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.
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!