Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is now opened!

Above: Fans embrace at the opening of the WWoHP - Diagon Alley yesterday

Above: Fans embrace at the opening of the WWoHP – Diagon Alley yesterday

After years of waiting, countless reports and concept renderings, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley finally opened its doors to the public Tuesday, July 8.

The full press release:

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES… 
THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER – DIAGON ALLEY NOW OPEN
AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT

The Most Spectacularly-Themed, Highly-Anticipated Theme Park Experience of the Year Rolls Out
the Red Carpet to Officially Welcome its First Guests

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 8, 2014) – It’s the day millions of people around the world have been waiting for…

This morning, Universal Orlando Resort officially opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.   Confetti, fireworks and a red carpet lined with dozens of cheering Diagon Alley team members welcomed thousands of excited guests as they entered the all-new spectacularly-themed land for the very first time.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley brings even more of Harry Potter’s adventures to life at Universal Orlando Resort.   This fully-immersive area expands upon the global phenomenon launched by Universal Orlando when it opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure in 2010.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is filled with incredible entertainment experiences for the whole family.  You arrive aboard the Hogwarts Express, which takes guests on a journey between the two lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and are transported into a spectacularly themed environment. The new area includes incredible shops with windows full of magical surprises, authentic food and beverages, a towering dragon that breathes fire and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, a new attraction unlike any other that takes you on a mind-blowing ride through the Gringotts vaults – pulling you into an incredible adventure.

More details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and available vacation packages can be found atwww.UniversalOrlando.com/wizardingworld.

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Behind the Bricks: A Tour of Diagon Alley with Tom Felton and Matthew Lewis

MattTom

Unlike their ‘Harry Potter’ characters Neville Longbottom and Draco Malfoy, Matthew Lewis and Tom Felton are great friends in real life. Here they are spotted at the New York premiere of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

Today, Harry Potter film stars Matthew Lewis and Tom Felton took us on a tour, via live webcast, of the new addition of Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They began by entering through the brick passageway to Diagon Alley, and were soon joined by Alan Gilmore, Art Director of the Harry Potter Films & The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Alan revealed that he has been on the Wizarding World project for four years, and that he enjoys every minute of it.

The first stop on the tour was for Tom to exchange his Muggle currency for a Gringotts bank note that is redeemable at many Wizarding World establishments. Next, Matthew decides to head to Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment while Alan takes Tom to a show. The show turns out to be an amazing puppet reenactment of “The Tale of the Three Brothers” from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I.

We then find Matthew preparing to send a letter and stamping it with a Gryffindor seal. He explains that, in Wiseacre’s, you can stamp letters with a variety of colors of sealing wax and with the Hogwarts house seal of your choosing.

Cut back to Tom and Alan at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. Tom and Alan are about to try some delicious butterbeer ice cream just as Matthew meets up with them and samples some as well.

Tom then announces, “I’m gonna go somewhere where I feel slightly more comfortable…down to Knockturn Alley!” Matthew and Alan decide to forego the dark arts experience and journey to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Matthew admires the establishment, saying, “This is absolutely spectacular!” He also says to Alan, in reference of the Weasley twin feature outside of the shop, “I’ve got to ask a question, before we go any further…is it Fred or George?” Alan says he thinks it’s Fred because of the way he stands and the way he holds his hat. Matthew says that it’s been a constant debate between James and Oliver Phelps and Alan tells Matthew to have them practice the moves so he can determine exactly who it is.

WWW

The entrance to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

Tom meets up with the two just in time to head into the Weasley’s store. Just like his character Draco Malfoy, he got the chance to go to Borgin and Burkes and witness the Hand of Glory. Inside of the Weasley joke shop, we get to see extendable ears, chattering teeth, and pygmy puffs. Tom picks out a special pink pygmy puff keychain for Matthew, and Matthew returns the favor by selecting a Dark Mark lollipop for Tom! Tom says, “Would you lick my Dark Mark lollipop?” and Matthew laughingly replies, “No, I’m alright.” Alan takes them over to the infamous Skiving Snackbox section where they find U-No-Poo and Puking Pastille treats.

“This has just been a brilliant journey—turning the films into reality,” exclaims Alan. He reveals that they actually feature many of the original Harry Potter movie props and details at the Wizarding World!

Next, the trio witness the dragon on top of Gringotts Bank breathing fire. Matthew excitedly says, “It’s looks absolutely spot-on from the film!” They go into Gringotts, and see the statue of the original Gringotts goblin in the plaza in front of the bank. The magnificent chandelier—with 17,000 crystals—and extremely lifelike goblins greet them, just as they would have in the films! Matthew and Tom, of course, already have Gringotts bank accounts. The three decide to have a go on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride to end their adventure, and bid us a fond farewell!

Check back with Pottermore News frequently in the next few weeks for any and all details about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley grand opening on July 8, 2014!

Images courtesy of Canada.com and Inside the Magic.

All Aboard: A Journey on the Hogwarts Express with Oliver and James Phelps

Hypable

James and Oliver Phelps and Bonnie Wright take a selfie with the Hogwarts Express

Earlier this afternoon, following the exciting events of last night’s red carpet event at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Oliver and James Phelps hosted a live webcast of their journey aboard the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station to Platform 9 ¾. Before boarding the train, they point out that every single block at King’s Cross Station was made by hand to make them look as realistic as possible!

We then cut to Bonnie Wright and Domhnall Gleeson who are waiting for the Phelps twins. Bonnie says impatiently, “I really want some ice cream!” and Domhnall looks at his watch and says, “Typical.”

Back on the train, the twins spot Hagrid out of the window and give him a friendly wave. While walking down the corridor to their compartment, one says, “Anything from the trolley, dears?” in a high-pitched, girlish voice. Like their characters, Fred and George Weasley, James and Oliver Phelps are true jokesters in real life.

At their seats, the twins reveal another fun fact about the Hogwarts Express: the fabric for the compartment sets was shipped from UK from the same fabric manufacturers that made the fabric for the train seats in the movies. Like the bricks at King’s Cross Station, the seats were designed to be as realistic as possible. The designers also went over to the UK to ride a train through the English countryside so they could simulate the actual experience for the Wizarding World.

Some centaurs are seen out of the window, bounding through the Forbidden Forest as the twins continue their journey. Then, the twins have a double, double take as they see themselves flying on broomsticks outside of the train window! Their digital doubles throw some of their special fireworks into the air, and they reveal the message, “Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes Now in Diagon Alley.”

MyNews13

Digital Fred and George Weasley flying outside of the Hogwarts Express window getting ready to put on a spectacular fireworks display!

Next, the journey takes the twins past the gloomy Malfoy Manor. The trip actual simulates the exact route that the Hogwarts Express would take through the English countryside. As the train gets close to Platform 9 ¾, we see the Knight Bus carefully squeezing out of a narrow alleyway in between two buildings. One of the twins jokingly says, “Driving just like my brother.”

James and Oliver finally arrive at the platform and greet Bonnie and Domhnall, who decide to go off to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. Before the twins join them, they run into Matthew Lewis who seems to be a little confused and under the impression that his webcast with Tom Felton is scheduled today, not tomorrow. The twins alert him of his mistake and Matthew says, “Saving the best for last, I understand how this is working.”

The twins bid us farewell as their journey ends. Finally, a special message, “Boarding Begins July 8th,” appears for all of the excited fans!

Make sure to visit Pottermore News again tomorrow afternoon for our report on Matthew Lewis’s and Tom Felton’s webcast that will chronicle their tour of Diagon Alley!

Images courtesy of MyNews13 and Hypable.

Roundup of Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley red carpet preview

King's Cross at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

King’s Cross at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

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.

Related: Diagon Alley to open July 8

In the meantime, torture yourself with the tweets and Instagram’s of those who are at the event now. Have fun!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley opening July 8

diagonalleyAfter months of speculation, Universal Orlando finally announced today that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be opening July 8, 2014!

The announcement was made on the Today Show during Universal’s media preview of the park. Tonight, the red carpet opening will be streamed live on the web, beginning at 8pm.

The following promotional video was also released today, and is the first to be sent out with the opening date.

In addition the promotional video and the announcement, Universal released a ton of new high-res images of the park, which you can see and download here.

Since most of us thought the park would open this month, are you surprised that it is opening in July? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Wizarding World – Diagon Alley Preview Week announced, cast to attend

Universal Orlando has announced the schedule for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley Preview Week that will feature three live webcasts and a number of cast members from the  Harry Potter films.

Starting this Wednesday, Universal will broadcast three live webcasts on their website from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

From 8pm to 9pm on Wednesday, June 18, the webcast will take viewers straight to the Diagon Alley red carpet event, where they will be joined by cast members of the Harry Potter films.

On Thursday at noon, James and Oliver Phelps (who played Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter films) will share with viewers their journey on the Hogwarts Express, which will take riders from Hogsmeade Station to King’s Cross Station in London.

Finally, on Friday Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the films), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Alan Gilmore (Art Director of the Harry Potter films and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter) will take viewers “Behind the Bricks” on an inside look at the new Diagon Alley area at 3pm EST.

To watch all of the webcasts, you can visit the Universal website.

In addition to this, Universal announced the full list of cast members who will be attending these events, including:

Bonnie Wright
Evanna Lynch 
Domhnall Gleeson
Matthew Lewis 
James Phelps 
Oliver Phelps
Warwick Davis 
Tom Felton

Universal has also posted a list of the social media accounts to follow for full coverage of the preview week. Pottermore News will be bringing you a full report on these events as well as they are happening, so be sure to check back for more details.

Photo courtesy SnitchSeeker’s Facebook page

Report: Wizarding World – Diagon Alley to open June 20

When will the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley open?

The answer to this question may lie in the elaborate invitations Universal sent out to press, inviting them to the Media and VIP Preview for the upcoming theme park.

The Theme Park Insider reports that, according to the invitation, the press preview will take place from June 17-20 at Universal Orlando Florida. Usually, the last day of the press preview is the public grand opening, just as it was four years for the opening of the Wizarding World – Hogsmeade area. Therefore, judging by the past, it is safe to say that the Diagon Alley area will open to the public June 20, 2014.

Picture of the invitation, via Theme Park Insider

The Insider points out that in some instances this is not the case, but since the last day of the 2010 press preview was the park’s opening, it is likely to be the grand opening again this year.

Remember, Universal has not confirmed this yet, but the opening date is planned to be formally announced this month.

Will you be going to Universal for the grand opening? Tell us in the comments below!

Source: Theme Park Insider

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride at WWoHP – Diagon Alley revealed

On Tuesday new details were revealed about the upcoming Gringotts ride that will be featured at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley theme park, opening this summer.

Readers will recall the memorable scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and its film adaptation in which Harry, Ron, and Hermione break into Gringotts Wizarding Bank, escaping from the bank’s vaults with one of Voldemort’s Horcuxes on dragon-back.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts will recreate this sequence in a “multi-dimensional, multi-sensory” thrill ride. Universal uses the latest technology to create the experience, including “360-degree themed sets, 4K digital high-definition animation, state-of-the-art 3-D Infitec projection systems and live special effects” with characters from the Harry Potter stories.

The run-up to the ride will be an experience in and of itself. The center of the new Diagon Alley area, Gringotts is “topped by a 60-foot tall, fire-breathing dragon figure.” Guests will queue inside the bank’s marble lobby, where they will see goblins at work. Finally, they will journey down to the bank’s vaults, which are stored “many miles below London,” and board the ride.

The ride’s carts are specifically designed to carry up to 12 people, so that the whole family can experience the ride together. The height requirement for the ride is also 42 inches, 6 inches shorter than the Forbidden Journey ride, which allows younger/smaller children to enjoy the ride as well.

On the ride itself, riders will encounter Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange, Gringotts’ “security trolls”, the infamous blinded dragon, and even come face to face with Lord Voldemort. The Universal Creative Team worked with the Harry Potter film crew to make the attraction as detailed as possible. Harry, Ron and Hermione actors, Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have all been confirmed to make an appearance on the ride, as well as Bellatrix Lestrange actress Helena Bonham Carter.

Along with this announcement, Universal also released pictures and a behind the scene video of the ride and attraction, all of which you can view below.

Are you excited about the Escape from Gringotts ride? Are you planning on making a trip to Universal for the new expansion? Tell us in the comments below!

Sources: Orlando Sentinel, SnitchSeeker

 

 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan to open July 15, 2014

Above: WWoHP - Orlando rendering, via Orlando Attractions

Above: WWoHP – Orlando rendering, via Orlando Attractions

Universal Studios announced Friday that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan will open July 15, 2014.

With foreign dignitaries and stars from the Harry Potter films in attendance, Universal made the announcement from their theme park in Osaka, Japan.

Recently, Universal announced that the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood would be opening in 2016. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley expansion at Universal Orlando is set to opening this summer as well, but does not have a definite opening date.

We’ll keep you updated with the latest news on the theme parks as it comes.

Press release:

Universal Studios Japan Announces “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” Grand Opening on July 15, 2014

April 18, 2014, Osaka, Japan — Universal Studios Japan hosted an event today, to celebrate the announcement of the Grand Opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” which meticulously recreates some of the iconic locations from the world of Harry Potter. Universal Studios Japan revealed that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will open on July 15, 2014. The announcement culminated with the unveiling of the magnificent Hogwarts castle, the focal point of the land.

Universal Studios Japan welcomed special guests from Japan and around the globe: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; Ms. Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan; Academy Award®-winning art director and production designer for the Harry Potter films, Stuart Craig; actress Evanna Lynch, who played “Luna Lovegood” in the Harry Potter film series; world-renowned architect Tadao Ando; and Universal Studios Japan ambassadors, and beloved musical act, SMAP, gathered for the celebration.

When Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy announced the opening date, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a spectacular show of lights and brilliant fireworks.

“We cannot wait for the July 15 opening. ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ will be a wonderful addition to Universal Studios Japan and will contribute to energizing Osaka and the local economy,” said Prime Minister Abe.

“It’s wonderful to be here tonight to celebrate another dimension of the United States-Japan alliance,” said Ambassador Kennedy. “Harry Potter inspired a generation of children to love reading?and when they are not reading, I hope they come to ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.’”

Event Overview

The evening’s celebration began with an “owl” delivering a letter from Hogwarts to President and CEO of Universal Studios Japan, Mr. Glenn Gumpel, who was revealed on stage with the letter in hand to introduce the honored guests.

Guests Evanna Lynch, Stuart Craig, Tadao Ando and SMAP were greeted on stage with loud cheers, and the appearance of United States Ambassador Kennedy was met with thunderous applause.

With distinguished guests from around the world gathered, Mr. Gumpel presented the letter from the wizarding world to Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy, who together, reading from the letter, announced “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opening date. At that moment, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a radiant light show with fireworks, which unveiled its towering scale and lit up the night sky.

Following additional remarks by Prime Minister Abe, Ms. Evanna Lynch led the guests in casting the spell “Lumos!” followed by more dazzling fireworks to the further the excitement and joy of the crowd.

A special website, where you can begin to explore “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” online, has now launched. Please visit www.usj.co.jp/harrypotter in the official Universal Studios Japan website.

Pottermore to present at “A Celebration of Harry Potter” convention this month

Image courtesy of Pottermore

Image courtesy of Pottermore

In a press release issued today, Pottermore revealed more information about their presentation at A Celebration of Harry Potter convention.

On Saturday, January 25, Pottermore creative director Tom Hodgson will appear on a panel to reveal behind-the-scenes information about Pottermore.com. As part of the panel, he will present an audio clip from J.K. Rowling, in which she “gives a mischievous and somewhat unexpected back-story to one of her most colourful Harry Potter characters.” Hogsdon will also be revealing new artwork from the next installment of Harry Potter in the Goblet of Fire.

According to the press release, along with the presentation, “Pottermore will have a booth within the Harry Potter Expo area at A Celebration of Harry Potter, where fans can experience Pottermore.com for themselves, watch an artist illustrate upcoming creatures, and sample the Harry Potter eBooks and digital audio books.” The Pottermore booth will be open throughout the weekend.

Taking place January 24-26, A Celebration of Harry Potter is a convention-type event hosted by Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. “that will celebrate all of Harry’s adventures and bring the films, books and digital world of Harry Potter together.”

Prior to the event, on January 23 there the will be a webcast, in which more details will be announced about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. The webcast will be streamed over the Internet for the world, so be sure to come back to Potermore News for full coverage.

Interestingly enough, in addition to this announcement, the press release also noted that Pottermore has teamed up with Virgin Atlantic in a “trial partnership.” As part of the partnership, Stephen Fry’s audio reading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is “exclusively available as in-flight audio entertainment on Virgin Atlantic flights.” We will keep you updated with more news on this as it is released.

If you are going to be attending the Pottermore event and are interested to report on it for us, please e-mail us at pottermoreowl@aol.com. Thanks!