The reviews have been glowing. Guest reaction has been extremely positive. Universal Orlando’s latest addition to its theme parks has raised the bar for theming, cutting-edge facades, and technology. It’s easy to walk through the brick wall into Diagon Alley and forget you’re not in Central Florida anymore.
Universal Creative did something that hasn’t been done in quite a while. They started a theme park project with very high guest expectations and somehow far exceeded even those expectations. While Diagon Alley was rising over the construction walls in the Northwest corner of Universal Studios so was guest anticipation and expectations. Universal had the challenge of somehow besting their Studios theme park neighbor of Hogsmeade Village over at Islands of Adventure. In my opinion they did it by leaps and bounds.
As amazing as Hogsmeade Village is, Diagon Alley has become a new theme park industry benchmark. I’d go as far as comparing it to the launch of the first iPhone in the tech industry and we know how groundbreaking that was. Diagon Alley is cutting-edge. It incorporates mind-blowing technology, over the top theming, incredible forced perspective, intiment spaces, and two groundbreaking attractions that surround you with fantastic special effects.
During my first visit to Diagon Alley I was surprised to see how spacious it was even with a good number of guests roaming the area. The pictures I saw before my visit lead me to believe it wasn’t very big. Universal corrected the problem they have over at Hogsmeade Village with space. The shops at Diagon Alley are a decent size, but I did find myself cramped at times wandering through them. I found the selection of merchandise to be a nice compliment to the Harry Potter stories. I felt most of it wasn’t just another souvenir I’d bring home and store in a closet. If you’re mildly interested in the Harry Potter franchise you’ll certainly find something to your liking at Diagon Alley.
Some of my favorite spaces at Diagon Alley include the banking room inside ‘Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts’, the lands marquee attraction. Also, all of Kings Cross Station is certainly worth a walk-through. This is the station that brings you to the Hogwarts Express. For those of you interested in riding the ‘Escape from Gringotts’ attraction, rest assured it is not too intense. I found it to be far less intense than ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’ over at Hogwarts Castle inside Hogsmeade Village. I walked off of Gringotts with no motion sickness at all and for this forty-something that’s saying a lot. I couldn’t wait to get back on it.
Another one of my favorite spaces had to be Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. It’s not a very big space, but the soft serve ice cream is the best I’ve ever tasted. I can’t imagine what the butter fat content is, but to be honest I don’t want to know. The flavors are bountiful and the Butter Beer ice cream is off the charts delicious. Definitely give it a try when you visit Diagon Alley.
Another space I found interesting is Knockturn Alley. This is the place where dark wizards carry out their business. I was most interested in this particular space to see how it was set up. How could they keep this area completely dark in an open theme park? Basically, they put a black ceiling over the alley and used dark colored materials over the walls and floors creating the appearance of a very haunting space. Again, very well done.
Diagon Alley was such an amazing land I had a hard time leaving to explore the rest of Universal Studios. I found myself not wanting to leave because I felt what I’d go visit next wouldn’t compare to Diagon Alley’s awesomeness. It seemed whenever I would turn a corner there was more to explore, surprisingly good entertainment, or a great space to sit and take in the atmosphere. Trust me, Diagon Alley has a lot of atmosphere and a terrific personality.
If you are a theme park fan you must see Diagon Alley. Put your mouse ears aside for a day or two and be sure to pay it a visit. It’s well worth your time, additional vacation cost, and fuss to go over to Universal Orlando to see the newest standard in theme park entertainment. If you’ve ever dreamed of diving into a book or jumping into a movie screen to visit an imaginary place then dream no more. Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley exists and its home is at Universal Orlando and Central Florida.
Friend Aaron on Facebook: I accept reader friend requests.
Category: Disney World