Diagon Alley Opening Day

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WE DID OUR WAITING! OVER THREE YEARS OF IT! Think way back to 2011. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade had been open and running smoothly for four years when the first rumors of an expansion began circulating the Wizarding Wireless Network (aka the internet). True Potter fans knew way down in the pits of their magical souls that a Diagon Alley addition was on its way. What this meant exactly was anyone’s guess. It was fun to speculate at how Universal would incorporate more magic into an already phenomenal attraction, and it wasn’t until May of 2013 that we finally, officially knew that a train, the Hogwarts Express, would transport people back and forth between two lands: Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

It wasn’t until The Today Show visited Universal in late June 2014 that an official opening date was finally announced. Diagon Alley would open to the public on July 8. Forget any sneak peaks or soft openings, we wanted the full experience. As soon as we heard the news, the strategizing to get into Diagon Alley on opening day began. We already knew massive crowds would flood through the gates of Universal Studios as early as possible on Monday morning, so we decided to enter through Islands of Adventure instead. (I should preface: the night before we booked a room at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. All guests who stay at a Universal hotel have early access into the parks.) We wanted to be on the first official train from Hogsmeade into “London.” We were the first guests into IoA, the first in line at Hogsmeade station, and the first group to get off the train at King’s Cross Station. Our group of six got separated after we exited the train, but a kind and professional Universal administrator gladly rejoined us. I cannot reiterate enough how brilliant the Universal staff was on opening day. Every single staff member we encountered was enthusiastic, informative and patient.

After waiting maybe over two hours total, we entered into London dressed in our finest wizarding wear, and our heads exploded.

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We have yet to ride Escape from Gringott’s, mainly because we refuse to wait in the seven hour line. I think we’ve decided to wait until the hype dies down a little bit before we attempt the wait. We don’t want to spoil all the surprises, but some personal highlights included Knockturn Alley – it’s cold, dark, spooky and everything you want it to be; the Quidditch shop and all the new gear, including Chudley Cannons, Ireland and Bulgaria souvenirs; Florean Fortescue’s, shout out to the sticky toffee pudding ice cream.

I promise that these few pictures don’t do Diagon Alley justice. From the moment you enter through the brick archway, you are entirely immersed inside the wizarding world. Everything you see, every building to every minute detail, is straight out of Jo Rowling’s mind. All in all, we really didn’t have to wait as long as we prepared ourselves for. We went in expecting long lines and irritated people (which we definitely ran into), but overall, opening day was sensational. Diagon Alley, without a doubt, goes above and beyond everything we imagined. There’s so much to do, and so much to see, that an entire day exploring might not even be enough. If you have any questions or comments about the new expansion, please ASK! We can visit as often as we like, and we’ve been doing our research thoroughly.

ICYMI: We have released our exclusive Harry Potter collection on our website! It’s being sold specifically at our booth at LeakyCon, but we decided to share it with everyone else as well. Get your shirt now before they’re gone forever! It’s always free shipping for anyone who lives inside the United States!

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A Celebration of Harry Potter

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If there is one thing you guys should know about us, it’s that we are gigantic, unashamed, Potterheads. I say should know because we believe in letting our geek flag fly. In the words of Simon Pegg: “Being a geek means never having to play it cool about how much you like something.” Well, we don’t merely like Harry Potter, we see it more as a way of life. For example, in our world, JK Rowling is queen and anything HP-related is cause for celebration. This past weekend, Universal Studios Orlando held A Celebration of Harry Potter expo, and you can bet we donned our wizard robes, packed our wands and joined in the celebrating.

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hpcc19 (800x571)A significant part of the expo focused on the Diagon Alley expansion to The Wizarding World, said to be finished this coming summer! The Hogwarts Express will transport people back and forth from “London” to Hogsmeade. Based on what we heard this weekend and the live webcast Thursday morning, we are beyond excited to learn just how immense and detailed Diagon Alley will be. It will include The Knight Bus, Knockturn Alley (Borgin & Burkes), three stories of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, Madam Malkin’s, Quality Quidditch Supplies, The Daily Prophet… just to name a few. It’s going to have everything true Harry Potter fans love about the books and movies. Apparently, there will be a life-size dragon atop Gringott’s Wizarding Bank which will house the “Escape from Gringott’s” ride. We’re envisioning a roller coaster of sorts racing through the underground vaults. For more specific information regarding the expansion, visit LeakyNews

Overall, the most brilliant aspect of the expo was that Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley), Devon Murray (Seamus Finnigan), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley, not pictured) were there to not only grace our presence, but to answer fan questions about everything Harry Potter. To have seen these people, this cast of characters that we grew up with, in the flesh was almost unbelievable. This is an experience we will never forget, and we feel so grateful to have been able to attend.

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hpcc6 (800x571)We feel this is as good a time as any to start revealing information about this summer, when we have plans to take our love for Harry Potter to the next level. We are still figuring out details, and we don’t want to give too much away, but we can confidently say that if you are as passionate about the series as we are then you are going to love what we have in store! For now, we’ll just say that we are planning to be apart of something huge that is taking place in Orlando in July. This also means that new, and magical, products are headed your way! Keep your eyes and ears open and we will continue to reveal information. Until then, peace and love, muggles.