three-and-a-half years. (Just imagine the culinary nirvana that a butterbeer float would entail!)

It has been previously reported that Ollivander’s Wand Shop will be expanded to include three “the wand choosing the wizard” shows (though, as a guest, you’ll never be aware that there was more than one). What we can add for the first time is that the shop will also include a special appearance by Mr. Ollivander himself, played by the irrepressible John Hurt, who will appear in either video or musion form to explain why he isn’t able to be there to assist in the selection of your wand.

Garrick Ollivander as he appears in the Harry Potter films.
Garrick Ollivander as he appears in the Harry Potter films.

It’s widely expected that Diagon Alley will be mostly based upon the last two novels/three films of the series, and if this premise holds true for Ollivander’s, expect the reason for his absence to be his hiding from Lord Voldemort, who wishes to abduct and torture some wand lore out of him.

Just when can we expect to see all of this open? While we haven’t heard anything (new) regarding the opening date, we have been told that Universal is currently eyeing the week before Memorial Day for the team member preview period – which only reinforces the idea that the land’s grand debut to the public will be sometime in June.


Diagon Alley’s London waterfront revealed

From January 2012 to February 2013, there were no vertical structures at the front of Diagon Alley, as most construction work focused on flattening the land or building up the enormous Gringotts Bank show building. In March 2013, the first vertical structures appeared at the front of Diagon Alley, and by May we could make out enough to have some idea that we were looking at a new Potter-themed land.

Diagon Alley - January 2012.
Diagon Alley – January 2012.
Diagon Alley - May 2013.
Diagon Alley – May 2013.

It would only be a few more short months before the steel structures became full facades, and those facades became covered with scaffolding.

Diagon Alley - October 2013.
Diagon Alley – October 2013.

Now it is January 2014, and today, for the very first time, the scaffolding has been removed from the London facade of Diagon Alley:

You have to see these beautiful structures in person to truly appreciate them, but we’ve done our best to capture the excitement in a series of photos and in a seven-minute video. Reminder: from left to right, the facades represent King’s Cross Station, Leicester Square, Wyndham’s Theatre, and Grimmauld Place (ancestral home of the Black family in the Harry Potter stories). The main entrance to Diagon Alley will be through the bottom-right side of the Leicester Square facade.
[wptouch target=”non-mobile”]
Here is a selection of our best shots followed by our new video. You can view the complete photo gallery at the bottom of the post. Remember, clicking any image will allow you to view it full screen. (And if you want to see the full-resolution photo files, up to 6000 x 3376 in size, check out our Flickr page.[/wptouch]

London waterfront of Diagon Alley - January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley – January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley - January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley – January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley - January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley – January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley - January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley – January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley - January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley – January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley - January 17, 2014.
London waterfront of Diagon Alley – January 17, 2014.


We’d love to hear what you think about this achievement. Share your thoughts in the comment section below!


Countdown to Diagon Alley

Can you believe we have less than a week before Universal will officially spill all the beans on the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Stay tuned for our next Countdown to Diagon Alley article, which will help you while away the hours until the big announcement. In the meantime, you can always check out our other installments in the series:

Top five vacation planning tips for Diagon Alley

What if Diagon Alley sucks?

Complete telling of the Gringotts Bank ride experience

Four burning questions we still have about Diagon Alley

How Harry Potter is defining the next-generation theme park experience

After the webcast: Step-by-step guide to EVERYTHING we now know about Diagon Alley

After the webcast: Six incredible Diagon Alley secrets that weren’t mentioned in the webcast

And, of course, to start back at the very beginning and review everything we know about the Harry Potter expansion at Universal Orlando, visit the Diagon Alley page in the OI Universal Center.



Please remember when viewing this post that a rumor is a piece of unverified information of uncertain origin; a statement whose veracity is not quickly or ever confirmed. So even though we try our best to present solid speculation, there’s no way to guarantee any rumor will come true (then it wouldn’t be a rumor anyway).

Thanks to Marc for researching the latest rumor buzz from sources across the Internet and condensing it down into a single post for us each and every week!

View all of our Rumor Round-Ups

London facade of Diagon Alley – photo gallery

Click any image to view it full-screen. When the full-screen image is open, click to the right or use the right arrow on your keyboard to advance through the gallery.


[sws_author_bio user=”” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Marc” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]

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Countdown to Diagon Alley: How Harry Potter is defining the next-generation theme park experience

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Kristen DC
Kristen DC
January 17, 2014 8:03 pm

It amazes me that after 12 years of being a Potter fanatic, I still get as giggly as a school girl when it comes to HP stuff. Today’s RRU post has me elated and looking forward more than ever to when I get to visit Diagon Alley brought to life! I an convinced Universal is and will do an outstanding job on delivering this new attraction/land to us. It will be a while until I will be able to see Diagon Alley in person (Spring, 2015 at the earliest), but I look forward to OI bringing as much coverage to… Read more »

maria capp
maria capp
January 18, 2014 2:37 am

Just woken up, it’s 7.30am here in the UK. Fantastic stuff to wake up to. Thank you! We go in May so hoping for soft openings. 🙂

John Paul Fryc
John Paul Fryc
January 17, 2014 7:01 pm

8 1/2 months and counting till Florida – and Halloween Horror Nights!!! Can’t Wait!!!

January 18, 2014 6:11 pm
Reply to  John Paul Fryc

I am off to Orlando for my 44th birthday this October, can’t wait for this.

Dana Harris
Dana Harris
January 17, 2014 8:56 pm

I can’t wait to get back there again. It will be so amazing to see everything up close.

Amber Michelle Smith
Amber Michelle Smith
January 17, 2014 9:00 pm

Looks GREAT!!!

Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve
January 18, 2014 3:10 am

Omj the London facade looks amazing! Beautiful! I love that it includes Leicester square as it’s where I spend most of my time (attending premieres) lol
Can’t wait to see it in person in September 🙂
And I’m hoping to be able to attend HHN and have read the OI guide to be prepared lol

Kerry Watson
Kerry Watson
January 18, 2014 5:18 am

I wonder if it will be open during Halloween horror nights. I have a funny feeling ms Rowling wouldn’t agree to that but it would be awesome if it was!

January 20, 2014 9:54 pm
Reply to  Kerry Watson

J.K. Rowling has made it clear that Wizarding World areas are not to be include in HHN.

Matthew Lynch
Matthew Lynch
January 18, 2014 6:21 am

Absolutely cannot wait! It looks amazing I bet it looks even better in actual Diagon Alley!

January 18, 2014 10:48 am

I was there in June 2013 when it was just all scaffolding. It looks amazing now. I can’t wait to go back.

Jackie Simmons
Jackie Simmons
January 18, 2014 10:35 am

I can’t wait!!!!

January 18, 2014 1:39 pm

It literally looks exactly like london And all the town houses down there, not to mention the likeness of kings cross already! Not to mention it is all in my fave place in the world! How amazing! it will be like a home away from home for us English folk! cannot wait to see it all in person for our honeymoon!

January 18, 2014 4:09 pm

This is going to be incredible, but I do fear for the amount of downtime, Gringotts complexity will produce.  Hopefully they will get it right from the start!

About Marc N. Kleinhenz

Marc N. Kleinhenz is the former editor of Orlando Informer.

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