The future’s so bright, I gotta wear (wizarding) shades
We all know that this summer’s opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is going to be a massive step forward for both the commercial success and theming sophistication of Universal Orlando, but what most probably don’t realize is that this second phase of the Wizarding World takes us literally only halfway through Universal and Warner Bros’s plans for the boy wizard at the resort.
Curious as to what the next several years may hold? Admittedly, we are, too – we only have a few scraps of what’s going to happen, both from Central Florida Top 5 and a few of our private sources; Universal Creative is, apparently, playing this one very close to the vest. Still, in an effort to shine the brightest light yet on the mysterious subject, we’re compiling all currently-known information for your wizarding delight.
Behold – the future:
Diagon Alley opens, which will include an interactive wand component.
Hogsmeade gets a renovation, consisting of: the closure of Zonko’s Joke Shop and the expansion of Honeydukes; the addition of Hogsmeade Station; and the replacement and/or upgrading of several storefronts to include interactive elements.
The third Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is currently believed to be the Ministry of Magic, will debut, most likely in the current spot of the Fear Factor Live building. One or two additional attractions will be on hand, which CFLTop5 believes will include a wand-training class in order to perfect all the spells that can be used at all the interactive displays. Speaking of which…
The interactive wands will get expanded offerings, including more spell-casting locations (at all three Wizarding Worlds), more spells to use at each stop, and, just possibly, more wand types to choose from.
This final (as of now) stage is easily the most nebulous, but it seems to be mainly comprised of an expansion at one, two, or, just possibly, all three Wizarding Worlds, in order to keep the lands fresh in terms of their appeal to guests and cutting-edge in terms of their tech. There is easily space enough for at least one or two additional attractions at either Diagon Alley or the Ministry of Magic, and there is always the possibility, no matter how remote, of Hogsmeade absorbing more or even all of Lost Continent.
Additionally, it seems Universal is preparing the possibility of deploying even more interactive elements all across the wizarding spectrum.
Goodbye, Jurassic Park; hello, KidZone
Earlier this month, Parkscope published a rather intriguing report stating that several different sources had come forward with information on what all those construction crews from Diagon Alley (and, just possibly, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, if they’re not heading to work straightaway on a fifth on-site hotel) will be moving on to next: Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone.
The story goes a little something like this: all those previous rumors stating that the entire land will essentially be bulldozed are true, with the only two attractions left standing being the venerable E.T. Adventure and Animal Actors on Location. A new intellectual property – or properties – is set to replace KidZone, although there is still no clear idea of what this may be; having a patchwork of different licenses, as is the case with most areas in Universal’s theme parks, is very much on the table, but so is the possibility of making one wholly unified land, as Universal Studios Florida has already seen with Springfield USA and, of course, Diagon Alley.
All we know so far is that the Parkscope crew has been told that this oncoming makeover will be “Potter-like,” which most likely references its overall scope and budget, but it could also possibly refer to an extremely high level of theming detail.
With construction work on KidZone reportedly set to begin this September, we now fully expect this to be 2016’s grand development (remember: Universal has promised to open at least one new ride per year). What about the project previously believed to bow in ’16 – King Kong’s Skull Island? It looks like that one’s now going to be fast-tracked the same way that last year’s Transformers was and will now open in 2015, pushing the Jurassic Park expansion out of the schedule, possibly for good (eek!).
The very beginning of Skull Island
Dan took a stroll from Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort to the parks yesterday to document the walk for our readers. He was quite surprised to find that, as guests take the 15-minute stroll, they’re brought right behind the rumored construction site for King Kong at Islands of Adventure. A three-foot embankment (with a large clearing in the trees) is all that separates the walkway from where Dan snapped the following photos – and what looks like the very beginning of a Kong attraction:
To read background information about the Kong attraction and see exactly where these photos were taken on a map, visit this topic in the OI Forums.
Harry Potter quick hits
Yes, believe it or not, there’s still more Diagon Alley goodies left to munch on, even after all of the mind-blowing leaks and developments of the past week, and we’re going to tackle them in the time-honored tradition of bullet points:
- The fine gents at Parkscope have uncovered yet another permit, this time for a special VIP lounge in Diagon Alley. While we don’t know whether this will be the equivalent of the American Express lounge at the front of the park or not, we do know that it’ll be contained in Building 64D, which is where the Magical Menagerie shop and public conveniences are located.
- In case you haven’t noticed, Universal Orlando’s Dining at Diagon Alley page has been updated, which means we have our first official confirmation of what we reported on earlier this week: Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlor will be offering “breakfast items and pastries” in the morning hours. And we guess this is a good thing, because we also got confirmation that the Leaky Cauldron will be open for lunch and dinner only.
- Also, Universal’s Shopping at Diagon Alley page has similarly been updated, resulting in something of a surprise for all of us grizzled rumor veterans: Wands by Gregorovitch, which we all had assumed was just a fake storefront located right next to Ollivander’s Wand Shop, is actually yet another full-fledged shop. It’s a complete mystery why Universal would want two of the same type of store next-door to each other – is this just an attempt at crowd control, or does it have something to do with those pesky interactive wands?
- We were all initially disappointed to learn that the Hogwarts Express won’t have randomized ride experiences a little while ago, but according to CFLTop5, it seems that Universal may have left that as an open option for later on down the road – perhaps during the third or fourth Wizarding World phase – to help prevent the attraction from getting stale.
- Several guests confirm seeing Al Roker of The Today Show filming at Universal yesterday, which gave us hope that we might have had a Diagon Alley announcement this morning – despite the fact that Universal said the live appearance of the TV show was canceled. Indeed, no announcement was made, but since Roker was in fact filming something at Universal yesterday, we’re bound to see it eventually show up on the air. Perhaps the Today segment will broadcast next Thursday or Friday, putting it head-to-head with Disney and the Seven Drawfs Mine Train press event?
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NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
Orlando Informer will be viewed over 10 million times in 2014, and among those viewers are some folks with pretty strong connections to Universal Orlando. As they contact us with insider intel, we collect their information and combine it with our own research to produce our weekly Rumor Round-Up. When information comes to us directly, we cite “our sources”; when information comes from outside our network, we always cite it as such and provide links to the original source. This is our 110th rumor post, and we’re proud to have provided our readers with compelling stories as we share our thoughts and actively promote dozens of other websites.
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