Harry Potter cast and fans alike came together on Wednesday for the red carpet event to preview the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley park.
For the rest of us, though, we were tracking the event on social media and the live stream that Universal set up for the event, which was hosted by David Karger, the chief correspondent of Fandango.
The stream started with the host presenting a video focusing on the development of the park, from conception to today, with interviews from Universal executives. According to them, the park has been in the planning since the Hogsmeade park opened.
The host then interviewed the Harry Potter cast. Here are some bits from their interviews:
- Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the films, said that “the memories are flooding back.” She also stated that she thinks Harry and Ginny are a great couple and thought they’d have a happy life with their kids.
- Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood in the films, said that being back at the park with fellow cast members is like a “family reunion.” She stated that having the park makes the experience more real for fans. She said that Luna’s favorite shop in the park would be the Magical Menagerie because they sell the Crumple-Horned Snorkak, which everyone denied to be real but Luna persisted on their existence. “It’s a huge win for Luna,” Lynch told The Leaky Cauldron fansite.
- Domhall Gleeson, who played Bill Weasley in the two Deathly Hallows movies, spoke about his prominent role in the Escape from Gringotts ride, and said the park was “very lovely.”
- Matthew Lewis, who famously portrayed Neville Longbottom in the films, said that he “can’t wait” to ride the Gringotts ride. When asked (via a submitted Twitter question) to name the dragon, he answered with Neville, unsurprisingly. The actor also said that it’s been great to catch up with his fellow cast mates, who he hasn’t seen in a while.
- The Phelps twins, a.k.a. Fred and George Weasley, said that they’d never expect that the park would be as big as it is, and that it’s “amazing.” They also said that the most useful spell for their Muggle lives would be Lumos, and overall they’d like to have a Portkey, which would make for easy and quicker travel.
- Warwick Davis, who played both Professor Flitwick and the Gringotts goblin Griphook in the films, had some very nice things to say about the fans, saying that they were the reason why Harry Potter is so successful. The theme park is for them, he said, as it allows the fans to experience what the characters did.
- Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the films, said that the park looks very real, and even better than the set because it allows you to actually experience it, it’s not artificial.
- Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid in the films, interestingly shared the inspiration of Hagrid, and said that J.K. Rowling told him the character was based off of a large, motorcycle-riding man she knew, who intimidated the people he encountered but had a kind heart. Looking back, she said that the man reminded her of Robbie Coltrane, and that’s why she imagined Coltrane for the role of Hagrid in the films.
- Helena Bonham Carter, who portrayed Bellatrix Lestrange in the films, said that she misses the teeth she got to wear while playing Bellatrix, and actually planned on wearing them tonight but couldn’t find them (too bad!). She said that she had a fun time playing such a fearless character as Bellatrix.
In addition to the cast interviews, there were montages in between of the actors’ scenes in the movies, as well as previews of the Hogwarts Express and the interactive wands.
The host also interviewed Universal executive who worked on the live shows and aspects of the park. He said that they’ve been working on the live shows for two years, and spoke about four specific live action pieces of the parks. In the London area, visitors will encounter the Knight Bus and its infamous driver, Shan Shupike, along with live “street buskers”, who will be playing a variety of music year round, just like actual street performers. When the visitors enter Diagon Alley, they’ll be able to experience two other live shows including a puppet performance of two stories from J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard, which was featured in Deathly Hallows – Part One, and a live performance of Celestina Warbeck songs, a personal favorite of Molly Weasley’s. Find out more about these entertainment and interactive experiences here.
After all the interviews were done, Shan Shupike appeared to introduce other Universal and Warner Bros. executives. They then turned it over to Robbie Coltrane, who finally opened the park, touching the Diagon Alley bricks with a pink umbrella, just as Hagrid did in the first Harry Potter film. Oh, nostalgia!
Cameras then followed the stars and fans into the park, when the live stream was brought to a close. However, the party is just starting, and lots of visitors are sharing their experience on Twitter and Instagram. Keep up with the event under the hashtag #DiagonAlleyPreview, where you’ll find pictures and tweets from people at the park.
The red carpet event was the first live stream broadcast of three during the Diagon Alley preview week. Check back tomorrow for a full roundup of the Phelps Twins ride on the Hogwarts express, and then on Friday for a report on Matthew Lewis and Tom Felton’s preview of the park with Alan Gilmore, the park and films’ art director.
In the meantime, torture yourself with the tweets and Instagram’s of those who are at the event now. Have fun!